Hibernians play their final match at Hibernian Park after the Club fail to secure a new lease for the land. In a very difficult period for the Club, founder Canon Hannan is struck down by pneumonia and sadly dies from the illness.
If 1889/90 had been a trying time for Hibernians then the following season was even worse. It began with rumours rife that star player Sandy McMahon had been transferred but thankfully those rumours were unfounded as the loyal McMahon turned down lucrative offers to remain with the team he adored.
A Need to Move
With the new League now in place and Hibernians not part of it, Secretary Richard Payne had a difficult time persuading any Clubs to visit Hibernian Park for mere friendlies. The home support were less than happy with him for not having ensured that their Club was part of the League set up. As if Payne did not have enough to answer for, it became obvious in September 1890 that Hibernians would shortly have to vacate Hibernian Park as the lease had expired. On the 27th of that month, the last ever game was played there and in the second round of the Scottish Cup, Hibernians crashed out 9-1 to a strong Dumbarton side.
Now the greens had no home and were not part of the Scottish League. Times were dire and Payne was unsuccessful in negotiating a lease on first Powderhall and then Logie Green. In turn this meant that Hibernians had no choice but to play all of their games away from home, hardly ideal when trying to encourage the people of Little Ireland and Leith to continue with their unstinting support. Uproar ensued when Mossend Swifts, who always produced a good gate, had their trip to Edinburgh cancelled when Payne could not secure a venue on which to play them. All of this led to funds within the Club becoming extremely stretched and results 'on the road' were poor.
By the time the new year of 1891 arrived, a further shattering blow was dealt to the Club and its supporters. With no fixtures and no home, it was perhaps inevitable that other Clubs would come sniffing around and so when Willie Groves left Celtic for West Brom, the Glasgow side raided Hibernians once again and secured the signatures of both Sandy McMahon and Club Captain James McGhee. It's fair to say that both players first consulted the Club and moved only reluctantly when no promise could be made as to when Hibernians would commence playing first team football again.
Both James McGhee and Sandy McMahon (pictured) moved to Celtic in 1891
Crisis level had certainly been reached and there was much dispute within the Hibernians Committee as to how things could be taken forward. Thankfully, Committee members of St. Mary Star of the Sea, which had been a rock solid supporter of Hibernians for many years, decided to become involved and the upshot was a lease on Leith Athletic's Hawkhill for the purpose of home matches.
The quest to identify new players began anew and thankfully many of the Hibernians nursery teams were still playing on a regular basis, so it was to them that the newly formed Hibernians Committee first looked. A benefit match, well attended, was fixed with Leith Athletic and at last some income was coming in to the Hibernians coffers.
Due to some difficulties with the SFA, the Club renamed itself temporarily and made its first competitive match as 'Leith Hibernians' against Edinburgh Northern, winning 2-1 in front of a big crowd at Logie Green. Was this the turning point? It was a start at least, but remember the Club still had no home of its own and was not in the Scottish League set up. Adding to their woes was a dispute over the terms of their lease with Leith Athletic and so on 28th February 1891, Leith Hibernians played their first and only 'home' match at Hawkhill when they drew 1-1 with Mossend Swifts.
Once more the Club was forced to play all of its matches away from home whilst the search for a new site was continuing. The effect of being on the road all the time was disastrous and many defeats were suffered. Away from the pitch, the SFA concluded that the accounts of Hibernians were somewhat wanting but found they had no Club against which to pursue action.
The biggest setback of all
With Hibernians in disarray; the defections to Celtic, the loss of Hibernian Park, the poor state of the accounts and the dismal record on the park, surely nothing else could go wrong? It was not to be as the biggest single blow of all was just around the corner.
In May 1891, Canon Hannan was struck down by flu and although seeming at first to be making a good recovery, he then contracted pneumonia and the following month, 24 June, he passed away in Dunfermline where he had been convalescing, at the age of just 55.
Canon Hannan passed away on 24th June 1891
Little Ireland, Edinburgh and Leith's Catholic communities were stunned at the loss of the man who had arrived from the Old Country and spent his entire life helping the Irish better their lives by fighting against the wretched living conditions, the bigotry and the lack of fundamental needs in both education and health in Scotland.
He would be forever missed but never forgotten by those people he helped so willingly and of course by Hibernians, the Club he had helped create.
With Hibernians not a part of the Scottish League set up, the Club struggle to convince other teams to play the at Hibernian Park.
The last ever game was played at Hibernian Park in the second round of the Scottish Cup, Hibernians crashing out 9-1 to Dumbarton.
The greens have no home and are not part of the Scottish League, with Club Secretary Richard Payne unsuccessful in negotiating a lease on first Powderhall and then Logie Green.
The signatures of both Sandy McMahon and Club Captain James McGhee are captured by Celtic.
Committee members of St. Mary Star of the Sea become involved and the upshot was a lease on Leith Athletic's Hawkhill for the purpose of home matches.
The Club rename itself temporarily and make its first competitive match as 'Leith Hibernians' against Edinburgh Northern, winning 2-1 at Logie Green.
On 28th February 1891, Leith Hibernians play their first and only 'home' match at Hawkhill, drawing 1-1 with Mossend Swifts.
Canon Hannan contracts pneumonia and sadly dies from the illness.
Written as part of 'The Origins of Hibernian' series