HIBS legend Lawrie Reilly has spoken of his bitter disappointment after “stabbing” back pain put him in hospital and forced him to miss Hibs’ cup final bid.
A member of the Famous Five forward line which helped Hibs win back-to-back league titles in 1951 and 52, Reilly had planned to travel to Hampden for Sunday’s game but revealed excruciating backache meant he was admitted to the Western General only days before.
And although he had to watch the match from his hospital bed, the 84-year-old admitted it was a relief not to be in the stadium to watch the team get “stuffed” in their 3-0 defeat to Celtic.
He said: “I don’t know what caused it. It was very painful – it was like having a knife in my back. It was disappointing not to go to the final but Billy Hunter, another former Hibs forward, came in and we sat and blethered, and then watched the game together.
“Of course, we were both disappointed – although I would say I was hopeful more than expectant of a Hibs win. In the end, I was quite glad I wasn’t there to watch them get stuffed – I don’t enjoy watching the team get beat.”
Reilly was admitted to the Western General last Wednesday, where he remained bedridden until returning home on Tuesday.
He said he was feeling “great” and paid tribute to his wife, Iris, whom he praised as a constant source of comfort during treatment.
“I feel fine and I really don’t know why the pain came. I started feeling it about two weeks ago – I think it’s just old age,” he said. “I am on the road to recovery now, thanks to my wife – my number one nurse. I have no complaints.”
One of the greatest players ever to put on a Hibs strip, Reilly joined the Easter Road side in 1946 and went on to net 185 goals over 253 appearances. He was also one of the national team’s most dangerous forwards, and his 22-goal tally meant he enjoyed a strike rate higher than that of fellow legends Kenny Dalglish, Denis Law and Joe Jordan.
News of Reilly’s return home has been welcomed by senior figures at Hibs.
Paul Kane, chair of the Hibs former players association, of which Reilly is a member, said: “The most important thing is that he’s recovering and on the mend. As long as he’s well for another day and we get to another final, fingers crossed Lawrie will be there to see Hibs lift the cup.”