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James Delaney recalls the 2003/04 home jersey which became the unofficial outfit of the Golden Generation.

Kit manufacturer Le Coq Sportif took a unique approach to our home shirt for the 2003/04 campaign, becoming the first technical sponsor to move the Club crest into the middle of our home shirt.

GoldenTam McManus, Stephen Dobbie, Garry O'Connor, Derek Riordan and Scott Brown

The kit became the unofficial outfit of the Golden Generation - the young group of talented Hibernian academy graduates thrown into first team action by Bobby Williamson during his tenure in the Easter Road dugout.

While the league campaign was a disappointment, our encouraging progress in the League Cup pointed to a bright future with the side claiming a few scalps on the way.

The men in green and white kicked off their campaign in emphatic fashion, thrashing lowly Montrose 9-0 at Easter Road to record our biggest ever victory in the competition. 

dobbiemontroseStephen Dobbie celebrates the first goal against Montrose

Stephen Dobbie’s first half hat-trick set us on our way, before a Garry O’Connor brace, an unfortunate own goal courtesy of Gable Endies defender Steve Kerrigan and goals from Ian Murray, Derek Riordan and Scott Brown sealed a resounding win.

Second tier Queen of the South were confidently dispatched in the third round courtesy of a Riordan double, but the draw for the quarter-finals proved to be less kind to the Leith outfit as they were matched with league leaders Celtic.

Martin O’Neill’s side were setting the pace at the top of the Scottish Premier League and were unbeaten domestically by the time they arrived at Easter Road in December.

But the young and hungry Hibernian always looked like a team capable of springing a surprise and on an electric night in Leith, they did so in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Despite threatening in the opening 45 minutes, it looked as if Williamson’s side were going to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Celtic took the lead after the break through Stanislav Varga’s header.

It was a bitter blow, but the youngsters dug deep to produce a superb fightback and turn the match on its head.

Eight minutes later, Celtic defender John Kennedy misjudged a Tam McManus corner from the left, allowing the ball to fall on to his arm, giving referee John Rowbotham no choice but to point to the spot.

Grant Brebner made no mistake from his resulting effort, coolly slotting the ball into the far left corner to draw the men in green and white level.

Grant EqualiserGrant Brebner pulls Hibs level from the penalty spot

In an end-to-end final 25 minutes, both sides had opportunities to win it, but it was Williamson’s youthful charges who struck the decisive blow nine minutes from time.

Celtic failed to deal with another McManus corner and when the ball was floated back in, it dropped to Kevin Thomson, who met it with a sweet strike on his left foot, rattling it into the bottom far corner.

With the news that Dundee had eliminated Hearts and Livingston knocking out Aberdeen, the men in green and white stood a great chance of getting a favourable tie when their name came out the hat in the semi-final draw, but in that classic Hibernian way, it would never be that easy and the Easter Road side were heading along the M8 for a clash with Alex McLeish’s Rangers.

The Ibrox side were cup holders and had already netted six times against Williamson’s men in league action by the time the sides met in February.

However, at a sodden Hampden, Williamson’s side produced a stunning performance which earmarked the spine of this team as the Hibernian of the future.

Michael Mols swept Rangers in front moments before the interval, but Hibernian had carved out a number of encouraging openings in a frantic first half and finally made their pressure count 13 minutes from time.

Dobbie had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds when he shot beyond Stefan Klos from a Derek Riordan pass to level it at 1-1 and send the match into extra time.

DobbieRiordan
Derek Riordan celebrates with Hibs goal scorer Stephen Dobbie after he brought them level to take the game into extra time

But with neither side able to find a winner, the game was to be decided by spot kicks as Hibernian booked their place in the final in dramatic fashion.

Gary Caldwell slotted home the first for the men in green and white, before Shota Arvaladze, Dobbie, Michael Ball and O’Connor all missed.

Craig Moore made no such mistake for the Gers and Brown, Christian Nerlinger, McManus and Paolo Vanoli followed suit to level the shootout at 3-3 heading into sudden death.

The travelling Hibernian faithful were fearing the worst when Matt Doumbe hit the bar, but Andersson made a stunning stop to deny Zurab Khizanishvili to keep the men in green and white in it.

Frank de Boer stepped up for Rangers after Colin Murdock scored for Hibernian, but the Dutch international sent the Easter Road faithful into a state of delirium when his penalty rebounded off the base of the post to ensure the Leith Club were on their way back to Hampden.

It was a monumental achievement for a squad boasting little first team experience, but the last step was just one too far for Williamson’s men, who agonisingly went down 2-0 to Livingston in the final.

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.