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wallowing in the history of hibernian fc

Hibernian 2-3 Clydebank, 4 January 1986

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clydebankprogThis match was preceded by a moving minute’s silence for Erich Schaedler, who had been found dead shortly before New Year. ‘Shades’ had left Hibs on a free at the beginning of the season for Dumbarton, still playing at the age of 36 – a good age to be still playing, a bad age at which to die.

Clydebank had lost 5-0 on their previous visit to Easter Road in September and were on a fast track back to the First Division. We might therefore have expected a sound trouncing of the Bankies to make up for the disappointing 3-1 defeat at Tynecastle on New Year’s Day three days earlier. The programme, however, noted ominously that Clydebank were ‘always capable of pulling off a surprise’, but reassured us that ‘Hibs will not treat them lightly this afternoon.’

Unfortunately Hibs did precisely that. The visitors scored from a soft penalty after only five minutes and things quickly adopted an air of farcical unreality. Hibs turned in a performance of catastrophic ineptitude, and despite goals from Cowan and May, went down to the Bankies. You were easily reminded that this was the Hibs team which hadn’t registered a point until its seventh game of the season at the same time as beating Rangers and Celtic en route to the League Cup final. Jekyll and Hyde were definitely Hibees.

In hysterical desperation the crowd chanted for Willie Irvine. In three weeks the talk around Easter Road had gone from a place in Europe to a place in the First Division. This defeat brought Clydebank to within two points of Hibs, with St Mirren and Motherwell providing the only comfort by their company.

Perhaps Hibs were ring-rusty, as between playing Celtic at Parkhead on November 23 and this match, Hibs had played just three competitive fixtures thanks to the weather, plus friendlies against Dunfermline (5-3, for the Tom Hart Cup, on Dec 3), and Feyenoord (4-2, goals from Cowan(2), Kane and May, Dec 10).

The Hibs team was: Rough, Sneddon, Brazil, Rae, Fulton, Hunter, Kane, Chisholm, Cowan, Harris, May, with Milne and Tortolano on the bench, the latter replacing Benny Brazil in a last desperate effort. The official attendance was given as the remarkably round figure of 6,000 which was a common turnout at Easter Road during this season of amazing highs (the two cup wins over Celtic) and pitiful lows (like this game).

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2 thoughts on “Hibernian 2-3 Clydebank, 4 January 1986

  1. I was 1 of the 6000. To say the penalty was “soft” is a masterful understatement. Despite now struggling to remember what day of the week it is, my memory of that decision is cinematic in its clarity. Bankies player heading for bye-line, perfectly executed, clean sliding tackle from the goal side of the attacker, sending the ball towards the touchline, a yard outside the box. Incredulous looks from all players as ref blows whistle for infringement and then total disbelief as he points to the spot. The only bright spot was Eddie May’s goal, a lovely run from deep with defenders backing off, then a lovely finish into the bottom corner from just outside the box. It was some landmark goal – Hibs 3000th or 4000th or something league goal.

  2. Thanks for that superb detail, Nick. Your memory is certainly clearer than mine, and I originally wrote the above recollection a mere 16 or 17 years after the event. The only thing I can remember clearly now about that game is the sickening sense of inevitable doom that settled on the crowd as soon as Clydebank scored. It’s probably still vivid because it was such a common experience watching Hibs in those days (and many times since). The same kind of powerless dread you get in a good horror film as the beast stalks its next victim…

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