Funeral for Hibs Famous Five legend Lawrie Reilly

HUNDREDS of fans have paid tribute to former Hibernian striker Lawrie Reilly, as the last surviving member of the club’s Famous Five was laid to rest.

Lawrie Reilly died last month after battling bone cancer. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Players past and present were among those who attended the service at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, in Edinburgh, yesterday.

After the service, the cortege drove past Hibs’ Easter Road stadium, giving fans the opportunity to pay their respects.

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The 84-year-old died in hospital on 22 July after a long battle with bone cancer and is survived by his wife, Iris, and son, Lawrence.

He made his debut aged 17 and spent his entire career with Hibs, scoring 238 goals.

The Hibs first team and manager Pat Fenlon were among those at the service, as were former team-mates from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

He earned the nickname “last minute Reilly” for his uncanny ability to turn games around just before the final whistle. Craig Paterson, a BBC pundit and former Hibs defender, got to know Reilly because his father, Jock, played alongside him in the 1940s. He said: “With Reilly, the game was never lost. Even if there were ten seconds to go, there was always the chance that last-minute Reilly could make something happen.

“He and my dad were thick as thieves – they golfed together, played sport together. He would come around to the house when I was a kid and the one thing I remember is how competitive he was. He wouldn’t let you win anything – snakes and ladders, tiddlywinks, it didn’t matter.”

John Fraser, who played between 1954 and 1968, said Reilly was one of the best. “He was a legend and a wonderful person,” he said. “At Easter Road, when there were five minutes to go, the crowds would shout ‘gie the ball to Reilly’, and he would fire it into the back of the net.”

During the service, broadcaster Grant Stott paid tribute to his life and career, as did former footballer Pat Nevin and author Ted Brack.

Pat Stanton, a former Hibs captain and manager, said he had seen Reilly play at Easter Road as a boy and later came to know him as a friend.

He said: “He was a really nice man, a terrible loser – he loved to win and loved to beat you – but he was a really nice man and it was a pleasure knowing him.”

Calls for a permanent tribute, with a statue of Reilly and the rest of the Famous Five, have come from fans and been backed by city council leaders. Stanton said: “That would be a great idea. I can’t think of any more deserving case than that.”