A very busy season schedule isn't helped by Hibs having to participate in replay matches for both the League Cup Semi Final and against Valencia in the Fairs Cup.
With qualification for the later stages of the League Cup already secured, Bob Shankly may have been tempted to give some of his promising reserves a run in the Morton game, the final group game of the competition. However, he decided instead to leave a winning team alone as the following midweek Valencia would arrive in the First Round of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup!
Hibernian versus Valencia, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, 1965
This was Hibs' fourth Fairs Cup venture in six years and the tie provided the Leith side with the opportunity to avenge a 6-2 aggregate defeat to Valencia in 1963. The Spaniards, after beating Celtic, Dunfermline and Hibs, went on to win the trophy in that campaign and they retained the Cup the following season.
A double page spread from the matchday programme against Valencia
The Spaniards were rightly reckoned to provide formidable opposition for the Easter Road men but on yet another of those glorious European nights under the floodlights Hibs secured a worthy and deserved 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Jim Scott after just 5 minutes and John McNamee, the latter netting his headed effort on the stroke of full time. Valencia had packed their defence and even when Hibs broke through they found keeper Zamora in sparkling form to deny them a bigger advantage ahead of the second leg in Spain.
Back to League business against the Champions
There was to be no resting on their laurels for the greens as just three days later they faced reigning League Champions Kilmarnock at Easter Road in a league fixture. In a quite fantastic advert for the Scottish game, two highly skilled and highly entertaining teams fought out a 3-3 draw with the goals from Peter Cormack, Jim Scott and Neil Martin taking Hibs to the top of the First Division ahead of the first Derby of the season which would take place at Tynecastle the following Saturday.
Ahead of that tie Hibs had to travel to Recreation Park where they secured a comfortable 2-0 win in the first leg of the League Cup Quarter Final with Neil Martin and Pat Quinn getting the goals against the plucky Second Division outfit. This seemed to guarantee a semi final place although the return leg still had to be faced before qualification was guaranteed. The likely opponents should Hibs go through were a Celtic team rejuvenated under the guidance of Jock Stein but Shankly would not have been thinking of the possibilities of that tie just yet as a Derby beckoned.
Four goals in the first 10 minutes in Gorgie
Bearing in mind that Hearts had only just lost the Championship on the last day of the previous season a stern test was anticipated by the Hibs camp but after just 10 minutes Shankly was delighted to see his team leading 4-0 in Gorgie thanks to doubles from both young Jimmy O'Rourke and Eric Stevenson. O'Rourke had been a replacement for the injured Neil Martin and he simply continued his reserve team scoring ways in blasting that double past Jim Cruickshank in the Hearts goal. It was a stunning victory and Hibs were simply flying at this stage with the fans eagerly anticipating each game.
Alloa were next to fall to the Hibernian goal scoring machine and they did so in quite spectacular fashion as the greens positively crushed them 11-2 at Easter Road. Poor Adam Hodge in the Alloa goal must have had a sore back at the end of 90 torrid minutes as he bent to retrieve the ball from his net thanks to Neil Martin (4), Jim Scott (4), Pat Quinn, Joe Davis (pen) and Eric Stevenson. It was around this time when Eric Stevenson began the routine he followed each time Hibs won a penalty. Basically, whilst the penalty was being taken, Stevie would go to the half way line and crouch down with his back to the taker, relying on the crowd's reaction to make him aware of the outcome!
When Falkirk arrived at Easter Road the following Saturday on League business they did so knowing they would be facing a team which had scored 42 goals in all competitions to date and it was only September 25th! By the time they had left again that total had increased to 47 thanks to a 5-1 thumping of the Bairns with goals from Neil Martin (4) and Jim Scott. Only one more game remained to be played before the eagerly anticipated League Cup Semi Final with Celtic and that saw Hibs travelling to Shawfield to face Clyde where defenders John McNamee and John Baxter took time off from trying to stop the opposition from scoring to bag a goal each in a 2-1 win.
League Cup Semi Final
Ibrox was the chosen neutral venue for the Celtic game and 46,000 fans packed into the ground to watch Hibs denied a final place by a 90th minute equaliser from Bobby Lennox. A Neil Martin double had put Hibs 2-1 ahead but with the Edinburgh side's fans praying for the final whistle a momentary lapse in concentration in defence cost Hibs dear and so extra time was required. Neither team could score again; meaning a replay at the same venue was required. Prior to that replay taking place a very busy schedule would see Hibs taking on Motherwell in the League at Easter Road and then out to Spain for the return game against Valencia.
