Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Midweek Crackers in The Capital

Well Easter Road really. Occured to me that even 15 years ago the excitement would be very high for a midweek cup tie at Easter Road, a league game also come to that. I thought I'd take a break from raising the blood pressure of folk by taking a look back at some classic midweek games I've seen at Easter Road so to help sell the remaining, eh, 10,000 tickets for the game...

Hibs 4 Celtic 4 League Cup QF-Sep 1985

I documented this game in From Albert, With Love but to this day I still do not know how we lost it. A Hibs team slumped at the bottom of the league, we were flying at the time, we score four goals and get knocked out still? Coming from Edinburgh I remember going up on the bus to the game with my Dad and there was a guy on the bus, a year older than me(I was 11 at the time) with a pair of football boots round his neck. My old man says "You hoping for a game son?" The guy looked at him sincerely and said "Naw Mr, I'm gonnie sell them so I can see the game". At the time the east terracing at Easter Road(the bit along the side) wasn't usable so it made for an eerie atmosphere that night. The game itself went like a tennis match, and I remember a 16 year old John Collins playing. We lost on penalty kicks after Pierce O'Leary attempted to hit the "Insave" sign at the top of the Cow Shed. Hibs beat The Huns over two legs in the semi final before being murdered by Aberdeen in the final.

Hibs 0 Celtic 1 Scottish Cup 4th round replay-Feb 1988

This was an incredibly tense game. After a dreadful 0-0 draw at Celtic Park, the game played on a Sunday and live on TV at a time when games were never played live on TV, it's fair to say Hibs were strongly fancied by a lot of people to win this game. More to do with the fact that were not playing well at all at the time, the 0-0 draw with Hibs coming near to the famous 1-0 win v Stranraer where we should have been put out, a 2-1 win at Dens that required a last minute Chris Morris free kick and a 1-0 home by Morton that saw an injury time Roy Aitken penalty secure the two points. What the pundits failed to notice of course was we still won three of those games. Hibs had the better of the first half and we looked like we could play all night and not score. Then the HT announcer at Easter Road made a huge error. On announcing someones birthday he played You'll Never Walk Alone to gee up the Hibs fans. The reality was he inspired the Celtic support in the ground who roared the team on in the second half and saw the breakthrough in 78 minutes when Peter Grant thunderbolted a shot off the bar, which went over the line by the proverbial mile but Billy Stark made sure anyway.

Hibs 1 Celtic 1 League game-Nov 1994

Not so memorable for the game but more what happened before. This was a mere three days after the horrendous, and still my worst moment in football, Raith Rovers League Cup Final. I'd gone to The Elm Bar in Elm Row to meet my regular drinking partner for these games, Hibs supporter Allan Hosey, and I cajoled him into agreeing to go up the town for a bevvy after the game(By cajoling what I mean was I said "Do you fancy gawn up toon for a pint efter the game?" and he said "Aye"). I just got into the game to see Tommy Burns standing right in front of me, albeit, with a fence between us. He was shaking folks hands and thanking them for coming despite what had happened on the Sunday. It's not just for the hell of it that people refer to him as "The Great Tommy Burns"

Hibs 0 Celtic 1 League game-Dec 2002

I was in the front row of the rear stand that night. Not a great game as such, wonderful finish from Petrov to get us the three points but most of my memories are post-match. Mind I mentioned my regular drinking parnter for these games? Well...I'd had a bevvy with him before it, went our separate ways and he was meeting a mutual friend of ours at the time. We had agreed to meet in the pub after the game and I headed for it on the final whistle. I arrived and no sign of him. Strange, it was much closer to the Hibs end. I sank two pints and still he didn't appear. I found this odd so I went to his house, not far, where his girlfriend informed me that he had gotten into a massive fight with the then mutual friend. Oh ffs. After much investiagtion and phonecalls he finally came back and I enquired as to wtf had caused this fight, he replied "The cunt blamed Colgan for the goal so I set aboot him"

So, that's a few of my memories from these games, some good, some not so good, but still ingrained and pointing at, perhaps, better times with the game and tons of passion. I realise I am a sentimental old sod but sometimes, we need to learn from our history, before we plan our future...

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