This 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).