On the morning of June 4, 1990, Scottish football was rocked by the news that Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer had tabled a £6.2 million bid to take over Hibs, a move he described as a merger but one which Easter Road fans saw as a blatant bid to wipe their club out of existence.
Unsurprisingly, Mercer’s move initially prompted astonishment and disbelief quickly followed by anger and outright condemnation – and not only from Hibs supporters.
The same evening, the Hibs Supporters Association clubrooms in Sunnyside were crammed – with hundreds more packing the street outside – as a “Hands off Hibs” committee to fight off Mercer’s attentions was formed.
One of the first donations was a £1000 cheque from an anonymous Hearts fan while politicians both local and at Westminster voiced support. Police banned a mass protest match through the city for fear of trouble so, instead, a rally at Easter Road was held, Hibs legend Joe Baker memorably kneeling to kiss the turf he had once graced.
Opposition was mobilised, a petition delivered to both Tynecastle and Downing Street. Blue Peter presenter John Leslie appeared on television sporting a “Hands off Hibs” T-shirt and Gordon Strachan and The Proclaimers joined that year’s Leith Festival Gala parade.
Hearts star John Robertson addressed a rally at the Usher Hall and Hibs fans staged a five-week long picket of the Bank of Scotland’s main offices on the Mound.
Perhaps the most unusual voice of protest came in the form of a record by a group of fans calling themselves “The Mercernaries”, the A side entitled “Hand off Hibs” and the flip side entitled “Easter Road”.