Since the inception of the Club, Hibernian have always had an ambitious and progressive outlook.

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The Club earn their first win over Scottish giants Queen's Park after Michael Whelahan challenges Hibernians to play teams from the West. James McGhee and James Lundie both become the first ever Hibernians internationalists that season.

The very amateur status of the game in Scotland was under threat. The popularity of the game had not gone unnoticed by those with an eye on profit, and it was perhaps understandable also that the top players themselves should seek to profit from their talents.

The Scottish Football Association rules at the time were clear however, that any member club paying their players more than just normal expenses could expect to be heavily fined and more seriously, banned from participating in the game for two years. Heart of Midlothian fell foul of this and the SFA decided that they should be made an example of and the Gorgie club were banned from the Scottish Cup in 1883 and expelled for the remainder of that season.



Hibs help Hearts

Up until then Hearts sought to oppose Hibernians in every local or national FA vote, but still they sought the support of their local rivals after their first appeal against the ban had failed. Typically, Father Hannan agreed and asked John McFadden to speak on their behalf at the SFA. As a result, Hearts were back by December of that year.

Hibernians could not however expect a great deal of gratitude from their rivals, and it's believed that very little was shown! Michael Whelahan would not let such things distract his aims for Hibernians and at the end of another successful season that saw the greens once again champions in Edinburgh and closing the gap further on a national level, he told a St Patrick's Day gathering of the Catholic Young Men's Society (CYMS): "Hibernians are pledged to become the best in the country, not for personal glory, but to increase the charitable work of the CYMS and to give a real sense of pride to all of Ireland's exiled children in Scotland."



Inspiring the future Glasgow Celtic

By the start of the 1885/86 season, it was becoming clear that Michael's pledge was far from being an empty one. Hibernians entertained Scottish big guns Renton and Rangers, and beat them both. They next took on Queens Park, and this time there was to be no humble lessons for the Irishmen, at a packed 'Holy Ground', as Edinburgh Park had become known, celebrated a famous and well deserved 2-1 victory. Hibernian now knew they were a match for the very best in Scotland, and of course this was not going unnoticed elsewhere in the nation.

It was around this period that Hibernians again travelled to the East End of Glasgow, where the 2nd IX fulfilled another charity game against a club they had helped form, Glasgow Hibernian. After that game the side were entertained by their hosts, the St Vincent de Paul Society, the leader of whom was Brother Walfrid. Brother Walfrid (his religious name) was born Andrew Kerins in Ballymote, County Sligo on May 8th, 1840, later moving to Scotland in 1887. He could see for himself the effect that Hibernian were having both on the spirits of the community they served and in the finance they were able to raise for charitable causes. He could see also that should such a football club could exist in Glasgow and it could attract an even larger following than that claimed by Hibernians. The seeds that would become Glasgow Celtic had been sewn.

The only future on the minds of Hibernians right then was to fulfil that pledge from Michael Whelahan, and the excitement around Little Ireland was building as Hibs continued to stun their more illustrious neighbours in the West. Hibs defeated Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup, first drawing away from home before coming back from 3-1 down at the Holy Ground to win 4-3 in what was becoming a trade-mark of the club, fighting back when all appeared lost. Hibs though were to falter again at the semi-final stage, Renton winning through under typically controversial circumstances. A great Hibernians side was developing however.

That season also was a particularly proud one for everyone in Little Ireland. Father Edward Hannan was now Canon Edward Hannan, and he was present with Michael Whelahan in the stand at Hampden Park to witness two Hibernian players, James McGhee and James Lundie, turn out for Scotland in an international against Wales, a match won by the Scots 4-1 with McGhee striking one off the bar.

These were the first Hibernians internationals, the first of many to come.





Hibernians support Hearts in an appeal against the Gorgie side paying players increased wages against the rules of the Scottish Football Association.

The Club claim victories over Scottish big guns Renton, Rangers and Queen's Park.

Hibernians play a match against Glasgow Hibernian, inspiring Brother Walfrid to form a Glasgow team that produces the same charitable benefits.

James McGhee and James Lundie become the first Hibernians internationalists, representing Scotland in a 4-1 win against Wales.


Written as part of 'The Origins of Hibernian' series

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