HIBERNIAN'S HERITAGE

 

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

Kit Banner

The 2016/17 Hibernian home kit

 

"Our lives are made up of lots of threads but we stand connected by the two that cross over and bring us together; the green and the white. Together they are unbreakable. This is the fabric of life with Hibs, our hopes and dreams for the season are bound by them."

The Hibernian Historical Trust details the development of the famous green and white fabric.

 


 

Early football apparel for Hibernian Football Club

The first rules of Hibernian Football Club in 1875 stated that the players should provide at their own expense; Caps, white Guernsey's displaying a Harp on the left breast, and white trousers with green stripes.

However there is no evidence to support that any game took place with the players wearing this apparel.

After only half a dozen games or so, by the start of the 1876/77 season, photographs show the team wearing green and white hooped jerseys with the letters 'HFC' displayed in large black letters on the chest, accompanied with white trousers. It is unlikely, particularly in the early days, that a club from a deprived area of the city would have had two sets of jerseys. Therefore, most historians now think that the hooped jersey was the first to be worn by Hibernian.

 

kit 1876

The Hibernian team of 1876 wearing what historians believe were the first jerseys to be worn at the Club

 

The hooped strip would be worn in several prominent games, including Hibernian's first ever Scottish Cup tie in 1877, the ill fated floodlit experiment at Powderhall in 1878, and the Club's first ever silverware success after victory over Hearts in the final of the Edinburgh Association Cup in 1879.

By the turn of the decade, the playing kit would have changed to dark all green jerseys and would alter little, apart from varying collar styles, until 1933 when a distinctive white collar was added.

In a game against Hamilton at Easter Road at the start of the 1938/39 season, to the surprise of all those present, the Hibs players took the field wearing a new look emerald green jersey with white collars and sleeves, a strip that is now familiar to us all.

 


 

1977: The first British top-flight team to wear shirt sponsors

Hibernian became the first British top-flight team to wear sponsors on their shirts for the start of the 1977/78 season. ‘Bukta’, the Greater Manchester-based sportswear company, produced, adorned and supplied the green and white shirts, which were incidentally worn by a certain George Best at the time.

 

kit 1977

George Best wearing the first British top-flight football top to display a sponsor; Hibernian's strip between 1977 to 1980

 

Football shirt sponsorship originates from Derek Dougan, a gifted footballer who made his name with Wolverhampton Wanderers whilst winning over forty caps for Northern Ireland. The forward ended his playing days with non-league Kettering Town, balancing the roles of Player/Manager and Chief Executive for the 1975/76 season. Dougan was also Chairman of the PFA at the time, and as such, not afraid of a little bit of conflict with the Football Association.

So after taking on Chief Executive duties at Kettering, Dougan made a deal with local company, Kettering Tyres Ltd, to have their name embroidered on the front of Kettering’s shirts. Despite the exact amount never being revealed, Kettering Tyres Ltd would pay the club a four-figure sum for the privilege.

Kettering played their first match with the new shirt additions on 21st January 1976 against Bath City in the Southern League, and the sponsorship caused quite a stir. After initial objections and then financial threats from the Football Association, in April 1976, the sponsor text was removed.

During this period, football shirt sponsorship was already happening on the continent and could bring much needed extra funds to all levels of the game. The first official shirt sponsorship across Europe’s major leagues came in the German Bundesliga back in 1973.

Hibernian were also quick on the uptake and the Club became the first British top-flight team to wear sponsors on their shirts for the start of the 1977/78 season.

Eventually, the English Football Association succumbed in season 1977/78 and despite initial disputes with television companies, shirt sponsorship would become a major aspect and an important revenue stream for football clubs. Across the footballing world, most teams in most countries had a shirt sponsor in place by the mid-eighties, and there would be no turning back.

Ironically, Kettering Town couldn’t find a willing sponsor for the season of 1977/78.

 


 

2004: Green shorts to commemorate the Real Madrid victory of 1964

For season 2004/05, the colour of the shorts were changed from their usual white to green, matching the shirts and socks. This was to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Hibernian's momentous victory over a legendary Real Madrid side in October 1964.

Manager at the time Jock Stein had persuaded Chairman Willie Harrower that the Club could benefit both on and off the park by inviting the mighty Real Madrid to play a friendly at Easter Road during season 1964/65.

The players gained greatly from facing such star studded opposition whilst a guaranteed huge attendance handsomely covered the Spanish side's appearance fee whilst adding ever needed cash to the coffers of Hibernian Football Club.

Prior to this match, Madrid had won the European Cup five times in succession and were giants in the Spanish League with players such as Ferenc Puskas, Francisco Gento and Jose Santamaria in their ranks. At home in the Bernebau, over the period from 1956/57 to 1963/64 they had played 109 matches, scoring 366 goals and conceding just 66. Most astonishing of all is that they did not lose a single one of those games!

Thirty thousand fans flocked to Easter Road and on the night Hibs played brilliantly in beating the Spanish giants 2-0 with goals from Peter Cormack and an own goal via Spanish defender Zoco.

 


 

2014: The Famous Five tribute kit

Following the death of Lawrie Reilly in 2013, the final member of the celebrated Famous Five forward line to pass away, Hibernian removed the famous white sleeves from the 2014/15 home shirt as a tribute to the quintet who lit up Scottish football during the 1940s and 1950s.

The tribute shirt was all-bottle green, a modern equivalent of the kit worn by the Club during 1923-1929, the period in which each member of the Famous Five were born. During these years the Hibernian kit went largely unchanged, with the Club adopting a dark green collarless top, white shorts and black socks.

 

kit 2014 1

 

After announcing the departure from the normal shirt style, the Club told supporters, "The 2014/15 kit is a tribute to Hibernian as it appeared at the very inception of the Famous Five story, solid bottle green shirt, white shorts and black socks. Every player who pulls on the bottle green jersey of Alan Stubbs forward thinking Hibernian will continue to be reminded and inspired by the story of The Famous Five."

 

kit 2014 2

The 2014/15 home kit, modelled by Lawrie Reilly's grandson Stewart

 

The words “their memory marches on” were also imprinted on the left shoulder of the shirt.

To stick true to the style during 1923-1929, the tribute kits were completed with white shorts and black socks as Hibernian began life in the second tier of Scottish football following relegation from the Premiership the previous season.

 


 

2016: The fans choose the colour

Hibernian fans were asked for their input into the new look of the 2016/17 home shirt, by picking their favourite shade of green. Fans were asked to either stick with the current bottle green colour or switch to a lighter emerald green colour.

Following the initial white and hooped design in the 1870s, Hibernian wore a bottle green shade between 1879 and 1933. The bottle green shade then made a return in season 2012/13, whilst also featuring in the Famous Five tribute kit and used in famous 2016 Scottish Cup Final.

The lighter emerald green colour was used from 1933, with white sleeves added to the design in 1938 and has remained a prominent design throughout the history of the Club.

Hibernian supporters voted overwhelmingly to reinstate emerald green for season 2016/17, as the team seek promotion into the top flight of Scottish football.

 


 

View a pictorial timeline of all of the Hibernian home kits here.

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.