Only when they reached Easter Road’s dressing-room did Celtic decide ‘Fernie plays’.
The great cheer which greeted the news was a whisper compared with the roar that went up when it was announced that young Alex Marshall would take over from injured Eddie Turnbull.
This was a Group 3 League Cup tie and the Hibs football in the first four minutes was a great dress rehearsal for Edinburgh’s festival. There was drama every second as the youngsters John Fraser, Jimmy Harrower, and Marshall went in like three thunderbolts on Celtic’s keeper, Dick Beattie.
And then a perfect goal in five minutes shook Celtic to their stocking soles. From Tommy Preston the ball flashed on to Willie Ormond. Bobby Evans was beaten with a half-turn and as Beattie came out in a do-or-die rush the wee winger very calmly lobbed the ball over his head and it went floating in a lazy curve into the back of the net.
All Celtic could show by way of retaliation was a couple of Charlie Tully tricks. That was until Bertie Peacock took a hand with a superb 20 yard drive – saved high up by Lawrie Leslie.
Then a Celtic tragedy. Away shot Gordon Smith and his low cut-back cross was heading for Ormond’s toes when Frank Meechan turned with a quick pass back and sent the ball away into the corner of his own net.
Celtic were in a desperate plight but they kept fighting on although they looked grim as death. For the first time they smiled in the 18th minute when a Tully corner was allowed to fly to wee Bobby Collins who had both feet firmly on the ground. From his 5ft 3in, Bobby nodded hard and the ball went bouncing past friend and foe into the net.
As the game boiled up like a cauldron Celtic were hurled back, defending with every ounce of muscle and bone against wave after wave of Hibs attacks. Five minutes from half-time Leslie made a great shoulder-high save from a point-blank Billy McPhail drive.
A crowd which came near the 40,000 mark were soon engulfed with excitement again as Beattie brought off two miraculous saves from Harrower, and a third from Ormond.
Again Beattie was a Celtic hero, when he went down in a yellow streak to clutch a 10-yard drive from John Fraser.
McPhail was booked for a retaliation charge on goalkeeper Leslie two minutes after Collins had a word of warning for a tackle on Harrower. But it was no rough, tough game.
Fourteen minutes from the end Harrower headed a rocket effort against the crossbar, with Beattie nowhere in sight.
Fraser scored a third goal for Hibs two and a half minutes from time. Immediately afterwards Willie Fernie missed a sitter for Celtic, but the points were unequivocally Hibs’ and helped overcome the earlier shock 4-1 defeat by Airdrie that had left them chasing Celtic’s tails.
Hibs would go on to be beaten by Celtic in the final match, which meant the Hibees finished second and progression from the group stage was not achieved.
Celtic enjoyed a record 7-1 victory over Rangers in the final at Hampden.
Hibs: Leslie, Muir, Boyle, Nicol, Plenderleith, Preston, Smith, Marshall, Fraser, Harrower, Ormond.