Tom Wright recalls the remarkable 4-3 Scottish Cup Edinburgh Derby triumph at Tynecastle in 1958, where teenager Joe Baker scored all four of Hibernian's goals.
The draw for the third round of the 1958 Scottish Cup competition had thrown up several all first division games but undoubtedly the tie of the round was the game between the Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibs at Tynecastle, a fixture that was always eagerly awaited by both sets of supporters.
Highflying Hearts, who would go on to win the title that season, had already been installed as red-hot favourites by the bookies, not only to defeat Hibs but also to complete the league and cup double. Hibs on the other hand were a team in transition. Gone were the halcyon days of the Famous Five at Easter Road. Bobby Johnstone was now at Manchester City, Gordon Smith out with a long-term injury and Lawrie Reilly still struggling to fully recover from a cartilage operation during the summer, leaving only Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond from the quintet to feature in the game at Tynecastle.
To make Reilly’s enforced absence that much easier to bear for the frustrated Hibs supporters, at the beginning of the season the lively 17-year-old Joe Baker had burst onto the scene with dynamic impact. Making his debut against Airdrie in a League Cup tie, only a few weeks later the English born Baker would score his first goal for the club in Hibs 4-2 victory against Hearts in a game to inaugurate the Tynecastle floodlights. A few days later, he scored twice against Queens Park on his home league debut followed by a hat-trick against Spurs at Easter Road on the Monday in a floodlit friendly. It would be the start of a true Roy-of-the-Rovers fairytale for Baker, but it would be in that season’s Scottish Cup competition that he would really make his name.
In the previous round, a replay at Easter Road had been required against Second Division Dundee United before the home side could progress into the later stages of the competition, Baker scoring one of the goals in Hibs 2-0 victory. The first game had been postponed for several days on account of the heavy snow that had swept through most of Europe, wiping out the entire fixture list, but the inclement weather was to have even more tragic consequences for the Manchester United party on its way back from a game in Belgrade, when their plane crashed at Munich with a heavy loss of life.
In Scotland, league leaders Hearts were scoring for fun whilst the mid-table Easter Road side were just as capable of leaking goals. Just days before the cup-tie at Tynecastle a league game between Hibs and St Mirren had ended 5-5, a contest described by one newspaper reporter as ‘gallant but certainly not graceful’. Thrice behind, the Edinburgh side had managed to claw themselves back into the game courtesy of two Eddie Turnbull penalties to lead 5-4 only to concede a late equaliser.
On 1st March 1958, a huge crowd of 41,666 packed into Tynecastle, most of them expecting to see the hot favourites Hearts steam roller the no-hopers Hibs, but if the Hearts fans were expecting a runaway victory by their favourites then they were to be badly mistaken.
Hearts versus Hibernian, Scottish Cup 3rd Round, 1958
In a spirited start, Hibs were much the better side, Baker missing a golden opportunity in the first few seconds. However, Hearts opened the scoring against the run of play after ten minutes when a Hamilton shot only barely managed to cross the line. The lead lasted less than a minute however, when Baker scored from close range after a Willie Ormond attempt had come crashing back off the bar, but by this time a dominant Hibs should really have been ahead.
Before the game, an inspired tactical move by the Hibs manager Hugh Shaw saw him push the strapping full back John Grant into the inside forward position to nullify the midfield probing of Dave MacKay. It worked a treat, with the young Joe Baker taking full advantage of the extra space created in the middle of the park. By this time the atmosphere inside the ground was so intense that the crowd at the south east corner of the ground spilled over onto the running track, the police having their work cut out to force the spectators back onto the terracing.
BY NOW, JOE BAKER WAS RUNNING THE HEARTS CENTRE-HALF JIMMY MILNE RAGGED NEVER GIVING THE EXPERIENCED DEFENDER A SECONDS PEACE...
By now, Joe Baker was running the Hearts centre-half Jimmy Milne ragged never giving the experienced defender a seconds peace and the livewire Hibs centre-forward took full advantage of good leading up play to score twice with tremendous drives from just outside the box.
The first came after collecting the ball near the halfway line, Baker left a trail of defenders floundering in his wake as he made his way towards goal before firing a thunderous drive past the future Hibs goalkeeper Gordon Marshall from all of 20 yards. In a game fiercely contested by both sides, the veteran Jimmy Wardhaugh pulled one back for Hearts only for Baker to score again after a pass from John Fraser and incredibly, with just a minute remaining, underdogs Hibs were leading 4-2.
Murray scored for Hearts in the dying seconds and with the tension among both sets of fans electric, it was now Hearts against goalkeeper Lawrie Leslie. The Hibs goalkeeper had been in tremendous form throughout but he was now asked to perform miracles to deny Hearts as the home side went all out for an equaliser.
A snapshot of goalmouth action during the match
However, in the end it was to be Hibs day. At the final whistle, Leslie was carried shoulder high from the field by the ecstatic Easter Road fans, but the real hero of the hour had been the eighteen-year-old Joe Baker, who had more than enhanced his already rapidly growing reputation by scoring all his sides goals in what was a famous victory.
The teams that day were as follows:
Hearts: Marshall, Kirk and Thomson, MacKay, Milne and Bowman, Hamilton, Murray, Young, Wardhaugh and Crawford
Hibernian: Leslie, Paterson and McClelland, Turnbull, Plenderleith and Baxter, Fraser, Grant, Baker, Preston and Ormond
Referee: Jack Mowat (Rutherglen)
In the semi-final, Hibs would defeat Rangers after a replay to reach the cup final for only the first time in eleven years. In the replay at Hampden Park, there had been high drama in the late stages of the game. With only three minutes remaining and Hibs leading 2-1, the Ibrox side were convinced that they had scored an equaliser. The referee had initially awarded the goal only to spot that the linesman still had his flag raised. Informed that the Rangers player Max Murray had handled the ball in a clash with Hibs goalkeeper Leslie, referee Davison had no hesitation in disallowing the goal. Despite the fury of the Rangers players, the TV cameras and newspaper photographs would later prove the decision to have been correct.
In a curious footnote to the affair, a few days later the SFA received a request from Rangers that referee Davidson, who had been due to officiate at the Ibrox sides next game against Falkirk, be replaced on the advice of the police who feared trouble from the fans. After investigating the matter, the authorities discovered that the police knew nothing about the affair and the Ibrox club were severely censured at the next meeting of the SFA committee.
A few weeks earlier, after failing to fully recover from his cartilage operation the previous summer and unable to compete at his very best, Lawrie Reilly had announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. On the Monday before Hibs faced Clyde in the Scottish Cup Final, Reilly made his last ever appearance in the famous green and white jersey in a 3-1 victory against former adversaries Rangers at Easter Road, the Scotland centre-forward scoring one of the goals.
On the Saturday (20th April 1958) at Hampden Park, it was to be more cup final disappointment for Hibs. Trailing 1-0 after an own goal by left-half Baxter, Joe Baker appeared to have equalised near the end only for the referee to rightly disallow the goal after he had clearly punched the ball into the net. For the Edinburgh side, the long wait for Scottish Cup final success continued.
From then on for Joe Baker, it was to be goals all the way, scoring over 100 for Hibernian before he had turned 21. His growing reputation however, had attracted the unwanted attention of several of the top clubs in the country and in the summer of 1961 he was transferred to the Italian side Torino.
Written by Tom Wright