It was with great pleasure that I was able to contribute the following article for the return of the Hibernian FC fanzine, Mass Hibsteria, specially produced for the historic 2012 Scottish Cup Final between Hibernian and Hearts. History records that the quest for the Scottish Cup remains after defeat in the Final on May 19, 2012; I wouldn’t change a single word of the below however, the words and feeling are but magnified. And so it remains…
As I sit here and write with an MHHM deadline looming – a deadline I thought I’d never witness again – I’m attempting to comprehend the enormity of the historic occasion that approaches. The unimaginable has happened and we are (somewhat improbably) pitched against our oldest and most bitter rivals at Hampden Park in search of the Holy Grail of the Scottish Cup. You really ‘couldn’t make it up’ as they say.
The second semi-final day was a curious affair for me as I’d disappeared for the day out for a country walk, convinced that Celtic would do the needful and go on to meet Hibs in the final. I really should have known that an all-Edinburgh final was in the stars and the deeply emotional feelings that washed over me as I returned home to go online and find out the result will live with me forever.
As the planets slowly but surely move into line for this momentous occasion – probably the most important Hibs game of most of our lives – I’m drawn to thinking about a lifetime that led me up to this point of following Hibs. I’m sure it too is a pivotal moment in the thoughts of many other Hibees who are kind enough to read this.
There were hushed tones in the quiet Musselburgh household that early winter Saturday evening. The men of the house were holding what seemed like another post-mortem. I vaguely understood it was about football and football meant Hibs. All I knew at that young age was that the colours were green and white and that it was something our family ‘did’ – without question. School days were fresh and as a little time went on, and after a barrage of pleading, I was taken to Easter Road for the very first time by my dad. Memories of the game are few but some of the sights and sounds are etched into my soul. Walking part of the way from our town, stopping to view the dry dock with the little boats lying on their side and eventually turning the corner into what will always be to me the ‘heavenly boulevard’ of Easter Road. The lines of neat yet austere tenements seeming to draw us ever nearer to the source of the excitement beyond our view. An intricacy of smaller streets and my dad and I were inside this awe-inspiring place, inhabited by members of our family for generations. A small boy, I was in turns astounded, frightened and full of wonder at what surrounded me. A huge crowd, an even larger imposing terrace and a crackling of noise and anticipation filled my eyes and ears. We steadily picked our way to near the very top, me probably with my mouth open all the way. The smell of cigarettes, the laughter and banter, the tones of a distinctive dialect that is still in my head, wherever I may be.
A view of the old Easter Road stadium with the huge East Terracing to the left of the picture
Giddily peering down at the emerald green sward, yes, from my daddy’s brawny shoulders, I saw this phenomenon and cornerstone of my life for the very first time as the Hibernian players ran out to a huge cheer. There was never any going back. ‘This is what our family do son and this is where you belong’. The men in the beautiful green shirts with their smart white sleeves weaved their pretty patterns for us and I watched, enthralled.
Time moved on and so did our family, to the country of my mother’s birth. I was uploaded onto maternal uncles in a bid to quench my new-found thirst for football at the two Nottingham grounds. The men from the City Ground were exactly ninety places above Notts County who were in their annual bid to avoid the re-election process at the bottom end of the Football League. This family favoured the Magpies, the glamour club of the previous decade, the 1950s and imperious and idolised England spearhead Tommy Lawton but I was nonetheless introduced to both the red and the black and white sides of the Trent.
Something wasn’t quite right with my football world though.
Great excitement was forming on the south side of the River Trent and a dashing, brave and lightening quick centre forward was plying his trade in the Garibaldi Red number nine jersey. Former Hibs forward Joe Baker was leading the charge for the old First Division Championship for the provincial club against the might of Manchester United’s Best, Law and Charlton. History tells us that ‘The Baker Boy’ and his teammates or ‘Zigger Zagger’ as he was fondly known in Nottingham, narrowly failed in their quest. I didn’t care however; I had my own personal Hibs Hero playing just five miles away from our front door and I adored him. I still do.
Visits to the family ‘back home’ would be frequent and it was at these times I began to understand what I missed. A sunny early autumn stay back in Portobello, ‘Good Day Sunshine’ by The Beatles playing thinly on a nearby transistor radio and days back playing on the beach until the water finally, inexorably rolled in again for the day.
Then, inevitably, back to Nottingham.
