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  • Now that the dust has settled

    THE PARTING OF WAYS between John Hughes and Hibs marked the third former player in succession leaving the club after returning as manager. Needless to say that has stimulated lively debate on Hibs.net but it’s not the first time the club has experienced such things. Like everyone, I’ve a view on the departure of Hughes but more of that later. Firstly I felt it might be of use, especially to our younger .netters to take a wee trip down memory lane.

    When I first started to watch Hibs as a youngster the club was on its tenth manager and had been in existence for around ninety years. Walter Galbraith was the man in the hot seat and although there were no internet messageboards in those days it didn’t stop the fans dubbing him as a Douglas Fairbanks look-a-like. Fairbanks was a famous Hollywood actor and many thought Galbraith was in the same mould as he pranced around with his long woollen overcoat and his slicked back hair. Sadly for Galbraith the similarities ended there as he failed to live up to the success part of the comparison. After 112 games in charge Hibs had lost more than they won, conceded more goals than they’d scored and escaped relegation by a whisker on the final day of the 1962/63 season.

    Although at the helm for the start of season 63/64 he was soon replaced by the arrival of Jock Stein who immediately galvanised Hibernian and had them firmly on the road to success before being tempted away by Celtic. Under Stein’s charge Hibs won 31 of the 50 games played and scored two goals for every one conceded. Stein’s departure was a real blow but Hibs moved swiftly to bring in the experienced Bob Shankley from Dundee and thankfully the transition was fairly smooth. Shankly arrived in season 64/65 and left in 69/70 having guided Hibs through 230 games with 117 of those ending in victory.

    Under Stein and Shankley Hibs were a good side to watch. Stylish and entertaining seemed to be the by words and that trend continued when former player Willie MacFarlane arrived in season 69/70 and kicked off his career by guiding Hibs to a win over Hearts – it doesn’t get any better in making a positive impression on the supporters! Willie was popular with the fans but sadly he was unhappy with the Board of that time and lasted just 60 games before resigning. In the last few weeks of Willie’s tenure, a coach by the name of Dave Ewing arrived from Manchester City and that raised a few eyebrows on the terracing as Hibs had never had a manager AND a coach in post before. Lo and behold, Ewing took the reins when MacFarlane left but his was not a popular appointment and he lasted just 26 games before heading south again.

    Next in the hot seat was another former player, Eddie Turnbull who left Aberdeen for Hibs saying he’d never have left Pittodrie for any other club. His standing as one of the Famous Five preceded him but it was his skill as a coach and manager that meant the most and he didn’t let Hibs down. Fans of the day went to games wondering how many Hibs would score rather than whether they would win or not. For the vast majority of Turnbull’s 454 game reign there was scarcely a Hibs fan that would speak ill of him but once Eddie started to break up his Tornadoes side and bring in the likes of Joe Harper the shine had worn off and it was actually a blessing when he decided to call it a day. That may sound harsh but the reality of it was that Hibs had slipped from being genuine Championship contenders to battling relegation. Indeed the season Eddie left to be replaced by his fellow Famous Five member Willie Ormond, Hibs did indeed slip down to the First Division but under Ormond, for the most part, the stay in the lower league lasted just the one season. Dogged by ill health Ormond took control of only 31 games but lost only nine before he had to retire and the Hibs Board made what for many was the worst possible appointment as his successor.

    In those days Partick Thistle were in the top flight and generally staying there by setting out their stall in each and every game to avoid defeat with little thought given to actually trying to win. They were good at it and the man that led them was Bertie Auld only now he was the Hibs boss for what was a mind numbing period from 80/81 to 82/83. Thankfully Auld lasted just 78 games and you won’t be surprised to read that he managed almost as many draws as he did wins as the team scored just 96 goals during his tenure.

    Auld never enjoyed the backing of the Hibs support but that was certainly not the case with the next appointment as Pat Stanton left Dunfermline for the club he had both played for and supported. His appointment was universally popular on the terracing but it was difficult for Pat because he had to shift out a fair few players and with little or no money to spend he was forced to rely on youth. It was under Pat that players such as John Collins, Mickey Weir and Gordon Hunter were given their chance but once again a falling out with the Board resulted in yet another change. Pat left after 91 games, only 25 of which were won but the important thing to bear in mind was that the youngsters he blooded would form the backbone of future Hibs teams. Stanton’s assistant was John Blackley, yet another former player and it was to him that Hibs turned next. ‘Sloop’ suffered the same problems as Pat in terms of lack of investment in players and he too failed to reach 100 games in charge when he left in season 86/87.

    After a series of appointments of former players, changes in the Boardroom meant new people in charge and they were clearly concerned at the high turnover of managers so they sought out a replacement who had experience and who had impressed them in recent seasons. To the surprise of not just the fans but the sporting media too, Hibs unveiled Alex Miller who had been enjoying a degree of success with St Mirren. Little did we know that Miller’s tenure would last from 86/87 to 96/97 and that his record in terms of games in charge would very closely mirror that of Eddie Turnbull. Unfortunately that was about the only comparable as whilst Turnbull’s Hibs were for the most part exciting to watch, Millers’ were not and seemed intent on getting into the Guinness Book of Records for the highest number of boring 0-0 draws. Turnbull had charge for one game more than Miller but won fifty more overall. Turnbull’s Hibs scored 768 goals and conceded 540 whilst Miller’s Hibs scored just 526 and conceded 517. Certainly both managers took Hibs to League Cup success and Miller did sign some fabulous players but his whole ethos seemed to revolve around not conceding rather than trying to score and by the time he left it was a huge relief to the vast majority of Hibs fans.

