A rich seam of tradition, heritage and drama has coursed through the veins of the Club since its humble beginnings.

A brief history of Hibernian Football Club.

Hibernian were formed in 1875 and, within a 80-year period, had progressed from the overcrowded slums of Edinburgh’s Cowgate into becoming the first British Club to participate in the European Cup in 1955. The Club have always had an ambitious and progressive outlook – continually driving forward to achieve success.

Our Club was founded by football enthusiasts in Edinburgh's Irish community, and given the name "Hibernian", the Roman name for Ireland. Hibernian immediately became fully integrated into the Edinburgh community and established a reputation as a force in Scottish football.


1876 Squad

The Hibernian team of 1876


Quickly becaming an important part of Scotland’s sporting landscape, Hibernian were first crowned national champions in 1903 – a year after winning the Scottish Cup.


history 1902 Squad
The Hibernian team of 1902 won the Glasgow Cup, Scottish Cup, Roseberry Charity Cup and the McRae Cup


But the golden period in the Club’s history was during the late 1940s and early 1950s when Hibernian won three championships, 1948, 1951 and 1952, in four seasons. That incredible record was largely attributed to the heroics of the Club’s celebrated forward line of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond – nicknamed the ‘Famous Five’.


history famous five

The Hibernian 'Famous Five' forward line, (left to right) Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond


​Scotland internationalist Reilly – a lifelong supporter of the Club – was forced to retire prematurely at the age of 28, but he is still the Club’s second all-time goalscorer with a tally of 238, behind right-winger Smith (303).


Gordon Smith is Hibernian's all-time goalscorer with 303 goals


Reilly’s replacement proved to be another prolific centre forward, Joe Baker, who was capped by England while at Easter Road and scored a phenomenal 141 goals before he was sold to Torino in 1961.

During the 1960s, Hibernian regularly enjoyed unforgettable nights of European football at Easter Road – defeating both Barcelona and Real Madrid under the floodlights in Leith.

Barcelona were defeated 3-2 at Easter Road in February 1961 after Hibernian had recorded a 4-4 draw at Camp Nou – a remarkable feat with Bobby Kinloch scoring the decisive goal from the penalty spot.

Hibernian subsequently reached the semi-finals of the Fairs Cup (UEFA) in 1961 before losing to AS Roma in a third match decider staged at Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

For a short period the inimitable Jock Stein managed Hibernian and orchestrated the 2-0 defeat of the legendary Real Madrid in a friendly at Easter Road in October 1964.

Over the next decade Hibs played host to Clubs such as Juventus, Porto, Leeds United and Liverpool in UEFA competition.

In November 1967, Hibernian hammered Napoli 5-0 at Easter Road – staging a remarkable comeback after losing the first leg 4-1 in Naples.

The next period of success at Hibernian was masterminded by Turnbull, the abrasive and indomitable tactician, who was appointed manager at Easter Road in July 1971.

​Turnbull’s Tornadoes went on to win the League Cup in December 1972, defeating Celtic 2-1 at Hampden, and the team also lifted two Drybrough Cups in successive years.


history turnbulls tornadoes

Eddie Turnbull (centre) was appointed manager at Easter Road in 1971, leading the side to League Cup victory against Celtic in 1972


During the Club’s centenary year, the team were captained by Pat Stanton – a distant relative of Hibernian’s first ever captain, Michael Whelahan.

​Stanton also captained Scotland before moving west to join Celtic in September 1976 and he is third in the all-time list of appearances (617, behind Arthur Duncan (626) and Smith (636).


history pat stanton

Pat Stanton captained Hibernian and Scotland during his playing career and currently sits third in the all-time list of appearances for the Club


During Turnbull’s tenure in charge of first team affairs, Hibernian locked horns with both Leeds United and Liverpool in the UEFA Cup and reached the 1979 Scottish Cup Final – narrowly losing to Rangers in a second replay.

​After overcoming a turbulent period where the Club’s existence was under threat, Hibernian won the Skol Cup in November 1991 – defeating Dunfermline 2-0 at Hampden with goals from Tommy McIntyre (penalty) and Keith Wright.

​Hibernian won the CIS Insurance League Cup in 2007 after defeating Kilmarnock 5-1 in the final at Hampden with Rob Jones, Steven Fletcher (two) and Abdessalam Benjelloun (two) contributing the goals.


history league cup 2007

Hibernian captain Rob Jones lifts the CIS Insurance League Cup in 2007 after defeating Kilmarnock 5-1 in the final at Hampden Park


In 2016 Hibernian ended a 114 year wait for the Scottish Cup, dramatically defeating Rangers 3-2. Anthony Stokes opened the scoring after only 3 minutes, but Rangers equalised through Kenny Miller before Andy Halliday put the Glasgow side ahead in the second half.

With time running out Stokes equalised with a header around 10 minutes from time, and as the clock struck the 92nd minute, captain David Gray met another Liam Henderson corner to bring the trophy back to Leith.


history scottish cup 2016

Hibernian captain David Gray lifts the Scottish Cup trophy alongside (left to right) Lewis Stevenson, Paul Hanlon, Conrad Logan and Jason Cummings


Over 150,000 supporters lined the streets of Edinburgh the following day to celebrate the long-awaited victory, with an open-top bus parading the trophy from Regional Chambers down to Leith Links.

If you can add to any historical article, perhaps with special memories, a favourite story or the results of your original research, the Hibernian Historical Trust would love to hear from you.
You can kindly contribute by contacting us HERE.