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wallowing in the history of hibernian fc


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Dunfermline Athletic 3-3 Hibs, 8 August 1987

pars080887progI was one of 13,500 fans crowded onto the old shale and sleeper terraces of East End Park for Dunfermline’s first ever game in the Premier League. The glorious sunny August afternoon must have had the players thinking it was still a pre-season exhibition match as they treated us to six goals.

Dunfermline opened the scoring through a Dave Young header with Paul Kane lashing in an equaliser a minute before half-time. Three minutes into the second half Mickey Weir put Hibs a goal up when he pounced on a Steve Cowan header which Westwater couldn’t hold. Former Hibs man Stuart Beedie brought the Pars level with a deflected free kick before Mickey Weir weaved past four defenders and crossed for John Collins to restablish the lead. Hibs were unable to hold on to it however, as Dave Young headed his second goal five minutes from time.

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The full Hibs line-up read: Rough, Milne, McIntyre, May, Rae, Hunter, Weir, Kane, Cowan, Collins, McBride, with Tortolano and McGovern on the bench.

Pre-match entertainment was provided by a variety of baton twirling routines by the Tomettes, and programme readers were welcomed on the first page by the inimitable Jim Leishman’s crazed expression.

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Hibernian 2-1 Rangers, 9 August 1986

rangersprogThe possibility that footballing history can be made at any moment is one of the things that keeps us coming back game after game. This was always going to be a noteworthy fixture, simply because it was the first appearance in Scottish league football of Graeme Souness. Quite how noteworthy it would turn out, however, was probably beyond even his imagination.

Souness had arrived at Ibrox in the summer from Sampdoria and had immediately set about breaking the mould of Scottish football by signing top English stars Terry Butcher and Chris Woods. By wielding the financial power of Rangers, Souness clearly intended to make his mark and transform the fortunes of a club which by its own standards had endured a long period of under-achievement.

It was the mark which Souness left on George McCluskey’s shin after just 30 minutes of this game which really made the headlines though. Things had not been going entirely according to plan, with Hibs matching Rangers all the way in fluency and threat. Souness’s challenge on the Hibs striker was so wild that it immediately sparked a full blown ‘stramash’ in the centre circle, involving almost every player on the field. Even Chris Woods sprinted fully 50 yards from his goal to get involved, and Ally McCoist deemed it necessary to flatten Mark Fulton with a cowardly punch from behind at the outset.

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Alan Rough had the common sense to keep out of it, and was the only player to escape punishment from the SFA in an unprecedented retrospective mass booking of all the other players after the game, though he did manage to get himself booked properly in a separate incident during the game. (Mark Fulton and George McCluskey successfully appealed against their cautions, having both spent the entire episode flat on their backs. The £1,000 fine imposed on Hibs for their part in the disorder stood.)

Souness was red-carded, sending the Hibs support into delirious abandon, and sending Souness to the stand in utter humiliation. To be disgraced in this way, he later confessed, with his father watching from the stand, ‘in his own back yard’, was the lowest moment of his career.

For Hibs fans it was practically the high point of their season, complemented by the eventual result, with Steve Cowan and Stuart Beedie netting the goals which defeated Rangers. The team which did the business was: Rough, Sneddon, Tortolano, Kirkwood, Fulton, Chisholm, Beedie, Weir, Cowan, McCluskey and May. Willie Irvine came on after McCluskey was carried off and Gordon Rae came on for Beedie. The majority of the 24,000 fans went home happy, and delighted that forevermore they would be able to tell people: ‘Remember the Souness game? I was there’.

Hibernian Retro have thoughtfully uploaded a highlights video of this unforgettable match.

Young Hibees bring home the bacon

The Hibs youth team’s Danish tour in the summer was featured in the Rangers programme. A squad of 18 youngsters won two tournaments and were awarded a third trophy as the best overall team of all age groups taking part in one of them.

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The squad, pictured above, featured future first teamers Steven Tweed and Chris Reid. Darren Salton was another member of the squad and kindly emailed me with this run down on the team picture: back row left to right; Clarke Robertson, Ian Seagal, Chris Reid, Ross Philips, Steven Dunn, Ian Graham, Darren Salton, Stuart Mourning, Jason McLellan; front row left to right David Nichols, Steven Raynes, Raymond Smith, Lee Bailey, Ian Gordon, Steven Tweed, Justin McGovern, Paul Telfer. The coaches that went on the trip were Gordon Nealy, Graham Brice and Jim Dobbiny..

Ross Philips is the one standing head and shoulders above the rest in this shot.

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Apart from Tweedy, now at Dundee after his sojourns in Stoke and Greece, and Chris Reid, now at Stirling Albion, I have only been able to trace another five of this squad (thanks to Paddy Barry for setting the ball rolling).

Paul Telfer is the most illustrious graduate of this group, having played over 200 games in midfield for Coventry in the English Premier League since joining them from Luton in 1995. After winning a Scottish cap he followed manager Gordon Strachan to Southampton and is still there (2005). Darren Salton was also with Paul at Luton, but his career was ended after the pair were in a car crash together in around 1992.

Lee Bailey and Stephen Raynes played together for Brechin City. Last time I looked, striker Lee had scored 10 goals for them since signing in 1999, after spells at Livingston (92-98) and Queen of the South. Stephen also started his first team career at Livvy in 97, moving to Forfar in 98, before taking up his berth in Brechin’s midfield in 99. Darren says he still keeps in touch with Paul Telfer and has bumped into Lee Bailey and Steven Raynes in the WHY NOT nightclub when visiting Edinburgh.

According to Paddy Barry, Ian Segal sadly had his career ended before it even began, following a playing injury sustained about 1988.

If anyone knows what became of any of the others then please drop me a line.


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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.