Firstly, a bit of background; the 1985-86 Scottish League title looked a million miles away from Hearts on October 5, 1985. A glance at the table highlights the fact that Alex MacDonald's men had started the season poorly to say the least. This form was not unusual. The previous season the club had finished in 7th position, winning only 13 of their 36 league games, with their only consolation being that their Edinburgh rivals Hibs finished one place below them. Any Hearts fan unfortunate enough to trudge away from Clydebank's ground after their 1-0 defeat on September 28, would have thought you clinically insane if you had told them that their team would not lose again until the final day of the season. But this was no ordinary season.
Just look at Hearts' sequence of results from October 5 through to April 26 and it looks like someone has just got mightily confused typing in the start of a web address: DWWWDDWWWDDWWWWDWDWDWWWWWDW. Twenty-seven games unbeaten, and a cup run to boot that had seen the Edinburgh side reach the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen. Hearts had not won the title since 1959-60, but if they avoided defeat away at Dundee on the final day of the season, their twenty-six year itch could finally be scratched.
Celtic had at least managed to take the title race to the final Saturday of the season. With just three games to go in the season, Hearts held a three point lead over The Bhoys in an era when it was still only two points for a win. Hearts' superior goal difference of seven goals also gave them a cushion should they drop any points on the run-in, a vital edge, especially when Hearts drew 1-1 with Aberdeen in their penultimate home game of the season. A narrow 1-0 home win over Clydebank in their final home game meant if Celtic didn't win at Motherwell on Wednesday April 30 then Hearts would be crowned as champions. However, Celtic's 2-0 victory prolonged the battle for the title for one more game. Saturday May 3 would be judgement day.
Hearts were still in an unquestionably strong position. If they avoided defeat at Dens Park - a ground that they had already drawn 1-1 at in December - then the title would definitely be theirs. Even if they lost, Celtic would need to overturn an overall goal difference of four in Hearts' favour. Celtic were away at St. Mirren, a mid-table team with very little to play for, but a side that Celtic struggled to beat 2-1 at Love Street the previous month. It would soon become apparent that Hearts could not afford to lose however, as at half-time on the final Saturday, news filtered through that Celtic were already 4-0 up. For anyone associated with Hearts, the next 45 minutes would not only define their season, but maybe also the rest of their sporting lives. Although Hearts were drawing 0-0 at Dens Park, there can be no doubting that the Celtic scoreline must have been a shock to the system. Alas, there was more of that to come.
If Celtic were hoping for a helping hand from Dundee, then they probably wouldn't have looked to Albert Kidd as the man to win them the championship. His career at Brechin, Arbroath and Motherwell had hardly been a rip-roaring success, and he had only started four games that season and came off the bench seven times. His eighth substitute appearance of the 85/86 season would be the most significant of his career. With just seven minutes to go in the season, Kidd struck.
The heart breaker
His first goal was hardly a thing of great beauty, not that this mattered one jot to any of the jubilant Celtic supporters at Love Street. His goal meant that Hearts were in a desperate position of needing to equalise in the remaining minutes, or see a whole season go down the drain. Elsewhere confusion reigned; Rangers fans at first thought that Walter Kidd (Hearts' skipper) had scored at Dundee, their jubilation short-lived as they realised their mistake; Hibs' players were a little surprised that Easter Road was erupting, as they were hardly running rings around Dundee United at the time. Hearts needed to react quickly, but they didn't get a chance.
Kidd's second goal was a cracker. Surging down the right and exchanging a one-two on the edge of the box, Kidd ran on to hammer the final nail in the Hearts coffin, wheeling away in delight, celebrating like a demented Bobby Ball, whilst half the ground around him began to get a pain inside that sport often inflicts on us (I got that very feeling at Leeds in 1999, when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink killed off Arsenal's title hopes). Hearts were done for, and up and down the country, newspaper men started to dust off their broken Hearts headlines, as the team that had led the table from December 21, had finally given up top spot on May 3.
Unsurprisingly, an emotionally drained Hearts were easily dismantled by Fergie's Aberdeen in the cup final a week later. All the hurt and frustration had to come out though, and for Walter Kidd the pain of that week in May was all too much, as he received his marching orders for throwing the ball at an opponent and earning a second yellow. One Kidd had already ruined Hearts' season, and as the other trudged off the Hampden turf a mental wreck, you couldn't help feel for what the players and fans had been through that week (unless you were a Celtic or Hibs fan obviously).
What became of Albert Kidd? Within a year he was out of Dens Park and plying his trade at Falkirk. By 1988, he was out of the Scottish game completely, playing for West Adelaide in Australia, where he still resides today. His notoriety has not diminished however. The well-known story of Billy Connolly (a Celtic fan) meeting Kidd in a hotel in Australia - and being awe struck when he learned of Kidd's identity - indicates that to Celtic fans young and old, Albert Kidd will never be forgotten.
Obviously to fans of Hibernian the legend lives on too. Google 'Albert Kidd Day' and you become swamped by the number of hits returned, as on May 3 every year Hibs fans recall the exploits of a man who never even played for their club. Sir Albert Kidd, as he is often called, even has his own song dedicated to him, and a T-shirt seen here being held by the Brazilian legend Socrates. His star may only have shined briefly, but his five minutes of fame in 1986 is still talked about to this day.
Even twenty-six years on, I'd still not talk about Albert Kidd in some parts of Edinburgh though....