A FORMER Whitefield headmaster and an ex-Bury Times journalist are among those celebrating the 30th anniversary of a Manchester-based supporters club devoted to Scottish football club Heart of Midlothian.

Members of Manchester Hearts Supporters Club have clocked up hundreds of thousands of miles following their team.

They include one of the founders, Des Burns, who was headteacher at St Bernadette's RC Primary School, Whitefield, while current club secretary is former Bury Times and Guide reporter Karen Doherty.

Other stalwarts are Mike Van Vleck, whose parents ran the post office at Besses, and co-founder, journalist John McBurnie.

Over the past 30 years, members have travelled to watch the "Jambos" at hundreds of home and away matches by coach or car share, as well as pre-season friendlies and European games. Highlights have included seeing the team win three Scottish Cup finals.

Members went to Greece in 2006 to watch the side take on AEK Athens in the Champions League, and have also seen Hearts in Europa League action in places such as Hungary, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

On a more historical note, they visited France and Belgium in 2008 to pay tribute to the Hearts players and fans who died fighting with McCrae’s Battalion — the first of the so-called footballers’ battalions — during World War One.

Highs and low in recent years have included seeing their club docked 15 points at the start of the 2013/14 season after going into administration. They were relegated from the top flight of Scottish football to the Championship. However, under new owners, they won promotion last season.

Manchester Hearts has held its annual Player of the Year dances at football grounds around the North West, with the Scottish Cup the "guest of honour"at the events at Everton in 2006 and Liverpool in 2012. A special anniversary dance will be held at Hearts’ Tynecastle Stadium in November.

Chairman John Maclean said: “Joining Manchester Hearts meant I was able to attend many more matches and enjoy the friendship of supporters from the North West, which continues to this day."

For more information about Manchester Hearts: e-mail Karen at karenpetedoherty@googlemail.com