It seems a little forlorn these days to say but my main contact in keeping Hibs and in some ways Scotland, alive in my life was through The Sunday Post which was not available in our local paper shop until Monday lunchtime when I would be sent to collect it. It perhaps appears a little funny to say in 2012 but I’d read it back to front and back again, devouring the pages word for word. Of course the sports pages always came first and the report on the Hibs game was the pinnacle of that.
It was all Stanton almost every week. The writers talked in wonder at his authoritative, composed and brilliant displays week in and week out. I almost knew what Jack Harkness et al. were going to say about him, along with their archaic prose of ‘onion bag’s and ‘stramashes’. I loved it. I also counted myself very fortunate to be taken to see the great man and his fabulous and exhilarating team on many, many occasions during our visits. If you’re asking me by the way, out of the many, I’d say Sodjer…
Darker days came along after the days of the Tornados, only punctuated by the incredible signing of Georgie Best who put the beautiful team in my heart firmly in the headlines in England. We all know the well-documented ups and downs of the Belfast Boy’s chequered time in Leith but just to say ‘thanks for the memories’ Georgie. I’m so glad you were one of us for a little while.
Life, relationships and jobs caught up with me, my parents passed on but still my deep feelings for Hibs and the family tradition endured, personally, privately. A grown man, I’d walk home on the dark nights after an evening out with friends quietly singing the old Hibs songs I knew to no one and sometimes in my head. In time, the younger team came along with a flow of ebullience, headed by the brash and confident talent of a young Johnny Collins. Stays back home ‘up the town’ by this time were punctuated by visits to Easter Road. In fact they were planned around them if truth be told.
A lull presented itself and the man who delivered me from the doldrums was Franck Sauzee. On first sight I really couldn’t take my eyes off the dominating quality of the great Frenchman who strolled around in the green and white adorned with a pair of black gloves, pinging 60-yard passes onto teammates’ toes. Thank you Franck, you brought me back from the wilderness.
Hibernian warrior: the iconic Pat Stanton
Of course by now the internet was making huge inroads into my relationship with Hibs. As a distant fan I could now keep much more in touch with my team and the people who surrounded it. First internet search: ‘Hibs’. First attempted download: a Hibs goal (which I gave up on after 45 minutes!) much more than this though it gave me some of the best friends of my life, back home as my relationship with Edinburgh happily travelled full circle, back into the fold of my own people.
As I sit here and write, my most recent emotions were over friends trying their very best to find me a gold dust ticket for our date with destiny on May 19th. Having all but given up any hope I was resigned to coming back to Edinburgh and travelling through to Hampden with the idea of standing listening from outside the stadium’s walls. I just wanted to be near Hibs at that time – ‘where I belong’. I know that my late father would have understood. He’s in these pages, with his dad too. They’ll be at Hampden.
A few days ago I received a message that brought completely unexpected news – I am to be there to witness the big day. A dear friend gained me that precious ticket to be with my team in their greatest hour. I don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear or two. ‘My tears are drying’ though thank you, thank you – beauty and kindness. I’d like to also thank all my friends back home for just being there and an especial thank you to the MHHM team for their hard work and vision in providing this opportunity for a few of us ordinary fans to express ourselves. The hour approaches. To my fellow Hibernians – ‘I will be with you’.
I’ll end by repeating something I wrote a few years ago. It still holds true and always will.
‘It still remains a love like no other. I can’t ever imagine Hibs not being a cornerstone of everything I stand for and come from’.
See you at Hampden.
God bless the Hibs.
Well, here we are again. Hibernian FC is again a rudderless ship once more after just sixteen months with manager John Hughes being allowed to leave by ‘mutual consent’. In fairness the club had to act to counter an appalling recorded of just four wins in thirty-three games and nowhere would you have heard that proclaimed louder than from me. So now the usual lottery of choosing a new manager at Easter Road ensues and one wonders at the selections procedures that are used by Chairman Rod Petrie and his cohorts. One thing is for sure, the method of choosing a former playing hero of the club will not necessarily wash.
A person that has been mentioned yet again along with many others is former Forest and Notts County boss, Ian McParland I’ve been a big admirer of ‘Charlie’ in the past, both as a player and manager and have had the chance to watch him manage on both sides of the Trent at The City Ground and Meadow Lane
I see his name coming once more into the reckoning in various places and thought I’d just comment. Originally at Forest he was a somewhat reluctant caretaker manager being thrust into the job to hold the fort after Megson left, after around ten years being a quite happy reserve team boss. At this time he was slightly taciturn with the media and tended to leave that stuff to his co-manager, Frank Barlow. It worked well and Forest played some great football before and had great results before Colin Calderwood was appointed manager (surprisingly to many).
