Hibs in 50 objects: No.3 – Gordon Smith’s passport

Gordon Smith's passport was well used
Gordon Smith's passport was well used
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Foreign travel was very much something that was alien to most ordinary people 60 years ago, no easyJet or Ryanair in those days to allow them a cheap and quick getaway to the sun.

But for Hibs players it became an annual event, the Easter Road club heading off on their adventures in the summer of 1946, barely a year after the end of the Second World War as they played in four games in the then Czechoslovakia.

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As such, legendary winger Gordon Smith’s passport, encompassing the following decade, provides a unique history of his travels both with Hibs and Scotland.

Prior to Hibs’ visit to Czechoslovakia Smith had been part of a Scottish Select team who were whisked off to Germany to play two games in as many days, departing from Prestwick in an RAF Douglas Dakota – 21-year-old Smith’s trip on an aeroplane normally used for armed service personnel only.

However, a few of his team-mates were more familiar to that mode of transport having been only recently demobbed, including Aberdeen’s Archie Baird who had been taken prisoner in Tobruk in Libya, spending two years in a POW camp in Italy before escaping and living with a local family as their son.

Over the next 19 years Smith would travel on many planes of all shapes and sizes but he had particularly fond memories of that first flight which landed on an airstrip within “spitting distance” of the pitch.

In the coming years Smith would make many trips with Hibs, five games played in Norway and Sweden the following year, five in Belgium the next and then six matches in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

European countries, naturally, were the most often to be visited but such was the growing reputation of the Edinburgh side they were invited to take part in an end of season tournament in Brazil, labelled by that country’s FA as a “World Club Championship” entitled “Torneio Octogonal Rivadavia Correa Meyer”.

Smith also travelled extensively with Scotland and the Scottish Football League, playing in Switzerland, France, Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary and Spain.

Unlike today, each trip invariably required a visa to be attached – there were no open borders where a cursory glance would suffice – while passports were stamped on arrival in each country. Little wonder Smith’s travel document is bulging at the seams.

• HIBS are hosting an Open Day at Easter Road this Sunday. The event runs from 1pm to 5pm, entrance is via the West Stand. Entry is free but children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult.