Tonight’s game against Brøndby IF is only the second time that Hibernian have faced a Danish side in a competitive fixture since the Fairs Cup game against Copenhagen during the 1962/63 season.
At that time the Fairs Cup rules allowed composite sides to enter the competition and that evening at Easter Road the Copenhagen Staevnet team comprised of players from eight sides.
Three goals inside eight first half minutes from Gerry Byrne, Gerry Baker, Morris Stevenson and an own goal by right back Ronnow was just the tonic that Hibernian needed to give them a comfortable 4-0 win and even this early a passage into the next round.
Hibernian versus Compenhagen, Inter Cities Cup, Easter Road Stadium, 1962
In the return leg in Copenhagen, while far from convincing, Hibernian were still far too good for their Danish opponents and further goals from Byrne and a double from Morris Stevenson gave the Edinburgh side a comfortable 7-2 aggregate victory and a game against the Dutch side Utrecht in the next round.
This, however, was not the first time that Hibernian had faced Danish opposition. At the end of the 1920-21 season a party of twelve players including just one goalkeeper, directors John Farmer (grandfather of the current owner Tom Farmer), Owen Brannigan, Barney Lester and manager Alec Maley who had replaced Davy Gordon just weeks before, left from Leith on a fifteen day three game tour of Denmark as a reward for what had been a difficult season. It would be the clubs first ever trip to foreign shores.
Hibernian's form during the season just ended in a league that had only recently been expanded to 22 teams from the 18 used during the recent war, had been anything but impressive to say the least, and had included five goal defeats at both Tynecastle and Broomfield. However, in a season of mixed fortunes, the club losing more games than were won, they still managed to finish in an otherwise respectable mid table position and there were definite signs that better days lay not too far ahead. Many of the players who would make up what would soon be considered a celebrated side were already on the books and were included in the party that made its way to Denmark.
The 1921 Tour of Denmark (Hibernian players are in white v-neck collars)
Standing left to right: Bobby Templeton, Willie Harper, Willie Dornan
Seated left to right: Willie McGinnigle, Johnny Halligan, Matty Paterson, Hugh Shaw, Harry Ritchie and Johnny Walker
Front left to right: Jimmy Dunn and Willie Smith
Wearing new look dark green jerseys with a broad v-necked white collar Hibs took to the field on Monday 19 May for the first game of the tour against a Copenhagen select in the capital that ended in a 3-1 victory. This was followed a few days later by a 1-0 defeat by the same side. The final game of the trip was against an Aarhus select that ended in a credible 1-1 draw. The Danish championship had been created just nine years before, and during the season just ended Aarhus, who had been formed as late as 1902, had finished runners up to Akademisk Bold club, a side that was comprised totally of students, so in the circumstances the Easter Road side could be reasonably satisfied with the final result.
Unfortunately during the tour inside left Johnny Halligan broke his collarbone in a accidental clash with an opponent, nevertheless, overall the Hibs party was said to have been impressed not only by the quality of their opponents play but also by the beautiful countryside, and the three game tour was considered to have been a great success.
Leaving Copenhagen on the German registered Motor Vessel Coblenz for the return journey across the North Sea to Leith, the Hibernian players met up with the players of Queens Park who had also been on a ten day our of the country. Denmark had been a popular destination for the Queens Park club who had made several trips to the country since 1898 when they had been invited to take part in the Copenhagen Carnival of Sports and Gymnastics. On one occasion they had faced a problem when asked to play on a Sunday which was quite common on the continent, but at that time completely alien to the game in this country, and apparently the invitation had to be refused.
MOST OF THE HIBERNIAN PLAYERS ON THE TOUR TO DENMARK WOULD LATER RECEIVE TESTIMONIALS.
This would prove to be only the start of a favourable period for the Easter Road side. Soon the free scoring centre forward Jimmy McColl would be added to the nucleus of the players that had travelled to Denmark and one of the most celebrated sides in the clubs history would finally be complete: Harper, McGinnigle and Dornan, Kerr, Miller and Shaw, Ritchie Dunn, McColl, Halligan and Walker, the same eleven famously achieving legendary status by reaching consecutive Scottish Cup Finals against Celtic in 1923 and Airdrie in 1924, unfortunately losing both.
Most of the Hibernian players on the tour to Denmark would later receive testimonials. Islay born Hugh Shaw would go on to give the club many years of loyal service. Signed from Clydebank near the end of the First World War, he would later join Rangers. After spells with Hearts, East Fife, Leith Athletic and Elgin City he would return to Easter Road as trainer. After the death of Willie McCartney in 1948 Shaw was appointed manager and led the club to the league title in 1948, 1951 and 1952 to become Hibs most successful manager to this very day.
Written by Tom Wright