He reverted back to his former role as reserve team boss before taking the manager role at Notts, who were ultimately enshrouded in the media circus that was Munto Finance and Sven-Goran Eriksson. The ‘millions’ that were promised for the club were found to be built on sand but in the meantime, Notts saw fit to part company with their relatively low-profile manager and acquire someone more ‘fitting’ with their new-found ‘prestige’ and image.
Apparently Charlie is reportedly is happily continuing his career at Ipswich as a coach and I’m not sure, considering, his past experiences, how much he wants to dip his toe in the water again. He has been reported as as admitting to being a big Hibby and offered in the past that he’d love to manage at Easter Road one day though.
I like Ian McParland. i think he’s a real football man and loves his team to play with flair and pass the ball on the ground. At Notts he systematically went through the whole club top to bottom and repaired what had become a joke and a shambles of a club that nearly went out of the league. What you see is what you get with this guy – he doesn’t talk a lot compared to some but he talks straight.
All this wasn’t enough for some Notts fans who were split in opinion about him at the end. I think they had had their heads turned with talk of the likes of Roberto Mancini (yes, I kid you not!) coming to manage the club. It was a very silly time on that side of the Trent.
The main criticism you’ll hear Magpies fans make of McParland is that he ‘couldn’t change a game’ – does that sound familiar? It may be a fair criticism but for my money it’s becoming one of the great clichés of modern football, we hear it at a lot of clubs. Another factor is that Charlie is most definitely a Hibby – a Tranent lad who supported the club when he was younger but doesn’t shout about it a lot. That once was a factor in his favour but from what I hear nowadays wouldn’t necessarily be now – quite the reverse for some in fact.
Hibs fans – make your own mind up!
Well tomorrow is the date for Hibs’ latest foray into Europe to end or alternatively continue in a blaze of glory. With a first leg deficit of three goals, for me it’s extremely unlikely that it will be the latter. I like to try and be optimistic but i feel this is a challenge beyond the men from Easter Road’s reach. Already many are calling for an ‘up and at
‘em’ type display in tomorrow night’s second leg but I’m not so sure. I feel I’ve seen this type of attitude on many an occasion previously and doubt it’s worth, romantic though it sounds.
It’s clear that Hibs need to play with a lot of drive, passion, determination and tempo to give them any chance at all but I sometimes think that the ‘throwing the kitchen sink at them’ approach is outdated and limited. Many times I have seen Hibs, other Scottish sides and in particular the Scottish national side adopt this and ultimately fail. It’s fine whipping players into a near-frenzy before they step out onto the pitch, and Scottish football is particularly adept at employing this tactic, but rarely does it seem to me that this momentum can be retained throughout a game. In the case in point here, if the ‘early goal’ that people say is crucial to Hibs doesn’t materialise, heaven forbid the opposition score on a breakaway, then it can be difficult to find a Plan B from there, when the wind has been taken out of the sails and the early huffing and puffing has subsided.
I’m just wondering if a more measured approach would be more appropriate. For Hibs to play their football, keep the ball and build up some momentum and pressure. I think too much emphasis as has been placed on the ‘early goal’ could actually serve to frustrate the players and distract them from their game if it doesn’t happen. I’m quite sure the NK Maribor boss will have drummed it into his players not to concede a goal early and that this will be their first major objective of the night. Hibs have ninety minutes to score three times and take this tie further. They’re going to need a little patience in order to surmount this huge task facing them on Thursday night.
Good luck to the men in green jerseys. We’re going to need it.
Welcome to a short history of Hibernian Football Club, the Green and White side of the Edinburgh professional football scene. ‘The Hibees’ play at Easter Road Stadium in Leith and have a proud, honourable and intriguing history stretching all the way back to 1875!
Hibernian Football Club has been part of the fabric and culture of Scotland’s capital since it’s early inception. The club’s name is most usually abbreviated to ‘Hibs’ by fans and media alike. The club sports an impressive 17,500 seat facility in Easter Road Stadium where they play their home games.
Hibs have traditionally played in green and white strips since their formation, a pointer back to the Irish origins of the club. These origins emanate and embrace Irish emigration into Scotland and its capital during the dark days of the Irish potato famine when many were displaced into the country and further afield around the world. The club badge has had several incarnations and it’s most recent one refers inclusively back to history and to the geographical placing of the organisation in its emblem of the Irish Harp, the castle depicting Edinburgh’s garrison and the ship signifying the port of Leith, respectively.
