Goalies

By Old_Leither
Last updated : 29 September 2002

Hibs have employed a number of goalies that have played in the national side at one time or another. From my 'not checking the record books' memory, I can recall Messrs Leighton, Goram, Rough, Herriot, Simpson and (going back a bit now) Younger. It could be that, as everybody knows, all goalkeepers are a bit doubtful in the IQ department and therefore not exactly best placed to make a major career decision and think that by joining Hibs they have made the best choice. I think that the actual case is that as Hibs have always been regarded as an attractive footballing side (like to go forward in numbers) they need confidence in the last line of defence and so buy quality. There was the time that the going forward element of the team's play was affected by the pause button when a certain Mr B Auld was in charge. Mr Big Cigar did, however, have several entertaining ideas when it came to free kicks and he certainly made sure that Hibs were in the papers every day. Where is Bertie these days anyway? He was the kind of guy that I would have expected to appear on the box more often than Derek Johnstone's fat face. Granted, they could not have got all of his cigar into the studio at the same time as Bertie's chin.

Let's start off with someone who had a long career and ended up with a broken jaw for his trouble. When the news that Jim Leighton had been selected to play for Scotland again, against Russia, at an advanced age of 36 several pundits expressed surprise. It should not have come as too much of a surprise to anybody who had been privileged to witness his consistent displays between the posts in his capacity as supersaver for the Hibees. His weekly demonstrations of how it should be done were a tribute to himself and Alex Miller who saw through the 'has-been' comments and re-built Jim's confidence to a such a degree that it is always a surprise when a goal is scored against Hibs. Jim came in for some stick from some quarters when he went into the deep depression following his dismal decline with Manchester United and Dundee and for the fact that he looked a bit of a nerd, with his glasses (glasses on a goalkeeper, I ask you!), lank hair (what's left of it) and drawn face. Come to think of it apart from the mention of goalkeeping, Manchester United and Dundee I could be describing myself. So if you see a Jim Leighton look-a-like on a Saturday and he is not in goal with his forehead covered in Vaseline please say hello.

JL's dedication to his art was legendary as was his displays of frustration when he has been beaten by a superbly stuck volley or just beaten. Thankfully, the opportunities to see the latter of these were few and far between these days. The selection of a 'keeper who is not exactly young should have been less of a surprise as it has often been shown that goalkeepers improve with age. I promise not to mention John Burridge when it comes to comparisons although Budgie was always an entertainment but not always for the same reasons as Jim. Dino Zoff, according to my often flawed memory, played in a World Cup finals when in his forties and he was the first choice 'keeper for Italy and not somebody dragged in to overcome a temporary crisis. There are other examples that could be trotted out but I will leave that listing to the anoraks among the readership.

Mr Goram, the famous international cricketer and part-time goalkeeper, graced Hibs with his presence with what, viewed with twenty-twenty hindsight, appeared to be one eye on a Scotland jersey and the other firmly on a lucrative future move to Ibrox. Granted he did provide Hibs with some valuable assistance and serve up some outstanding displays along the way. So something good came out of the Duff (*******) episode if only that. Andy’s fondness for the bookies has been well documented in other publications so I do not intend to go over old ground here. The fact that he has turned into a bit of a bloater and was plagued with injuries is satisfactory evidence that Hibs managed to get value for money when he moved onto Rangers. Some of you may remember he was sent a letter from Hibs telling that he should not play cricket as it may damage his hands. I remember being surprised that he took that recommendation in the way he did, i.e. took no notice and turned out for his local team and Scotland. Is it not funny that, as he stated at the time that he wanted to play his first game, cricket, at the highest level, he did not, to my knowledge, play cricket once he moved to Rangers. Going back to using hindsight, it was, of course, something that he could use to force a transfer.

Alan Rough came to Hibs and provided us with some comfort that we did not go to the same barbers as he did. What did he think he was doing with that famous perm? Once again there were some thrilling displays along the way but my abiding memory of Roughie is a photograph from the World Cup in Spain. Brazil are toying with Scotland and who could forget that snap of Roughie, looking forlornly over his shoulder, as he is left stranded in no-man's land half way between goal and the edge of his box as one of the numerous brilliant Brazilians, that they manage to produce from a conveyor belt, lobbed him gracefully and the ball ends up in the net. He was wearing his lucky perm that day and I think that he saw sense that day and grew it out. Granted he had to do something with his hair as the film of him waving the League Cup over his head on arriving at Firhill in his Partick days gave you the impression that he never did get on with barbers, or his tailor for that matter.

Jim Herriot joined Hibs when they were stuffed full of internationals. He is, of course, not to be confused with the late vet who made a career out of writing about people sticking their arms up the rear end of cows although he did have to deal with his own share of crap. Jim spent part of his career in South Africa and it was there that he picked up the strange habit of putting soot under his eyes, to cut down the glare of the sun. While this may have been useful in Durban, it did tend to make him stand out in Dundee. He looked like a Red Indian in all the action photos of the day and numerous people must have said ‘WHY!’ rather than ‘HOW!’. Talking of photos from that era, why do all the players look so old that you get the impression that you are looking at a team photo of your dad and his mates? The players all look as if they could do with a quick 3 months of pre season training to get in shape. I know that they would be roughly the same age as current teams but they all look as if they have had a hard life.

I know that I write like an old git but I am not old enough to remember seeing either Ronnie Simpson or Tommy Younger play for the Hibees. Ronnie Simpson really made his name with a team from Glasgow whose name escapes me for the moment. He always looked years older then he no doubt was due to his thinning hair. I seem to have a thing about hair in this piece (Hair piece, get it! Oh never mind!) of nonsense, please accept my apologies. He may have appeared old but his reputation went before him and all forwards were wary of his ability to thwart their scoring ambitions. He eventually opened a sports shop in Rose Street and thwarted many a prospective players ambition to leave his shop with his wallet intact. I was in his shop once and I was amazed to see him standing there serving wearing a suit. It was amazing because I did not expect to see him wear anything else but football kit and boots. He was comparatively small as I recall. Why are you more often than not so disappointed when you meet someone famous. The fact that they are human never seems to enter your head until you see them out of context.

I have a minor (very minor) connection with the big man, Tommy Younger. He was a larger than life character who always appeared in public with a cigar the size of a nuclear submarine in his mouth. I am sure that someone told me that he played football with the cigar clamped between his teeth but this is surely a wild rumour as smoking a sport do not readily mix. He eventually moved into business and proved to be quite successful in an Edinburgh sort of way. In his capacity of Edinburgh personality he was hired to publicise the opening of Lloyds bank auto tellers back in 1983 and my wife was one of the lucky staff members persuaded to join him for the usual photos. My wife recalls that he was a man of few words. Words like '
Mine's a double' and 'Do I get to keep the money?'. Going by his appearance in the photo I am sure that his was a double more often than not but that he did not need to keep the money.

As Hibs used to have a tradition of supplying Scotland with goalkeepers on a regular basis, I think its is safe to say that we can expect to continue to see at least one player representing Hibees in the Scotland squads of the future. Whether they will be as good or as colourful as their predecessors I cannot tell but a couple of things are for sure. They have a hard set of acts to follow and will earn their own reputation the muddy way.


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