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  • We Are Hibernian FC - Part Twenty Eight

    Harry Swan takes over the Chair but change for the better is not instant and Hibs suffer a heavy defeat at the hands of their oldest rivals but this simply spurred them on to better things and when ex Hearts manager Willie McCartney took over at Hibs the seeds of success were soon to be sewn.....


    Another close season and another AGM with the sitting Board intent on getting their way at that meeting where things went smoothly enough although one of the Directors resigned, leaving a vacancy for which Harry Swan was nominated and elected. It was what the sitting Board wanted as Swan was viewed as a go ahead and extremely clever businessman. Harry accepted but he was in for a shock because as soon as the AGM was over the Board had its first meeting and Chairman Owen Brannigan announced he was stepping down from that post and that Harry Swan should be elected to it. Swan was stunned but delighted to accept and so began a long and successful partnership between the club and its new Chairman.

    Manager Bobby Templeton would have to face the coming season without the playing services of 14 year veteran Johnny Halligan after the loyal Hibs man had received medical advice suggesting he hang up his boots. Halligan stayed with Hibs and became a club scout whilst also helping with coaching. Another assistant coach was brought in too and his was a familiar face as Hugh Shaw had been a Hibs stalwart and had been happy to leave his post as manager of Elgin City to take up his duties at Easter Road.

    With Halligan retired and a few others not retained, Templeton brought in Harry Borland and signed John Davie from Dunfermline and both played in the opening league game which saw Hamilton defeated 3-1 at Easter Road on a lovely sunny day with 12,000 shirt sleeved spectators enjoying the outcome. A Willie Moffat goal won the points at Kilmarnock but a 0-0 draw with St. Mirren preceded the first defeat of the season when the greens lost out by the odd goal in five against Aberdeen.

    At this point an early indication of Harry Swanís influence was born out by the signing of two players. Peter Wilson was a Scottish international when he joined from Celtic and although Alfie Anderson came from junior club Yoker Athletic he would play a big part in future Hibs sides. Wilsonís debut was not a happy one as Hibs lost 2-0 in Perth but a week later they helped attract 25,000 to Easter Road for the first Edinburgh Derby of the season. The first half certainly belonged to Hearts and they would have gone ahead but Geordie Blyth saved excellently to deny Anderson. Early in the second half Harry Borland headed what proved to be the only goal of the game to send the majority of the fans home happy.

    Unfortunately Hibs failed to use the Derby win as a platform and lost their next two games, both in Glasgow to Celtic and Clyde before halting the slump with a 1-1 home draw against Queen of the South though they needed a Rab Walls penalty five minutes from time to do so. It was back to Glasgow for the next match where Rangers won 4-2 in front of a very poor attendance of just 10,000. As reigning champions and a side sitting second in this current season it was baffling that their attendances were so poor.

    October 1934 began well with a 5-1 home win over Queens Park but it proved to be a bit of a false dawn as first Albion Rovers and then basement club Dunfermline won the points against a lacklustre Hibs. Thankfully things then took a turn for the better as over the next eight games Hibs won thirteen points out of the sixteen available and managed to defeat league leaders Celtic into the bargain with Easter Road housing a crowd of 26,000 that day.

    Hamilton ended that run by winning 2-1 at Douglas Park but Hibs got back to winning ways on the Saturday after Christmas by beating Kilmarnock 1-0 but New Years Day 1935 would be a disappointing one for Hibernian as despite being level 2-2 at one stage in the game they somewhat collapsed after that and ended up losing 5-2. Twenty four hours later Hibs drew 1-1 with St Johnstone at Easter Road and a further twenty four hours on a Hibs side defeated a Scottish Junior Select 6-2 and thatís worth a mention if only to highlight the fact that Peter Flucker scored five of them with his performance earning him a starting place in the side that made the long trip north to face Aberdeen at Pittodrie but which left disappointed having lost 2-0. Regardless of that Peter Flucker clearly must have done enough to impress as he was in the side again when Hibs thrashed Clyde 4-0 and justified his inclusion by grabbing a second half hat trick.

    A 2-0 away win to Queen of the South set Hibs up nicely for their first round Scottish Cup tie against Vale of Atholl at Easter Road. Hibs won 5-0 and Peter Flucker scored four of them! The centre forward was on fire at this time but a knock in the Cup Tie kept him out of the next game which Hibs lost 2-1 at home to Rangers. Those in the 23,000 crowd that wore green and white had just watched their favourites lose for the first time at Easter Road since the previous August.

