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  • We Are Hibernian FC - Part Seventeen

    Inconsistency dogs a Hibs side that is still reeling from the tragic death of James Main although slowly but surely manager Dan McMichael starts to build a side that is capable of challenging for the major honours.

    Season 1910/11 opened with a win over St Bernards in the first round of the Dunedin Cup and 24 hours later they faced Hearts at Easter Road in a match organised for the benefit of James Main’s family with all gate receipts going to them. It was a grand gesture by the Tynecastle Club but their charitable deeds did not extend to the game itself which they won 2-0.

    The Hibernian league season began with a 2-1 home win over Third Lanark and 48 hours after that the greens were at Tynecastle for another benefit match, this time for long serving Tom Collins. Returning the favour from that earlier benefit match, Hibs won 2-0, Thomson getting both goals. A further 48 hours later the teams met yet again and must surely have been getting sick of the sight of each other! This clash was at Easter Road in the semi final of the Dunedin Cup and once again the visiting team won as ex Hibs man Richard Harker and two goals from Sinclair had them up 3-0 before a Davy Dixon double made the scoreline look a bit more respectable.

    The next two league matches earned Hibs three points with a 1-1 draw at Dens Park and a 2-0 home win over St. Mirren before the greens retuned once more to Dens Park to beat Dundee 2-1 in the first round of the North Eastern Cup.

    In mid September Hibs met Partick Thistle at Easter Road in what was to prove an eventful match as the visitors seemed hell bent on kicking anyone wearing a green top. Several players had to have treatment for knocks but Hibs kept at it and took the points with a penalty by Matthew ‘Mattha’ Paterson penalty but not before Branscombe (remember him from the James Main incident?) and Davy Anderson of Hibs were sent off. The next six league games brought mixed results including 4-0 defeats by both Celtic and Rangers but despite that Hibs were in third spot in the table when they met Hearts at Tynecastle on 22nd October. The hosts were struggling in 15th place but still managed to beat Hibs 2-0 with ex Hibee Richard Harker getting one and that old adversary Bobby Walker getting the other. Despite the defeat Hibs retained third spot although they shared it with Partick Thistle and Rangers as that group led the chase on Aberdeen and Clyde.

    Out of the blue Hibs sold two of their better players to Middlesbrough and needless to say the departure of Peggie and Duguid caused much consternation amongst the fans. The player pool was so small, immediate replacements were needed and within days Hibs had signed Paddy Dunnian and Neil Girdwood, the latter going on to star for Hibs in the years ahead. Also joining up at that time was Peter Kerr who would appear countless times in the green and who would hold the record of being the only player to appear in three Scottish Cup Finals for Hibs.

    The next ten league matches for the greens yielded just ten points and so by the turn of the year the greens had dropped down to eighth place in a league led by Third Lanark but two good points and the Wilson Cup were picked up at Easter Road on 2nd January 1911 when Hibs beat fifteenth placed Hearts 1-0 thanks to a first half goal by the ever dependable Davy Anderson. Poor Hearts had changed their manager but that hadn’t led to the hoped for improvement in their fortunes with the season more than half way over. The next three league games saw the greens defeat leaders Third Lanark 3-0 at Cathkin, lose 3-1 at Kilmarnock and draw 2-2 at home to Morton before they crashed out of the Scottish Cup in the first round, losing 2-1 away to holders Dundee.

    Just nine games remained in the league race and those games earned Hibs just eight points out of a possible eighteen leaving them in ninth place in the final table whilst Hearts had improved to fourteenth.

    A replayed final of the East of Scotland Shield brought success in a 3-0 win over Leith Athletic with the same opponents crushed 5-0 in the semi final of the North Eastern Cup. The final of that latter competition was against Falkirk at Brockville and Hibs triumphed 1-0 to add another trophy to their haul. A 3-0 home win against Sunderland in a friendly preceded a clash with Hearts at Tynecastle in the semi final of the Rosebery Cup where Peter Nellies gave the hosts a half time lead but goals from Geordie Rae and Willie Smith carried Hibs through to a final where they faced and beat St Bernards 5-0. So ended a season where an early exit from the Scottish Cup and erratic form in the league denied the greens any major honours but they did have four trophies in the bag and so it was not a bad effort all round.

