Tom Wright profiles the eventful 1961/62 season including the resignation of Hugh Shaw.
The 1961-62 season would be one of mixed fortunes for the club. After a poor start, only several decent results in the latter part of the campaign would allow the club to end the season in mid table. After victory over Belenenses in the Fairs Cup, a heavy defeat by Red Star in the next round would lead to the resignation of manager Hugh Shaw severing a connection with the club that stretched back 42 years. Shaw would be replaced by Walter Galbraith, but he would not be the answer. After narrowly avoiding relegation only on the last day of the following season, he too would soon resign to be replaced by Jock Stein.
Signed from Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 1961 as a replacement for his namesake Johnny who had joined Arsenal during the close season, the skilful but often ungainly Ally Macleod quickly became a great favourite with the crowd. MacLeod, who had played against Wolves in the 1960 FA Cup final, had been one of the first victims of the recently abolished maximum wage agreement that was then in place in England, falling out with the club after learning that he was being paid less that some of his colleagues. During his two seasons at Easter Road MacLeod would take part in several prominent games including Belenenses and Red Star Belgrade in the Fairs Cup, but after the clubs narrow escape from relegation at the end of the 1962-63 season and no longer guaranteed a first team place, the former captain would spend brief spells with Third Lanark and Ayr United before taking over as manager at Somerset Park. Later as manager of Scotland he would lead the side during the disastrous 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina before being replaced by Jock Stein.
The Hibs side before the East of Scotland final at Tynecastle in March 1962, a 3-1 defeat, Stevenson the Hibs goalscorer.
Left to right back row: MacLeod, Easton, Preston, Simpson, McClelland and Fraser.
Front row: Scott, Baker, Grant, Stevenson and Bogie.
Joining Hibs from Drumchapel Amateurs in 1959, centre-half Jim Easton would make the first of his 79 appearances in September the following year. A first team regular between 1961 and 1964, the dependable Easton’s time at Easter Road would be severely hampered by several serious injuries including a broken ankle in 1962 and a broken leg during the game against East Stirling the following season. A few weeks later Jock Stein would replace Walter Galbraith as manager, but after struggling to adequately fill the problem centre-half position created by Easton’s injury, Stein would sign John McNamee from Celtic, a move that would ultimately mean the end for the popular and reliable Easton at Easter Road. He would later spend several seasons with Dundee, finally ending his career with Miami Toros after a spell with Queen of the South. Eventually settling in Canada, on a recent visit to Scotland the Easton family had attended the league cup game against Arbroath courtesy of the Hibs Former Players Association.
Deputising for the unwell Lawrie Reilly at the start of the 1954-55 season, Tommy Preston had scored nine goals from just seven starts, and on Reilly’s return a place in the side just had to be made for him and he switched to inside left, Turnbull reverting to wing-half. Although a bit on the slow side, Preston’s deft touch, incisive football brain and passing ability easily compensated for any lack of pace. He is probably best remembered for scoring in both legs of the famous victory over Barcelona during the 1960-61 season, and the four in Hibs 11-1 victory against Airdrie at Broomfield in 1959. Another who would make over 300 appearances for the club during his eleven seasons at Easter Road, Preston would join St Mirren in 1964 as player-coach but after just one game would leave after falling out with the chairman.
Just a few weeks after turning out for Queens Park in a Glasgow Cup game aged 14, in August 1946 the now 15 year-old Ronnie Simpson, son of a pre-war Rangers and Scotland centre-half, would become the youngest ever player in Scotland to make a competitive debut in a game against Hibs at Hampden. After a season with Third Lanark, in 1951 Simpson would join Newcastle United where he would earn two FA Cup winners medals. After several seasons as a first team regular, in 1958 he would receive a serious injury, and now considered to be well past his best he was featuring mainly in the reserves. Fate however was about to intervene in spectacular fashion. Simpson would soon sign for Hibs, and later after a fall out with Jock Stein, would join Celtic, where he would not only win the European Cup in 1967, but would also become the oldest player to make a full international debut for Scotland when lining up against England in the famous 3-2 victory at Wembley that same year.
For several seasons left-back Joe McClelland formed a defensive partnership with John Grant, McClelland’s more robust style of play perhaps in direct contrast to Grant’s mobility and refined approach to the game. A Scottish Schools and youth international who had been highly rated as a youngster, McClelland was in the Hibs side defeated by Clyde in the 1958 Scottish Cup Final. After 257 appearances for the club, including 12 in Europe, he would join Wrexham in 1964.
