Hibernian kick off the new season in the League Cup group stages after a warm up tour of Africa. Peter Cormack suffers a nasty injury in a fixture against St Johnstone.
Their intended tour of North America having been cancelled, Hibs set off instead for Africa where they would play in five games during late May and early June in Nigeria and Ghana. The first game, on May 22, saw Hibs line up against a Nigerian Olympic XI in Lagos where the temperature exceeded 100% and which had witnessed the home side already defeating English touring sides Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool. Although hosts opened the scoring Hibs secured a draw with a typical Peter Cormack header which saw the young striker leaping high above his marker to crash home a cross from Eric Stevenson.
Just three days later the tourists moved to Kaduna to play Northern Lions and ran out 1-0 winners thanks to another headed goal from Cormack, the cross this time being provided by Alex Scott. The Nigerian part of the trip ended with Hibs meeting Western Rovers in Ibadan and the greens took the chance to give youngsters Peter Marinello and John Murphy an outing in a game they won 1-0 when a Colin Stein strike was diverted into the net by a defender.
Moving on to Ghana for the final two games Hibs were up against a Ghana select in Accra and lost 1-0 against a very strong team in blisteringly hot sunshine. After the game Manager Shankly entered the home dressing room and in a gesture which was both well received and appreciated by the home team he told them they were a fine bunch of players and had deserved to win.
The fifth and final game was played in Kumasi where just prior to kick off there was a terrible storm causing water to have to be swept off the playing surface before the game could start. A North Ghana XI provided the opposition and Hibs cruised home 2-0 with goals from Colin Stein and a Joe Davis penalty. Highlight of the game was the display put on by Marinello on the wing and it must have been music to his ears hearing the local fans cheering and clapping at each display of his ball wizardry.
As usual Hibs kicked off their Scottish season with hopes of improvement from the previous campaign and there was plenty of opportunity to do just that with two domestic Cups, the League and of course the Inter Cities Fairs Cup to test them. Prior to kicking a ball in anger they arranged two quite difficult friendlies with Fairs Cup co-entrants Newcastle visiting Easter Road for the first and then a quick visit to St. Andrews to take on Birmingham City ahead of the League Cup campaign where they shared a group with St. Johnstone, Raith Rovers and Falkirk.
As Newcastle and Hibs lined up on a lovely sunny Saturday in early August each knew the sides they would face in the opening round of the European competition with Hibs drawing Yugoslavian opponents in Olympia Ljubljana whilst the Geordies had drawn Feyenoord of Holland, both being exceptionally tough ties in their own right.
In a highly entertaining game Newcastle ran out 2-1 winners with big Wyn Davies adding to a Chris Shevlane own goal whilst Colin Stein struck for the home side. It was a new look defence for Hibs after Shevlane had joined from Celtic and the popular John Madsen had decided to return home to Denmark to pursue a career as an architect with Alan Cousin inheriting the Number 5 shirt. In that Newcastle game the Scott brothers faced each other with former Hibee Jim in a Newcastle shirt and Alex wearing Number 7 for the greens. In fact Alex did not last the full game as was replaced by Peter Marinello.
Three days later Hibs faced Birmingham City in the Midlands and achieved a very creditable 2-0 win with goals from Peter Cormack and Allan McGraw. In goal for City that day was none other than Jim Herriot who would later join Hibs.
Now that the friendlies were out of the way it was down to business in the League Cup with the opening game bringing St. Johnstone to Easter Road on Saturday 10th August to face a Hibs side looking for a decent run in that competition. In the home team was Pat Stanton, newly voted Player of the Year by the Hibs Supporters Association in their first ever award of that accolade. Sadly the game was marred by a nasty injury to Peter Cormack who damaged ankle ligaments and that incident seems to have upset the home side which went on to lose the game to a solitary strike from winger Kenny Aird. Unfortunately a chance to scrape a point was lost when the usually dependable Joe Davis missed from the penalty spot.
Midweek saw Hibs at Starks Park facing Raith Rovers and a single strike from Jimmy O'Rourke won the points, despite huge efforts from the home side to force an equaliser. O'Rourke's goal came thanks to his very quick reactions when Rovers keeper Reid could only push out a cross/shot from McGraw and Jimmy pounced to stroke the ball home.
In those days the reserves were also matched up in a League Cup section of their own with the same opponents as the big team and its worth noting that in each of their 5-1 and 5-2 victories over St. Johnstone and Raith Rovers a certain 17 year old by the name of Alex Cropley got his name on the scoresheet.
With only two points from their opening two games it was important that Hibs got off the mark at home when Falkirk came visiting and thanks to goals from Jimmy O'Rourke and Colin Stein that's exactly what they did in a 2-0 victory. With Peter Cormack still on crutches following the injury to his ankle there was a starting place for Peter Marinello who taunted and teased the Falkirk defence throughout the 90 minutes with a fine display on the right wing. Whilst Marinello got the headlines it is worth recalling the situation surrounding O'Rourke's goal. Hibs got a free kick and Pat Quinn touched it to Jimmy who duly lashed it home only to have Referee Wilson insist it be taken again. It was and a repeat performance ensued, including the Referee insisting it be taken again! Third time lucky for Jimmy as the goal stood on that occasion.
Written by John Campbell as part of the 'Another Generation' series