Hibs legend Jackie McNamara has added his voice to calls for a new street to be named after Famous Five footballer Lawrie Reilly.
The Evening News-backed campaign for the honour on a street just yards from Easter Road was dealt a blow last week when it emerged that planning officials were backing an alternative.
A report for Thursday’s planning committee recommends that city councillors agree to name the road Thyne Place after print-maker William Thyne, despite overwhelming support for the late footballer to be named instead.
Although Mr Thyne is well known in some circles for setting up the Thyne Scholarship, the report only contains a few sentences justifying why his name should be used on the main street of the new Places for People development just off Lochend Butterfly Way.
Mr Thyne, who died in 1978, created the scheme to support Scots to travel abroad for study and research.
But the bid for Lawrie Reilly Place – first tabled by Craigentinny/Duddingston councillor Alex Lunn with support from Mr Reilly’s widow, Iris – has struck a chord with both the green and maroon halves of the city, with many Hearts fans signing the petition, as well as hundreds of Hibs supporters.
Today, McNamara – who played for Hibernian more than 200 times during his time at the club in the 1970s – threw his weight behind the campaign.
He said pressure needed to be put on councillors in the hope of a change of heart in the City Chambers on Thursday.
The 61-year-old said: “I think Lawrie Reilly is more synonymous with the area than a print manufacturer. I don’t think it’s too positive. I would think it would be a fine idea to remember Lawrie and a fitting tribute to the man because he was a gentleman as well as a wonderful footballer.”
The council report, signed off by Mark Turley, director for services for communities – who is currently suspended on full pay pending an investigation into his handling of the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal – says Mr Reilly’s name would be put into a “name bank”, but would not be available for use until July 2023.
Local authority criteria states that streets can only be named after people who have been dead for more than ten years, in case information which brings the person’s name into disrepute surfaces after their death.
But McNamara said: “There’s absolutely no chance of anything like that happening. That’s a shame that they are taking that stance.”
He said it was important to keep the pressure on the council in the lead-up to the meeting.
It is understood that some planning committee members are considering putting forward a motion to overturn the recommendation, after lobbying from local councillors who will not have a vote on Thursday.
Former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, now MSP for East Lothian, also lent his support. He said: “As a life-long Hibs supporter I would say it does seem a pity that such an appropriate memorial to a great player can’t happen.”
The legend died last July. He was the last surviving member of Hibs’ Famous Five forward line, scoring 238 goals from 355 games for the club.