NEWS

 

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Harry Swan can rightly be considered the architect of the modern Hibs.

With the club in severe difficulties after relegation to the lower division for the first time at the end of the 1930-31 season, there were genuine concerns regarding its very survival. Leith born Harry Swan, owner of the well known bakery Littlejohns in the city centre, and a debenture share holder for several years, was elected to the board of directors at a stormy AGM during that summer.

Less than a year later he resigned, accusing his fellow directors of failing to match his ambitions for the club. With Hibs now back in the top division, the following year he was again elected to the board of directors, but this time as chairman.

 

Harry Swan

 

Harry Swan inherited a team that was in the doldrums, narrowly avoiding relegation into the Second Division again that season, but he made what many at the time thought to be a bold and somewhat rash prophecy that given ten years he would make Hibs great again. He would be out by only a few years.

A legislator of proven ability and a visionary far ahead of his time, among the many predictions Swan would make, years before they ultimately came to pass, were competitive European football, shirt sponsorship, the introduction of floodlights, all seated stadiums and reconstruction of the leagues. Never afraid to speak his mind he was a fierce advocate of smaller leagues, and also that many of the smaller regional clubs should merge into one. Another of his suggestions was that promotion should not be automatic but by election, but only if the club concerned was financially capable of surviving life in the top league. Many of these suggestions were hugely unpopular at the time, but they are matters that have been raised several times since.

Under the charismatic chairman and managed by the irrepressible Willie McCartney, Hibs would burst to the forefront of Scottish football during what was arguably the games greatest-ever- period, the golden post war years. Watched by crowds in unprecedented numbers, Hibs, led by the illustrious Famous Five, probably the countries greatest ever forward line, would win three League Championships inside a five year period and become Britain's first ever entrants into competitive European football in 1955.

As President of the SFA between 1954-56 Harry Swan is perhaps best remembered for his influence in persuading Scottish football to look beyond its local horizons, and in putting Hibs at the top of Scottish football as well as the Easter Road club establishing a great European pedigree.

Chairman of Hibs for almost 30 years, in 1963 Swan sold his shares to William Harrower but remained as a lifelong director of the club as a reward for his service to Hibernian. He died in 1965.

A plaque commissioned by the club in Harry Swan's memory adorned the wall of the boardroom of the old Centre Stand for many years. The plaque was recently rededicated by Swan's daughter Betty at a ceremony in the boardroom of the new West Stand, attended by the all the present directors.

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