The club enjoys something of a high-profile fan base amongst its regular faithful fans. Notably, author Irvine Welsh has featured the club in his novels on many a memorable occasion, even hitting celluloid in the case of Trainspotting. Singing duo The Proclaimers contributed a modern-day and much-loved theme to the Easter Road terraces in their emotional ballad Sunshine on Leith. Further regular literary mentions also abound in Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus stories in which his assistant is depicted as a ‘Hibby’.
Charlie and Craig Reid -The Proclaimers
So who are this team then? What is the lifeblood that has characterised this green and white phenomenon since its inception? Let’s take a leisurely and enjoyable stroll the through the history book to find out a little more about its rich past. Read more »
On a delightfully warm June day a few months ago, I had the good fortune to do something that had been on my mind for some time now, whilst back on one of my many sojourns to Edinburgh. How many wonderful days and night’s have I spent in Hibernian FC’s new and old stadium watching those bright emerald green jerseys with the white sleeves, yet never ventured much beyond the stands for that couple of hours spent supporting my team from boyhood?
In truth, that’s not strictly accurate. Way back in 1978, whilst visiting with a friend, I wandered into the very different ‘ER’ of the day and was kindly taken on an impromptu tour by the then groundsman. My memories of that include an explanation of how the recent ban on alcohol in Scottish football had cleared the Easter Road match day aftermath of two skips full of empty bottles and cans. They also extend to a little tour through the players changing rooms and observing the Hibs youth team playing out a five-a-side training game. This tour was entirely due to one man’s hospitality but now things are a little different.
As you can see, a peek behind the scenes at the ‘new’ Easter Road was well overdue. With that I mind I was very happy to have my phone booking accepted for myself and my partner’s father, visiting from Canada, by the friendly and helpful club staff that June morning. A couple of hours later and we duly arrived to fulfil our booking and were ushered through to the man reception area where a group of people were already gathering for the Easter Road experience.
I was glad and happy to re-make the acquaintance of a friendly face in the tour guide Bill Bryson, something of an old Hibee friend by the good grace of the Internet. As we sat down for Billy to offer us his wide knowledge and intriguing stories about the club and its residence, it felt great to be ‘home’.
Of course the whole of the West Stand in which we sat was completely rebuilt and refurbished within the past decade. Space abounds in this new and modern facility and there was an airy atmosphere of potential for the numerous yet-to-used areas of this excellent resource. This is for the future however and we were there largely for history and plenty of it. Our friendly tour guide, Billy, did not disappoint in this respect. Read more »
This is an article reproduced from my contribution the the www.hibs.net series Quote/Unquote. The series began as a collection of short interviews with famous Hibs fans in the public eye and is now continuing by gathering contributions from those of us who use the site and it’s forums to chat and exchange views about the team we love.
It’s a great and long-established site, one that I take a great pleasure in adding a small contribution to. I’ve had a lot of fun and interest there over the years. More importantly I’ve made some wonderful friends.
1) OK, before we start, it’s our round, what would you like to drink?
I’d like a very large Peroni please, thank you kindly! Generally I like the lighter beers such as Italian brews and Sol – that type of thing.
2) What is your first memory of Hibs?
Seeing dad head off to the games from Musselburgh. It wasn’t very long before I was joining him! For some reason a green and white rosette he used to wear sticks in my memory (and his grumpy mood when he came back if we’d lost!)
3) Can you remember the first game you attended?
Yes and no. I remember the first time I went but not who it was against. Dad and I walked part of the way from Musselburgh and I remember vividly walking by the docks at Leith and sitting watching the boats. Of course, like many others, my ‘Christening’ was up on the old huge terrace and what an experience that was for a youngster. The players seemed tiny from up there but the atmosphere was terrific and probably one of the big reasons I became a died-in-the-wool Hibby. I was truly one of those five-year olds ‘sitting high up on daddy’s shoulders’.
4) Who is your favourite player ever?
For Hibs it was always Joe Baker, though in unusual circumstances. I wasn’t of age to see Joe at his magnificent, dynamic and electric best in his original days at Easter Road but with my family moving to here in Nottingham not only was I brought up on tales of his exploits but was also able to witness them first-hand at the City Ground in Nottingham in the 1960s’. He had a quite an effect on me as a youngster as he did everyone who watched him I think.