Hibs still led the League going into the Motherwell game but the Fir Park side offered tough opposition and took a point home in a 2-2 draw. Hibs had led through Neil Martin but a double by Well, via Ian Thomson and Pat Delaney looked like it might earn the visitors the points until Joe Davis cracked an equaliser from the penalty spot. In a somewhat controversial ending to the game Jim Scott thought he'd struck the winner but Referee Mr Smail from Selkirk insisted he had blown for full time before the ball beat Peter McCloy in the Motherwell goal!
The trip to Valencia
At last the return game with Valencia had come around, some 5 weeks after Hibs had beaten them 2-0 in the first leg at Easter Road. The greens travelled to Spain knowing a very difficult game awaited them as Valencia were going strongly in La Liga but Shankly was quietly confident his troops would not let him down. No Scottish team had ever won on Spanish soil and that was still the case at the end of 90 torrid minutes in the Mestalla Stadium in front of 65,000 fans as the home side came out victorious by 2 goals to nil. Hibs gave a superb account of themselves with Wilson, Stanton and McNamee the pick of the bunch but a typical 'banana bend' free kick from Waldo after 14 minutes and a Sanchez Lage penalty against the run of play just 16 minutes from the end determined that a third game would be required to separate the teams. In those days extra time and penalties had not yet been introduced and sadly Hibs lost the toss to decide where that game would be played.
A weary Hibs side arrived back in Edinburgh to face a home League game with Rangers, the side which had replaced the greens at the top of the League on goal average and there they stayed thanks to a 2-1 victory with Alex Willoughby hitting a double for the visitors whilst Eric Stevenson countered for Hibs. This was a very strong Rangers side despite the loss of Jim Baxter to Sunderland and it included such stalwarts as John Greig, Billy Ritchie in goals, Ron McKinnon, Jim Forrest, Willie Henderson and Willie Johnston and it had worked its way to the top of the League by handing out a six goal thumping to Kilmarnock the previous week.
Meeting Celtic again
Two days after meeting one of the Glasgow giants Hibs travelled through to meet the other in the replay of the League Cup Semi Final and suffered a 4-0 reversal thanks to goals from Joe McBride, John Hughes, Bobby Lennox and Bobby Murdoch. It was to say the least a major disappointment and Shankly was distraught after the game but refused to offer any excuses, concentrating instead on rightly praising a fine performance by Jock Stein's side which had now earned the right to meet Rangers in the Final.
Hibs got the show back on the road the following Saturday when they went to Love Street and defeated St. Mirren 2-0 with goals from newly appointed penalty king Joe Davis and 19 year old Jimmy Stevenson who'd been promoted from the high scoring reserves for the day. All of the games Hibs were playing in such a short space of time were taking their toll with players suffering injuries which either kept them out of the side or meant they were playing at less than 100% fit and so it was ideal for Shankly that his reserves were doing so well. Playing regularly in the second string in those days were players like Thomson Allan, Bobby Duncan, Colin Grant and Jimmy O'Rourke all of whom would go on to make their mark in the first team in the seasons ahead.
A second successive away game took Hibs to Glasgow to face Partick Thistle and the Jags came out on top in a thrilling match by 3-2 after the visitors had stormed into a 2-0 lead with goals from Pat Quinn and Peter Cormack. Defensive lapses allowed Thistle back into the game with goals from Gibb and future Scotland Manager Andy Roxburgh grabbed a double. This result meant Hibs dropped to sixth in a table led by Rangers with Celtic and Dunfermline in hot pursuit.
The replay in Valencia
On Wednesday 3rd November 1965 the Hibs versus Valencia Fairs Cup epic was finally decided, almost two full months after the first leg had been played at Easter Road. It was the hosts who triumphed in front of their home fans on a soaking wet Spanish evening. The scoreline read 3-0 but the fact that the home fans gave the greens a standing ovation at the end of the 90 minutes perhaps highlights that the game was much closer than the end result would suggest.
Hibs had hit both bar and post through McNamee and Scott respectively but Zamora was not to be beaten on the night and Shankly sportingly agreed the Spanish deserved to go through. In the newspapers sold in Valencia the following day, Hibs were paid glowing tributes and named as the best foreign team ever to have played there!
High praise indeed, but the European adventure was over and Hibs needed to get back to winning ways in the League.
Hibernian record an impressive 2-0 first leg win at home to Valencia in the Fairs Cup.
The Club continue well in the League and are involved in some very entertaining matches including a 3-3 draw with Champions Kilmarnock.
Hearts find themselves four goals down in the first ten minutes against Hibs at Tynecastle in the 1966 New Year's Derby.
A 2-2 stalemate with Celtic in the League Cup Semi Final meant a replay had to be organised.
Valencia defeat Hibs by the reverse scoreline in the first leg. A third match has to be played in Spain.
Hibernian lose replays in the League Cup Semi Final against Celtic (4-0) and the Fairs Cup against Valencia (3-0).
Written by John Campbell as part of the 'Another Generation' series