    Season 1911/12 opened with a benefit match when Hibs travelled to Broxburn and drew 0-0 with the local outfit before heading further west a few days later and losing their opening league match 2-0 at Cathkin Park against Third Lanark. Things improved a week later when Dundee were beaten 2-1 at Easter Road in the league after a midweek 0-0 draw at home to Hearts in the Dunedin Cup Semi Final. The replay went in Hearts’ favour and so the Cup remained in Gorgie.

    The next three matches brought little joy to Hibernian or its supporters as the greens sandwiched a home defeat by Dundee in the North Eastern Cup with away losses to both St. Mirren and Partick Thistle. This was not the start to the season that the club had hoped for but back to back home wins against Third Lanark and Raith Rovers raised the spirits somewhat as well as raising the team to tenth place after six games. Poor away form would prevent Hibs from making any real progress and the next two games were lost 2-0 at Rangers and 3-0 at Hamilton before a narrow 1-0 home win over Motherwell stopped the rot.

    Manager Dan McMichael was desperately trying to find players that would improve his side and signed Bobby Rogerson and Jimmy Hendren in quick succession but they made little difference when the greens next went on the road and lost 2-0 to Queens Park at Hampden.

    This Hibs side really was frustrating for the manager and what few fans were in a position to watch them when they played away from Easter Road as the next four results would prove with two wins and two defeats – it shouldn’t be difficult to determine which games were played at Easter Road and which were not. From mid November through to the end of 1911 even the home form deserted the greens as an encouraging 1-1 draw with high flying Celtic was followed by four consecutive league defeats with three of those at Easter Road and the most painful of those saw Hearts trounce Hibs 4-0 on 9th December in front of more than 12,000 fans. All the while Dan McMichael continued to sign players and the latest arrivals were Sam Fleming from Vale of Clyde and Bobby Templeton from Neilson Victoria.

    A 1-1 home draw in the league against Aberdeen was followed 48 hours later by a Christmas Day 5-0 demolition of Leith Athletic in the semi final of the East of Scotland Shield and on the penultimate day of 1911 a hard fought 2-2 draw at Stark’s Park earned Hibs the point that would see them into the next calendar year in a disappointing 14th place in the league. New Years Day 1912 was a day that most Hibs fans would have trouble summoning up the desire to enjoy heralding in another year as Hearts easily won the Derby match 3-0 at Tynecastle thanks to a hat trick by Tommy Murray.

    Thankfully there were occasional glimmers of hope and one such glimmer, a bright one at that came about on 6th January 1912 when Hibs hosted league leaders Rangers at Easter Road and absolutely hammered them 5-0. Young debutant Adam Bell got two as did Geordie Rae with Harry Anderson getting the other and the Hibs support rejoiced in the victory long into the night as they swapped tales about how they had seen the goals and how they had set about celebrating them. This was a magnificent performance by the greens but it must have had the manager tearing his hair out as it was very much not the norm from his side.

    The joy, unfortunately was short lived as just a week later Hibs travelled to Broomfield to face mid table Airdrie and lost 1-0. A week later the greens finally broke their away hoodoo by defeating a decent Kilmarnock side 2-1 at Rugby Park which was a good result to go into the Scottish Cup on the back of. The draw had paired Hibs with Hearts and the clubs would go into an astonishing four meetings in the space of just eighteen days the first of those taking place at Tynecastle on 27th January when the sides fought out a 0-0 draw in front of around 32,000 fans. A week later around 14,000 turned up at Easter Road for the replay but the referee insisted only a friendly could be played as the lines had not been cleared. That was to prove a costly ‘mistake’ as both clubs were fined with Hearts protesting most strongly that they could not be held accountable for clearing the lines on the pitch of a rival. The referee was also fined for allowing the match to take place at all and so there was not a happy person in the stadium after the match ended at 1-1.

    Another week passed and the sides met again at Easter Road, drawing a crowd in excess of 18,000 but with the greens leading 1-0 and looking comfortable, Hearts equalised ten minutes from the end to necessitate a second replay. Four days later the tie was finally decided in front of 25,000 at Tynecastle as the home side led 2-0 at half time and then 3-0 in the second half before Geordie Rae scored what proved to be merely a consolation. That was the twelfth time the sides had clashed in the Scottish Cup and the Hearts win levelled the score at six wins each.

