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The world's first floodlit match took place at Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield Wednesday on 14 October 1878 between two Sheffield representative sides. The game was watched by a crowd estimated to number 14,000, several times more than had watched that years FA Cup Final.

A few weeks later on 11 November that same year, Hibernian faced an Edinburgh Select at Powderhall in one of the first ever football games to be played under lights in Scotland. During the proceedings all the lights eventually failed to function, the game finishing in virtual darkness. Many other clubs would take part in floodlight trials but generally the experiment was not deemed a success.

The first floodlit game to be played in Scotland in modern times took place on 7 November 1951 at Ochilview Park between Stenhousemuir and Hibernian. Originally intended only for training, extra lights had been mounted behind each goal, and using regular brown leather balls that had been painted white to assist visibility, the visitors eventually overcame a plucky home side 5-3.

Although the visibility at Ochilview had been far from perfect, it had alerted other enterprising clubs to the advantages of playing under lights and by the end of 1953 Rangers, Kilmarnock and Falkirk had installed their own lights all mounted along the roof of the stands and enclosures.

Hibernian opened their own floodlight system on 16 October 1954 in a game against near neighbours Hearts, the visitors winning 2-0. Only the best lighting system then available was considered to be good enough for Hibernian, and the Easter Road lights were mounted on specially constructed 100ft high pylons at each corner of the ground. They were among the first such structures to be built anywhere in the world, and when completed, the club were said to be the pioneers of real floodlighting.

 

Hibernian Floodlights

A large light bulb from Easter Road, dating to 1970

 

Lacking their own system at the time, Hearts would play several games against English sides under the Easter Road lights until the Tynecastle lights were officially opened in October 1957 in a game against Hibernian, the Easter Road side winning 4-2, Tommy Preston scoring a hat trick, the other Hibernian goal scored by Joe Baker, his first for the club.

There was not universal acceptance of the practicalities of playing under lights however, several sides claiming that it gave the home team an unfair advantage, and as late as 1958 Aberdeen refused to play under the Easter Road lights despite the possibility of some of the games finishing in virtual darkness.

Common sense prevailed in the end, and the eventual widespread introduction of floodlights would have a major part to play in the growth of European and International competition, something accurately predicted by the Hibernian chairman Harry Swan many years before.

The Quaich in the photograph was presented to Hibernian by the directors of Heart of Midlothian after the official opening of the Tynecastle lights in 1957. At the rear left, is a photograph of the Easter Road pylon situated at the north west corner of the ground, on the left a copy of the programme from the Hibernian versus Hearts game in 1954.

The large light bulb is from the Easter Road lights dating from around 1970. The smaller light at the front is much more recent and dates from around 2010.

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