LIVERPOOL boss Bill Shankly was preparing a dossier on Hibs for the clubs’ Fairs Cup meeting and this match led him to comment: “I thought it was a very brutal game. There was terrible feeling in it, but the match was very interesting. We saw all we wanted to see.”
The result gave Hibs their first home league victory over Rangers for six seasons. It was an extremely tough game with bookings for Jim Blair, John Graham and Willie Henderson and a fifth ordering-off for Willie Johnston.
Hibs exposed the limitations of a Rangers side which did not look remotely like championship material. The most striking point about Hibs’ 3-2 win was their staying power on a glue-pot surface. They ran super-fit Rangers into the ground and came from behind on two occasions to snatch the winner with six minutes left.
It was never a contest of skill because of the needle, but Hibs had an immense leader in Pat Stanton, an outstanding sweeper in John Blackley, and a real warhorse in young Billy McEwan, who typified the spirit in the team with a non-stop performance. But Hibs can put out an even stronger team, which raised hopes for their Fairs ties with Liverpool.
Jim Blair doubled his goal tally to four with two smartly-taken equalisers. Jet-paced Arthur Duncan caused a lot of trouble in the Rangers back division and supplied a wonderful cross to the far post for Blair’s second goal. Hibs’ defence conceded two bad goals and the Ibrox wingers were given a great deal of room at times. The ball was deflected when Johnson’s cross eluded Roy Baines for the opening goal in 34 minutes. It slithered through the mud to Johnstone, who tapped in.
Blair equalised six minutes later after an Jimmy O’Rourke shot was blocked.
Henderson was booked for a foul on Stanton, and a rough contest became rougher. Just on half-time there was a flare-up between Sandy Jardine and Arthur Duncan. While players milled around, referee Gordon turned his back and signalled half-time.
But, at the start of the second half, he spoke to the two players for all of ten minutes. This was too hot to handle for Mr Gordon, as it turned out, in a cracking second half.
Bang on the hour, a defensive blunder left Colin Stein through to sidefoot Rangers into the lead again. But, as the fog swirled, Hibs produced another Blair goal before the big blow-up. Even in the mist it was clear that Johnston punched Blair on the face in 75 minutes as a free-kick was about to be taken.
The tearful Johnston ran off and there was a real hullabaloo around the referee. Blair was booked for his part in the incident. So Hibs had a spare man. A shocking offside decision against winger Duncan did not deter them and Graham clinched the match after a rousing attack initiated on the left.
Hibs: Baines, B Duncan, Schaedler, Blackley, Black, Stanton, Graham, O’Rourke, McEwan, Blair, A Duncan.