Prague had been devastated during the Second World War but was already slowly recovering from the hostilities with the Russians still regarded as liberators when Hibs undertook a tour of Czechoslovakia in May of 1946.
The journey to Prague involved three flights, the first time many of the travelling party – including manager Willie McCartney – had flown. On the final leg, from Amsterdam to the Czech capital the plane suddenly lost altitude dramatically before righting itself, probably due to turbulence, but nevertheless everyone was understandably delighted to get their feet back on terra firma.
It proved to be a memorable visit, a hotel flooded as Sammy Kean and others turned on the taps for their baths but, unknown to them, the water was turned off for repairs. Unfortunately they forgot to turn the taps off and when the water came on hours later guests found water pouring through their ceilings while they were treated to the sight of shoes and clothes floating down the corridors.
Some of the players were fascinated by the trial of a suspected war-time collaborator at Prague’s town hall. At nights they would be invited to local banquets held in their honour and visited theatres before going back to the trial the next day.
At the end of one game some young Czechs mistook McCartney for Britain’s war-time leader Winston Churchill, something Kean in particular found hilarious as they two did look a little similar.
On the football front Hibs played four matches, winning two and losing two, a 3-1 win over AC Sparta Praha followed by a defeat to Brno before Vitkovice – who presented McCartney with this plaque to mark the occasion – were thumped 7-1.
Hibs lost by the odd goal in five to Slavia Praha, a radio broadcast offering supporters in Edinburgh the novelty of listening to commentary on the two games Hibs played in Prague, presented by the voice of McCartney.
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