It’s every young boy’s fantasy. Running out with his mates for a kick around, yelling “I’m Messi, you’re Ronaldo”. Down through the years, the names, of course, will have been different, reflecting the footballing heroes of the day.
There’s little chance, though, that the Hibs youth development players asked to volunteer to help make a television documentary about the club’s most talked about generation – the Famous Five – ever took to the field imagining themselves as Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond.
But tonight Sean Brennan, Alasdair Smith, Oli Shaw, Conner Duthie and Adam Watson will watch themselves play the club’s most celebrated forward line as the finished documentary is given a VIP screening at Edinburgh’s Dominion Cinema ahead of it being broadcast on BBC ALBA at 9pm on Sunday.
Rather than employ actors in the roles of the players, award-winning production company purpleTV turned to the club itself for a more authentic look, so transporting today’s youngsters back to the time when the Famous Five were revered not only in Scotland, but throughout the world, not least in Brazil.
Admitting it was “a bit weird” to be donning the garb of more than 50 years ago, both playing gear and the everyday clothing of the era, 18-year-old Brennan today revealed he and his team-mates couldn’t wait to see the finished product – not least because he, as a red-haired goalkeeper, plays the part of the ultra-smooth, dark-haired winger Gordon Smith.
He said: “It arose through an education course the 18 and 19-year-old boys at the club do and we were asked for volunteers to take part in the filming of the television programme.
“When you are a young kid you go out playing with your friends pretending to be the best football players at the time. For me, it was Zidane and Ronaldhino.
“Obviously it would be fair to say none of us would have been shouting we were Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Turnbull or Ormond, but equally so, you quickly learn, if you didn’t know beforehand, when you join Hibs just what the Famous Five means to the club.
“There’s photographs on all the walls at the training centre at East Mains of players down through the years, but there’s that iconic one of the five of them running towards the camera.
“It was something different for us, we didn’t really know what to expect, but it was quite good fun. We were a bit tentative going into it and it was a bit weird dressing up in the clothes of that time – one of the boys, I won’t name and shame him, had never done a tie before – and the strip they wore way back then.
“One problem we had was that the Famous Five obviously played in black boots, something very few of us have nowadays. I had an old pair of Adidas Predators from about eight years ago which I dug out and found still fitted me, although flashes of red on the boots had to be blacked out or taped over.
“Why I, as a goalkeeper, was asked to play Gordon Smith I don’t know – I could never put myself in the same bracket as him, everyone knows he was a fantastic player – as were the others for the club.”
Filming took a full day at Meadowbank, the fun and laughter coupled with ensuring the necessary authenticity.
Brennan said: “There was one scene of us playing with shuttle-cocks over a net with table tennis bats, others of us playing keepie-uppie, running on the track, individual shots and each of us scoring goals.
“But there were a few laughs when we had to wear tweed jackets, big jumpers and the like. It was all very authentic and related to that time.”
The authenticity stretched to an old leather football, complete with laces, something Brennan and his young team-mates had never encountered before, and something he admitted he’s glad they don’t have to contend with today.
He said: “The balls we play with today tend to move about all over the place, but those balls were really heavy it must have taken some strength, particularly when it was wet, for Gordon Smith to cross it in from the wing for Lawrie Reilly in the centre.
“The five of us who took part can’t say we are part of the club’s history, but as young players it was great for us to play the part in this film of players who will forever have their place at Easter Road.”