Tommy Burns, done deal, stick on. Except it wasn’t. Burns never arrived. Instead it was Alex McLeish who walked through the door to try and save Hibs from the drop in the remaining 12 games. McLeish left Motherwell who were sitting just five points above Hibs in ninth place. The previous season Motherwell only avoided the play-off place on goal difference from Hibs. The season before that they finished eighth as well. Apart from being the manager of the team whose 6-2 gubbing of Hibs proved the final straw for Jim Duffy, McLeish’s main claim to managerial fame was his second place finish in 1995. Perhaps his recent success in winning relegation battles with Motherwell was the clincher. What of the future though, we wondered.
This was only Hibs’ fourth victory of the season, out of seven games including two League Cup ties. In other words we had won three out of five league games, losing to Hearts at home and drawing at Tannadice. Dundee Utd knocked us out of the League Cup three days following that draw, but nevertheless our tally of wins had us sitting top of the league. Continue reading
The season started in the brightest of fashions. Although the conclusion to the previous campaign had been worrying, with Duffy managing only three wins out of the 16 league matches under his charge, it was charitably assumed that the close season preparation and some new recruits would see a different Hibs emerge. Continue reading
Memory fails me when it comes to the details of this game. This is probably because it took place on the same day that the Grand National was postponed due to an IRA bomb scare at Aintree. I had to queue up for an age at a bookie’s on Easter Road to get my stake back, since I was returning to Cambridge the next day. If I’d let the bet ride for when the race was finally run on the Monday I would have had about £50 to collect on my next trip north. Story of my life.
Anyway, history records that Hibs won this match 2-0 thanks to a Chic Charnley penalty after 73 minutes, the concession of which also led to Steven Pressley being ordered off. Pat McGinlay secured the points five minutes later. With Motherwell only drawing at Pittodrie Hibs were five points clear of the dreaded play-off spot. Unfortunately the results were reversed the following weekend and when Motherwell won improbably at Ibrox on the second last day of the season while Hibs went down to Celtic the teams were tied on points with Motherwell crucially ahead on goal difference. A nervous final Saturday lay in store.
London Hibbies might like to scrutinise the photo below and see if they can name the three members to Phil Larner’s right, snapped while celebrating Phil’s 50th birthday (and a 2-1 Hibs win at Aberdeen) in the Forthview restaurant at Easter Road. Leave a comment if you recognise anyone.