Trust Curator Tom Wright details the club’s European hat-trick history, following Florian Kamberi’s three goals against NSI Runavik in the Europa League First Qualifying Round match at Easter Road Stadium.
Florian Kamberi’s recent hat-trick against the Faroe Island side NSI Runavik in the Europa League incredibly meant that the Swiss striker became the first Hibernian player to score a treble in European competition since centre forward Alan Gordon’s three goals against Hajduk Split in the Cup Winners Cup forty five years ago.
The first ever hat-trick by a Hibs player in a European match however was scored by Joe McBride on his home debut for the club against the German side Lokomotive Leipzig in the Fairs Cup on Wednesday 13th November 1968, scoring all his sides goals in the 3-1 victory.
Signed only the previous week from Celtic as a direct replacement for Colin Stein who had been transferred to Rangers in the first £100,000 deal between two Scottish clubs, McBride had made his first start for the Easter Road side in a 6-1 defeat by the Ibrox side in Glasgow the previous Saturday, scoring his new sides solitary counter, with Colin Stein scoring a second consecutive hat-trick for Rangers.
As a matter of interest, the majority if not all the records books list Stein as winning his first full Scotland cap in the 1-0 victory against Denmark in Copenhagen as a Rangers player, but at the time of the game he was still a registered Hibs player, joining the Ibrox side twelve days later.
Man of many clubs McBride had been a prolific goalscorer for Kilmarnock, Luton Town, Partick Thistle and Motherwell, scoring a hat-trick for the Fir Park side in a 4-3 home victory against Hibs the same day as Pat Stanton’s debut for the club in 1963. Top goalscorer in each of his three seasons at Fir Park, form that had attracted the attention of Celtic, in June 1965 he would become manager Jock Stein’s first signing for the grand sum of £27,000.
Settling immediately into the great side that Stein was then assembling at Parkhead, McBride would end the season as joint top goalscorer in the country along with Alex Ferguson of Rangers with 31 goals, including the four scored against Hibs at Easter Road in a 5-3 victory in October.
A prolific goalscorer of proven ability, the following season McBride had scored 33 goals by Christmas before picking up the cartilage injury that would keep him out of football for the rest of the season, including Celtic’s famous European Cup win against Inter Milan in 1967. On his return to full fitness he was unable to command a regular first team place at Celtic and jumped at the chance to resurrect his career at Easter Road.
McBride’s first-half hat-trick against Locomotive, one of five he would score during his time at Easter Road, made him an immediate favourite with the Hibs fans. He would go one better just three days later when scoring four in Hibs’ 5-0 victory over Morton at Easter Road. In just over two seasons at Easter Road, McBride would score 44 goals from just 67 league starts, 59 in all games, including another European hat-tick against Malmo in the Fairs Cup. However in December 1970, McBride was allowed to join Dunfermline for the knock down fee of £4,000 following a dispute with the Hibernian chairman.
During the 1972/73 season, there would be no fewer than three European hat-tricks scored by Hibs, an unforgettable season that would not only see the club winning both the Drybrough and League Cups, but also record the famous 7-0 victory against Hearts at Tynecastle on New Year’s Day.
By reaching the previous season’s Scottish Cup Final, the Easter Road side had qualified for the Cup Winners Cup for the very first time. Their opponents in the opening round would be the joint leaders of the Portuguese league Sporting Lisbon, who were then managed by the former England international Ronnie Allan. Winners of the competition in 1964, since then each of the British sides that had defeated Sporting in the competition; Arsenal, Newcastle United and Rangers, had all gone on to actually win the trophy.
After a 2-1 defeat in Lisbon, in the return game at Easter Road Pat Stanton had opened the scoring midway through the first half. However, despite the visitors levelling the scores just before the interval, Sporting were swept away in a devastating second-half goalscoring burst as the Easter Road side, wearing all-green jerseys, eventually ran out convincing 6-1 winners, inside forward Jimmy O’Rourke scoring a hat-trick, with one from the penalty spot to give the visitors their heaviest ever defeat in Europe.
In 1962 O’Rourke had become the youngest player at that time to take part in a competitive European competition when he made his first team debut against the Danish side Utrecht in the Fairs Cup aged just 16 and had looked every inch a prospect. Unfortunately, a short while later he would receive a serious injury that would severely hamper his first team chances at Easter Road and for some time he would struggle to regain a regular place in the first team. Now, under the guidance of manager Eddie Turnbull and forming a prolific goalscoring partnership with Alan Gordon his career had blossomed.
In the second round of the cup, Hibs had been drawn against the ‘unknown’ FK Besa from Albania. In the first leg at Easter Road watched by over 22,000 fans, the visitors were almost immediately found to be out of their depth at this level in what was an almost totally one-sided game. Two ahead at the interval, the supporters who had waited patiently for the expected second-half goal avalanche by the home side were not to be disappointed, with Hibs once again scoring five goals in a blistering 12 minute period, O’Rourke managing to score yet another hat-trick, against it has to be said extremely inferior opponents. This was O’Rourke’s fourth treble of the season so far and a personal best. With 21 goals from their last four games, Hibs were giving the supporters just what they wanted, the final 7-1 scoreline already guaranteeing the side a place in the the next round, and with qualification the fans reasons to believe.
The third round, that took place several months later, had seen Hibs paired against Hajduk Split who were then the oldest side in Yugoslavia (now Croatia). Hajduk had recently won the league championship without losing a goal, had qualified for that season’s Cup Winners Cup by defeating Dinamo Zagreb in the previous season’s national cup final, and despite Eddie Turnbull’s claims that he was satisfied with the draw, there was no doubt that Hajduk would prove to be difficult opponents.
In the first game at Easter Road, with Hibs again wearing all-green jerseys, this time it would be centre-forward Alan Gordon who took the goalscoring honours when scoring a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory, with Hibernian’s other goal scored by Duncan. 4-1 ahead with just 14 minutes remaining and a seemingly unassailable lead to take into the return leg in Split, Hajduk scored what would turn out to be a vitally important goal when outside-right Hlevnjac took advantage of some shambolic defending in the home penalty area.
At 4-1 the tie had possibly been won, Turnbull of the opinion that no side at that time was capable of giving Hibs a three goal start, but with away goals now counting double in the event of a draw, Splits second goal had put a completely different complexion on the result, and so it was to prove.
The teams took the field at the Stadium Plinada in Split to a backdrop of cheering from 25,000 excited fans and the deafening roar of firecrackers and rockets had helped create an intimidating electric atmosphere. From the beginning, Hibs were found to be unusually hesitant. However, despite having the bulk of the play, Hajduk had created little danger in the Hibs penalty area until two uncharacteristic mistakes by goalkeeper Jim Herriot allowed the home side to take the lead courtesy of the away goals ruling. A third goal late in the game had proved academic, the damage done in Edinburgh, but for goalkeeper Herriot the poor display in Split would prove to be expensive and he would never play for the first team again.
Although their dreams of the Cup Winners Cup Final in Salonika had been shattered, hope springs eternal, but the Hibs supporters at that time could have been forgiven if failing to realise that it would be another forty five years before they would again see a hat-trick scored by their favourites in a competitive European game.
Written by Tom Wright