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Pat Stanton reflects on his memories as a supporter, player and manager.

Every generation of Hibernian supporters has its own heroes but occasionally a special player comes along who bridges the gap.

Pat Stanton was one such player. Recognised in both the Hibernian and Scotland Halls of Fame, nobody who saw him in action would disagree with Tommy Docherty who always insisted the Pat was a better player than the legendary England World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore.

A skilful and elegant thoroughbred footballer with a touch of steel, Pat led by example and was admired by fans of all teams, as well as team-mates and opponents.

Pat was a regular member of the brilliant Hibernian side of the mid 1960s, that won the Summer Cup in 1964. Then as captain of Eddie Turnbull's Tornadoes, he led the club to a historic League Cup Final victory over Celtic in 1972, scoring the first and making the second goal for his great friend Jimmy O’Rourke. 

PatCelticPat Stanton celebrates his goal in the 1972 League Cup Final

That was Hibernian’s first major cup success in over 70 years and many believe that Pat’s performance that day was his finest ever in a Hibernian strip.

He also lifted two Drybrough Cups and of course who can forget the famous New Year's Day victory over Hearts in 1973. 

At his peak, Pat had the opportunity to move south following interest from a number of top English clubs but elected to remain at Easter Road and to this day has no regrets about that decision.

He eventually moved to Celtic in exchange for Jackie McNamara in 1976 and won League Championship and Scottish Cup medals in his first season, but unfortunately was forced to retire prematurely shortly after due to injury.

His testimonial match between Hibernian and Celtic attracted a massive crowd of over 25,000.

Pat then became assistant manager to Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen and the pair remain friends to this day. 

He later returned back home to Easter Road as manager and was responsible for signing several promising youngsters including John Collins, Michael Weir and Gordon Hunter.

Pat ManagerPat Stanton during his time as Hibernian manager

Reflecting on his Hibs story, Pat recalled: “My dad Michael was a Hibs fanatic and he took me and my brothers to Easter Road from when I was about nine or ten. We used to stand in front of the old scoreboard and I remember going to the European Cup semi-final against Reims who had the great Raymond Kopa in their side.

“That was the time of the Famous Five and my dad’s favourite was Bobby Johnstone who went to Manchester City and won the FA Cup. I actually met him years later at a dinner and I was sitting between him and my hero Joe Baker which was fantastic.

“There were many brilliant nights under the floodlights including against Barcelona and Roma so it was a great time to be a Hibs fan.

“When I signed for Hibs, my mother bought me a new raincoat and on my first day I felt a bit awkward standing in the dressing room not knowing what to do. 

“Tommy Preston noticed this, and he pointed out two pegs and told me to get changed there. It meant a lot to me that he had taken to time to speak to me and he helped me a lot during my career with advice on and off the pitch.

“That day, the trainer Jimmy McColl pointed to the old North Stand where many of the die-hards sat and told me that if these fans didn’t take to me then I should find another club, but I think I did okay.

“Jimmy O’Rourke was also there at the time and he got into the first team before me even though I was a bit older. We were at school together, but I was a year ahead.

“Hibs were going through a poor spell at that time, but things changed when Jock Stein took over. We started training with the ball and on his first day he told us that everyone would get a chance but anyone not coming up to the mark would be away.

“Jock was a great man manager and had a soft spot for Willie Hamilton who was a fantastic player but not big on discipline and a bit of a free spirit. Jock had a lot of respect for Willie and kept him in order.

“We won the Summer Cup and were doing well in the League and Scottish Cup when he left to go to Celtic and was replaced by Bob Shankly. 

“People tend to forget about the team we had in the 1960s, but we had some great players such as Neil Martin, Peter Cormack, Peter Marinello and Eric Stevenson. There were many fantastic European nights including Naples and Leeds who were one of the best teams in the world at the time but we more than matched them. 

5224210Stanton exchanges a pennant with KS Besa captain Arkaxhiu

“I remember speaking to Billy Bremner who had a soft spot for Hibs and he used to say what a tough place Easter Road was to go to.

“Young players like John Brownlie, John Blackley and Alex Cropley arrived and they formed part of Eddie Turnbull’s team in the early 70s that won the League Cup. That was a fantastic performance and we would have given anyone a game that day.

 “I moved to Celtic near the end of my career as I was not seeing eye to eye with Eddie and won the double at Parkhead under Jock Stein, then after retiring I joined Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen and that was the start of great things for the club. 

“I later returned to Hibs as manager but in hindsight it was the wrong time and I let my heart rule my head. 

“I have so many great memories at Hibs and although I had offers to go to England with Chelsea and Manchester United, I have no regrets about staying at Easter Road. Hibs were good to me and I think I have been really fortunate.”

Pat played 617 games for Hibernian and scored 78 goals. He won 16 caps for Scotland.

Written by John Hislop

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