Leigh Griffiths goal completes 1,000-goal odyssey for Hibs

Leigh Griffiths scoring from the spot against Dundee. Picture: SNS
Leigh Griffiths scoring from the spot against Dundee. Picture: SNS
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AT LAST! At long last! Leith Griffiths’ penalty against Dundee on 6 October was a very special strike, for this particular Hibs supporter at least. For it marked the 1,000th Hibernian goal I’ve actually seen in the flesh.

And boy, has it been a long time coming. Forty-two and a bit years anyway.

I was a late starter as a Hibbie, not attending my first match at Easter Road until season 1969-70, when I was 11-years-old. This was entirely the fault of my Glaswegian dad – a Partick Thistle fanatic – who fondly imagined that trying to brainwash me into Jags allegiance before that through interminable visits to Firhill would sway my formative footballing loyalties towards the west.

However, he finally cracked and took me to Easter Road – where Hibs promptly lost 2-1 to Partick Thistle. Oh, how he laughed. But no matter. The sight of those famous green jerseys racing down the slope had me well and truly hooked. Why? Goodness knows. Perhaps I just liked the colour-scheme. My father threw up his hands in resignation. “Oh all right then. It’s fair enough you choose to support a team from your home town I suppose. And at least it’s not Hearts . . .”

Well, there’s probably been more downs than ups throughout the four and more decades since that far-off day, and I’ll be the first to confess I’ve frequently been guilty of ‘Fairweather Fandom’.

During ‘Turnbull’s Tornadoes’ heyday I was at every match home and away if at all possible; in some later seasons I’d hardly attend at all. But what games and goals out of that 1,000 stand out most, as I gaze at the yellowing pages in the tattered ledger before me? In my personal stroll down memory lane, I have selected five fond flashbacks from each decade.

THE SEVENTIES

1970-71: Hibernian 2, Celtic 0

A mighty double strike from Joe McBride (senior) sinks the Celts in front of 37,000. Joe may have been more identified with Celtic throughout his career, but he did a sterling job for Hibs. Like most Hibbies from that vintage, I was saddened to hear of his recent passing.

1970-71: Hibernian 2, Aberdeen 1

I was too young to see ‘The Fabulous Baker Boy’ first time around, but his long-awaited return was really the stuff of fairytales. It’s over a thousand minutes since the Dons have conceded a goal, but their record-breaking run is halted by Pat Stanton and then a diving header from Joe.

1972-73: Hibernian 2, Celtic 1

Ten years to the very day of his Hibs debut, Jimmy O’Rourke nets against Celtic in the League Cup Final. My all-time favourite Hibs player (along with Pat Stanton), Jimmy scores an incredible SIX hat tricks before Christmas this season. A unique record, unlikely ever to be surpassed.

1974-75: Hibernian 5, NEC Nijmigen 0

It might have only been a friendly, but it’s not every day you witness five goals – all scored by the same player! Take a bow, Joe Harper.

1976-77: Hibernian 9, St Johnstone 2

I recall the first half of this game being something of a yawn, before Hibs notched a second just before half-time. Would it get any better in the remaining 45 minutes, wondered the fans. With goals flying in at approximately five minute intervals throughout, the answer was a resounding yes!

*Please note – no mention of New Year’s Day 1973, in deference to all my good Hearts-supporting friends.

THE EIGHTIES

1980-81: Hearts 2, Hibernian 2 (Hibs win 5-4, after extra time and penalties).

At 2-0 down against our great rivals in the legendary East of Scotland Shield, all is lost surely? But it’s Joe McBride (junior) to the rescue this time, before a most unlikely victory on spot-kicks.

1981-82: Hibernian 1, Celtic 0

Not too often we beat Celtic these days and even less often does that indomitable warhorse Gordon Rae manage to get himself on the scoresheet. Irvine Welsh and I attend this match swathed in bandages and plaster-casts, following the fatal Liberton HSC bus crash of a few weeks before.

1984-85: Hibernian 3, Dumbarton 1

What’s so remarkable about beating the Sons you may well ask. Alan Sneddon scoring a goal, that’s what!

1985-86: Hibernian 4, Celtic 3

Hibs shade it in this Scottish Cup thriller, with Eddie May notching the vital winner. Afterwards, Eddie joins the fans in wild celebrations in the Clan Tavern, situated beneath his flat. During that season I see Hibs score 18 goals against Celtic at Easter Road! How come? A 4-4 draw in the League Cup leads to a penalty shoot-out where Hibs triumph by 8-7. I also see them draw 2-2 in a league game.

1987-88: Hibernian 1, Rangers 0

Notable for the sublime close control ball-skills of John Collins, who grabs the only goal.

THE NINETIES

1991-92: Hibernian 2, Dunfermline 0

Keith Wright finally wraps it up in the League Cup Final assuring the trophy’s return to Easter Road for the first time since 1972.

1994-95: Hearts 0, Hibernian 1

A long barren spell against Hearts is finally broken by a strike from a most unlikely source – Gordon Hunter is the man with the golden boot. Ha! The Jambos weren’t expecting that, were they? In fairness, nor were we.

1997-98: Hibernian 3, Alloa 0

Undoubtedly the most amazing goal I’ve ever seen. Ten yards inside his own half Chic Charnley looks up, sees the opposition keeper off his line and decides to let fly. “Woof!” As Archie Macpherson might have said. The ball’s in the net and the goalie’s in the doghouse.

1997-98: Hibernian 3, Rangers 4

It may seem strange to include a game in which we ultimately lost, but it was a remarkable 3-1 to the home side at half-time. It’s not over till the fat man scores, as the saying goes. Barry Lavety, no less.

1998-99: Hibernian 2, Falkirk 1

My first experience of a Sauzee sizzler. The great Frenchman hits home with a masterly free-kick from 25 yards.

THE NOUGHTIES

2000-01: Hibernian 6, Hearts 2

The wee Trinidadian talisman Russell Latapy’s peach is the pick of the bunch here. Our best result and performance against our old adversaries since New Year’s Day 1973.

2001-02: Hibernian 3, AEK Athens 2

A full house and marvellous atmosphere, highlighted by a Paco Luna double. He comes agonisingly close to a hat-trick, which would have propelled us into the next round, but sadly it’s not to be.

2005-06:

St Patrick’s 0, Hibernian 3

I went to very few games this season, so it has to be this friendly in Dublin’s Fair City. A hat-trick from Garry O’Connor.

2006-2007:

Hibernian 5, Kilmarnock 1

The League Cup’s back in the bag after far too long, in this surprisingly convincing win. Nice to see big Rob Jones get on the scoresheet too. One of our better acquisitions over a generally disappointing decade.

2008-09:

Hibernian 2, St Mirren 1

Memorable, how?? Colin Nish scoring, that’s how...

And of the second decade of the 21st Century we shall speak naught. 2011-12 season?? Oh, please!

IN NUMBERS

Played607

Won285

Drawn160

Lost162

For1001

Against 715

Record score witnessed; 9-1 v Rosenborg, Uefa Cup 1974/75

Largest overall crowd; 72,000 v Celtic, League Cup final, Hampden, 1972/73

Largest home crowd; 50,000 v Celtic, league, 1973/74

Approximate miles covered watching Hibs16,000

*Statistics include game v Dundee, 6 October 2012

CALLING ALL FANS

Are you a supporter of another Scottish club or perhaps the national team who has a similar story of dedication to share?

Contact: sport_ts@scotsman.com or write to us at: Sportdesk, The Scotsman 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS