It’s interesting now to read the idealised vision of the out of town stadium served by trams under the headline’Common Ground’ below. The example of the perfect modern European solution to stadium redevelopment is the Stadio delle Alpe in Turin. A multi-purpose stadium with running track, it was shared for many years by Juventus and Turin, playing in front of miserable, ever-diminishing crowds that always hated the place until Torino moved back to the old Olympic stadium in the city and Juventus demolished and completely rebuilt the Stadio delle Alpe. There but for the grace of… well, not God, but clear sighted Hibs fans…
Events off the pitch overshadowed this game as news broke earlier in the day that Davie Cooper was in hospital having suffered a brain haemorrhage at the age of 39.
Cooper had played the last of his 157 games for Motherwell barely more than a year earlier and sadly died on the Thursday that this match report was published.
The 5,400 fans who attended the game were accommodated on two sidesof the ground as work began on the new North and South stands.
Hibs 2 Falkirk 2, 10 December 1994
There they sit, like the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, so many cowled, pointy-hooded devotees of the great game, worshipping at the shrine of Football. Or is it bin day?
Just another bunch of miserable fans subjected to the Scottish climate on the pitiless open terrace of the Dunbar End, some of the last unfortunates to be forced to sit down on a cold bucket seat in the pissing rain.
At least they were treated to a relatively exciting game by the looks of things, a 2-2 draw between Hibs and Falkirk. Former Hibs and Nottingham Forest midfielder Brian Rice thought he had won it for Falkirk with a late penalty, only for Michael O’Neill to nick an equaliser in the last minute, his 10th goal of the season so far.
Inflation is quite something. When Hibs announced the redevelopment of Easter Road in December 1994 the price tag for the new North and South stands was £4million. Another £5million would see East and West stands completed in due course. Oh for construction costs like those nowadays, when £4million will be lucky to buy you a share in one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s toenails.
The architect’s model in the photograph shows that replacement of the East terrace was deemed the greater priority, but events (ie decay and safety legislation) overtook the planners and it was of course the West which went up first in 2001. Decrepitude eventually consumed the old main stand which had stood since the 1920s and for whom the term ‘refurbishment’ meant a new coat of green paint on the corrugated asbestos cladding every few years.
It is interesting to read with hindsight that ‘the idea of Hibs moving to Straiton has been laid to rest’. Obviously that notion was interred in an undead condition and returned to stalk us like a festering zombie a few years later in the dark night of the £20million debt. The paint on the new West stand’s sleek architectural cladding was barely dry and we came within a ba’ hair of knocking the whole lot down.
Hugh Keevins remarks somewhat obscurely in his last paragraph that Hibs’ final game on March 4 1995 in front of a reduced capacity will be the last time the club ‘will do anything that could be considered second rate’. I suspect he himself regarded that as a meaningless rhetorical flourish to even up the columns on the page and wouldn’t expect anyone to throw it back at him now. Perhaps his thoughts extended to the no-expense-spared backdrop behind Dougie Cromb at the press conference. Obviously he didn’t forsee the season before last’s excuse for a match programme, relegation in 1998, employing Bobby Williamson…