The possibility that footballing history can be made at any moment is one of the things that keeps us coming back game after game. This was always going to be a noteworthy fixture, simply because it was the first appearance in Scottish league football of Graeme Souness. Quite how noteworthy it would turn out, however, was probably beyond even his imagination.
Souness had arrived at Ibrox in the summer from Sampdoria and had immediately set about breaking the mould of Scottish football by signing top English stars Terry Butcher and Chris Woods. By wielding the financial power of Rangers, Souness clearly intended to make his mark and transform the fortunes of a club which by its own standards had endured a long period of under-achievement.
It was the mark which Souness left on George McCluskey’s shin after just 30 minutes of this game which really made the headlines though. Things had not been going entirely according to plan, with Hibs matching Rangers all the way in fluency and threat. Souness’s challenge on the Hibs striker was so wild that it immediately sparked a full blown ‘stramash’ in the centre circle, involving almost every player on the field. Even Chris Woods sprinted fully 50 yards from his goal to get involved, and Ally McCoist deemed it necessary to flatten Mark Fulton with a cowardly punch from behind at the outset.
Alan Rough had the common sense to keep out of it, and was the only player to escape punishment from the SFA in an unprecedented retrospective mass booking of all the other players after the game, though he did manage to get himself booked properly in a separate incident during the game. (Mark Fulton and George McCluskey successfully appealed against their cautions, having both spent the entire episode flat on their backs. The £1,000 fine imposed on Hibs for their part in the disorder stood.)
Souness was red-carded, sending the Hibs support into delirious abandon, and sending Souness to the stand in utter humiliation. To be disgraced in this way, he later confessed, with his father watching from the stand, ‘in his own back yard’, was the lowest moment of his career.
For Hibs fans it was practically the high point of their season, complemented by the eventual result, with Steve Cowan and Stuart Beedie netting the goals which defeated Rangers. The team which did the business was: Rough, Sneddon, Tortolano, Kirkwood, Fulton, Chisholm, Beedie, Weir, Cowan, McCluskey and May. Willie Irvine came on after McCluskey was carried off and Gordon Rae came on for Beedie. The majority of the 24,000 fans went home happy, and delighted that forevermore they would be able to tell people: ‘Remember the Souness game? I was there’.
Hibernian Retro have thoughtfully uploaded a highlights video of this unforgettable match.
Young Hibees bring home the bacon
The Hibs youth team’s Danish tour in the summer was featured in the Rangers programme. A squad of 18 youngsters won two tournaments and were awarded a third trophy as the best overall team of all age groups taking part in one of them.
The squad, pictured above, featured future first teamers Steven Tweed and Chris Reid. Darren Salton was another member of the squad and kindly emailed me with this run down on the team picture: back row left to right; Clarke Robertson, Ian Seagal, Chris Reid, Ross Philips, Steven Dunn, Ian Graham, Darren Salton, Stuart Mourning, Jason McLellan; front row left to right David Nichols, Steven Raynes, Raymond Smith, Lee Bailey, Ian Gordon, Steven Tweed, Justin McGovern, Paul Telfer. The coaches that went on the trip were Gordon Nealy, Graham Brice and Jim Dobbiny..
Ross Philips is the one standing head and shoulders above the rest in this shot.
Apart from Tweedy, now at Dundee after his sojourns in Stoke and Greece, and Chris Reid, now at Stirling Albion, I have only been able to trace another five of this squad (thanks to Paddy Barry for setting the ball rolling).
Paul Telfer is the most illustrious graduate of this group, having played over 200 games in midfield for Coventry in the English Premier League since joining them from Luton in 1995. After winning a Scottish cap he followed manager Gordon Strachan to Southampton and is still there (2005). Darren Salton was also with Paul at Luton, but his career was ended after the pair were in a car crash together in around 1992.
Lee Bailey and Stephen Raynes played together for Brechin City. Last time I looked, striker Lee had scored 10 goals for them since signing in 1999, after spells at Livingston (92-98) and Queen of the South. Stephen also started his first team career at Livvy in 97, moving to Forfar in 98, before taking up his berth in Brechin’s midfield in 99. Darren says he still keeps in touch with Paul Telfer and has bumped into Lee Bailey and Steven Raynes in the WHY NOT nightclub when visiting Edinburgh.
According to Paddy Barry, Ian Segal sadly had his career ended before it even began, following a playing injury sustained about 1988.
If anyone knows what became of any of the others then please drop me a line.