    Over the remainder of that league season Hibs won four, drew two and lost three to end the campaign in thirteenth place and although it had been a poor effort the club had signed some decent players and would add Sandy Grossart to that number in April 1912.

    As ever the season ended with participation in a variety of local cup competitions with Hibs lifting the East of Scotland Shield after defeating St Bernards 2-0 at neutral Tynecastle but that venue didn’t prove quite so lucky for them in the final of the Wilson Cup as they went down 2-0 to Hearts. A 2-0 Rosebery Cup semi final win over St Bernards took Hibs into a final in which they would meet a Hearts/Leith Athletic/St Bernards select only to draw 0-0 but win the match and the trophy by seven corners to four.

    Season 1912/13 saw Hibs once again settle for a small pool of players, a fact that was known to irritate the Hibernian support who often complained that those who owned the club were not interested enough in its welfare. Bearing in mind that the owners were still a few Irish families who had invested enough to allow the club still to operate, that was probably unfair criticism although it’s easy to see why it was levelled. Biggest rivals Hearts and many of the other top sides in the country were like an open book to their supporters whilst Hibs seemed to do all of their business behind closed doors. That business was effective enough it seemed but the cloak of secrecy led to many unfounded and sometimes damaging rumours.

    Asked to comment, Dan McMichael offered the thought that when the greens had won the title in 1903 they had done so with a pool of just sixteen players and by chance that was the number signed for this new campaign. His view was that fans of the greens were still to see the best of one or two of the signings and should those players display the kind of form the manager knew they were capable of then Hibernian would have a good season.

    The new campaign brought with it some new rules from the SFA whereby the winners of the Second Division would gain automatic promotion as opposed to having to hope they would be voted in. That rule alone was a worry for any side finishing bottom as that would mean automatic relegation and Hibs got off to the worst possible start by losing at home to Third Lanark in their opening league game of the season. A 1-0 half time lead offered promise but the visitors scored four in the second period without reply as injury deprived Hibs of two defenders, causing them to leave the field.

    Two days later the greens destroyed a poor Raith Rovers side 4-1 at Easter Road in the semi final of the Dunedin Cup before earning a very creditable 1-1 league draw away to Celtic. During the following midweek a first minute goal from Andy Wilson gave Hearts a 1-0 win at Tynecastle in the final of the Wilson Cup with an amazing 9,000 turning up to watch.

    The first league win of the season came on 31st August when Partick Thistle were the victims of the game’s only goal, scored by long time servant and very much fans favourite Paddy Callaghan. Mid September brought two semi finals with the first seeing Hibs lose 1-0 at Easter Road to Dundee in the North Eastern Cup and the second, in front of 11,000 fans at Tynecastle, a 1-1 draw in the East of Scotland Shield. Mattha Paterson had given Hibs a half time lead from the spot but Percy Dawson scored for the maroons late in the game to level the tie.

    In the next four league ties Hibs won one, drew one and lost two with one of those losses coming at Tynecastle where a 13th minute goal from Peter Nellies kept the points in Gorgie and Hibs’ misery was compounded by the fact that Neil Girdwood took exception to a rash challenge by Lawrence Abrams and duly knocked him to the ground with a fierce right hook to the chin! Needless to say Girdwood was dismissed but the Hibs fans in the 20,500 crowd cheered him as he trudged off the park. That was all very well but with such a small pool of players Hibs could have done without losing a man for future fixtures, especially as after five games they were just two points off the bottom spot.

    For reasons now lost in the mists of time the Inter City League was revived and Hibs’ first fixture in it saw Celtic win 3-2 at Easter Road with the decisive winning goal coming off the boot of Neil Girdwood who was not quite so popular with the Hibs fans on this occasion. A 1-0 home reversal in the league to Rangers was hard to stomach as the greens had dominated large parts of the game but though they played well, they lost and slipped to second bottom as a result. Two wins followed with the first a 2-0 result against Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the Inter City League and the second a fine 3-0 league win away to Morton. A 2-1 defeat at Ibrox in the Inter City League was really only notable for the fact that such a poor crowd attended but the Hibs fans that were able to make the trip to Motherwell at the start of December must have wished they hadn’t bothered as their heroes crashed 5-1 to a side that like Hibs was flirting with bottom spot in the table.

