Friday, December 02, 2011

Hibs: Friday Night Frights

Pat Fenlon finds himself in the Hibernian trenches for the first time this evening.

Another SPL Friday night experiment as Hibs take a trip to Motherwell.

Perhaps I'm guilty of misreading his intent but my impression was that Henry McLeish had suggested Friday night football as a way of reinvigorating the lower leagues.

But the SPL seem to have claimed it as their own. And Motherwelll, ticket prices dropped and curry offers abounding, are clearly keen that tonight is a success.

We shall see.

First though, a look at a couple of Hibs' more recent Friday night games.

7th April 1995
Hibernian 0 v Celtic 0

Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi final at Ibrox. On a Friday night.

That would not happen today. I don't know if that's a reflection of regression across society or increased sophistication in policing methods.

Either way it seems this is one Friday night experiment that we will not see again.

40,950 trooped to Govan to see this stalemate.

Celtic had a chance to win it when Pat McGinlay fouled Paul McStay outside the penalty box. A foul that led referee John Robwbotham to award a penalty kick.

Andy Walker took the kick, Jim Leighton made the save and justice was done.

In truth Celtic had dominated but a doughty Hibs defence kept the fixture alive. I've got a feeling that Graham Mitchell ended this game with his head swathed in hastily applied bandages.

It was that sort of night: bravery and commitment above flair and attacking football for Hibs.

The following day Airdrie beat Hearts in the other semi final. The next Tuesday Hibs and Celtic were at Ibrox again.

Celtic won that one 3-1 and went on to beat Airdrie in the final.

The teams:

Hibernian: Leighton, Miller, Mitchell, McGinlay, Tweed, Millen, Harper, Farrell, Wright, Jackson, O'Neill

Celtic: Bonner, Boyd, McKinlay, Vata, O'Neil, Grant, McLaughlin, McStay, Van Hooijdonk (Falconer, 42min), Walker, Collins.

1st November 1996
Kilmarnock 4 v 2 Hibs
Attendance: 10,872

In 1996 the Scottish Premier Division still enjoyed occasional occupancy of Sky's much coveted Friday evening slot.

So it was that almost 11,000 fans filled into Rugby Park to see new signing John Hughes make his debut for Hibs.

Hughes was signed by Jocky Scott, then navigating his way through an underwhelming stint as caretaker manager following the departure of Alex Miller.

Hibs had suffered a 4-0 tonking against Celtic before this one and were no doubt looking to Hughes to fill some gaping defensive holes.

He didn't quite manage it.

An up and coming young midfield maestro was also in the Hibs team. A chap called Ray Wilkins.

John Henry, Jim McIntyre and former Hibs player Paul Wright did the damage for Kilmarnock.

Andy Dow and Kevin Harper got the goals for Hibs.

This tranche of Friday night game actually began for Hibs back in January 1995.

Oddly enough on Friday the 13th.

Fir Park was again the destination.

It finished 0-0 in front of 6724 supporters.

So there we have it, the SPL's brand new Friday night experiment is not that new.

And so far, for Hibs at least, not that successful.

I travel, as ever, in hope...

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