Hibs players danced with delight last night when Lawrie Reilly, 30 seconds from time, headed Bobby Johnstone’s cross into the net and gained his side a place in the Coronation Cup quater-finals.
Those of the 15,000 crowd who chose to watch to the bitter end were also satisfied with the Scottish club’s success, and the pressmen, who had no option but remain, sincerely thanked Reilly for saving them from an ordeal of extra time.
So dreadful had been the standard of play that any more of it might have had reasonable men doing something daft. Most of the responsibility for one of the worst football matches I have ever seen was Tottenham Hotspur’s. They started at half-speed, obviously not relishing the bare, bumpy playing pitch and the light ball and gradually became an unimaginative, careless XI.
Even though players such as Ramsey, Clarke, Burgess, and Medley were missing, the English club looked like a Division C club and not one that only a year ago were runners-up in the English League First Division.
Hibernian, though they were far from their best, were so superior that the time they took to administer the knock-out blow was astonishing.
Splendid goalkeeping by Reynolds and dour and fortune-blessed stonewalling by his backs and centre half delayed the end and so too did rash and ill-directed shooting and heading by the Hibs forwards.
In the welter of bad passing and miskicking Baker, a right back who placed his clearances more accutarely than his own forwards made their constructive efforts, was Tottenham’s only distinguished outfieldplayer.
The forwards, who switched positions so often that no one seemed to know who was who, were the most disappointing English line ever to have played on a Glasgow ground.
Hibs had a fine centre half in Hugh Howie, two industrious wing halves, and easily the two best forwards, Reilly and Eddie Turnbull.
Reilly headed his side’s equalising goal in 60 minutes from Jock Govan’s free kick – McClellan had begun the scoring in 28 minutes – and was far away the most lively player afield.
Reilly was much too lively just after Tottenham’s goal, however.
After he had claimed a penalty kick and been properly refused he made a lunge at Nicholson and was promptely “booked” by the referee who, despite the crowd’s displeasure, was entirely correct.
Rules are rules whether the match concerned is an elementary school class match or a nation-wide senior event.
Some day our Internationalists may acknowledge that.
Hibs beat Newcastle 4-0 in the last four but lost, 2-0 to Celtic in the final
Hibs: Younger, Govan, Paterson, Buchanan, Howie, Combe, Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Turnbull, Ormond.