    The Inter City League had proved a complete waste of time and effort, drawing as it did paltry crowds even when games were between the oldest of rivals. When Hibs travelled to Tynecastle on 6 November 1912 to face Hearts in that competition, less than 2,500 fans bothered to turn up. Hibs won 2-0 thanks to an own goal and a strike by Jimmy Hendren but that game would be the death knell for the competition as a whole.

    In the eight league matches between 9th November and 28th December 1912, Hibs picked up an impressive eleven points out of the sixteen on offer and as a consequence shot up to eleventh place in the league, some twelve points ahead of bottom club Queens Park. There’s no doubt that run helped ease the fears of a worried Hibs support that was cheered by a home and away success over Aberdeen.

    On 1st January 1913, Hibs played Hearts at Easter Road in the final of the Wilson Cup and won a thrilling game 3-2 in front of around 16,000 spectators. A 9th minute goal by Percy Dawson gave Hearts the lead but Hibs soon struck back with three first half goals of their own as Neil Girdwood enjoyed a happier visit to Gorgie by equalising and then Jimmy Hendren added a double of his own. A late strike from Andy Wilson put a better complexion on the score but on the day Hibs were reported to be by far the better team.

    Four league games in January began with a ding dong battle at Ibrox where Hibs led 3-2 at half time but eventually lost 5-3 to the club sitting in second spot in the table. The other three matches were all at Easter Road and Hibs collected six excellent points in beating Morton 3-1, league leaders Celtic 1-0 as Jimmy Hendren grabbed the goal in front of around 14,000 highly excited Hibernian fans and Dundee 4-0 with tricky winger Willie Smith getting a hat trick in that last match.

    A first round bye in the Scottish Cup was followed by a second round away tie at Motherwell, the side that had earlier crushed Hibs in a league game there. It was a whole lot closer this time as two evenly matched sides fought out a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd that included a big travelling support thanks to the special trains laid on to transport them to Lanarkshire. A week later the sides clashed again at Easter Road but still there was no winner, with neither team able to find the net. The second replay was at Fir Park and again a huge Hibs support made the journey through to watch the home side lead at half time but the greens take the tie after Jimmy Hendren and Willie Smith secured a 2-1 win.

    Four days later it was round three of the Cup and Hibs were at Starks Park facing Raith Rovers. A cracking Cup tie ensued with the final score of 2-2 meaning that once again the greens would be involved in a replay which took place nine days later and ended in disappointment as the Fifers won 1-0 to send Hibs tumbling out yet again.

    The Scottish Cup exit created a downturn in form for the next two league games with both Motherwell and Third Lanark defeating the Easter Road outfit. Thankfully there was much improvement in the next four league matches which were all won and were all played away from home – 2-1 against Partick, 2-0 against Falkirk, 3-0 against St. Mirren and 5-3 against Queens Park. The points won from those games lifted Hibs into eighth place when they made the short trip to Gorgie to face third placed Hearts in mid April. Unbelievably, only 4,000 fans turned out as the home side won 3-0 with two goals from Percy Dawson and one from Bobby Walker, the 32nd and last he would score against Hibernian.

    Over the next five days Hibs played three matches and won them all. After thrashing Kilmarnock 4-0 at Easter Road they played two matches on the same day, 21st April 1913, beating Hamilton 3-1 in a league game that kicked off at noon and then St. Bernards 3-2 in the East of Scotland Shield Final. In these modern times, players complain at playing twice a week and yer here was a Hibernian side that could play twice in the same day and win on both occasions!

    Only two league games remained and resulted in away defeats to Airdrie and Clyde meaning that Hibs finished the campaign in sixth place which was pretty good considering that at one time people were saying they looked as though the greens might be relegated.

    On 30th April 1913 a match took place that would almost certainly never occur in modern times as a Hibs/Hearts Select took on a Rangers/Celtic Select at Tynecastle in a benefit match for Hearts player Tommy Hegarty. The Edinburgh Select, with four Hibs men in the side, won the match 4-3 and a reasonable sized crowd ensured that Hegarty received a decent sum of money.

    Only the Rosebery Cup remained now before the season finally closed and Hibs got into the Final by beating Leith Athletic 1-0. In the Final it was Hearts at Tynecastle and goals from Forbes and Kerr either side of half time ensured the trophy was Easter Road bound.
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