the hibLOG

wallowing in the history of hibernian fc

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All new hibLOG!

Fresh meat! Dead meat!!

For the first time in about nine years (!) I have finally scanned some new press cuttings and can present to you, my loyal readers, previously unpublished material!

I would say ‘can present to you with pleasure‘ except there is very little pleasure to be had from the memories invoked by this new batch of newsprint. First cab off the rank just happens to represent season 1997-98 which, until Terry Butcher got his hands on the reins in 2013, was just about the worst season in Hibs’ history. Although we had been relegated twice before, the absolute horror show of Hibs’ fall from the top of the table in September to the very bottom before New Year was mesmerisingly awful. Truly Hibs were like a rabbit caught in the headlights, going 15 games without a win and clocking up a seven game losing streak.

Jim Duffy is the main villain of this piece, ably supported by the Hibs board who first appointed him and then let him linger for so long that Alex McLeish’s rescue mission was made virtually impossible. Poor old Billy McNeill was dragged out of semi-retirement to try and help Duffy turn it round but he was gone within a month as the team continued to gaze hypnotised at the oncoming truck.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of highlights here: Chic Charnley’s moment of glory, lashing a 20-yard winner past his bhoyhood heroes Celtic on the season’s opening day; and the defeat of Hearts in April, effectively ending their title challenge. Even if it did us no good in the end it made us feel better for a few days. Small consolation in a season that made us feel rank rotten for many months.

Season 1997-98 index


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Hibs 1-2 Dundee United, 2 May 1998

dundeeutd020598_2Failure to beat Dunfermline the week after the Hearts game was really the final straw for Hibs. Even a creditable draw with Celtic, still short of blocking Rangers’ ten in a row, was no good as first Dunfermline and then Aberdeen both won crucial games to take them out of reach. Dundee United themselves had been sucked into the relegation battle and defeat here would have left them facing Rangers to guarantee survival. Continue reading

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Hibs 1 Airdrie 0, 17 May 1997



I’m not sure whether it is sad or pleasing to relate that the last thing Gordon Hunter kicked in a Hibs shirt was not the ball but an Airdrie player. Either way, his sending-off brought an end to more than 10 years of honourable service at Easter Road. Still only 30, Hunter headed for Australia hereafter, before returning to see out his career in the lower leagues (bar 3 SPL games for Dundee) at Cowdenbeath, Hamilton and Stirling.

Hunter’s suspension for the second leg of this relegation/promotion decider, together with the slenderness of victory by an own goal, made it understandable that Jim Duffy should question the virtues of the play-off system. No doubt Alex MacDonald was more optimistic of Airdrie’s chances and satisfied with his side’s ability to niggle and rile their opponents.

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Airdrie 2 Hibs 4, 22 May 1997

Great escape

Great escape

Although this ended up being Hibs’ biggest win of a grim season they achieved it the hard way, going a goal down in the first minute and surviving a penalty miss by Airdrie later in the first half.

This was never going to be an uneventful match, and with a further three penalties awarded and Jimmy Sandison sent off for elbowing near the end it lived up to expectation. Darren Jackson scored two of the penalties for Hibs to secure the tie and Hibs survival in the Premier League.

It was the end of Jackson’s Hibs career, however, sold to Celtic for £1.25million in the summer. His return to Edinburgh two years later to play for Hearts completed his transformation from hero to villain. Keith Wright had also played his last game for Hibs at the age of 32, and Jim Leighton was lured back to Aberdeen by the offer of a player-coach role at his first club.

Perhaps they also saw the writing on the wall in this nerve-shredding brush with relegation.