Hibs in 50 objects: No.14 – Summer Cup and a typhoid outbreak

The Cup was the brainchild of Hibs chairman Harry Swan
The Cup was the brainchild of Hibs chairman Harry Swan
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The Summer Cup was instigated by Hibs chairman Harry Swan and introduced during the Second World War and encouraged by the government as part of their “Holidays at Home” campaign to prevent travel by the public during those months.

It was on a knockout basis from 1941 to 1945, producing five different winners in Hibs, Rangers, St Mirren, Motherwell and Partick Thistle but when the war ended it was shelved as Scottish football returned to its more traditional calendar.

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There was plenty of scepticism around when the Summer Cup returned in 1964, the Old Firm clubs quickly declaring they would not be taking part.

Hibs and Hearts were more enthusiastic although, as Easter Road midfielder Peter Cormack admitted, the players, particularly those who were married and with families, were unhappy as it ate into their holidays.

The 16 clubs who entered faced each other on a round-robin basis in four groups of four and Jock Stein’s Hibs, who had lost their opening game 3-2 at Tynecastle, appeared to have been knocked out when Hearts topped their section.

However, the Gorgie club decided to withdraw at that stage, taking up an offer to tour North America. Hibs played Dunfermline at Tynecastle, winning 3-1 before facing Aberdeen in a two-legged final.

The Dons won 3-2 at Pittodrie but before the second leg could take place at Easter Road, Aberdeen was hit by a typhoid outbreak, later traced to a tin of Fray Bentos corned beef sold in a William Low supermarket, effectively shutting the city off from the rest of the country to prevent the spread of the disease.

The delayed showdown eventually went ahead in the August, Hibs coming out on top 2-1, Aberdeen winning the toss of the coin to stage the decider, won 3-1 by Hibs with goals from Cormack, Willie Hamilton and Jim Scott.

Crowds slumped the following year and, although the Scottish Football League were keen to persist with it, they gave up the ghost when only 11 clubs entered in 1966.

The trophy was gifted to Hibs because of Swan’s role in introducing it and remains on permanent display at Easter Road.

• For information on Easter Road Stadium Tours, contact bmcgoldrick@hibernianfc.co.uk