THE PLAYERS

 

Players to wear the green and white of the Hibees.

Here is a growing collection of players and internationalists to feature for Hibernian throughout the years.

Position Inside Left

A one man club and the oldest of the Famous Five forward line, Eddie Turnbull was a prolific goalscorer. He famously scored four goals against Celtic at Easter Road in 1950; three from the penalty spot and the other a trademark strike from thirty yards.

 

Eddie Turnbull Profile

 

National team Scotland
International debut 28th April 1948 (versus Belgium)

 

Turnbull's sole dedication in life from an early age was to football. He would play endless games with his friends in the street and his greatest joy was to play for his school, Carronshore Primary, with proper pitches and goals. He stood out as a schoolboy footballer and was selected for Falkirk and District Schools.

Turnbull left school at 14 and though it was expected that he would go down the pits, like his father, he secured an apprenticeship at Carron Iron Works. When war was declared, Turnbull was just 16 and though he could have avoided military service, he was inspired to volunteer at the age of 18 for the Royal Navy after listening to Winston Churchill's speeches.

His first ship was HMS Bulldog, a destroyer escort for the Arctic Convoys. Even 60 years later, Turnbull could recall the bitter cold aboard ship and shudder. He also remembered with clarity how Bulldog sank the U-boat U-425 in the freezing Barents Sea, only one German out of 53 crew surviving. Turnbull learned a lot about discipline in naval life, and the onboard routine made him very fit. So much so that when he was demobbed in 1946, he was asked to play what was effectively a trial match for local junior side Forth Rangers.

Having played precisely one junior match and never having seen a top-flight professional match, Turnbull was snapped up for Hibs by manager Willie McCartney for the princely sum of 20 and an initial salary of 5 per week, rising to 7 per week if and when he made the first team. In the immediate post-war years, McCartney, who sadly did not live to see their success as he died of heart attack, welded together a forward line that is legendary - Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Turnbull and Willie Ormond, the Famous Five.

 

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Eddie Turnbull sporting the Hibernian strip

 

Each brought their own attributes, Turnbull's being tireless energy and a cracking shot, and they all loved to pass and score - all of the Five scored more than 100 goals for the club, with Turnbull notching 199 in more than 400 appearances for Hibs.

Led by the Five, Hibs dominated Scottish football, winning the Scottish League title in 1948, 1951 and 1952, and finishing runners-up in 1947, 1950 and 1953.

 

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Eddie Turnbull scores against Hearts in the Edinburgh derby

 

On 14th September 1955, Turnbull made football history by becoming the first player from a British club to score in European competition, in the 35th minute of Hibs' first European Cup tie, a 4-0 away win against Rot-Weiss Essen of West Germany. Hibs went to the semi-finals where they finally made their exit at the hand of French side Rheims.

His Scotland career was in two halves. He was first selected to play for Scotland on 28th April 1948, in the 2-0 victory over Belgium. He played three more times for Scotland between then and 1950, the last of those matches being against Austria. A selector - "amateurs in blazers" as Turnbull called them - criticised his performance while both men were in the toilet at Hampden Park, and the reply from Turnbull was so rumbustious that the selector ensured he did not play for Scotland for eight years.

He returned to play for Scotland in his 35th year at the behest of the then new national coach, Matt Busby. The Munich air disaster saw Busby invalided out of football for many months, but Turnbull kept his place for the World Cup in Sweden in 1958.

He ended with nine appearances for Scotland but no actual caps. That was because the Scottish Football Association only gave caps for Home Internationals until 1976. A campaign led by Gary Imlach on behalf of his father, and Turnbull's playing colleague, Stewart Imlach, saw the SFA change heart, and Turnbull finally received his retrospective cap in 2006 in front of an appreciative crowd at Hampden Park. It enabled him to say delightedly that he was the first footballer to be capped at the age of 82.

Noted for his toughness as a player, Turnbull moved into management first with Hibs as a trainer and then Queen's Park as manager. He was successful with the amateur side, and Aberdeen appointed him manager in 1965. He transformed the club, bringing his own innovations along with lessons he had learned from the great Hungarian coaches of the 1950s. It was a time when Busby, Bill Shankly, and Jock Stein - all from mining backgrounds like Turnbull - were transforming football management with coaching, tactics and man management that simply had not happened before. Bringing in the all-red strip and working the team harder than ever before, Aberdeen improved to the point where they beat Stein's all-conquering Celtic in the Scottish Cup final of 1970.

Hibs came calling the following year, and the lure of his old club was irresistible. He soon built a team that was founded on skill and flair, and became known as Turnbull's Tornadoes. They won the Scottish League Cup in 1972, famously beat Hearts 7-0 on New Year's day of 1973 and also won the Drybrough Cup that year and the next.

 

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Eddie Turnbull ordering his players as the Hibernian manager

 

It was from that era that another piece of footballing lore was made by Turnbull. Alan Gordon, a notably intelligent player, was told by Turnbull that "the trouble with you is that your brains are in your head". This was reported as a malapropism, but in fact Turnbull was word- playing with the old football adage about "brains in feet" and he later claimed only Gordon and he got the joke.

This shows the conundrum of Turnbull. He was a hard and tough player and manager, quite curmudgeonly at times, but he loved a laugh and joke with football people, and was always happy to speak to fans who met him in the streets around his home in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

After a sad if uproarious episode involving the increasingly alcoholic George Best, signed for Hibs by chairman Tom Hart against Turnbull's advice, he left the club in 1980 after it was clear that Hibs would be relegated. Upset at his treatment - his only pay off was his club car - Turnbull became a publican and did not return to Easter Road for more than two decades, but was a welcome visitor in recent years.

Eddie Turnbull died on 30th April 2011 at the grand age of 88. His funeral was a sombre occasion for the people of Leith and the wider football community.

As a final goodbye, the funeral procession past Easter Road stadium with thousands of supporters lining the streets - a fitting tribute to a true gentleman and proud servant of the club.

 


 

Full name Edward Hunter Turnbull
Date of birth 12th April 1923
Place of birth Falkirk, Scotland
Height 5ft 10in

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