Mike Galloway is a player that made quite an impact in Scotland for a man that Alex MacDonald signed from the footballing backwaters of Halifax Town as the winter of 1987 set in.
Around that time, Hearts were regularly challenging at the top of the league and their midfield enforcer Neil Berry had been struggling with injuries. Galloway, very much in the mould of Berry with his uncompromising approach to football in the centre of the park, was therefore brought in to help fill that gap and generally provide competition in that area.
Galloway settled into life at Tynecastle very quickly and was soon earning positive reviews for his all-action performances in the Hearts engine room. Football fans in Scotland have always warmed to players like this - guys who make it clear that they're not frightened of any team or individual player, and are willing to prove it by showing them very little respect on the park. Popularity here is also assured if you're the sort of player who won't think twice about going right through an opponent should the opportunity arise, and I think it's fair to say that Galloway ticked that particular box in bold ink!
However despite Galloway's impressive first season at Tynecastle, which saw him helping the club challenge Celtic for the title in their centenary year before eventually finishing second and narrowly missing out on a Scottish Cup Final appearance, it was his exploits as an unlikely auxiliary striker in the following year that most Hearts fans will forever remember him for.
It's fair to say that Galloway had demonstrated his ability to shoot during the '87/88 season, with one absolute screamer at Ibrox (hit with the outside of his right foot from the corner of the penalty area into the top corner) in particular giving proof of that, but I don't think that anyone could quite picture him playing as a regular frontman for Hearts. But the injury situation at Tynecastle as 1988 drew to a close was such that Alex MacDonald was running out of options, and in the absence of any real alternatives for the physical presence in attack that Doddie wanted, Galloway was deployed there on a temporary basis until the injuries subsided. It ended up being a more than temporary move.
Galloway's deployment into the Hearts attack occurred during what was probably the club's more famous ever campaign in European football. From his more familiar midfield role, he had scored in both legs of the first round tie against St Patrick's of Ireland, but by the time that the second leg of the following round against Austria Vienna came around, big Mike was leading the attack and about to write his way into Hearts folklore.
The first leg against the Austrians had been a dour 0-0 draw at Tynecastle and although this is never a disastrous result at home in Europe, it's fair to say that Hearts were second-favourites going into the return. However despite some early pressure from Vienna and yet another serious injury to a striker (Wayne Foster, whose demise meant the introduction of Galloway the striker if my memory is accurate), Hearts were quite comfortable and starting to look dangerous.
Midway through the second half came one of the most famous goals in the club's history, but even to this day it remains one of the strangest: a long ball in behind the Austrian defence from Eamonn Bannon found both Walter Kidd and Galloway in literally acres of space wide on the right - they both looked offside by the proverbial country mile but in the absence of TV replays from any other angle it's impossible to say for sure if the decision was correct, but they were allowed to play on. Instead of both of them bearing straight down on goal from that position though, they crafted a move together like two kids in the playground trying to score a 'good' goal instead of via a boring one-on-one with the 'keeper, and in the end Galloway got into the six-yard area to meet Kidd's low cross and bury it behind the 'keeper with a diving header. A famous goal to record a famous victory - I'm sure you can still picture it now!
In the following round Hearts played the then-Yugoslavian side Velez Mostar, whose country was a warzone at the time. Once again Galloway did much of the damage, although the 3-0 win in the first leg at Tynecastle was a real team performance, and also hosted one of the best atmospheres I've ever experienced at a European match. Everyone played their part that night, with Galloway scoring the crucial second goal midway through the second half before wee John Colquhoun, who was kicked up and down the park all night by his bruising opponents, brought the house down at the death with the third. That goal pretty much sealed the tie, and Hearts were able to see out a 2-1 defeat in the return leg, with our goal coming from, surprise surprise, Mike Galloway!
Sadly Hearts and Galloway were not able to keep the run going in the next round (the quarter-final) against Bayern Munich, although the 1-0 win in the first leg of that tie at Tynecastle probably still remains THE European night in the club's history. They were also desperately unlucky to lose the return leg, but it had been a fantastic run that we were all privileged to have witnessed, and Mike Galloway had played a major part in it.
However Galloway threatened to undo all of his good work in the eyes of the Tynecastle faithful when he committed the cardinal sin of signing for rivals Celtic in the subsequent summer. It was a move that came completely out of the blue and to be honest, there wasn't a Hearts fan I know who wasn't happy with the £500,000 they received for his services, especially given the paltry fee he'd been signed for less than 18 months earlier. He'd done a good job for Hearts, but money like that back then was silly for a player of his limitations and the club had secured a very good piece of business - good old Billy McNeill eh?
Galloway became something of a pantomime villain to the Hearts support in subsequent matches against Celtic, for whom he did an admirable job during a time of relative under-achievement at Parkhead. There was a fair amount of banter between player and fans alike (you got away with it back then....*sigh*!) and the chant of 'ohhh shi*ey shi*ey Galloway' will be long remembered!
Sadly Galloway's career was cut short by a series of injuries and then a horror road accident. Celtic and Hearts arranged a benefit match for him at Parkhead soon afterwards which was a really nice touch though, and he was given a good hand by both sets of supporters that night if I remember rightly, which was good to see.
Regardless of who Mike Galloway went onto play for, I'm pretty sure that most Jambos will look back on his time at Tynecastle with a great deal of fondness. That particular season with the European run is one of the most memorable I can recall, even despite the fact that we were garbage domestically at the time! Mike Galloway was a big part of that and I'm sure most of us are very grateful to him for that.