DCSIMG

Hibs history: Hibees bounce back to top tier - Hibs 2-1 Falkirk, 8 May 1999

A HUGE wave of emotion flooded over Easter Road as referee Alan Freeland brought a memorable season to an end, relief that Hibs' stay in the First Division had been limited to one season – and joy that Alex McLeish's outfit were back in the big time.

To cap a perfect day, McLeish took centre stage after the match to announce that he was staying at the club – finally killing off speculation that he was going to Aberdeen.

Every fan will have his or her special memory of a season which saw Hibs smash all sorts of records in taking the First Division title by an incredible 23 points thanks to a 2-1 final-day victory over their closest rivals, Falkirk.

But no-one will ever forget the scenes as skipper Yogi Hughes lifted the trophy aloft, the green-and-white army flooding across the turf just as they had done five weeks earlier at Firhill when the title was clinched.

Yogi and his team-mates were engulfed as the 14,843 crowd poured out of the stands to join the team, sparking celebrations which went on long into the night.

Did the players mind? Not a bit. A huge smile greeted every slap on the back, a grin for every attempt to tug one of the celebratory T-shirts which proclaimed: "Back ... In The Premier League" from the back of the wearer.

You felt it was almost as much for his own protection as anything else as Paul Hartley, scorer of the goal which clinched the win over the Bairns, Hibs' 28th victory of the season, was hoisted shoulder high, saving him from being crushed underfoot.

The cheers which greeted McLeish's announcement were almost as deafening as those which had greeted the arrival of Yogi, out for five months through injury, as a last-minute subsitute.

The Leith boy who broke down in tears as Hibs were relegated 367 days earlier was the proudest man about as he stepped forward to lift the trophy.

The day, of course, could have fallen flat had the players not produced the required result on the pitch but it was testament to McLeish's professionalism that he insisted the trophy wasn't handed over until the final whistle, making sure his stars kept focused.

Falkirk, runners-up in the First Division for the second year in succession, did their best to spoil Hibs' big day but Icelandic goalkeeper Ole Gottskalksson showed the determination not to allow that to happen, turning away Scott Crabbe's penalty – the fact that the Bairns striker once wore maroon and white making his stunning save all the better as far as the fans were concerned.

An explosive shot from big Franck Sauzee which threatened to take the net into the Famous Five stand, an opportunist header from Hartley and that was it – party time with a capital P.

Crabbe tried to silence the crowd with a goal which threatened to take the gloss off the day but Hibs easily held out for another win, the players disappearing up the tunnel before coming back to claim their winners' medals.

Last, but not least, came Yogi to pick up the trophy but just when Hibs fans thought life couldn't get much better came McLeish's pledge, a perfect ending to a perfect day. Amid the euphoria, however, McLeish didn't forget the part the fans themselves had played, average gates at Easter Road topping 10,000 while an army of more than 3000 supporters travelled to every away game.

Combe on song Fir Hibs

Partick 0-2 Hibs

3 May 1947

GOALS from all-time greats Bobby Combe and Willie Ormond gave Hibs a fine win at Firhill but it was already too late in the title race.

Rangers were champions, having finished their programme with 46 points, while Hibs were on 40 points (these were the days of two points for a win) with two games to play.

On a heavy pitch, Hibs did plenty of attacking and inside right Leslie Johnstone had a shot cleared off the line.

Johnstone went back to centre half when Peter Aird went off with a facial injury but the defender returned and Johnstone had another effort, this time a header, cleared off the line.

Hibs finally took the lead three minutes into the second half when Ormond galloped down the left and crossed for Combe to nod home. Ormond got the second when his intended cross swerved past bemused Thistle keeper Tommy Legerwood.

Win does rivals a favour

Aberdeen 0-2 Hibs

4 May 1988

HIBS did Hearts a favour with this win at Pittodrie and, in the process, became the only side all season to beat Aberdeen by two clear goals on their own patch.

Goals from Paul Kane and Joe Tortolano gave Hibs the points and made sure of second place in the table for Hearts behind Celtic. Hibs finished seventh.

Kane, who was the club's leading scorer that season, signalled his intentions as early as the fourth minute with a low drive which tested Dons and Scotland keeper Jim Leighton.

And, just 60 seconds later, he opened the scoring, volleying home a cross from Alan Sneddon which had dropped behind Willie Miller.

When the Dons at last showed some form in the second half, they found out why Andy Goram was rivalling Leighton for the Scotland No.1 shirt.

He denied Charlie Nicholas his first home goal and then tipped over a drive from Bobby Connor.

In the end, Tortolano made sure of the win for Hibs when he collected the ball on the halfway line and spotted that Leighton was struggling to get back.

The substitute sprinted into the Dons' penalty box and finished off with a low shot.

Afterwards Hibs boss Alex Miller had particular praise for front two, Mickey Weir and George McCluskey, and added: "We deserved our win."

 
 
 

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