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A Brief History Of Hibernian Fottball Club

By Alan Turnbull
March 26 2003

HIBERNIAN FOOTBALL CLUB were conceived from an idea by Canon Edward Hannan and Michael Whelahan, both members of St Patrick's Church in the Cowgate district of Edinburgh. The original purpose was to give the Catholic Young Men's Soceity attached to the church some meaningful past-time, and to give the large Irish popuation a focal point. The Club was launched on August 23rd 1875, in the St. Mary Street Hall in the Cowgate with Michael Whelahan selected as the first club captain. Originally only members of the Church could play, and the team competed on the Meadows playing fields, much like every other Edinburgh team of the time. Strips were white shirts with green knicker bockers, with the slogan "Erin Go Bragh" embroidered on the breast. The team played it's first competitive game against Hearts on Christmas Day 1875, losing 1-0. However, "Hibs" as the club became known, soon became a force to be recognised with, winning the Edinburgh Cup for the first time in1879. With the continual progress of the club, a purpose built ground was needed, and so a smart new stadium was built just off Easter Road, at the foot of what would now be Bothwell Street, in the Leith area of the city. It was dubbed by the locals as the ' Holy Ground'. Hibs quickly became a force in Scottish football, winning the 1887 Scottish Cup, and becoming "World Champions" by defeating the English FA Cup holders Preston North End, then known as "The Invincibles". So successful was the team and so strong a focal point for Scottish catholics that a Glasgow version was established, under the name of Glasgow Celtic, in 1888. With bigger finances and a larger support in Glasgow, Celtic quickly signed many of Hibs' best players and took their postion as Scotland's leading catholic club. These and other troubles led to Hibs folding in 1891. Hibs were reformed as a Professional club later that year without religous playing restrictions, and moving away from it's catholic roots to become a club for all people regardless of religon. The Club won the 'double' in 1902 for the only time in its history to date by defeating Celtic to win the Scottish Cup, and winning the league title for the first time later that year. The Club's most succesfull period was the late 1940's- early 1950's, when the club won the league 3 times in 6 years, thanked largely to its world-famous forward line, "The Famous Five". The Famous Five are widely regarded as the best strike force ever to grace one club, and consisted of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Eddie Turnbull, Lawrie Reilly , and Willie Ormond. Hibs have always been a side famed for attacking football, and the side of the early 70's, dubbed "Turnbull's Tornados",after their mannager Eddie Turnbull, upheld this belief. In 1972 Hibs won the League Cup for the first time by defeating Jock Stein's famous Celtic side 2-1. Less than a month later, the same side went to Tynecastle Park and hammered their city rivals Hearts 7-0 to go top of the league, although Celtic in the end took the title. In 1990, Hearts Chairman Wallace Mercer, a man still hated passionately by Hibs fans, tried unsuccessfully to merge Hibs and Hearts into one club called Hearts. Thanks largely to the Hibs fans and to Tom Farmer, who bought the club at the time of the takeover bid, Mercer was fought off. A year later Hibs gave their fans some much needed cheer by beating Dunfermlie Athletic 2-0 to win the League cup at Hampden Park. Hibs were relegated from the Scottish Premier League in 1998, but won promotion at the first attempt, clocking up a staggering 89 points in the process, 23 ahead of 2nd placed Falkirk. Just two seasons later, Hibs again thumped their city rivals Hearts, this time 6-2. To mark of an excellent season, Hibs also finished 3rd in the league to qualify for Europe, and also reached the Scottish Cup final, only to lose 3-0 to Celtic

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