    Round two of the Cup gave Hibs a home tie against Northern Qualifying Cup winners Inverness Clachnacuddin and it was pretty much one way traffic with Alfie Anderson getting a hat trick in the easy 7-1 win. With bad weather causing postponement of a league match Hibs were next in action in the third round of the Cup when they faced Aberdeen at Pittodrie and secured a 0-0 draw in front of 23,626 fans. On the Wednesday following the sides drew 1-1 after extra time and so a second replay was needed with Hibs suggesting Tynecastle and Aberdeen suggesting Dens Park. As neither side would agree with the other they decided instead to toss a coin and Hibs won the right to stage the match at Easter Road.

    Ahead of that there was the matter of a home league match against Albion Rovers and the struggling Coatbridge outfit fought hard to earn a point in a 3-3 draw. Some 22,943 turned up at Easter Road for the Cup second replay and the majority held their heads in their hands as Willie Blackís two goals were cancelled out with three by the visitors and the second and third of those as a result of goalkeeping errors by young Hill who had replaced the injured Geordie Blyth.

    Eight league games remained and in the first of those Hibs recovered from the loss of a first minute goal to record a 3-1 win over Dunfermline at Easter Road. The next three games were however the stuff of nightmares. All were away from home and all resulted in defeats to Motherwell by 4-1, Partick Thistle 3-1 and a devastating 7-0 crushing from Airdrie where the unfortunate Hill was once again between the sticks.

    A 1-1 home draw against Ayr United was notable mainly because poor Hill broke two fingers and played for an hour at outside right whilst right back Hector Wilkinson took over in goals. Just three days later left back Duncan Urquhart had to play in goal at Hampden against Queens Park and so it was no surprise that the Spiders won 3-1 and in doing so ensured they would not be relegated.
    Only two games remained and the first was at Brockville against already relegated Falkirk. Hibs played former Camelon goalkeeper James Culley and though he had a decent game his more experienced team mates let him down as Hibs slumped to a 5-2 defeat. The last league game saw Hibs a goal and a man down at home to Dundee after Peter Wilson had to leave the field to have several stitches inserted in a head wound. Despite these setbacks the Hibs won the game 2-1 with goals from Willie Black and Alfie Anderson.

    In the East of Scotland Shield Final Hibs beat Hearts 4-2 and Alfie Anderson nabbed a hat trick. Rumour has it that when the Shield was presented after the game to Hibs Chairman Harry Swan he had a smile as wide as Leith Walk on his face! Sadly he wasnít smiling for the next encounter as Hearts got their revenge at Tynecastle in the Final of the Wilson Cup. Two penalties and two defensive blunders saw the Hibs well beaten on the day.

    After a well earned and much needed rest the players returned to Easter Road early in August 1935 to prepare for the new season. Keeper Geordie Blyth had been sold to St. Johnstone whilst Peter Flucker, Hugh McFarlane and Willie Moffat also moved on whilst a batch of new faces were brought in. Paddy Farrell was signed from Bohemians of Dublin, James Miller from Millwall, Tommy Brady from Wishaw, Souter from Kingís Park and Gorman from Linlithgow. All of these players played in the public trial match at Easter Road, a game that attracted no fewer than 12,000 fans and which the reserves won 2-1.

    The season proper began at Dumfries where Hibs secured a point in a 1-1 draw and then during the following midweek Hearts came to Easter Road to contest the Final of the Wilson Cup, winning by the odd goal in seven and playing their part in entertaining around 13,000 fans.

    The first home league match of the season was drawn 1-1 with Clyde before Hibs then went on a three game losing streak with the 3-1 reversal at Aberdeen probably not ringing any alarm bells unlike two consecutive 2-0 home defeats to Arbroath and St. Johnstone.

    If August had been poor then September started disastrously and got worse! On the 7th Hibs collapsed at Hampden and were thrashed 6-1 by Queens Park, a result that sent the greens tumbling to the bottom of the league. Poor Hill had kept goal at Hampden but on the 14th he was replaced by James Culley and press reports suggest the new keeper was a virtual spectator as his counterpart Dawson stopped the greens from hammering Rangers. In the end only a point was gained from a 1-1 draw but at least it stopped the run of defeats but not for long.

