Hibs in 50 objects: No.33 – Centenary tankard

The centenary tankard
The centenary tankard
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In celebrating their centenary year, the Hibees were able to toast a successful season in which they finished third behind Rangers and Celtic.

At one stage, it looked likely they would be league challengers, going on an impressive winning run in early 1976 scoring 14 goals in four games, including a 4-0 thrashing of Celtic at Parkhead.

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However, the undoubted highlight of the season was their performance in Europe when they came within 90 minutes of eliminating Liverpool in the first round of the UEFA Cup.

The Anfield side would finish the campaign as double-winners, signalling the dawn of a dominant era both domestically and in Europe, but they very nearly fell at the first hurdle on a sodden September night at Easter Road.

However, the visitors arrived in Leith in stuttering form. An opening day defeat to Queens Park Rangers was followed with draws against West Ham and Leicester. Wins over Tottenham, Leeds and Sheffield United followed, but just four days before the meeting with Hibs, they suffered another defeat, this time to Ipswich Town.

Hibs were poised to capitalise on their uncertainty, and did so with a stylish 1-0 victory to give the club its first win over English opposition in European competition.

The Hibees dominated proceedings despite the monsoon-like conditions in front of a more than 19,000, grabbing the only goal on 19 minutes through Joe Harper.

Arthur Duncan raced on to an Iain Munro ball down the wing before firing ball across goal for Harper to tap in at the back post, though the home side would fail to seize the opportunity to build on their slender lead.

Ten minutes from time, Duncan was sent sprawling inside the Liverpool box, leaving Dutch referee Frans Derks with little choice but to point to the spot. However, the usually reliable John Brownlie saw his spot kick saved by Ray Clemence, a miss that would prove costly in the second leg.

“It takes two to beat us now,” said manager Eddie Turnbull after the match, “And I think we’re capable of scoring again at Anfield, so Liverpool have plenty to do.”

Another goal might have made a considerable difference to the return leg on September 30 where, as it turned out, Liverpool won 3-1 to go through.

The Reds would go on to beat Club Brugge in the final to land the UEFA Cup but, at Easter Road, Hibs delivered Liverpool’s only defeat in Europe that season.

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