At the end of the 1970/71 season, Hibs were regarded as a talented but disorganised bunch of players, possibly the most gifted team ever to have finished as low as 12th.
The Easter Road club, however, couldn’t be accused of not thinking big, turning to one of their own, Famous Five legend Eddie Turnbull, who had transformed Aberdeen in the late 1960s and taken them to two cup finals.
Turnbull only left the Dons because Hibs were the club who mattered most to him and on his return he added just two players, former Dunfermline goalkeeper Jim Herriot and the Pars playmaker Alex Edwards for £13,000.
Joe Baker had come home to an emotional welcome in the February but Turnbull became impatient at the length of time it was taking for his injured hip to heal and brought in Alan Gordon from Dundee United.
By the spring of 1972, it was noticeable that many of Hibs’ weaknesses had been addressed. They finished third in the league and made the Scottish Cup final for the first time since 1958 and they did so in style, defeating Aberdeen 2-0 in the quarter-finals with goals from Jimmy O’Rourke and Baker. O’Rourke scored again in a 1-1 draw with Rangers in the semi-final. Goals from Edwards and Pat Stanton clinched the replay in a one-sided game, the gates for those two matches totalling an astonishing 143,431.
Turnbull had said it would take three years for his team to develop and his prediction proved all too accurate with the cup final coming far too early for them.
Hibs were not equipped to take on Jock Stein’s Celtic who had reached the European Cup final the previous year, losing to Dutch club Feyenoord as they attempted to lift the trophy for a second time.
Edwards, whose Cup Final blazer with Hibs is pictured, had won the Cup with Dunfermline in 1968 when they had beaten Hearts 3-1. But his hopes of doing so again with Hibs were shattered as Celtic ran out 6-1 winners, Dixie Deans scoring a hat-trick and Lou Macari two after Alan Gordon had cancelled out Billy McNeill’s third-minute opener before a Hampden crowd of 106,102.
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