    On the 18th Airdrie visited Easter Road where a mere 4,000 watched them take the points in a 3-2 win. James Culley was again in goals and again reports suggest he was blameless as his defensive colleagues let him down which must have been disappointing for the youngster but that was nothing in comparison to what was to come next.

    The 21st of September 1935 constitutes a black day in the history of Hibernian. It was Derby Day and high flying Hearts took Hibs by storm at Tynecastle as inspired by two goals in the first five minutes by Tommy Walker the visitors stormed into a 4-0 half time lead. Shell shocked Hibs then lost a fifth and sixth within the first ten minutes of the second half before rallying somewhat and scored three quick goals but Hearts were not finished and added another two before the end. A crushing 8-3 defeat with the Scotsman match report saying that James Culley had prevented the Hearts from scoring more but had been terribly let down by the defenders in front of him with both Urquhart and Souter specifically named. It was a huge boost to new Hearts manager David Pratt who had been brought in to replace Willie McCartney.

    When the last game of the month took place at Easter Road it was hardly surprising that only 4,000 fans turned up but those who stayed away would miss the first league win of the season for the greens as Kilmarnock were defeated 3-1. Missing from the Hibs defence were Watson and Urquhart as Bobby Templeton promoted two reserves following the shocking defeat in the Derby. In fact both Watson and Urquhart were transferred out amid rumours of poor behaviour and so although he had little option, Templeton made the changes and they worked because in the next three games Hibs collected six points by beating Hamilton, Albion Rovers and Dundee.

    The revival proved to be short lived as in their next eight league matches Hibs picked up a solitary point in a 1-1 draw with Third Lanark. Of the seven defeats the hardest was at Easter Road where 18,000 turned up to watch Jimmy McGrory inspire the visitors to a very easy 5-0 win.

    Drastic measures were required and Bobby Templeton travelled to Ireland to spend a club record fee on signing Irish internationalist defender James Jones from Linfield for £7,000 and whilst there he also paid £500 for fellow international and team mate of Jones, winger Willie Gowdy.

    On the Saturday before Christmas Hibs stopped the rot by winning 3-0 against fellow strugglers Queen of the South at Easter Road but the wheels came off the bus again at Shawfield when Clyde won 7-4 although to be fair the game was tied at 4-4 until James Culley was carried off twenty minutes from the end and had to be replaced in goal by defender James Jones.

    There was a degree of trepidation amongst the Hibs supporters in the 16,000 crowd that turned out on New Years Day 1936 for the Derby with high flying Hearts. It was a miserable wet day and the pitch soon turned to mud as both sides struggled to create chances. It was the visitors that found a way through first when Tommy Walker scored on the half hour and before the whistle young Hill, in goal for the injured Culley pulled off two great saves. The second half was a different matter and belonged to Hibs as they shot down the slope and bombarded the Hearts goal. Chances were missed and Jack Harkness in the Hearts goal made several vital saves but he was finally beaten just four minutes from time when Tommy Brady cleverly hooked a shot over his shoulder and into the roof of the net to earn the greens a well deserved and much needed point.

    Just a day later Hibs visited Muirton Park, Perth to face St. Johnstone and earned another point in a 2-2 draw. Match reports suggest that the first half was played in fine weather but that the majority of the second half became farcical when a heavy fog descended over the ground. Hibs were leading 2-1 until late in the game but with the majority of the 7,000 crowd struggling to see the action the home side equalised just minutes from the end.

    Two points from two games helped the cause but the next two matches ended in defeat before Hibs faced the intriguingly named Vale of Ocoba in the first round of the Scottish Cup. Ocoba was based in Alexandria and had home advantage although Hibs had made them a substantial cash offer to switch the game to Edinburgh but they refused although having home advantage didnít help them to any extent as the greens won 3-1. A week later in the second round Hibs travelled to face Clyde and were thrashed 4-1 to go out of the Cup.

    In the days following the Cup defeat Bobby Templeton resigned after being associated with the club for 25 years as player and ultimately manager. Templeton had served the club well but left on the basis that he wanted the club to move forward and felt that he was not the man to do it at that time. Chairman Harry Swan had to act quickly because Hibs were in a perilous league position and so he appointed veteran Johnny Halligan as a short term boss until the right man could be found. This arrangement suited Halligan down to the ground as he did not see himself as managing any club long term.

    It was a dream start for Halligan as Hibs won their next two games but in the next five they gained only two points and remained locked in a relegation battle with Ayr United, Clyde and Airdrie. This took the season to the end of March and Hibs looked like they might need a miracle to escape the drop.

