Hibs in 50 objects: No.8 – Model of the old Easter Road

Easter Road Stadium as it once looked
Easter Road Stadium as it once looked
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Easter Road looks very different today than it did nearly 70 years ago when it bulged at the seams hosting what is still the record crowd for a Scottish football match played outside Glasgow.

Hibs had played their first league match at Easter Road in 1893 but only secured their long-term tenure of the ground on a 25 year lease in 1922, allowing them to redevelop the stadium.

Two years later three banks of terracing were raised with a main stand boasting a capacity of 4480 built on the west side, the move meant the pitch moved 40 yards to the east to provide space for it while the famous slope was reduced to about six feet.

Hibs enjoyed great success in the period following the Second World War, winning three league titles between 1948 and 1952.

But on January 2, 1950, Easter Road was to host the largest-ever crowd to watch a Scottish football match outside of Glasgow, 65,850 turning out for the New Year visit of Hearts.

It was a much-anticipated game, Hibs going into it having won 11 out of their previous 12 games, the other being a draw at Parkhead where Celtic scored in the last minute while Hearts were also on a good run, winning their previous ten games. Hearts came from behind to win 2-1.

Although the capacity of the redeveloped Easter Road was 45,000, supporters were tightly packed in, prompting Hibs to increase the size of the already towering east terrace even further.

Plans were even draw up to expand the overall capacity to nearly 100,000 by raising each of the end terraces to the same height, but they were never realised.

The Safety of Sports Grounds Act introduced in 1975 reduced the capacity to 30,000 and it dropped again to 27,000 in the mid-1980s when the east terrace was greatly reduced and a roof erected.

Two new stands were built at a cost of £8 million at either end of the ground in 1995, cutting capacity to 16,531, a figure which was increased when the new west stand opened in 2001.

The redevelopment of the stadium, which had begun 15 years earlier, was finally completed in the summer of 2010 when the new east stand was completed, bringing today’s capacity to 20,421. In February, Hibs came close to reaching that figure, a crowd of 20,205 turning up for their 3-1 Scottish Cup replay win against Hearts.

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