Jamie Walker delighted with landmark strike as Hearts trudge to title

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JAMIE WALKER had long dreamed of the feat. A half-century of goals for his boyhood club, a momentous landmark after making the journey from the Tynecastle terraces to the turf. 

However, he did not imagine the moment playing out quite like it did on Saturday. 

“I probably wasn’t expecting my 50th goal to be a header — especially in a draw against Morton,” he says ruefully. 

The Hearts playmaker means no disrespect. Walker, as with everyone in attendance at Tynecastle, could not help but appreciate the organisation, diligence and — when the occasion called for it — last-ditch defending of the gutsy Greenock outfit. 

He was simply summing up the incongruity of an afternoon he described as ‘bittersweet’. Walker’s late leveller was emphatic, powering home a header from 16 yards after a pin-point cross from Armand Gnanduillet. 

Clutching a bottle of champagne after being named man-of-the-match — an indictment on his team-mates, given Walker only played the final 29 minutes — he firstly allowed himself a moment of personal pride. 

After all, becoming the first player since Colin Cameron to notch 50 goals for Hearts, and just the 37th in its 147-year history, is no mean feat. 

“It feels like my 50th has been a long time coming and it is a proud moment for me and my family,” he said. “To do that for the club I grew up supporting is something special. 

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“I never imagined I’d hit that number when I started. I was just delighted to be a part of the first-team and just making my debut was a proud moment. 

“To have gone on and scored so many times for the club feels crazy.

“Even people like Rudi Skacel never managed to achieve that feat so it is something I can look back on fondly.”

For all Walker should be allowed a moment to luxuriate in the landmark, the post-mortem was necessary. After all, in his own words, ‘we are Heart of Midlothian and we shouldn’t be drawing against Morton at Tynecastle’.

Hearts had been left chasing the game after Craig McGuffie had given Morton a second-half lead, capitalising on an almost comical cavalcade of wasted opportunities perpetrated by the hosts. 

Mihai Popescu, Stephen Kingsley, Andy Halliday, Aaron McEneff, Steven Naismith and Liam Boyce all had passable chances to ripple the net. They registered 26 shots, which boss Robbie Neilson said ‘told a story’. 

As does the fact only six of those were on target.

What should have been a stylish procession to the chequered flag is turning into a turgid trudge. This share of the spoils follows a draw at Queen of the South, which was preceded by rather underwhelming 1-0 wins against Ayr and Dunfermline. Hearts, 11 points clear, will win this league — albeit no-one inside Tynecastle will say that out loud — but Walker is acutely aware that they must find some panache to reinvigorate an increasingly tetchy fanbase.  

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“Even if we ultimately wrap up the title, we still want to win football matches,” added Walker. “We should be winning most matches in this league. 

“It is up to the boys to have a pride within themselves to take the game by the scruff of the neck and make things happen.

“We had an opportunity to really pull away at the top of the league in the least couple of weeks and we haven’t taken that — so we need to get back into training and make amends in the next game.” 

Morton, meanwhile, have moved a point clear of the relegation playoff places and their manager, Anton McElhone, was a bundle of energy, pride and optimism following the full-time whistle. 

Forget relegation, the Ton are eyeing the top four, was the message. That would be quite the feat for a club mired in financial concerns, which lost its previous boss, David Hopkin, just two months ago. 

Goalscorer Craig McGuffie added: “There are a few boys in the dressing room disappointed that we didn’t hold on for the win. It says it all when you are coming to a venue like Tynecastle and thinking like that.” 

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