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

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Professional contracts are rescinded, and for the first time ever in Scotland a maximum wage was introduced during the years of the Second World War.

The outbreak of the Second World War the league programme was hastily cancelled. The authorities however soon realised football was important for the moral of the people and the game was reintroduced a few weeks later, but on a strictly part time basis. Professional contracts were rescinded, and for the first time ever in Scotland a maximum wage was introduced. This allowed players to earn no more than £2.00 per week excluding bonuses, which was 107- more than was allowed in England. With a shortage of players due to conscription and war related work, a guest player rule was invoked allowing players from one club to turn out for another if permission was granted.

Along with many others, Hibs took full advantage of the guest player system, signing many established players such as Matt Busby of Liverpool, Bobby Baxter of Middlesbrough, Alex Hall of Sunderland and Jimmy Caskie of Everton to name but a few. The influence of the experienced guest players would be responsible for the blossoming and development of the latent talent of the younger players already at the club, and have a positive and lasting effect on the young men who would become post war icons of a golden age. Gordon Smith in particular would benefit greatly by playing in front of the vastly experienced and intelligent Matt Busby.


Matt Busby

Hibernian signed Matt Busby using the guest player system during the Second World War
Left to right: Joe Mercer, Matt Busby and Don Welsh


The only international games to be played in this country during the war would be those between Scotland and England, the first at Newcastle in December 1939. The legendary Matt Busby and Jimmy Caskie became the first Hibs players to be capped during the war when they played against England at Wembley in October 1941 in Scotland's 2-0 defeat.

Several other Easter Road players were destined to play on the international stage during the next few years. Sammy Kean made his debut in April 1943, as did Arthur Milne and the incomparable Gordon Smith in October 1944, when they lined up with teammates Bobby Baxter and Jimmy Caskie in a humiliating 6-2 Wembley disaster. It was the thirteenth game between the sides since the start of the war, and although Scotland had been beaten by England at Hampden earlier in the year, and had lost three of the five games between the sides at Wembley during this time, it was generally felt this would be the Scot's best chance of success against their oldest enemy for some time. It was not to be however. Even without the influence of England's famous half back line of Brittain, Cullis and Joy, England were still far too good for the visitors and they eventually ran out easy winners. An impressive display of power football by home side shattered the Scots and although the final score line flattered England it was nevertheless an embarrassing defeat.

Smith himself was a distinct success, one of the few in the Scotland side on the day, his performance even outshining that of his opposite number Stanley Matthews. Teammate Caskie proved a disappointment, as did Milne. Centre half Baxter started brightly, but like his team mates he too quickly faded, eventually failing completely to subdue his opposite number Tommy Lawton who scored twice.

There would be a debut with a difference for another Hibs player in April 1945. Tommy Bogan created history of a sort only a few days before the end of the war, when he played for Scotland against the 'Auld Enemy' at Hampden. Breaking his leg in a clash with England goalkeeper Frank Swift inside the opening forty seconds, he was carried off, and never played for the full side again.


Tommy Bogan broke his leg in his debut for Scotland against England in April 1945


Because the game was still classed as a wartime international, future Hibs player Leslie Johnstone, then with Clyde, was allowed to replace the unfortunate Bogan, Scotland's first ever substitute, and it was Johnstone who scored Scotland's solitary goal in a 3-1 defeat. Although only a wartime fixture, this must still rank as the shortest international career on record. Bogan would earn one more representative honour when he was chosen for the Scottish League vs the English League in 1948, but by this time he would be wearing the colours of Celtic.


Written by HHT media

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