BOBBY Kinloch, scorer of one of the most celebrated goals in Hibernian’s history, has died. He was 79.
Kinloch netted the match-winning penalty to defeat Barcelona 7-6 on aggregate in a stormy 1961 Fairs Cup quarter-final that became known as the “Battle of Easter Road”.
After a 4-4 draw in Spain, Barca were incensed when, after a Joe Baker-inspired Hibs team fought back from 2-1 down in the second leg in front of a crowd of 50,000 in Edinburgh, German referee Johannes Malka awarded the Scots a spot-kick inside the final ten minutes.
Kinloch, taking over from regular penalty taker Sammy Baird, stepped up with five minutes remaining and kept his nerve amid chaotic scenes to earn Hibs one of their most famous victories of and write his name in club folklore.
Speaking before Hibs hosted Barcelona at Murrayfield in a friendly in 2008, Kinloch said: “I’ve had many a beer bought for me on the strength of that night and if you believe everybody that said they were there that night there must have been 400,000 or 500,000 in the ground. To get a penalty kick in the last minute with the score at 2-2 and to have the chance to beat Barcelona was a dream for everybody connected with Hibs.
“It must have been something like ten or 12 minutes before I actually took the penalty because they chased the referee all over the pitch and I sat on the ball in the centre circle and waited.
“I was a very lucky guy. At the time I thought ‘if I do take it and score it will be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life and if I don’t score then it’ll be forgotten right away’.
“Thankfully, I scored and it is regarded as one of the best goals in the club’s history because of the significance of it, and that is incredible to be a part of.”
The penalty helped to define Glasgow-born Kinloch’s three-year stay at Hibs, for whom he had signed from the RAF in 1959, but the inside-forward also scored in the second leg of the subsequent semi-final against trophy winners Roma.
The Easter Road outfit eventually lost out on a place in the final thanks to a 6-0 defeat in a controversial play-off that followed a 5-5 aggregate result over two legs. Hibs would have been finalists had the current away-goals rule been in place.
Kinloch joined Morton from Hibs in 1962 and had further spells with Berwick Rangers, Toronto City and Hamilton Steelers in Canada, Raith Rovers and Dunfermline Athletic. His 18-year-old grandson, Max Todd, is currently on Hibs’ books as a member of the club’s under-20s.
A Hibs statement yesterday said: “Hibernian are saddened to learn that former player Bobby Kinloch has passed away. He was 79. The club sends our deepest condolences to his friends and family.
“For Hibernian supporters with clear memories of the glorious European nights at Easter Road, Kinloch’s goal against Barcelona will forever be remembered as one of the greatest ever highlights; part of club folklore.
“A much-loved member of the Hibernian family, Bobby Kinloch will be missed by everybody at Easter Road - his memory marches on.”