Edinburgh Evening News – I’m the ‘Fan of the Week’!

I was very pleased just recently to have a few words about Hibernian FC published in the Edinburgh Evening News. The feature is a weekly one called ‘Ooh to be a Hibby’ and focuses questions to a fan of the club regarding why they support the team, their first Hibs game and their greatest Hibs hero. Finally it allows the contributor to do something perhaps all football follower the world over like to do – play manager and in this case pick an all-time team.

Why are you a Hibs fan?
Its tempting to say for family reasons as both dad and granddad from Musselburgh like myself, were both Hibbies. They were the initial reason and I really didn’t have any choice in the matter at that young age! Over the years, living away from Edinburgh I’ve considered this question many times though and one of the reasons was demonstrated most aptly during a very recent visit ‘back home’. During my stay I finally made the pilgrimage to St. Patricks in The Cowgate, specifically to see for myself, Canon Edward Joseph Hannan’s memorial on the wall in the kirk. I found it extremely touching as I do the whole Hibernian story. I enjoy what Canon Hannan stood for, and how he shaped the early Hibernian football club on the principles of kindness, benevolence, love and charity. Amidst modern-day cynicism that still works for me personally. It also makes Hibernian unique as a football club.

Finally on my visits to Edinburgh I still get the same rush I ever did when I walk down Easter Road – maybe more if possible as absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder. I still wait patiently for the kick-off when the emerald green jerseys with the white sleeves will weave their pretty patterns. It’s still the same feeling I have when I watched that first game.

Where it all began – Musselburgh

What was your first Hibs game?
This is a question that causes me some disquiet! It would have been around 1965 and I believe it was at home against Rangers or so I’ve been told! My young memories don’t extend beyond the usual stories of standing on the huge kop with dad – and yes I was one of those kids ‘high up on his shoulders!’ I do recall being completely blown away by the sheer size and noise coming from that terrace. It was intimidating, exciting and gripping by turns. I was hooked forever!

Who was your first Hibs hero?
Undoubtedly, Joe Baker. I’d a curious relationship with his career in a sense as I watched him in Nottingham at Forest, still near his peak. Joe was athletic, razor-sharp and predatory around the box, had a cannonball shot with both feet and was extremely quick. My abiding snapshot memory of him will always be of him racing onto a through ball, outstripping the defence and unleashing an unstoppable shot. His passing away a few years ago was an incredibly sad time for me personally. I felt I’d lost a person who had been a part of my life from a very young age. I was indebted to hear so many relate such nice stories of him after his death. I think not only the whole of Edinburgh but also any city that Joe graced with his great skills will always hold a piece of him in their heart. The perfect centre-forward. What’s more he was my hero, and still is.

All-time XI

1.Andy Goram
Quite simply the greatest Scottish goalie of all. My belief is that Goram was world-class and due to spending the majority of his career in Scotland never really got the acclaim he richly deserved.

2.John Brownlie
(Right back)
John Brownlie was one of those rare sportsman who re-defined his position and role on the team. Great pace and crossing coupled with sound defence made him the perfect overlapping full-back.

3. Eric Schaedler
(Left Back)
When I think of Erich I think of great athleticism, speed and determination. Not a man to take fools gladly he would give his winger a torrid afternoon more often than not. One of the toughest players I’ve ever witnessed too.

4.Pat Stanton
(Centre midfield)
How can one describe Pat Stanton without falling back on cliché? The man was simply magnificent – a ‘Rolls-Royce footballer’. One thing Pat always had was time to do exactly what he wanted on the pitch. Apart from his great timing and reading of the game he had a great engine. Just immaculate.

5. Franck Sauzee
From the first time I saw Franck in green-and-white I was blown away by his ability. I could hardly take my eyes off him! His vision was apparent as he sprayed sixty-yard balls to spread the play. His shot was one of the hardest and cleanest I’ve seen.

6. John Blackley
Another ‘Turnbull Tornado’ then. Blackley was a very hard-tackling player and read the game very well. Unfortunate not to win more caps in my humble opinion.

7. Gordon Smith
(Right midfield)
It’s by repute that I talk of Gordon Smith. It would be wrong to choose any all-time Hibs line-up without him. The classic, dashing wing play and matinee idol looks made him the hero he was to so many. Unbelievable stories of him playing keepie-uppie from the half-way line to the opposition box still do the rounds!

8. Peter Cormack
(Centre Midfield)
Peter was one of my top three favourite Hibees along with Baker and Cropley. I still remember very fondly that distinctive high-stepping run of his. Apart from being a highly-skilled midfielder he was very strong in the air for a man of his size due to his timing and athleticism.

9. Joe Baker (Striker)
Joe had everything it took to be a top-class centre-forward. No wonder the Italians chose him along with Denis Law to find the net in the tight environs of their top league at that time. Tough, extremely fast, feisty and a great eye for goal.

10. Lawrie Reilly
The great thing about Lawrie was that he did it at the highest level. His Scotland record bears scrutiny with the very best. One of the most revered of the Hibernian family and a man I would love to meet. God bless you Lawrie, you remain well-loved by us all.

. Alex Cropley(Left Midfield)
I loved watching Alex Cropley play. He was so clever and creative yet could really dig when the going got tough too. My classic memories of him nearly always entail him swinging a flamboyant cross field pass with that slide rule left foot onto the toe of a teammate.

Manager: Eddie Turnbull
Perhaps ‘Ned’ would have found it tough in the modern era due to players having the whip-hand these days. I believe he would have found a way though! A determined character who led by example. I like to remember him for the many things he got right rather than the inevitable things for any manager that don’t always work out.

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