The inclusion of the Hibernian players John McGinn, Dylan McGeough and Lewis Stevenson in the Scotland side for the challenge match against Peru in May this year left many wondering just when Hibs last had three players in the international side. Trust Curator Tom Wright investigates...
For that we need go back no further than 12th November 2005, when Gary O’Connor, Gary Caldwell and Scott Brown were all selected for the game against the USA at Hampden Park, although all three would not be on the field at the same time. Substitute Caldwell came on at half time while Brown, winning his first full cap replaced O’Connor with 15 minutes remaining in the 1-1 draw.
There have been other occasions throughout the years when a similar situation had occurred including the time that Tommy Younger, Gordon Smith and Lawrie Reilly, who had only been called into the side as a late replacement because of injury, had been included in the squad for the game against a Danish Combination in Copenhagen in 1955, the first time that a game under floodlights had taken place in the country.
Both Younger and Smith would feature in the match, but unfortunately Reilly had been injured during training and would sit out the game. The main problem for Hibs however was that the game had taken place just 24 hours before the return European Cup game against Rot Weiss Essen at Easter Road. As it would turn out, despite meticulous timing, all three would miss the European game after being stranded in London on account of the thick blanket of fog that had lingered over northern Europe all day.
In March 1974, Erich Schaedler, Pat Stanton and Alex Cropley had all been included in the Scotland squad for the friendly against West Germany in Frankfurt. Schaedler would win his one and only Scotland cap when lining up alongside Stanton in the 2-1 defeat, but again only the previously mentioned two would feature in the game, with Cropley remaining as an unused substitute.
For the very first time that three Hibs players had been selected for Scotland in the same game, we have to go as far back as March 1897 when Bernard Breslin, John Kennedy and Patrick Murray, the latter winning his second cap, took part in the 2-2 draw with Wales at the Racecourse ground in Wrexham, circumstances that would not happen again for almost 50 years.
Then, in what was classed as a wartime international in October 1944, Gordon Smith, Arthur Milne, Jimmy Caskie and Bobby Baxter all took part in the hugely embarrassing 6-2 defeat by England at Wembley. The inclusion of Tommy Walker and Andy Black of Hearts made it an all Edinburgh forward line and remarkably they all had been signed at one time or another by the then Hibs manager Willie McCartney. There was yet another Hibs connection. Playing alongside centre-half Baxter that afternoon was the former Hibs player Matt Busby, who had won wartime international caps while guesting for the Easter Road side before moving to Shetland with his army unit.
In April 1948, Jock Govan, Davie Shaw and Bobby Combe, the latter winning his first cap, all played in the 2-0 defeat by England at Hampden, but there would be an even bigger honour for the Easter Road side a few weeks later when just days before the club finally secured its first League championship since 1903, five Hibs players; Jock Govan, Davie Shaw, Gordon Smith, Bobby Combe and Eddie Turnbull were all selected for the 2-0 victory against Belgium at Hampden and the 2-1 defeat by Switzerland in Berne a few weeks later, team mate Hugh Howie was a travelling reserve.
A young Lawrie Reilly would win his first full Scotland cap at the beginning of the following season against Wales in Cardiff and would be joined in the side by Davie Shaw and Hugh Howie. Right back Howie, who was replacing his injured team mate Jock Govan, scored one of Scotland’s goals in the 3-1 victory, one of only two that he would score in his entire career. Unfortunately he would never play for Scotland again.
Almost five years later in April 1952, Lawrie Reilly, Gordon Smith and Bobby Johnstone all featured in a 2-1 defeat by England at Hampden, Reilly however managing to keep up his remarkable record against England when scoring Scotland’s consolation goal late in the game.
In season 1955/56, Gordon Smith, Lawrie Reilly and goalkeeper Tommy Younger, the latter making his first appearance for Scotland were all selected for the games against Portugal, Yugoslavia, Austria, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. Gordon Smith was lining up in the unusual position of outside left in the latter and it might well have been four. Playing alongside his former colleagues in several of the games was the recently transferred Bobby Johnstone who had joined Manchester City just a few months before.
Unfortunately none of the above games would take place in the finals of the World Cup competition, a tournament that Scotland had frequently found difficulty in qualifying for.
In 1954 however, Willie Ormond became the first Hibs player to represent his country in the actual finals when selected in the Scotland squad for the ill-fated and ill-prepared journey to that year’s competition in Switzerland. Lawrie Reilly’s illness had ruled him out of what would turn out to be a shambolic trip to Zurich and Basle, while team mate Bobby Johnstone had been forced to withdraw from the squad before it had even left the country after being injured in a warm up match at Somerset Park.
Although the rules allowed 22 players to travel, in the Scotland party of 41 that made its way to Switzerland there were only thirteen players including just one goalkeeper, a situation that would be laughable nowadays, although it was noticeable according to the press that apart from the backroom staff, the wives of the principal office bearers had all been included in the party.
Displaying an incredible lack of organisation, there had been no training kit for the players who had been required to bring their own, and before the first match against Austria; a 1-0 defeat, team captain Willie Cunningham had been embarrassed to be presented with a pennant from his opposite number but had been unable to reciprocate the gesture. Team manager Andy Beattie resigned on the eve of the game against Uruguay in Basle, and it was no surprise when Scotland lost 7-0, a result that their preparation – or lack of it – deserved.
In the 1958 competition in Sweden, the first time before or since that all four home countries had qualified, Eddie Turnbull was Hibs’ sole representative although the former Easter Road goalkeeper Tommy Younger now with Liverpool, had captained the side in the opening two games. In the 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia, the Hearts player Jimmy Murray had scored Scotland’s first ever goal in a World Cup Finals after a pass from Eddie Turnbull, but the side would exit the competition without a win after a 3-2 defeat by Paraguay and a 2-1 reverse by France, Raymond Kopa who had played such a significant part for Reims in defeating Hibs in the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1956, scoring one of the French goals.
Although Peter Cormack would make his international debut against Brazil at Hampden in one of the South American sides warm up games for the 1966 World Cup tournament in England, it would be another eight years before Scotland would again qualify for the finals itself after the now famous 2-1 victory against Czechoslovakia at Hampden.
In the 1974 finals in Germany, a Scotland side now managed by the former Hibs player Willie Ormond would exit the competition at the first round stage as the only unbeaten side in the entire competition after a win and two draws. Hibs’ John Blackley had played in the opening game, a 2-0 victory against Zaire in Dortmund, but Erich Schaedler who had been included in the final party of 22 would watch from the sidelines as a Scotland side gave an impressive but ultimately unsuccessful account of themselves.
While the former Hibs player Ally MacLeod would manage a Scotland side that also included the future Hibs goalkeeper Alan Rough in Argentina in 1978, other former or future Hibs players including Rough and Stevie Archibald in Spain in 1982; goalkeepers Andy Goram and Jim Leighton in Mexico in 1986; Leighton, Alex McLeish Gordon Durie and Murdo MacLeod in Italy in 1990; Leighton, Gordon Durie, Darren Jackson and John Collins in 1998; no Hibs player would feature for Scotland in the finals while still with the club.
Scotland have now failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals since 1998, but hope springs eternal and perhaps we can all look forward in anticipation to the 2022 competition in Qatar.
Written by Tom Wright