We continue our series of occasional articles highlighting unique artefacts within the Hibernian Historical Trust archives.
HARRY SWAN PLAQUE
A bronze plaque commemorating Harry Swan’s tenure as Chairman of the club from 1933 to 1963. For many years the plaque had adorned the wall of the boardroom in the old Centre Stand but has since been rededicated by Harry Swan’s daughter Betty in the boardroom of the new West Stand in a ceremony attended by all the then directors.
A debenture shareholder since 1924 when funds were required to renovate the stadium, Swan was elected to the board of directors in 1931, the first non-catholic to hold such a position, and was appointed as chairman in 1933. At that time, Hibs had only recently been promoted from the Second Division and were still finding life in the top league difficult. However, Swan would soon make what many thought to be a bold and rash prophecy when stating that given ten years he would make the club great again. Although he would be out by a few years, it would be a promise eventually fulfilled when Hibs, then generally regarded as the best side in the entire country, would win three league championship between 1948–1952, missing out on another only on goal average, while also becoming the first British club to compete in the recently inaugurated European Cup.
A visionary, as early as the late 1940’s Swan had predicted the advent of floodlit football, shirt sponsorship and competitive European competition, Hibs having a significant part to play when the innovations were eventually accepted as part of the modern game in later years. It was after a particularly lousy local derby against Hearts in the early 1960s that had been blighted throughout by crowd trouble that Swan was recorded as saying that; ‘perhaps we the chairmen, have a responsibility to consider all-seater stadiums, something that he felt would alleviate the problem. This was almost 30 years before the all-seated stadium would become the norm.
A man well ahead of his time and a legislator of proven ability, the well respected Harry Swan, who was Chairman of the SFA between 1952 and 1956, fully deserved the reputation as the architect of the modern Hibs.
SCOTLAND ROSEBERRY JERSEY WORN BY LAWRIE REILLY
This Scotland jersey was worn by the Hibs centre-forward Lawrie Reilly in the game against France at Hampden in 1949, a 2-0 victory, both the Scotland goals scored by the former Dundee player Billy Steel who was then with Derby County. Lining up that afternoon at outside left it would be only Reilly’s third cap, his first goal for the full Scotland side coming in the famous 3-1 victory against England at Wembley just a few weeks previously. The goal would be the first of six that he would score against the ’Auld Enemy’ including a late equaliser in the 2-2 draw between the sides at Wembley in 1953 that would earn the Hibs player the nickname ‘last-minute Reilly’. A one-club man, Reilly, the only one of the ‘Famous Five’ to be born a Hibs supporter, would make 38 full appearances for Scotland between 1948-1957 scoring an impressive total of 23 goals, and remains to this day not only the club’s most capped player but Hibs record league goalscorer (excluding wartime fixtures).
The game against France in 1949 would the ninth time that Scotland had worn the Primrose and Pink racing colours of the keen sportsman and former Honorary President of the Scottish Football Association Lord Primrose, who had been Prime Minister of Great Britain between 1898 and 1899. Perhaps the most famous occasion that the colours had been worn however had been in Scotland’s 4-1 defeat of England at Parkhead in April 1900. Lining up for Scotland that afternoon was the future Hibs goalkeeper Harry Rennie, then with Hearts. Rennie would hold the record as Hibs most capped player until his total of eleven would be overtaken by Lawrie Reilly in a 5-0 defeat of Belgium at the Heysel Stadium in 1951.
ORIGINAL MINUTE BOOKS FROM 1892 AND 1893
Original minute books recently rebound, dating from 1892 and 1893. The opened pages show extracts from a committee meeting held in Buchanan’s Temperance Hotel in the High Street on 7th March 1892. On one side there is a list of several supporters who had pledged money to the recently reformed club, including a certain Philip Farmer.
Due to circumstances including the loss of several of their best players to the recently formed Celtic, and not least the loss of the lease of the ground at the first Easter Road Park, the club had been temporarily forced to cease trading in 1891. Reformed in 1892 just in time to take its place in the newly inaugurated Scottish Second Division in 1893, Hibs would finish that first season as champions. At that time, however, promotion and relegation were not automatic, relying instead on election and third-placed Clyde were promoted to the top division in Hibs place. However, after winning the championship for a second consecutive season this time they could not be denied and the club took its rightful place in the First Division
Loaned to the Historical Trust by Sir Tom Farmer, the minute books are currently on display in the Easter Road Boardroom
MATCH WORN MICKEY WEIR JERSEY CIRCA. 1990-91
The autographed number seven jersey was worn by Mickey Weir circa 1990-91. Signed by manager Pat Stanton from Portobello Thistle in 1982, Weir was just one of a number of promising young players at Easter Road at that time. A lifelong Hibs supporter, Weir would make his first team debut in a 3-2 home defeat by Dumbarton on 15th September 1984, one of nine appearances that he would make for the first team that season. The tricky ball-playing Weir would soon become a great favourite with the Easter Road fans, but a contractual dispute with the club in 1987 would lead to a move to First Division Luton Town for a fee believed to be in the region of £200,000. Unable to settle at Kenilworth Road, however, within a few months the player would return to Easter Road. Often a match winner himself, the intelligent Weir was also well capable of laying on goals for others, as proved when he provided the cross for Keith Wright to score the only goal of the game against Rangers in the 1991 Skol Cup semi-final at Hampden. In the final against Dunfermline, it was a foul on the diminutive Weir that allowed Tommy McIntyre to open the scoring from the penalty spot, the eventual 2-0 scoreline giving the Easter Road side the League Cup for only the second time in the clubs history.
After fourteen years and well over 200 appearances for Hibs, after a short spell on loan at Millwall Weir would join Motherwell on a free transfer where he would eventually take on the role of coaching the youngsters. Later he would join former teammate Keith Wright as assistant manager at Cowdenbeath before finally hanging up his boots to end what had been an illustrious playing career.
Today Weir, who is still held in high esteem by all those who were fortunate enough to have seen him at his very best, is regularly to be found at Easter Road as a match day host.