Hibernian adapt to life without Club Captain Pat Stanton after his transfer to Celtic.
Any Hibs fan who watched Turnbull's Tornadoes will confidently tell you they were a side which had you looking forward to every game and wondering not whether they would win but how many they would win by!
Since that team broke up Hibs fans have longed for a return to the swashbuckling attacking style of play they enjoyed so much and at long last we see seem to be getting there under the guidance of Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus.
The team of the early seventies was a joy to watch but as the decade wore on things seemed to go into a decline of sorts and when Pat Stanton was transferred to Celtic many thought it was the beginning of the end for Hibs. Pat left in the 1976/77 season and supporters felt the soul of the Club had gone with him but life went on and looking back gives us a view of the state of Hibs and Scottish football thirty years ago.
Of the established Tornadoes side only Brownlie, Schaedler, Blackley, Edwards and Duncan were regular starters that season as new faces had appeared in the form of keeper Mike McDonald, Des Bremner, Bobby Smith, George Stewart, Ally MacLeod Lindsay Muir and the former Rangers duo Ally Scott and Graeme Fyfe. Coming through from the reserve side was the likes of Ally Brazil, Derek Spalding, Tony Higgins, Colin Campbell and Willie Murray and of course as Stanton departed for Parkhead, Jackie McNamara travelled east to join Hibs.
In the year which saw Dad's Army starting its initial run on TV, Stephen Glass born in Dundee and an earthquake in China claiming no less than 225,000 victims Hibs followed their normal pre season pattern by playing a number of friendly matches for which they travelled to Ireland. Three straight wins against Bohemians, Dundlak and Drogheda seemed to prepare the path for a decent run in the League Cup qualifying group where they were matched with Rangers, St. Johnstone and Montrose in a mini league of four with the winners going into the quarter final knockout stages.
Ally Scott certainly started that Cup campaign with a bang, hitting five goals in the six group games including on at Easter Road in which St. Johnstone succumbed to a 9-2 thrashing - John Brownlie, Ally MacLeod and Lindsay Muir notching a double each. Hibs failed to qualify however after losing at Ibrox 0-3 and managing only a 1-1 draw at home to Rangers in the return fixture.
September 1st 1976 will go down as a landmark day in the Club's history, not because of the dreadful 0-0 draw with Montrose at Easter Road but the fact that Pat Stanton was transferred that day to Celtic. The small crowd assembled for the final group game in the League Cup vented its anger at the Board for letting their hero go and rather unfairly many said McNamara was a poor return for losing a legend. Time proved that view entirely wrong as Jackie gave many years of wonderful service to Hibs and earned near legendary status of his own.
Having finished the previous season in third place just eleven points behind Champions Rangers and five behind runners up Celtic, hopes were high that another good League campaign was in the offing but how could that be when Stanton, the inspirational Captain of Hibs, had departed for pastures new? Abba topped the charts with Dancing Queen as Hibs opened the league season with a home tie against Dundee United, John Brownlie getting the Hibs goal from the penalty spot in a 1-2 defeat. In the match programme that day Eddie Turnbull wrote: "I can appreciate that the waygoing of Pat Stanton was an unpleasant shock the fans but the influx of new players in recent months indicates how I am trying to remould the team. Pat had not figured much in the side this season and though his efforts on behalf of Hibs have been tremendous in the past 13 years no player can go on forever in the demanding midfield position.
"Therefore, he was given the opportunity to sign for Celtic when Jock Stein asked whether a deal could be done. We have obtained a young go ahead player who has a lot to give Hibs and the main target now is to start the Premier League with a win over tenacious opponents" Stanton, of course, went on to win trophies and medals with Celtic and McNamara to give many years of sterling service to Hibs.
Having suffered a home defeat in the opening game Hibs next travelled to Motherwell and won a good point in a 2-2 draw with goals from Ally Scott and Willie Murray which set them up quite nicely for the visit of FC Sochaux (France) in the UEFA Cup Third Round. As expected the French Club defended in depth and only a John Brownlie strike separated the teams after a dour 90 minutes. Still, it was a lead to take with them when Hibs visited France two weeks later but until then a couple of tough SPL games had to be tackled.
Reigning Champions Rangers visited Easter Road next and left with a single point after Bobby Smith had put Hibs ahead only for the visitors to snatch a late equaliser against the run of play. It had been a quite physical game and Hibs looked to be the better side on the day but just couldn't do enough to get that elusive first League win of the season. Interestingly, the Club Shop at that time was advertising full strips for sale, albeit only in boys' sizes because this was prior to adults taking up the fashion of wearing replica tops to games. The cost was a mere £4.20 with other items on sale at £1.50 for a scarf; £0.20 for a rosette (remember them!) and an XL size T Shirt for £2.50. How times and fashions have changed!
Another home game followed before the second leg of the UEFA tie and this time the visitors were Aberdeen who had the likes of Willie Miller and Joe Harper in the line up. In those days the Aberdeen side was known to be masters of the defensive game and this was reflected in them winning a good away point in a 0-0 draw.
The return trip to France worked out well for Hibs with a fighting 0-0 draw taking the Edinburgh men through to Round 4 on an aggregate victory of 1-0 but still they had not won in the SPL and the season was now entering October. A visit to Parkhead is never easy but Hibs managed to continue their draw sequence when Tony Higgins scored in the first half only for Kenny Dalglish to equalise from the spot in the second.
The League campaign was then interrupted by Internationals and so Hibs took themselves down to Newcastle to face the Toon Army in a friendly. In a highly entertaining match the visitors were unlucky to go down 2-1 with Ally Scott getting the consolation goal for Hibs. The return to SPL duty in the following match saw Hibs yet again fail to secure their first League win when they fought out a mind numbing 0-0 draw with Partick Thistle.
Written as part of the 'Another Generation' series