    As April began, Johnny Halligan approached Hearts and asked if they would be willing to loan their reserve goalkeeper to the greens and the Gorgie club agreed to do so and Willie Waugh took over in goals for the Hibs. His first match came at Rugby Park where three penalties were awarded. Hibs scored theirs but Waugh saved the two Killie efforts and Hibs gained two hugely valuable points.

    A 3-0 win over Third Lanark and a 1-1 draw away at Motherwell meant that Hibs went into the final game of the season needing to win to stay up. The opponents, Dunfermline were in the top half of the table but the majority in the 6,000 crowd that day were supporting the greens and their loyalty was rewarded when Willie Black headed the only goal of the game 15 minutes from the end to keep Hibernian in the First Division.

    As if to emphasise that much work was needed to get Hibs amongst the top clubs again the greens lost out to St Bernards in both the East of Scotland Shield and Rosebery Cup at the semi final stage.

    Drastic times called for drastic action and so the Hibs Board set about finding the man they felt would take the club upwards and onwards. That man was Willie McCartney one time long serving Hearts manager. In fact McCartney had been the boss at Tynecastle since 1919 when he had succeeded his father John into the post but had left relatively recently when David Pratt succeeded him. Just what the Hibs support made of the appointment is hard to say. Certainly there was a keen rivalry between the Edinburgh clubs though whether it was as strong as present day tribalism is hard to say. In any event, Harry Swan was sure he had the right man for the job in appointing the man who always wore a bowler hat.

    In preparation for season 1936/37 getting underway Hibs extended the terracing and refurbished the Directors Box as well as painting white the boundary wall that ran around the perimeter of the pitch. Back then there would be no sign of the kind of advertising boards that would raise welcome revenue in the future.

    On the playing side Hector Wilkinson, John Smith, Rab Walls, Willie Gowdy, Harry Borland and the goalkeeper Hill all departed whilst Alex Prior, keeper Gourlay from Partick, Johnny McKay of Blackburn Rovers and Alex Ritchie from Third Lanark all arrived. All of the new guys played in the public trial match that attracted a 12,000 crowd to Easter Road.

    A week later the crowd size was 25,000 and the opponents were Aberdeen in the opening league match of the season. An early injury to Tommy Brady and the fact that there were five new faces in the Hibs team whilst the visitors played a settled eleven contributed to Aberdeen winning 3-1. A week later at Coatbridge Hibs crashed 4-0 to Albion Rovers and already it looked like it was going to be a long hard season especially when taking into account the fact that in between those two league games Hibs had lost 3-2 to Hearts at Tynecastle in the Wilson Cup.

    Some years ago Hibernian had toured in Austria and had made friends in doing so. It was that trip which resulted in the next game for the greens as Austria Vienna arrived to play a friendly at Easter Road. Around 10,000 watched on as Hibs narrowly lost 3-2 against a very good side and the home fans applauded them warmly at the final whistle. In the Scotsman newspaper report of the match there was a photograph of the captainís shaking hands before kick off and it is noticeable that the Vienna jersey has white sleeves. There is a school of thought that Harry Swan liked what he saw and tucked it away for future use as of course Hibs were still playing in all green jerseys at that time.

    A quick return league fixture with Aberdeen at Pittodrie where 15,000 saw the sides share the points in a 1-1 draw. It was an exciting game but one with drama too as Hibsí Gourlay and Miller were injured in a three way clash with Aberdeenís Armstrong and both Hibs men had to leave the field to have cuts stitched. Tommy Egan took over in goal for Hibs for around fifteen minutes and was unbeaten.

    Unfortunately the good point won at Pittodrie was soon forgotten as Hibs lost their next two league games before finally registering their first win of the season by defeating Hamilton 5-4 at Easter Road in early September. It was a real ding dong battle with Accies leading no fewer than three times but the greens won through in the end, helped by a hat trick from Willie Black. The next two matches yielded just one point meaning that when the first Edinburgh Derby came around at Easter Road, Hibs were in 19th place and Hearts third. With 27,471 in the ground Hibs struck first through Willie Black but Freddie Warren equalised. Undaunted, Hibs struck again through James Miller but once again the visitors drew level through Andy Black and that same player put them 3-2 up with just ten minutes left. Hibs responded by throwing everything at the Hearts goal and were rewarded as a last minute Willie Black strike beat one time Hibs loan signing Willie Waugh to make the final score 3-3.

