Family delight at Lawrie Reilly street victory

Lawrie Reilly's widow, Iris, and Councillor Alex Lunn at the site which will bear the Hibs hero's name. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Lawrie Reilly's widow, Iris, and Councillor Alex Lunn at the site which will bear the Hibs hero's name. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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THE family of Hibs legend Lawrie Reilly today told of their pride after an Evening News campaign to ensure a street was named in his honour ended in victory.

Councillors went against their own officials and voted to change the rules and allow the street – a stone’s throw from the turf where “Last Minute Reilly” terrorised defences throughout the 1950s – to be named Lawrie Reilly Place.

It was the last chance to have a street directly linked to Easter Road named after the club legend, who died last year aged 84, but planning officials had instead recommended calling it after print-maker William Thyne.

They cited street name rules that the Famous Five striker’s name could not be considered until at least ten years after his death.

Our campaign to cut through the red tape won the support of fellow Hibs greats Pat Stanton and Jackie McNamara, as well as Lawrie’s widow, Iris.

Today, family members said they were “delighted”.

His stepdaughter, Maureen Preston, said: “There are so many people in Edinburgh who think highly of Lawrie Reilly so it is really fitting that there will be a street named after him, especially in Leith.

“My mum [Iris] will be delighted. Lawrie’s son Lawrence, my mum, brother Philip and myself – the whole family is very proud.

“Lawrie would be really pleased if he was here. Football was his love, and it’s lovely that they have done it.”

Councillors defied the official advice in a mass revolt against planners that will kick-start a review into the Capital’s dated street naming policy.

Planning convener Councillor Ian Perry said the policy may need to have more “flexibility to recognise the contribution made by important national and international figures”.

Hibs chairman Rod Petrie also welcomed the news and praised the striker who netted 238 goals for the club.

“We are delighted that Lawrie has been honoured in this way,” he said. “He was one of the city’s greatest ever footballers, and a magnificent ambassador for Hibernian and for all that is sporting.”

One of the key figures in the campaign, Cllr Alex Lunn, said the drive for Lawrie Reilly Place had united football fans and ignited a much-needed reform of the street naming process.

Jackie McNamara, who spent nine years at the club, hailed the decision as “wonderful”.

“I’m delighted that the council has seen sense,” he said. “Lawrie was an iconic figure and he was an absolute gentleman for youngsters to look up to.”

Renowned Hearts fan and former Lord Provost Cllr Eric Milligan said Mr Reilly was a national hero.

He said: “He was not only a great Hibs player, he was also a great Scotland player. He also had a knack for scoring against England and that should never be forgotten either – that alone is worth a street name.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com