Signed from Edinburgh Thistle in 1954 as yet another potential rival for Gordon Smith’s position, the versatile John Fraser would not have long to wait for his first team debut when replacing the injured Smith in a 5-1 away victory against East Fife in November that same year. Little did he know it then, but apart from a brief spell at Stenhousemuir, Fraser would spend the following 25 years at Easter Road, first as a player and then coach. The versatile Fraser who had an eye for a goal, could play anywhere in the forward line, but would eventually find his true position at right-back in the Hibs side of the early to mid 1960’s. A veteran of many European games including the famous Fairs Cup victory over Barcelona and the equally famous friendly defeat of Real Madrid, in 2012 the popular Fraser would be inductedinto the Hibs Hall of Fame.
The younger brother of the Rangers, Everton and Scotland player Alex, Jim Scott joined Hibs from Bo’ness in the summer of 1958. The tricky ball playing outside right with a deceptive turn of speed would later be converted into a centre-forward by manager Jock Stein where he would form a prolific goalscoring partnership with Neil Martin before the latter’s move to Sunderland. Another who was immensely popular with the fans, Scott’s consistent form earned him a Scotland call up against Holland at Hampden in 1966 lining up alongside team mate Pat Stanton. Joining Newcastle United in 1968, Scott would win a Fairs Cup medal against Ujpest Dosza that same season in what had been Newcastle’s first ever appearance on the European stage. Later, after a move to Crystal Palace, he would end his playing career with Hamilton after a short spell with hometown side Falkirk.
When Gerry Baker joined Hibs in 1961 just a few months after the arrival of Ally MacLeod, somewhat bizarrely both Joe Baker and Johnny MacLeod had now been replaced at Easter Road by a Baker and MacLeod. After a spell with Motherwell, he had joined St Mirren at the start of the 1958-59 campaign, where he would collect a Scottish Cup winner’s medal at the end of the season. After a short period with Manchester City, Baker had signed for the then manageress Hibs, eventually scoring a more than credible 43 goals from just 84 starts in a little over two seasons. The nomadic Baker would soon be on the move again, this time to Ipswich in 1964, only for the side to be relegated at the end of the campaign, before finally ending his career with a number of lower league sides after a couple of seasons with Coventry. Although capped seven times by the USA, perhaps Gerry, a highly talented individual with an incredible turn of speed, had lacked the desire and determination of his brother Joe.
After several impressive performances in the half-back line, John Grant would make his name at right-back playing behind Eddie Turnbull in the Hibs side that would reach the Scottish Cup Final in 1958. A strong tenacious tackler with a tremendous recovery, the form of the elegant Grant, nicknamed ‘The Duke’ by his team mates, soon caught the eye of the Scottish selectors and he was ‘capped’ twice at full level with another six appearances for the inter-league side. After 340 first team games, in 1964 he would be released by the new manager Jock Stein, but after only a season with Raith Rovers, the stylish Grant would retire completely from the game.
Lifelong Hibs supporter Eric Stevenson had actually been signed from neighbours Hearts in 1960 after a contract mix-up. The situation was to pay long term dividends for both parties, the Hibs fanatic Stevenson realising his boyhood dream, Hibs reaping the reward of over ten years service from one of the best players ever to wear the green and white jersey. Stevenson would make the first of his 367 appearances against St Johnstone in October 1960, and barring injury would rarely be out of the side over the next decade. A tricky ball player with a deceptive turn of speed he quickly became a huge favourite with the fans, his delicate ball control earning his team mate Joe Davis a great number of goals from the penalty spot. Taking part in many European games including the now famous 5-0 home victory against Napoli in 1967, Stevenson would later join Ayr United, a solitary Scottish League cap scant reward for his undoubted talents.
Joining the club from Balgreen Rovers, the enigmatic Malcolm Bogie would make just three appearances for the first team during his five seasons at Easter Road, an almost criminal return for his often sublime talents. An incredibly gifted individual with tremendous ball-control, Bogie’s main problem was that after easily beating three players, he would then go back and try to beat them again. Lining up alongside Joe Baker in the Scottish Schoolboys side against England at Goodison Park in 1954, a great future had been predicted for Bogie, but unable to force himself into the first team set up, he would soon join non-league Aldershot then Grimsby, finally ending his playing career in the East of Scotland league.