The most notable one-game Hibs players - European bow, Brazil tour, cup final goal, iconic strip debut
In nearly 150 years of existence, Hibs haven’t had too many players to play just a single game. More recent examples include Darnell Johnson – on loan from Leicester City; played 25 minutes as a sub in a 2-0 defeat by Celtic in Glasgow and was hit with a retrospective ban by the Compliance Officer; Jonathan Spector – a 77th-minute replacement for David Gray in a 2-1 Edinburgh derby victory at Tynecastle before hanging up his boots and becoming Head of International Relations and Scouting at MLS side Atalanta United; Gael Bigirimana, whose sole Hibs appearance was as a 54th-minute injury replacement for Marvin Bartley in a 2-1 home defeat by Aberdeen in February 2019, and Nathan Wood – the Middlesbrough loanee played 90 minutes in a 3-0 home defeat by Dundee United. There was also Phil Airey, who joined on loan from Newcastle United in 2011 and made one appearance as a 72nd-minute replacement for David Wotherspoon in a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Kilmarnock at Rugby Park before returning to England.
Going deeper into Hibs’ history uncovers a string of individuals who may have only played once, but have stories to tell. When the Regional League was played during World War II, and even earlier at the start of the 1930s, it wasn’t unusual to see ‘Newman’ listed in team line-ups. Rather than a footballing family like the McGinns, Newman was often used as a surname for trialists or guest players, as was ‘AN Other’.
One game, two goals…
One such ‘Newman’ lined up in midfield in a 3-3 draw away to Brechin City on March 12 1932. Was it the same ‘Newman’ who played in a 1-0 defeat at Albion Rovers later that month, and again in a 2-1 home win against King’s Park at the start of April? We may never know, but there’s a good chance it was.
On April 13 1940 however, one ‘Newman’ scored twice in what appears to have been his only game for the club, in a 4-3 defeat by East Fife at Bayview. According to newspaper reports, ‘Hibernians returned pointless from Methil, where they lost to East Fife by the odd goal in seven. At one stage East Fife led by three goals, but Hibs drew level only to be beaten by a goal in the last two minutes. The Fifers, however, deserved their success.”
Quite remarkably, less than two years earlier another player made a single appearance for Hibs and also scored twice in a game that ended without victory for the Easter Road side. Jimmy Hart, signed from Torquay United, lined up in a Scottish League match with Hamilton Accies on August 13 1938 that ended 2-2, with Hibs losing two late goals. It should be pointed out that this is not the same Jimmy Hart who joined Hibs in August 1932 from East Stirlingshire and scored 13 goals in 13 games before leaving for Portadown and later turning out for Dundee United. This was also the first match in which Hibs wore their now-iconic strip design of emerald green with white sleeves.
Making your senior debut in a big European match sounds glamorous enough, but what if your previous club was Ormiston Primrose, you’re a goalkeeper, still a teenager, and it’s the only game you ever play for Hibs and you’re in the same line-up as Willie Ormond and Eddie Turnbull? That’s what happened to Willie Adams, who played in the second leg of Hibs’ European Champion Club’s Cup encounter with Rot-Weiss Essen in October 1955.
Hibs won the first leg 4-0 but for the return leg manager Hugh Shaw was without Gordon Smith, Lawrie Reilly, and goalkeeper Tommy Younger, who had been delayed by fog in London en route from Copenhagen, where they had been representing the Scottish League against the Danish League. Smith did enquire about the possibility of chartering an aeroplane but felt chairman Harry Swan would balk at the cost.
And so Jimmy Mulkerrin came in for Reilly, Jock Buchanan deputised for Smith and scored, and Prestonpans-born Adams filled in for Younger. The young ‘keeper was released six months later, and seems to have left the senior game altogether.
Loans, replacements, Brazilian trips
Inside-forward Harry Ambler played one game for Hibs; a 2-1 defeat by Aberdeen in the Granite City in April 1917, as a loan signing. His parent club? Aberdeen. Dons boss Jimmy Philip lent Leeds-born Ambler to Hibs to deputise for Thomas Kilpatrick who unable to play for the visitors. Charles Campbell got Hibs’ goal and Ambler finished the season as top scorer for Aberdeen.
A similar case arose during the Scottish Cup final of 1895/96. With Jimmy Murdoch unexpectedly absent from the Hibs line-up, John O'Neill took up his place. Signed from Linlithgow Athletic, he was viewed as a promising left-winger but didn’t play another competitive match for the club, although he scored Hibs’ goal in the 3-1 defeat by rivals Hearts at Logie Green.
Bill Anderson, although born in Glencraig and capped by Scotland at amateur level, was signed from Bishop Auckland. He played once in a Division One defeat away to Stirling Albion but left for Southend United shortly after. Although he made just the one competitive appearance, he was part of the 15-man squad that travelled to Brazil in 1953 for the Torneio Octagonal Rivadavia Correa Meyer, and played in the 3-0 defeat by Fluminense at the Maracanã Stadium.
Kirkcudbrightshire-born forward Alex Marshall joined Hibs from Kello Rovers in 1956, and played in a 3-1 League Cup group win against Celtic in August 1957, but he suffered a broken leg during a reserve league match against Clyde that December and eventually left to join Queen of the South.
Marshall later played in Australia but returned to the UK initially to England, and then Scotland to fulfil a variety of post-football jobs.