After a tour of North America, season 1965/66 starts with the League Cup group stages.
It was to be a very short close season for Hibs when following their 4th spot finish in the League at the end of the 1964/65 campaign they departed on a 20 day trip to North America which involved playing some nine games against opposition in both Canada and the USA. Most of June 1965 was taken up with either playing, training or travelling but it was a worthwhile trip in that it allowed the players to bond as a group.
In the nine games played, Hibs did not lose and managed to score 70 goals and concede only 6 with the toughest game probably being the opener when they defeated fellow tourists Nottingham Forest 2-1 with goals from John Baxter and Pat Quinn. In Ottawa, where Hibs defeated the local All Stars 15-0, it was announced before the game that a beautiful silver salver would be presented to the game's outstanding personality and hearing of this, Willie Hamilton decided to stake his claim, scoring 7 of the goals and setting up a few others to boot. The salver was duly presented but to Willie's dismay it would not fit into his kit bag and so he solved the problem by simply folding it in half!
At the end of the trip, fellow tourists Nottingham Forest returned home to England to face a domestic season in which they would go on to finish only 18th - missing relegation by just 3 points but also with the knowledge that the World Cup was being held in their country and that as hosts their National side would participate. Hibs, on the other hand returned knowing that Scotland would not be involved in that tournament but that domestically they had everything to play for in challenging for a League Championship won the previous season by Kilmarnock - by only a few points over Hibs and on goal average over City rivals Hearts.
The 1965/66 season begins with the League Cup
With Bob Shankly about to commence his first full season in the hot seat, following Jock Stein's departure to Parkhead, Hibs would find themselves involved in four competitions starting off with the Scottish League Cup which began with a group format and matched the greens with Falkirk, St. Mirren and Morton - all in the same First Division as the Easter Road outfit. The competition opened on August 14 with Hibs visiting Brockville and despite playing some attractive football the visitors seemed still in the holiday mood as they went down 3-1 with Jim Scott scoring.
In this tight group it was important that no more points were dropped if Hibs were to progress to the later stages and so when St. Mirren came calling the following Wednesday it was relief to all concerned that Hibs carved out a 1-0 victory against all the odds having lost goalkeeper Willie Wilson to a head injury after just 17 minutes of the first half. There were no substitutes allowed in those days and Wilson's departure meant that Peter Cormack had to take over in goal for the remaining 73 minutes.
Goalkeeper Willie Wilson suffered a head injury forcing Peter Cormack to play in goals during the League Cup match against St Mirren
Cormack ably assisted by defenders Billy Simpson, Joe Davis, John McNamee and Captain John Baxter kept the Buddies at bay whilst a superb lay off from Pat Stanton allowed Eric Stevenson to shoot the only goal of the game. Astonishingly and very bravely, Wilson came out for the second half and played on the right wing rather than have his side carry on with just ten men and amazingly almost added to Hibs' lead!
The sun was shining on that Wednesday evening and it was just as well because the majority of the home crowd was standing on open terracing but that situation would soon change as Hibs forged ahead with their plans to build a covered enclosure at the Albion Road (Famous Five Stand) end of the ground. In years to come that enclosure would become a favourite gathering place for the Hibernian 'choir' but often only for 45 minutes of each game as the absence of segregation meant that many fans chose to stand behind the goal Hibs were attacking and then to move to the other end at half time!
A visit to Cappielow on the Saturday saw Hibs thumping Morton 4-2 with the goals shared by Jim Scott, Neil Martin, John McNamee and John Baxter the last named having the misfortune to also 'score' one of Morton's goals! With Willie Wilson still suffering from that head knock, Jack Reilly took over between the sticks and proved an able deputy with a number of good saves.
League fixtures are underway
Although slap bang in the middle of the League Cup qualifying group, the actual League campaign now kicked off and in one of those quirks of the fixture calendar, Hibs found themselves back at Cappielow on the opening day of the new League season. Fielding the same starting eleven Hibs improved their performance at both ends of the park by winning 5-1 this time around and once again the goals were shared around with Neil Martin (2), Jim Scott, Pat Quinn and Peter Cormack on target. The Morton goal was scored by Alan McGraw who went on to score a barrowload that season and earn himself a transfer to Easter Road!
Back to the League Cup again and a chance to avenge the opening tie defeat by Falkirk was duly taken when Pat Quinn (pen), Neil Martin and John McNamee scored in a 3-1 win at Easter Road. The Bairns arrived that day in the charge of Manager Sammy Kean who had both played for and been trainer of Hibs in the past whilst in their line up on the park they included John Lambie and Johnny Graham, both of whom would in time end up at Hibs and 'Big' Doug Baillie, Captain, Centre Half and one time Rangers player who would, in later years, carve out a career for himself as a football journalist with the Sunday Post.
A number of items in the match programme for that Falkirk game seem worthy of being highlighted. Firstly, the Hibs reserves were leading their own League Cup group with Colin Grant and Stan Vincent most notable amongst the goalscorers whilst Thomson Allan was doing his stuff between the sticks following Jack Reilly's enforced promotion to the first eleven. Also announced in that programme was the fact that Hibs had signed two promising youngsters onto their groundstaff and they were named as John Murphy from Tynecastle Athletic and John Blackley from Gairdoch Juniors. Finally, supporters were advised that Hibs, having drawn Valencia of Spain in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, would be making the home tie, due on September 8th all ticket in respect of the Centre Stand. Briefs would cost 15/- (75p) and could be purchased during office hours!
Qualification for the next round of the League Cup
A tricky visit to Love Street followed as Hibs continued their march through the League Cup section and this time they managed to finish the game with their keeper still in goals as they triumphed 3-0 with goals from Jim Scott (2) and Peter Cormack. That double not only took Jim Scott to the top of the Hibs scoring chart it also helped ensure qualification for the quarter final stages where Alloa awaited.
The final League Cup section tie at home to Morton was a formality but Hibs kept their run going with a fine 3-0 win when Peter Cormack, Eric Stevenson and Neil Martin all scored in a pretty one sided game. Of note that day was the fact that wearing number 2 for Morton was one John Madsen who would later join Hibs and become a commanding centre half in the Easter Road defence, whilst wearing number 11 was a very young Joe Harper who also ended up at Hibs, albeit via Aberdeen and Everton.
Hibernian tour North America during close season, scoring 69 goals in nine pre-season matches.
The 1965/66 season begins with the League Cup, with Hibernian drawn against Falkirk, St Mirren and Morton in the group stages of the competition.
The Club open the 1965/66 League season with a 5-1 victory over Morton.
A 3-0 away win over St Mirren ensures Hibernian qualifies for the knockout stages of the League Cup.
Written by John Campbell as part of the 'Another Generation' series