Alan Sneddon spent over eleven years at Easter Road, and was a popular figure and regular first choice right back under four managers.
Born in Baillieston in 1958 Alan spent his formative years in Lanarkshire where football was part of family life as his father and two uncles – one of whom was a Scottish Schoolboy internationalist – all played junior football, and but for WWII could have made an impact at Senior level.
Alan quickly began to stand out as a player with boys club Fairholme Thistle before joining local junior side Larkhall Thistle. After leaving school, he became an apprentice engineer, setting himself a target of turning pro before he turned 20, however he was soon attracting the attention of senior sides including Rangers, Motherwell, Hamilton, Clydebank and Dundee who all offered him trials, but it was Celtic boss Jock Stein who clinched his signature in August 1977.
The youngster was thrown into the first team earlier than intended due mainly to the absence of their Captain and right back Danny McGrain, and amazingly, only seven months into his Celtic career, Alan played right-back in the Celtic team that narrowly lost 2-1 to Rangers in the League Cup final.
He also gained his only international honour, making an appearance for Scotland Under 21s against the USA, and coincidentally future team-mates Neil Orr and Murdo McLeod both scored in that game.
Alan played 100 times for the Hoops and scored one goal, which was memorable as it galvanised a 10 man Celtic recovery from 2-0 down at Ibrox on the day Rangers opened the new Copland Road stand. Later that season, Alan was 'man of the match' against the mighty Real Madrid in the quarter final of the European Cup in Glasgow, creating both goals for future Hibs player George McCluskey and Johnny Doyle.
Alan was dropped by new boss Billy McNeil after a poor run of form but was recalled for the infamous 1980 Scottish Cup final against Rangers at Hampden, and played a part in McCluskey's winning goal. Unfortunately his dreams of completing a lap of honour at the National Stadium were dashed by crowd trouble.
In January 1981 Hibs were sitting on top of the First Division, having been relegated the previous season, and new manager Bertie Auld paid £60,000 to bring the talented 22 year old to Easter Road.
Unfortunately Alan's debut didn't go to plan, conceding a penalty against main rivals for promotion Raith Rovers who narrowed the gap at the top of the table by winning 2-0. Thankfully this was only a temporary setback, and Alan helped Hibs regain their rightful place in the Premier League, gaining the unique distinction of winning two league championships in the same season, although he never did receive a medal from Celtic, even though he had played 15 games.
In his first full season with the club, Alan lined up alongside experienced players such as Jackie McNamara, Ralph Callaghan and Ally McLeod, as Auld built a team who were notoriously difficult to beat, drawing 18 times. Working with limited resources, Hibs were criticised in some quarters for playing defensive football, but they did beat both halves of the Old Firm and almost qualified for Europe.
Alan was a regular in the back four, and whilst the fans recognised his hard work and dedication, he probably never received the credit he deserved as many supporters unfairly compared him to previous right backs John Brownlie and Des Bremner. He scored his first goal for the club in Arthur Duncan's testimonial match against an International select, but it took him one hundred league games before he eventually found the net against boyhood favourites Motherwell.
When Tom Hart died in March 1982, Kenny Waugh took over as chairman and a personality clash with the manager saw a parting of the ways, with fans' favourite Pat Stanton taking over the reins the following season.
Although Pat brought a more attacking style of football back to Easter Road, the club stuttered along just above the relegation zone, although a 'golden generation' of youngsters such as John Collins, Paul Kane, Mickey Weir, Eddie May and Gordon Hunter were being groomed.
In September 1984, Pat resigned and was replaced by John Blackley who added Gordon Durie to the young squad, and presided over the club for a memorable season when Hibs reached the League Cup Final and Scottish Cup Semi-Final, losing on both occasions to Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen.
Those cup runs featured two amazing games against Celtic, where Hibs won on penalties after a 4-4 draw in the quarter final of the League Cup and winning 4-3 in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup.
The following season, Hibs form dipped again and Blackley was replaced by Alex Miller. There were also changes in the boardroom with David Duff taking over from Waugh, and for the first time in many years, money was made available for signings such as Neil Orr, Andy Goram, Keith Houchen and Stevie Archibald. The influx of cash paid dividends with Hibs qualifying for Europe, providing Alan with his best memory in football. Many feared that a 1-0 win over Hungarian side Videoton at Easter Road may not have been enough to guarantee progress, but the return leg saw Hibs produce one of the finest displays of any Scottish team abroad, winning 3-0.
To highlight the scale of the achievement, it is worth pointing out that Videoton had reached the UEFA Cup Final in 1985 beating Manchester United en route.
A narrow defeat to Liege in the next round sparked another poor run of form, although there was the bonus of a Tennent's Sixes victory, but on-field results paled into insignificance in the summer when Hearts Chairman Wallace Mercer instigated his abortive take-over of the club.
By this stage, Alan had played well over 300 games for Hibs, and was granted a testimonial year which started off with a greyhound night at Powderhall, and included a 10 pin bowling night at Newcraighall and a dinner at the Sheraton Hotel. The highlight of the year was the game against Ron Atkinson's Aston Villa for the Abercrombie Cup which had been put up by the sponsors.
In a surprise for the fans, Kenny Dalglish played 45 minutes in a Hibs jersey, and displayed all the skills that made him a legend in the world game, although man of the match was Keith Wright who scored all four goals in the 4-2 win.
Such was Alan's standing in the game, Hearts took out a full page advert in the programme, wishing him well and congratulating him on his career.
Two weeks after the testimonial game, Hibs won the Skol League Cup beating Dunfermline 2-0 at Hampden Park, but by this time, Alan had been replaced as first choice right back by Willie Miller, and was not in the squad that day.
Alan's final game in the green and white came in a 1-0 defeat to St Johnstone at Easter Road on 18 January 1992, just over eleven years after his debut. During that time, he played 372 games, starting on 362 occasions. He started 303 times in the Premier League and featured as a substitute nine times.
He scored nine goals and had the unusual distinction of never finishing on the losing side whenever he was on the score-sheet. His first goal came against Motherwell in November 1983 whilst his last came in a 2-1 home win against Dunfermline in February 1990. Sandwiched in between came a memorable double against Alloa in the League Cup.
Although unable to command a first team place at Easter Road, Alan's career was far from finished. He moved west to Motherwell in 1992, and played 16 times for the Steelmen, then signed for East Fife for whom he played 71 times over three seasons, before hanging up his boots.
The last word on Alan's fine career comes from Testimonial sponsors Abercrombie, who paraphrased the famous Volkswagen advert: 'If only everything was as reliable as Alan Sneddon.'