NEWS

 

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Hibernian first took part in the Edinburgh Association Cup in 1877, a tournament that had been inaugurated only the year before, losing 2-1 to the previous year's finalists Thistle in the opening round.

The following season Hibernian were again paired against Thistle, but this time a convincing 4-0 victory meant that Hibs would now face Hearts in the final, the first meeting in a cup final of two sides destined to become fierce rivals over the next 134 years.

After four draws at various venues throughout the city it required a fifth game to separate the sides, Hearts eventually winning 3-2 at Powburn. Regardless of the obvious disappointment felt on the day, it would be Hibs last onfield defeat in the competition for more than 10 years.

The following season, on 29 March 1879, Michael Whelahan became the first Hibs captain to be presented with silverware after a 2-0 victory over Hearts in the final of the Edinburgh Cup at neutral Union Park, again after a replay.

Successive victories in the finals of the 1880 and 1881 cup competitions against Dunfermline and St Bernard's followed, and in recognition of the tremendous feat, the club was allowed to retain the trophy in perpetuity.

With the trophy now in Hibs possession, the Edinburgh Cup was replaced by the Edinburgh FA Shield, now more commonly known as the East of Scotland Shield, and one of the few trophies from that time still to be played for today. As the name would suggest, originally the tournament was competed for between sides from the immediate Edinburgh area, but in time this was expanded to include teams from East and West Lothian, the Borders and even Fife.

 

Edinburgh Association Cup
The Edinburgh Association Cup on display at Easter Road Stadium

 

Around this time Hibs were the top side in the East of Scotland, and apart from being forced to scratch from the 1883 final against Edinburgh University, who were awarded the cup by walkover after the Easter Road side had been unable to raise a team, Hibs would not suffer defeat in the competition again until losing 1-0 to West Lothian side Mossend Swifts in the 1888 final at Tynecastle, a quite incredible record.

During this time the successful Hibernian reserve side had also swept everything before them by winning the Edinburgh Second XI Cup in consecutive seasons between 1878 through to 1880, and again in recognition of the magnificent achievement the club was also allowed to retain this cup in perpetuity.

For 127 years both the Edinburgh Cup and the Second XI Cup remained in the custody of St Patrick's Church in the Cowgate, and it is believed that until recently they had only left the premises on two occasions, once for the Hibernian Centenary Celebration Dinner at the North British Hotel in 1975.

In a ceremony in the Easter Road boardroom before the game against Aberdeen on 15 November 2008, Cardinal Keith O'Brien handed both cups over to the club where they remain on permanent display today.

At one time considered a relatively important competition, in later years the East of Scotland Shield was usually contested only between Hibs and Hearts, the games normally taking place at the end of the season.

Then, the game, featuring full strength sides, was keenly anticipated by supporters of both sides. In recent years the fixture been contested by the youth teams of both Edinburgh teams with Hibernian regularly winning the Shield.

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