    The Derby draw gave the greens a lift and they secured three points from their next two matches beating Clyde 3-1 away and drawing 2-2 at home to Queen of the South. Things were not so rosy for the next four games however as only one point was gained and the greens remained very close to the bottom of the table.

    Winter was fast approaching and Hibs prepared well for it by going through November undefeated. A cracking 4-3 win at Motherwell including a Willie Black hat trick was quickly followed up by a 3-2 win at East End Park. Arbroath was next to fall in a 4-1 trouncing at Easter Road and then the month ended with 15,000 watching Hibs draw a very physical match 2-2 with Falkirk.

    If November had been kind to Hibs then December failed to follow suit as of the four games played three were lost and one drawn. That took Hibs into a Derby at Tynecastle to face fifth placed Hearts. Hibs were fifteenth but were a goal ahead in just eleven seconds through Harrison but Hearts levelled within a couple of minutes and then took the lead on the half hour. At this stage, according to the excellent Scotsman Publications Archive, The decisions of the referee Mt Martin of Ladybank were not appreciated by the crowd and at one stage when he had refused a penalty appeal by Hearts, two bottles were thrown onto the field. One penalty kick was awarded at this stage and whilst fans fought behind the goals Walkers shot was saved by Gourlay. An early second half goal by the hosts made it 3-1 but Harrison scored again on the hour and for the remainder of the game Hibs tried hard to draw level but could not do so, much to the disappointment of their fans in the 38,908 crowd. During the following week Hibs sold winger Alfie Anderson to Bolton Wanderers.

    To be fair to Hearts they had been having a great season and were hot on the heels of eventual champions Rangers but not long after that Derby day win it became apparent that all was not well within the walls of Tynecastle and soon the players would go out on strike. The matter was resolved only after manager Pratt and trainer Kerr left the club to be replaced by Frank Moss.

    Into the New Year, the first month of 1937 yielded just two points from the five matches played but February brought some respite from the struggle against relegation in the shape of a first round Scottish Cup tie at Recreation Park, Alloa. The match had fallen foul of the weather on the Saturday and so took place during the following week. Hibs scored twice in the opening three minutes and went on to comfortably win the tie 5-2.

    Ahead of facing Hamilton away in the next round Hibs lost a league match 1-0 to Clyde in front of around 8,000 increasingly disgruntled fans at Easter Road. A week later the Cup dream was over yet again following a 2-1 defeat at Douglas Park and so now it was fervently hoped by the Hibernian faithful that the greens were not heading for another last day cliff hanger to stay in the First Division.

    The quest to avoid that scenario started well with a 3-1 win at Love Street and then earned a good home point in a 2-2 draw with Celtic where all the goals came in the first half and the pick of the bunch was a 30 yard piledriver by Alex Gardiner. The next five league games were poor however and only two points were gained before Hibs crashed 6-2 at Tynecastle in the East of Scotland Shield Final.

    Thankfully from a Hibs point of view other teams had struggled even more than they had and so despite taking only one point from their last two matches the greens survived, finishing 17th in a league won by Rangers.

    There really was little by way of good news around this time although Hibs secured the services of a couple of youngsters that would, in years to come play a significant part in the history of the club. The youngsters in question were 16 year old goalkeeper Jimmy Kerr and Boíness based Hibs fan Willie Finnegan. Another player who joined Hibs at this time did so because Willie McCartney was extremely alert to goings on in the game. Arthur Milne had been starring with Dundee United and had been released by the Tayside club to go and have monthís trial with Liverpool. During that time he picked up an injury and so was returning home but United hesitated in signing him back up and so Willie McCartney stepped in and brought him to Hibs.

    The Club AGM revealed a trading loss but it had been reduced from the previous year and so deemed acceptable. At that meeting the shareholders urged the Board to invest in the playing side as Hibernian should not be seen to be struggling near the foot of the league again next season. That point was duly taken and then Chairman Harry Sawn revealed that he had plans to increase the capacity of Easter Road to 70,000. Grand ideas indeed but were they realistic if the team on the park was only going to struggle once more? Certainly there was no lack of support for Hibernian but then as now the fans wanted to come along and watch a good footballing side competing at the right end of the league and in the Cup. It would not happen instantly but McCartney would soon build a team to be feared.
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