the hibLOG

wallowing in the history of hibernian fc

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Hibernian 0-0 St Mirren, 26 December 1987

stmir261287progGoing to games whenever you happen to be in Edinburgh for other purposes – in this case Christmas – does have its drawbacks. You end up spending a freezing afternoon watching tedious goalless draws against St Mirren for example. Despite the fact that this was Boxing Day, only another 7,499 people joined me at Easter Road for an entirely forgettable experience.

For the record Hibs lined up: Goram, Hunter, Sneddon, May, Rae, Mitchell, Kane, McIntyre, McCluskey, Collins and Watson, with McBride and Milne coming on for the two Macs, presumably only to prevent them developing frostbite.

The St Mirren squad featured a young Paul Lambert, and Brian Hamilton: ‘a strong attacking player he can also play well at left back or in central defence’ – aha, so that’s why Lexo signed him, he could never play him out of position…

Alex Miller’s ‘Backchat’ notes in the programme perhaps give some explanation for the lack of seasonal cheer: ‘As we look into 1988, I’m simply aiming to better last year’s points total in the league. If we can finish with more points than last year, then it will be an improvement we can build on.’ Stirring stuff, eh? Continue reading

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Falkirk 1-3 Hibs, 3 January 1987

Falkirk3187progAs you can see from the programme cover (click for full size pic), Brockville Park has remained remarkably untouched by the passing fads of ground development over the last 13 years. Visiting the ‘stadium’ again in February 1999 for Hibs’ Division 1 fixture was itself a veritable stroll down memory lane. Apparently the toilets have not been altered since medieval times, and Channel 4’s Time Team are reportedly keen on carrying out excavations in the search for Crawford Baptie’s ancestors.

The game was the first I’d seen of Hibs under new manager Alex Miller who had replaced John Blackley at the beginning of December. New recruits Doug Bell, Graeme Mitchell and Tommy McIntyre were on display and looked impressive, especially Bell who netted a 20 yard volley to seal a 3-1 victory for Hibs. The full team was: Rough, Sneddon, Mitchell, Bell, Rae, McIntyre, Weir, Kane, McCluskey, Collins and McBride, with Cowan and May on the bench. The other scorers for Hibs were George McCluskey and Joe McBride.


Old ads are always good for a laugh. This one for Falkirk FC Social Club just goes to show that those Bairns really knew how to rave it up. Yes this is from 1987, believe me…


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Alex Miller resigns, 30 September 1996

Miller walks

Miller walks

The fans might have had more lasting respect for Alex Miller if he had said he was going for their sake, so drastically unattractive had the football become in his last days. Miller, however, laid some of the blame for that on the fans, saying the atmosphere at Easter Road was affecting the players.

That would be nothing new where Hibs are concerned, but Miller’s departure was greeted with universal rejoicing, a reaction which was understandable, but paid little credit to his achievements over ten years at the club. Hibs were a team going down the plughole when he arrived in November 1986 and he turned that round. He held the team together through the crisis of 1990 and produced the club’s first trophy since 1972 little over a year later. He rebuilt the team and took it to another League Cup final in 1993 and back into Europe.

The signings of players such as Keith Wright, Kevin McAllister, Michael O’Neill and Darren Jackson belied Miller’s reputation as a dour pragmatist, but it has to be said that the pragmatic always outweighed the pretty in his teams. The stereotype of Miller’s Hibs grinding out mind-numbing defensive draws was formed not only in the seasons when we struggled against relegation, but also infuriatingly in the midst of otherwise adventurous winning runs.

It is for that, rather than his association with Rangers (though the two are related in the minds of some Hibs fans), that Miller will never be fondly remembered as the man who led Hibs from the brink of extinction to League Cup glory in 1991. Turnbull’s Tornadoes won it in 1972 and the victory of 2007 will be credited to John Collins (or even Tony Mowbray), but for Hibs fans it seems that the 1991 trophy was won by the players alone. That is a grossly unfair judgement on Alex Miller.

Dougie Cromb shed tears when Miller resigned, and said that he would go on ‘to higher and better things.’ It didn’t seem that way when Aberdeen turned to him a year later to try and revive their flagging fortunes, dispensing with him after a further 12 unspectacular months. But in May 2005, as he leapt from the Liverpool bench to celebrate their sensational Champions League victory as 1st team coach and an integral part of Rafa Benitez’s backroom staff, the jibes of Hibs fans could scarcely be further from his mind, and Dougie Cromb could feel vindicated.

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Hibs 0 Dunfermline 0, 24 August 1996

I witnessed this dismal goalless draw with newly promoted Dunfermline from what was still known as the North Stand, before its renaming in honour of the Famous Five. The vitriol which showered down upon Alex Miller from all the stands hinted that time was nearly up for the manager as he approached his tenth anniversary at Easter Road. Grown men bellowed abuse towards the dugout with such force that the pulsating veins in their necks looked close to bursting.

The squad hadn’t changed that much from the previous season – O’Neill, Tweed and Tortolano had gone – but the signings of Barry Lavety, Andy Dow, Brian Welsh and Ian Cameron were clearly not setting anyone’s pulse racing with excitement.

Where are they now?

The ‘new look’ match programme seemed designed to appeal to the younger supporter, with plenty of block colour and little in the way of historical content. There was still room for the photos from far-flung Hibees around the world however. If anyone knows where Craig Douglas and his oil-drilling ‘Thai-bees’ are now, please let me know by leaving a comment.