The Cup That Disappoints

Last updated : 06 October 2002 By Old_Leither

You have to have a good memory if you are a Hibs fan that likes to look back on finals that involve the boys in green from God's chosen side of the country. Back in 1979, Rangers were the opposition and the winners were only decided after a second replay. The first and second matches were comparatively uneventful apart from the Ibrox goalie, Peter McCloy, nearly decapitating the flying Hibees forward, Colin Campbell, as he headed for the long ball punted from the Hibs defence. It will not surprise the majority of readers that no foul was awarded and that the beanpole stayed on the park. Recalling the unpunished tackle reminded me of the one in the Spanish World Cup when the German goalkeeper tackled a French forward with his hip as he leapt through the air nowhere near trying to get his hands on the ball. As you know, referees are trained to give goalies the benefit of the doubt in every case where a player ends up on the deck. Therefore it is logical that the goalies involved in both incidents stayed on the park without so much as a name being entered into the referee’s black book.

The reference to ‘black books’ brings to mind the old jokes about every bachelor worth his salt having numerous names and phone numbers in his ‘black book’ of willing partners. Married friends would drool at the thought of all that talent available if the book fell into their hands when their partners were out of town. True be told, if the book did, indeed, fall into their hands at the appropriate time they would be to scared to call anybody in the book up in case they said that they could meet for a drink.
Isn’t funny how football players always behaved themselves whenever Brian McKinlay was the referee, anything rather than their name be put into his black book just in case he took a note of their phone number as well. Who knows who would get their hands on that hot little item of literature.

Meanwhile back in 1979, the third match in the long running series was duly arranged and I had my ticket. This final was costing me and my brothers a fortune what with getting to the game and tickets not to mention liquid refreshments required to sustain us through the matches until we got back into a bar. For the third game the travelling party had been reduced to 3, my brother, his pal and me. I think that for the first game there was about 10 of us in a minibus, for the second 5 crammed into a Beetle and I recall hearing ‘She is a model’ by Kraftwerk on a tape in the car as we hurtled (if a Beetle can hurtle!) along the M8. If you remember Kraftwerk and their stage presence (German electronic band who just stood by their synthesisers) you will be reminded of several occasions when the Hibs defence has posed as statues when opponents drift past them towards goal.

The one and only Arthur Duncan (the fastest chiropodist in the East)

The intrepid travelling party of 3 had arranged that my brother would drive his old Morris Minor through to the wild and woolly west (or is it that we agreed to wear a wire and woody vest. Sorry but time plays some funny tricks on my mem...mem...memory, that was the word I was looking for). We agreed to convene at his house in Broxburn.
At the time, my brother lived in Easter Road in Broxburn, not a bad address for a Hibees fanatic. However, as Broxburn and all points west are a hotbed of Rangers fans he did not advertise the fact that he followed a team that wore green. Why is it that all towns west of the outskirts of Edinburgh seem to be populated with people determined to be blue noses? As several of you will know, blue noses can be quiet intimidating and blinkered to all things not coloured blue even in the most ordinary of situations.

On my arrival at brother’s house at the appointed hour I was greeted with dismaying news that, while he was willing to go to Glasgow, his car could not make the trip. In view of the fact that we had cut things fine regarding the time to get through as we anticipated going by car we were too late to make alternative travel arrangements. More bad news, the game was not on live TV. We took the considered view that the best thing to do in the circumstances was to head for the pub. This was one of the old school type of pubs and I had had many a happy night drinking that liquid that helps you to sleep (not Night Nurse, stupid). The bar was run by one barman who remembered everybody’s drink from the first time that he served you ever. So you could rely on your round of drinks being set up on the bar whenever you heading in that direction, all you needed to do was supply the cash.

The walls were decorated a muted tobacco colour, with the shade getting darker the further up the wall you went. You may remember the larger than life piano-playing figure in Charlie Parker’s in George Street, Edinburgh a long, long time ago. This pub tried the same thing but with something more in keeping with the surroundings. The bar had been fitted out with the obligatory near stationery 3 domino players of indeterminate age who were there what ever time or day you went in and they could be relied upon to make their one drink last all evening. Being a sort of regular, my brother asked if it would be OK to listen to the game on his pocket radio that he had brought just in case. The barman agreed and a magical scene started to develop. Being sensible (sensible? What a joke) no scarves had been taken to the pub. No scarves meant that nobody had any idea that we were supporting any particular team.
At first, with our pints in front of us and our ears tuned to the radio, we were unaware of the scene around us slowly changing. The 4 old gits who were in the bar and the 3 domino players took little notice of us and quietly watched their pints disappear.

I forget the sequence of scores but I think that Rangers scored first and being blasé about such setbacks (we were used to setbacks being Hibs supporters after all) our allegiance remained secret. However, on heading for the bar to pick up another round of drinks, I noticed that our table had gained in popularity. The dominoes were left un-chapped, the pints were drawn closer and we had quite an audience. All the guys in the bar were around the radio now with a hand cupped round an ear to improve their chance of hearing what the commentator was saying. As the game progressed it became increasingly obvious that we not supporting anybody who wore blue.

Sadly missed. Davie Cooper (sns)

The smug smiles that appeared on every face in the pub bar 3 as the blue noses scored told the story that we were from another planet as far as Broxburn was concerned. As the pub was populated with nobody under 65 we felt reasonably safe in getting more and more into the game. The amount of drink disappearing down our throats may have had something to do with it as well. The game moved on and when Hibs were awarded a penalty when they were 2-1 down you could have heard a cough drop fall. Following the ball being slotted home by the fatboy, Ally McLeod, we knew we were heading for more drama, extra time. As some of you may know, the game ended with Arthur Duncan, the fastest chiropodist in the east, heading a spectacular header of a goal from a cross supplied by the late Davie Cooper. Unfortunately, he scored at the wrong end of the pitch and the wait for a Scottish Cup win since 1902 went on.

The bar then slowly resumed its normal life, pints were purchased, dominoes were shuffled and we were left to drown our sorrows. The result may have had an effect on how we were treated that night and I am sure that if Hibs had won we may have decided to celebrate elsewhere. The Broxburn Rangers Club perhaps or, on second thoughts, perhaps not.

Funnily enough that season had been extended due to postponed matches etc. While the long running final had taken precedence Hibs had still one outstanding fixture. Guess whom they were scheduled to meet at Easter Road? I will give you a clue; they wear blue tops and had just won a cup. Needless to say the crowd that turned up on that sunny day was slightly less than you would have expected if Hibs had won the cup.
The game was, to intents and purposes, meaningless. Someone else had won the league and Hibs were just completing their league obligations. When I think on it now, I should have put money on a home win. Hibs duly finished off their programme of matches with a 2-1 win, with Ally Brazil scoring the winner. I think I could have coped with losing that game and winning any of the previous 3 matches involving the same 2 teams.

When I got to Easter Road that day the travelling party was down to one, me. I was late and I remember one of the stewards asked if I had a ticket. On hearing a negative reply he handed me a free stand ticket and I ended up with a grandstand view. If Hibs had won the cup I do not think there would have been any spare tickets going around, but I am sure there would have been plenty green-clad supporters going spare.

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