HIBS legend Lawrie Reilly has been snubbed by planning officials after they ruled out naming a street next to Easter Road in his honour.
Despite hundreds signing an Evening News petition to name a new street just yards from the stadium after the Famous Five striker, planners are recommending that it is named after print-maker William Thyne.
The move was described as “spineless” by furious fans, who urged councillors to go against their officials.
The campaign – launched earlier this year by local councillor Alex Lunn and backed by the News – attracted high-profile support from football hero Pat Stanton and Mr Reilly’s widow, Iris, who said her late husband would have been “chuffed” with the honour.
Even fans of rivals Hearts spoke out in favour of the campaign to honour Mr Reilly, who died last year aged 84.
But a report for Thursday’s planning meeting, 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 that the main street of the new development, just off Lochend Butterfly Way, should be named Thyne Place in tribute to former Meadowbank print-maker William Thyne, who established a printing company in Lochend which operated from 1871 to 1955.Under the guidance Mr Reilly’s name will not be available for use until July 2023, as local authority criteria states that streets can only be named after people who have been dead for more than ten years.
And the report warned policy would have to be changed if councillors go against the recommendation on Thursday.
The decision provoked outrage from former players, politicians and fans.
Hibs legend Pat Stanton said he could not understand why anyone would object to the name and called on councillors to go against official recommendation.
“It’s the last chance to name a local street after a man who brought so much enjoyment to the people of the area and I wouldn’t have thought there would be any objection to this at all,” he said.
“Hibs fans might be angry about it – the club’s not having an easy time at the moment and this might have been a bit of a boost to supporters.
“Having met him and watched him play I can’t think of many people more deserving of the honour, and while they might have their rules there are surely times when they can be broken.”
And Kevin Flynn, chairman of the Dalkeith and Bonnyrigg supporters club, said it was “spineless”.
“I think it’s a disgrace and an absolute nonsense – Midlothian Council named two streets after a guy called Andy Kelly, who played for Bonyrigg Rose, and they didn’t wait until ten years after he died,” he said. “It is certainly a snub and I think to hide behind this ten-year rule is just spineless of them so I would absolutely urge the councillors to ignore the advice and vote for Lawrie Reilly Place.”
Another Hibs fan said simply: “It’s outrageous. The only way they could make it worse is by adding the word Castle after Thyne.”
Meanwhile Cllr Lunn said: “I’m disappointed but still confident that councillors will back it at committee on Thursday.The tone of the report does not take into account the obvious strength of feeling for naming the street after Lawrie and it doesn’t take into account all of his achievements.”
Cllr Lunn said he had been inundated with phone calls and e-mails from supporters of the campaign – including fans of clubs including Hearts and Celtic.
He added: “I have political support from the SNP group and a few Labour councillors have said they are in favour.” Fellow ward councillor Stefan Tymkewycz said: “There is huge public consensus for the street to be named Lawrie Reilly Place and it’s a little bit disappointing that the officers have stuck with their original recommendations.
“However, I’m fairly confident that my fellow councillor colleagues on the committee will bow to public opinion and name the street after Lawrie Reilly.
Mr Reilly was the country’s fourth-highest international scorer, netting 238 goals in 355 club matches and 22 goals from 38 caps for Scotland. He was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2005.