Hibs in 50 objects: No.43 – Tour leads to floodlights in Leith

This claret jug wass a gift from Berne
This claret jug wass a gift from Berne
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Before the advent of the European Cup, teams from across Europe rarely met each other in any kind of competitive action without a specific continental tour.

Under the pioneering ideology of chairman Harry Swan and manager Hugh Shaw, the Leith club visited Europe extensively in the post-war era, taking on some of the continent’s best in the process.

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In 1946, they became the first Scottish side to tour Europe after the Second World War, playing four matches in Czechoslovakia against the likes of Sparta, and Slavia Prague.

Four years later, the Hibees were off to Europe again, this time for a tour of Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Beginning in Vienna, the Edinburgh side were unlucky to lose 3-2 to Rapid in front of a crowd of more than 35,000 before defeating another Austrian club, LASK Linz 3-1.

The tour then moved on to Germany where further victories were recorded over FC Augsburg (4-2) and FSV Mühlberg (3-0).

But better was to come as the Hibees humiliated German giants Bayern Munich 6-1, with goals from Lawrie Reilly, Willie Ormond, Bobby Johnstone, Jimmy Souness and two by Gordon Smith.

On the final leg of the tour, the Leith side faced a short hop across the border to Switzerland to play BSC Young Boys Bern, however, Hibernian officials were staggered by the decision to play the game at night in the Swiss capital.

In the era before floodlights were mandatory at every stadium across Europe, few clubs were able to boast systems competent enough to illuminate a night fixture.

The Edinburgh side would participate in the first floodlit television fixture in the UK two years later, going down 7-1 to Arsenal at Highbury, however, the experience in Bern was uncharted territory.

Despite initial concerns that the Swiss side would have an advantage due to being more used to playing under the lights, the visitors recorded a 1-0 victory with Johnstone netting a late winner. The floodlit ‘experiment’ proved successful and within four years, Shaw had Scotland’s first permanent floodlighting system installed at Easter Road.

• For information on Easter Road Stadium Tours, contact bmcgoldrick@hibernianfc.co.uk