Hearts fan steps out on fundraising mission

Life long Hearts fan Tam Mullen receives a signed jersey from manager Gary Locke and club captain Danny Wilson after he walked from Larne to the Oval in Belfast to raise funds for the team. Also pictured is his wife Marlene and son Gareth. Picture by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye.com
Life long Hearts fan Tam Mullen receives a signed jersey from manager Gary Locke and club captain Danny Wilson after he walked from Larne to the Oval in Belfast to raise funds for the team. Also pictured is his wife Marlene and son Gareth. Picture by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye.com
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A Larne football fan has gone to new lengths to support his beloved club – by taking part in a gruelling 21.5 mile sponsored walk.

Tam Mullen, a lifelong fan of Hearts FC, trekked from Larne to Belfast to raise vital funds for the club, which is in the midst of a financial crisis.

The 49-year-old, who is originally from Edinburgh, set off from his Moyle Parade home at 9.30am last Thursday morning.

His destination was the Oval football ground in east Belfast, where his team was due to play against Crusaders that evening.

And after he arrived at the stadium around 5.50pm, a delighted Tam got the chance to meet the Hearts squad in their dressing room, where he was presented with a signed jersey from manager Gary Locke and club captain Danny Wilson as a token of thanks for his fundraising efforts.

During his sponsored walk, Tam’s loving wife Marlene was on hand to provide refreshments along the way, and his son Gareth provided a much-needed morale boost by walking alongside him for a large part of the route.

Gareth told the Times: “Hearts FC means a lot to my dad and he wants to do whatever he can – however small that may be – to help the club survive its current financial troubles.

“He was going to put a lot of his own money into buying shares at the club and was also considering buying a season ticket for next year.

“He is a taxi driver and may not be the fittest guy in the world, but the walk from Larne to Belfast was his idea and he was determined to see it through.

“My dad had no idea that he would be meeting the squad and the manager and receiving a signed shirt from them at the Oval.

“He got quite emotional when he found out – it was nearly enough to make a grown man cry.

“He has raised about £560 so far, and considering he only decided to do the sponsored walk a couple of weeks ago, I think he has done very well indeed.”

Tam is still seeking funds, so if anyone would like to donate to his cause they can contact him through facebook or call 07548681529.

Hearts FC, also known as Heart of Midlothian, entered administration in June.

The Edinburgh club has debts totalling £25m, owed to companies formerly owned by Vladimir Romanov, who first invested in the club back in 2005.

The team will start next season in the Scottish Premier League with a 15-point deduction.