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wallowing in the history of hibernian fc


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Pre-season tour – Isle of Man Okell’s Football Festival Tournament, 26 July – 1st August 1987

Quite a few Hibbies made the trip to the Isle of Man by the looks of James Cruickshanks’s photo. If anyone recognises themself, own up!

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Gordon Hunter cantering down the wing like a young foal. From the game against Oldham. Nice smooth pitch…

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Some wavy-permed Oldham player preparing to try and dig out the ball from the deep rough at a free kick. Talking of Rough, he still doesn’t look happy behind a wall does he? At the back post the crowd goes wild.

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According to Bobby Sinnet’s wonderful Fitbastats records, Hibs lost 3-6 to Wigan (!), drew 1-1 with Stoke, and pumped the Isle of Man XI 7-1. The game against Oldham pictured here ended 3-0 to Hibs, but I have no idea if this was the final or just a consolation match. If anyone knows, leave a comment below.

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Hibernian 1-2 Seville, 3 August 1986

sevilleprogThis was the first of two fairly demanding pre-season friendlies for Hibs in the run up to their opening match against Rangers on 9 August. The other was against Chelsea, part of the terms of Gordon Durie’s £400,000 summer transfer to the London club.

Why Seville? Well, it’s the orange capital of Spain so was obviously considered a perfect warm up for the Rangers game… Ok, I’m sorry, but these were just the kind of gags that were rife at the time, since Seville’s manager was none other than Rangers legend Jock Wallace. Apart from the obvious jokes of an orange order, sorry, citrus nature, other comments on Jock’s surprise move to Spain included that no one would be able to understand a word he said. Just like in Scotland then…

sevilleactionBig Jock’s Seville team did not come studded with famous Spanish names to the best of my recollection (the programme didn’t even list a squad), but they easily outclassed Hibs on the day, scoring two easy goals against Willie Irvine’s one, and strolling through the game as though their main object was to avoid embarrassing their hosts.

In the Chelsea game two days later, however, Hibs worked hard to prove a point to Gordon Durie by beating his new team 4-0, much to the delight of the Hibs support. Apart from Durie the Chelsea squad featured fellow Scots David Speedie, Pat Nevin, Doug Rougvie, and future Hibees Kevin McAllister and Joe McLaughlin.

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Introducing the Famous Five

It was under the above headline that the programme editor chose to introduce John Blackley’s five summer signings – or was it the editor of Scottish Football Today from where the piece was taken? Either way, to say they were making themselves hostages to fortune is putting it mildly.

The five in question were George McCluskey, Mark Caughey, Willie Irvine (no relation), Stuart Beedie and Billy Kirkwood, signed for a collective sum of around £300,000. Only McCluskey out of the five can be considered in retrospect an unqualified success, and even that has to be said in the context of his advancing years. Kirkwood looked initially like a bargain signing to me, but his inconsistency quickly shone through, as did Beedie’s, despite a few promising performances.

As for Caughey and Irvine, little was ever heard of them in their brief careers at Easter Road. Caughey in particular came with much promise, largely due to the considerable effort taken to secure his signature. Chairman Kenny Waugh and manager John Blackley embarked on a 12,000 mile round trip to Albequerque, New Mexico to sign him when it appeared that an English club were interested in snatching him. Caughey was with the Northern Irish squad preparing for the Mexico World Cup at the time.

‘Now that the protracted transfer has been cleared, Mark is house hunting in Edinburgh,’ said the programme, ‘where his pace and deep crosses from the right are certain to add excitement to the football scene.’ In his back garden presumably, as they were never in evidence at Easter Road…

Willie Irvine’s major contribution to Hibs’ history (a hat trick against Chelsea aside) was as catalyst for the chant ‘There’s only two Willie Irvines’, when his more grizzled and elderly namesake returned from a loan period at Falkirk.