When fans gather ahead of the Maroon Mile Procession before the friendly with Leyont Orient a week on Saturday they will do so at the Heart of Midlothian War Memorial, standing proudly at Haymarket, which has undergone some essential works.

It is a plan that has been in the making for over a decade. 

Rewind to 2009, the memorial was placed into storage due to the tram works that were taking place through Edinburgh city centre. The same company - Stone Engineering - which built McCrae's Battalion Memorial Cairn at Contalmaison in 2004 took care of the dismantling. On its return four years later, the club placed a time capsule at the base of the monument.

There was a desire from the McCrae's Battalion Trust and others to provide it with even greater "honour" and "respect", as Garry Halliday, Foundation of Hearts' director of member affairs, explained to Hearts Standard.

Those pushing for that work to be carried out encountered plenty of hurdles and difficult moments, whether it was going through planning permission twice or a quote of a significant five-figure sum. Halliday also paid tribute to architect Bob Craig, a cousin of one of the McCrae's trust members, who played an integral role but passed away a few months ago without getting a chance to see the project finished.

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It would all eventually tie in with the club's 150th anniversary and former Foundation of Hearts director Alistair Bruce's idea of the Maroon Mile with the club securing more than £200,000 of National Lottery Funding to make the vision a reality.

What better place to signal the start of the road to Tynecastle Park than the monument which honours those Hearts players and people of Edinburgh who fell in World War One and the Second World War, built and paid for by the club and supporters in 1922?

Across the past week, Halliday and a team of volunteers, including Hearts legend Gary Mackay have put in significant hours to undertake the work. At the base of the memorial, three different types of stone, granite, caithness and sandstone, have been used with a story that winds around the monument, plus powerful quotations and the Heart of Midlothian club crest which a couple of Hearts fans in the area helped put into place.

There were a few awkward moments, including when Halliday almost had a "heart attack" when six pallets of stone were delivered at rush hour last Friday morning, the truck stopping beside the memorial.

"There have been various visitors," he said. "Ann Budge visited. On Saturday, you couldn't move for cakes and biscuits. People have been great, the amount of fans coming by asking about it, even tourists asking about it.

"We were kind of moaning over the weekend about the aches and pains and went, 'You know what? I know it has been a challenge doing a job in the middle of an island on a busy road and all the rest of it but ultimately it was nothing like the challenge McCrae's Battalion faced'." 

Next Saturday, before fans make the march to Tynecastle, should take a moment to reflect on such a significant time in history at one of the most important monuments in the club's history and appreciate all the work that has gone into helping restore its dignity as a significant place of remembrance.

Meanwhile, the European Suite at Tynecastle Park hosts The Royal Scots Regimental Museum Outreach Exhibition which runs daily between 10am and 4.30pm until Wednesday, June 10. Admission is free.

Visitors will be able to see and experience:

  • The story of McCrae’s Battalion (the 16th Battalion, The Royal Scots) and the connection between The Royal Scots and Heart of Midlothian FC, the first Club footballers in the UK to volunteer to fight for their country at the outbreak of World War 1.

  • The Campaigns of the Regiment since 1914, including The Somme (1916) and Kohima (1944) illustrated through a series of Soldiers’ Stories.

  • The importance of sport and team-work in the Army, illustrated through the international sporting success of professional soldiers and the Regiment’s long-standing links to professional football in Edinburgh.