Danny Lennon returns to Easter Road with his St Mirren team this afternoon - the ground where it all began for him as a professional footballer.
A teenage Lennon made his debut for Hibs at the end of the 1987-88 season in a match remembered for a remarkable incident... after all, it’s not every day a goalkeeper gets on the scoresheet.
Hibernian 3 Morton 1 Monday, 9 May, 1988
A couple of months ago in Saudi Arabia I had the pleasure of watching a bounce match during a Scotland training session in which Andy Goram, the Hibs goalkeeper, played in an outfield position as a striker. Goram looked quite the sharpest striker on view, twice beating Jim Leighton with a diving header and crisp volley.
At the time, I suggested that Alex Miller’s search for a striker could be over if he assessed the claims of his goalkeeper. At Easter Road on Saturday, there was further evidence to back up this theory when Goram managed to get his name on the score-sheet with a bizarre long-range kick-out. Goram himself modestly described the goal as a “wind-assisted fluke”. Indeed, there was a school of thought that the Morton goalkeeper David Wylie had conceded an own goal when he misjudged the first bounce of Goram’s kick and despairingly pushed the ball into the roof of the net.
At any rate, the goal brought a welcome sense of light relief to the proceedings. Every time Goram gathered the ball in the second half, there were loud cries of “shoot” from the terracings – as Hibs claimed sixth place in the Premier Division and Morton suffered the indignity of conceding 100 league goals.
David Duff, the chairman of Hibs, and Jim Gray, the managing director, watched part of the match from the terracings and, for no good reason other than it was a sunny end to the league programme, the champagne flowed in manager Miller’s office.
All this and a goal-scoring goalkeeper left you wondering when the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare were going to put in an appearance.
Hibs had finished the season on a high note, taking seven points out of a possible ten during an unbeaten run in their last five fixtures. They were particularly impressive in taking three points out of four from visits to Ibrox and Pittodrie.
Saturday’s win over Morton was the club’s most convincing league victory at Easter Road since 10 October.
Even so, Miller wasn’t looking for any extension to a demanding season in which Hibs banished any relegation worries before Christmas but lacked the firepower in attack to emerge as serious contenders for a place in Europe.
Hibs need a couple of forwards to make the push for a place in the top five next season and funds will be made available to strengthen the squad in attack. There will also be work done to improve the ground at Easter Road, while, this morning, the pitch will be dug up in order to provide a much-improved surface in time for next season.
There will be a close-season break for the players, probably in Tenerife, while Miller and his assistant, Peter Cormack, will be the chairman’s guest for a short trip to Stuttgart to see the European Cup final between PSV Eindhoven and Benfica.
There will be no such exotic ports of call for the Morton manager, Allan McGraw, as he goes about the task of regrouping his side for their return to the First Division next season.
As many as ten players could soon be released by the Cappielow club, who also may find it difficult to hold on to their promising young midfield player, Derek Collins, who has attracted a fair amount of interest in recent weeks. Morton, in fact, played some decent football at Easter Road and deserved the early lead they took through Ian Clinging. Goals from Neil Orr and Joe Tortolano, as well as Goram, reflected Hibs’ overall superiority, although both sides took enough from the match to look to better times next season.
Hibernian: Goram, Sneddon, Mitchell, May, Rae, McIntyre, Weir, Orr, Kane, Collins, McCluskey. Subs used: Tortolano, Lennon.
Morton: Wylie, O’Hara, Robinson, Doak, MacDonald, MCNeil, Collins, Alexander, McInnes, Robertson. Sub used: Verlaque.