I do have a non-Hibs player who is definitely my all-time football hero. A player not unlike Joe Baker in some respects in Denis Law. What a forward pairing they must have made at Torino! Read more »
Man…this is going to be difficult! There is so much gloom surrounding Easter Road presently due mainly to serious failings on the pitch. Manager, Mixu Paatelainen is deeply in the trenches due to his widely perceived poor tactical and motivational ability amongst other criticisms. I’ve not had the pleasure (?) of visiting Easter Road in a little while now but reliable witnesses tell me it’s turgid stuff being produced on a weekly basis currently. Not only are the fans not seeing a side wining a game or two they are being starved of entertainment too. This will not do of course and a somewhat poisonous atmosphere is steadily creeping over the old ground.
Who can blame these fans? Certainly not me. It is difficult to see the club that’s in your heart going downhill at such an alarming rate with little too apparently arrest this worrying state of affairs. In spite of this I’m going to try and cheer myself up by looking on the bright side for a moment, difficult though that may be.
Let’s give it a go…
Negligible debt – how many UK football clubs can boast of being in that position currently? It’s not necessarily that savoury the way Hibs have got themselves into that position (i.e. by selling off a stream of good, young players, not to mention some long-held land) but hey, let’s try and throw a positive pose… Read more »
The above is the latest in a steady stream of unwelcome headlines to be printed about the Easter Road club’s players. This is not reproduced with any sense of outrage nor is it a moralistic crusade but rather just resignation at the attitude of some modern footballers to their profession.
In the linked story, Hibs goalie, Grzegorz Szamotulski was refused access to a flight home to his native Poland for a mid-season holiday because he was judged to have been drunk and not in a suitable condition to board the plane.
This report on Szamotulski, affectionately know as ‘The Mad Monk’ by Hibs fans is arguable in it’s seriousness as an isolated incidence, though it can hardly be said that the Polish goalkeeper has been much of an ambassador for his club in this instance. For me it’s more the further questions it brings up about player’s lifestyles in these times. Read more »
Hibernian yesterday completed the signing of former striker, Derek Riordan from Celtic after a torrent of rumour regarding a possible deal. Fans’ nerves were stretched to breaking point waiting for the Messiah-like return of the former golden boy of Easter Road until an announcement during the evening. Although the talk of a return seemed well-substantiated, it was far from a formality with Hibs having to comply with Celtic’s wishes regarding a sizable sell-on fee.
Hibs’ pre and early season form has been poor and erratic and Derek’s return will give a great boost a to a beleaguered club board and concerned and angry supporters alike. It’s just the fillip required at Easter Road and one can almost feel the tides of goodwill and optimism flowing from club’s faithful fans today.
The rarest commodities in football are surely true goalscorers- those that have the happy knack of being in the right place when it matters and able to despatch the ball into the back of the net in a variety of methods. Derek Riordan is just such a player. Not for him the most robust aspects of the game as a very slimly built forward player it must be stated. His tackling won’t trouble too many apart from nuisance value but his talents are far more valuable in and around the opposition penalty area where he excels like few others. A study of Riordan’s goals is an examination of how to score in a myriad of ways. Twenty-five yarders, tap-ins, mazy dribble and finishes, all taken with a cool clinical precision. Hibs are very fortunate indeed to have the player, who is also a life-long fan of the club back in the fold. It is perhaps a regret to the player and at the same time incredible, that the Glasgow club seemed unable or unwilling to unleash his considerable talents too often. That is for them to reflect upon. In the meantime the whole of Leith (and those of us further adrift) with a love of the old club will be celebrating and have a new spring in our step today.
DEREK RIORDAN IS BACK!
Hibernian 0-1 Motherwell
Worrying times continue for the Hibees after another defeat, this time to a late John Sutton goal from Motherwell at Easter Road. It’s yet another blow for this toothless team in green and white that is long past beginning to concern me. Following on from an embarrasssing 3-4 defeat at the hands of Greenock Morton – a team two divisions below Hibs, last Tuesday evening.
The hopeful diversion of a possible return of former Hibs star Derek Riordan has perhaps contributed to some of us with the Easter Road club at heart taking our eye off the ball as matters are truly dire at the club presently. It will take more than a fit and scoring Riordan to turn things around for our currently ailing team sadly.
There are reports that towards the end of the game today there were shouts of ‘Petrie out’ directed towards the CEO who is taking a fair amount of the flack from sections of the support for a lack of re-investment in the team after taking in approximately £11m of late in player sales. It’s a stance I have a lot of time for as we watch a denuded team attempt to replace a galaxy of great young talent with generally very ordinary journeymen football players.