    It would be great to record that Miller’s replacement lit up Easter Road again but of course he didn’t. Jim Duffy’s reign was a disastrous one and his ‘claim to fame’ is that he set us up for relegation. In charge for only 48 games he inflicted a massive blow by winning only ten and leaving his successor with a huge mountain to climb to stop Hibs going down. That replacement was Alex McLeish and despite his valiant efforts he couldn’t avoid Hibs going on the ‘great adventure’ as one Board member described the upcoming 98/99 season in the First Division. On reflection that season was really good as spirits were high and we had players like Sauzee and Latapy to keep us entertained as McLeish took us back up and managed for 163 games, winning 77 before being tempted by Rangers to take over at Ibrox.

    In a departure from the recent trend of appointing managers with no former attachment to the club Hibs went with the popular vote in appointing Franck Sauzee. Here was a man who had played at the highest level, who was hugely popular with the fans and who had developed a genuine love for Hibernian Football Club. Unfortunately it rarely works when a player is suddenly promoted within and it was nigh on impossible for Sauzee to make the jump from ‘Franck’ to ‘Gaffer’ and after just 69 days he was relieved of his duties. Of the 15 games played, Hibs won only once and things did not look like getting better any time soon. It was a gut wrenching decision by the Board who had to face the wrath of the support having taken that difficult step.

    The fear of relegation and the financial implications that went with the drop forced the club to seek out a manager with a proven track record who could keep them up and so it was that Bobby Williamson left Kilmarnock to take over at Easter Road. Almost from the off the support set itself against the new man and his tendency to be dour and unapproachable with the media didn’t help his cause. Famously reported to have said of Hibs fans ‘If they want entertainment they should go to the pictures’ Williamson was in fact misquoted because he actually said ‘If they want guaranteed entertainment they should go to the pictures’ and that’s somewhat different from the ‘quote’ attributed. Nonetheless his tenure was not enjoyed by many and his record of 34 wins in 91 starts with more goals conceded than scored didn’t help his cause. Eventually the time came for him to leave and few tears were shed when he went south to manage Plymouth Argyle.

    The Board was now in something of a quandary as after McLeish the Sauzee and Williamson appointments had not really worked. What the Board did next truly stunned both the fans and the sporting media alike. On the morning that the Daily Record exclusively revealed that Alan Kernaghan would be the new man in the hot seat, Hibs unveiled former Celtic player and Ipswich Town Youth team coach Tony Mowbray as the real new manager. From the off, Mowbray talked the talk as his whole philosophy was to create a side that would be both entertaining to watch and successful and during his 108 game reign he managed both to an extent. Needless to say when the chance to manage in England came along, Mowbray was off and at that point Hibs turned back to appointing former players – a decision they may now regret as the next three managers all left the club under a cloud.

    First up was John Collins, a wonderful player in his day and a man with very firm views on how the game should be played. It was a risky appointment as Collins was a rookie to management but when he led Hibs to CIS Cup glory, despite apparent unrest amongst some of the players, it looked like the risk had been worthwhile. It was not to be. Following the now infamous ‘player revolt’ Collins fell out with the Board, citing lack of ambition on their part in relation to signing targets, and he was off. Just 54 games played and 23 won over the 06/07 and 07/08 seasons.

    After endless speculation as to who the new man might be, Hibs turned to another former player in Mixu Paatelainen who had coached in Scotland after hanging up his boots and who was the manager of a club in his home country of Finland. Initially there was some who doubted the appointment but Mixu’s popularity as a player seemed to smooth the way somewhat. His time at Hibs was short and not successful. Fans didn’t like the way the team seemed to be playing route one football and so after just 62 games in charge Mixu also took the path away from Hibernian. Just 19 wins hadn’t helped his cause.

    Little more than 100 games between the last two managers had Hibs fans calling for a more ambitious appointment. The Board decided to go for a hat trick and appointed another former player in John Hughes. His arrival brought mixed reactions on Hibs.net. Some felt he was a poor appointment, some felt he deserved a chance after keeping Falkirk in the SPL, some thought that Falkirk always seemed to play a decent brand of football and hoped that with better players at his disposal Yogi might just be the man to take Hibs forward. As it turns out, Yogi got 54 games in charge, winning just 19 and his inability to produce a winning team after such a bright opening day to the current season resulted in the pressure mounting amongst the support.

    My take on Yogi is that he seemed unable to see what was obvious to most in the stands. His insistence on adopting the ‘Dutch style’ passing game wore thin very quickly when it became obvious that Hibs had become a side that passed endlessly without ever actually going anywhere. His inability to influence a game once it was underway and his bizarre use of substitutes also gave cause for concern but the most worrying fact of it all was that every manager of opposing teams knew just how we would play and how to beat us as a result. That alone was enough to make me want Yogi out and though I was often angered and mystified by his pre and post match interviews I never went down the road of many who criticised his Leith accent etc. For me the only measure is results on the park and Yogi was failing to deliver with no sign of that changing anytime soon. I’m sad it didn’t work for him as I wanted him to succeed but sentiment has to be pushed aside when hard decisions need to be made and whether it was a sacking or a resignation there is no doubt in my mind that it was absolutely the correct outcome when he left the club.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. erin go bragh's Avatar
      erin go bragh -
      well done neebur
    1. heretoday's Avatar
      heretoday -
      I'm from the Galbraith era. Is it true he absconded with the petty cash, leaving his secretary to take the flak? I'm told he did the same at Accrington, who have only recently recovered.

      Hibs were truly bad in those days. My dad and I used to go to Tynecastle a lot.

      Nice pies, tea, cigar smoke, a silver band playing at half-time on the pitch, Tommy Walker being nice to us all etc.

      What drove me to traipse to the windblown terraces of Easter Road?
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