The facts are clear and concise. Hibs, on a dreary afternoon at Hampden Park, won their first major Scottish trophy for 20 years – and they won it well.
So Eddie Turnbull, brought home to Easter Road 17 months ago to replace the club’s fading honour with a piece of silverware that everyone could touch, is the man of the hour.
So, too, is Pat Stanton, the Hibs captain, who in the vital period of the League Cup Final bestrode the pitch as heroically and as imaginatively as any man who has ever played on this great stage before him.
It was Stanton who broke the tactical stalemate that was planned in the dressing-rooms of both these finalists to prove once again that football is about players and the things that players do.
In a period between the 60th and the 80th minute Stanton scored a goal, made the cross for the second, set up the easiest chance of the match – which Alan Gordon missed – and then hit the post with another shot. That short catalogue was enough to ensure that Celtic, for the third year running, lost the last and most important match of this competition.
This Hibs team has grown steadily in stature until they have reached the stage when Celtic’s image and abilities cease to frighten them.
Turnbull has taught them many technical skills, and, most importantly, given them enormous self-confidence.
Certainly Celtic were beaten on the drawing board. Jock Stein’s decision to use Jimmy Johnstone on the left against John Brownlie did not work, for the little winger could not fully pre-occupy the finest of all Scottish full backs.
In midfield – that crucial area – they were overworked, with David Hay doing a fair negative role, but they were unable to come forward in good enough numbers or with sufficient inspiration to back up Lou Macari and Harry Hood.
Those who came to see a sackful of goals knew that they were to be disappointed in this rainy floodlit arena. December is an awful month.
But Turnbull switched Arthur Duncan and Alex Edwards at half-time and suddenly Hibs found space where before there had been only a cluster of defenders, ready to throw every limb forward in an attempt to kill all attacks at birth. On 60 minutes, Stanton put a shot past Evan Williams to put Hibs ahead.
Six minutes later Hibs scored the kind of goal that remids you of the enormous artistic possibilities of this game. Edwards placed Stanton free and the captain noticed Jimmy O’Rourke running for the near post. He ignored the more obvious cross to Gordon, dropped the ball short, amd O’Rourke headed in full flight past Williams. It had grace, style, movement, and thought in its choreography.
Kenny Dalglish, running free through the Hibs half scored for Celtic, but the game had been lost already.
Hibs: Herriot, Brownlie, Schaedler, Stanton, Black, Blackley, Edwards, O’Rourke, Gordon, Cropley, Duncan.