Hibernian have won the Scottish league championship four times, most recently in 1952. Three of those four championships were won between 1948 and 1952, when the club had the services of The Famous Five, a notable forward line. The club have won the Scottish Cup three times, in 1887, 1902 and 2016. Hibs have also won the Scottish League Cup three times, in 1972, 1991 and 2007, and the first Football World Championship in 1887.
The club was founded in 1875 by Irishmen from the Cowgate area of Edinburgh. The name is derived from Hibernia, the Roman name for Ireland. James Connolly, the famous Irish Republican leader, was a Hibs fan, while the club were "closely identified" with the Irish Home Rule Movement during the 1880s. There was some sectarian resistance initially to an Irish club participating in Scottish football, but Hibs established themselves as a force in Scottish football in the 1880s. Hibs were the first club from the east coast of Scotland to win a major trophy, the 1887 Scottish Cup. They went on to defeat Preston North End, who had reached the semi-finals of the 1887 FA Cup, in a friendly match described as the Association Football Championship of the World Decider.
Mismanagement over the next few years led to Hibs becoming homeless and the club temporarily ceased operating in 1891. A lease on the Easter Road site was acquired in late 1892 and Hibs played its first match at Easter Road on 4 February 1893. Despite this interruption, the club today views the period since 1875 as one continued history and therefore counts the honours won between 1875 and 1891, including the 1887 Scottish Cup. The club were admitted to the Scottish Football League in 1893, although they had to win the Second Division twice before being elected into the First Division in 1895.
A significant change at this time was that players were no longer required to be members of the Catholic Young Men's Society. Hibs are not seen today as being an Irish or Roman Catholic institution, as it was in the early years of its history. For instance, the Irish harp was only re-introduced to the club badge when it was last re-designed in 2000. This design reflects the three pillars of the club's identity: Ireland, Edinburgh (the castle) and Leith (the ship). Geography rather than religion is now seen as the primary reason for supporting Hibs, who draw most of their support from the north and east of Edinburgh.
Hibs had some success after being reformed, winning the 1902 Scottish Cup and their first league championship a year later. After this, however, the club endured a long barren spell. The club lost its placing in the league, and were relegated for the first time in 1931, although they were promoted back to the top division two years later. The notorious Scottish Cup drought began as they reached three cup finals, two in consecutive years, but lost each of them.
Hibs' most successful era was in the decade following the end of the Second World War, when it was "among the foremost clubs in Britain". The forward line of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond, collectively known as the Famous Five, was "regarded as the finest ever seen in Scottish football". each of the Famous Five scored more than 100 goals for Hibs. The north stand at Easter Road is now named in their honour. Smith was signed by Hibs in 1941, while Ormond, Turnbull, Reilly and Johnstone were all signed during 1946. Of the five, only Ormond cost Hibs a transfer fee, £1200 from Stenhousemuir. Reilly, Johnstone, Smith and Turnbull were all signed from youth or junior leagues.
In the first season of competitive football after the Second World War, Hibs reached the 1947 Scottish Cup Final. They took an early lead in the match, but went on to lose 2–1 to Aberdeen. With Reilly added to the first team in 1947–48, Hibs won the Scottish league championship for the first time since 1903. This was achieved despite the death of team manager Willie McCartney in January 1948. McCartney was succeeded by Hugh Shaw, who added Johnstone to the first team during 1948. Hibs finished third in the league in 1948–49. In a friendly match against Nithsdale Wanderers on 21 April 1949, Hibs included all of the famous five players in the same team for the first time. They then made their collective competitive debut on 15 October 1949, in a 2–0 win against Queen of the South. They improved on their season from the year before, by finishing second in the league to Rangers by one point.
1950–51 was the high point of the Famous Five era. With other internationalists such as Tommy Younger and Bobby Combe, Hibs won the league by 10 points (when two points were awarded for each win). They reached the 1950 Scottish League Cup Final. Turnbull had scored a hattrick in the semi-final but was unavailable for the final. Jimmy Bradley started at left wing with Ormond moved to inside left. Motherwell beat them 3–0. Hibs retained the league championship in 1951–52, this time winning by four points. Hibs were narrowly denied a third consecutive title in 1952–53 on the last day of the season. A late Rangers equaliser against Queen of the South took the title to Ibrox on goal average. The Famous Five forward line remained in place until March 1955, when Johnstone was sold to Manchester City.
Despite only finishing fifth in the Scottish League in 1955, Hibs were invited to participate in the first season of the European Cup, which was not strictly based on league positions at that time. Eighteen clubs who were thought would generate interest across Europe and who also had the floodlights necessary to play games at night, were invited to participate. Floodlights had been used at Easter Road for the first time in a friendly match against Hearts on 18 October 1954. Hibs became the first British club in Europe because the Football League secretary Alan Hardaker persuaded Chelsea, the English champions, not to enter.
Hibs played their first tie against Rot-Weiss Essen, winning 4–0 in the Georg-Melches-Stadion and drawing 1–1 at Easter Road. They defeated Djurgårdens IF to reach the semi-final, but in that tie they were defeated 3–0 on aggregate by Stade Reims, who had the famous France international player Raymond Kopa in their side. Reims lost 4–3 to Real Madrid in the Final.
Hibs frequently participated in the Fairs Cup during the 1960s, winning ties against Barcelona and Napoli. However, the club achieved little domestically until former player Eddie Turnbull was persuaded to return to Easter Road as manager in 1971. The team, popularly known as Turnbull's Tornadoes, finished second in the league in 1974 and 1975, and won the League Cup in 1972. The club also won the Drybrough Cup in 1972 and 1973, and recorded a 7–0 win over Edinburgh derby rivals Hearts at Tynecastle on 1 January 1973.
Performances went into decline after the mid-1970s, as Hibs were replaced by the New Firm of Aberdeen and Dundee United as the main challengers to the Old Firm. Turnbull resigned as manager and Hibs were relegated, for the second time in their history, in 1980. They were immediately promoted back to the Scottish Premier Division in 1981, but the club struggled during the 1980s, failing to qualify for European competition until 1989.
After mismanagement during the late 1980s, Hibs were on the brink of financial ruin in 1990. Wallace Mercer, the chairman of Hearts, proposed a merger of the two clubs, but the Hibs fans believed that the proposal was more like a hostile takeover. They formed the Hands off Hibs group to campaign for the continued existence of the club. This succeeded when a prominent local businessman, Kwik-Fit owner Sir Tom Farmer, acquired a controlling interest in Hibs. The fans were able to persuade Farmer to take control despite the fact that he had no great interest in football. Farmer was persuaded in part by the fact that a relative of his had been involved in the rescue of Hibs from financial ruin in the early 1890s. After the attempted takeover by Mercer, Hibs had a few good years in the early 1990s, winning the 1991 Scottish League Cup Final and finishing in the top five in the league in 1993, 1994 and 1995. Soon after Alex McLeish was appointed as manager in 1998, Hibs were relegated to the First Division, but immediately won promotion back to the SPL in 1999.
Hibs enjoyed a good season in 2000–01 as they finished third in the league and reached the 2001 Scottish Cup Final, which was lost 3–0 to Celtic. Manager Alex McLeish departed for Rangers in December 2001; team captain Franck Sauzée was appointed as the new manager, despite the fact that he had no previous coaching experience. A terrible run of form followed and Sauzée was fired after being in charge for 69 days.
Kilmarnock manager Bobby Williamson was then hired, but he proved to be unpopular with Hibs supporters. However, a string of exciting young players emerged, including Garry O'Connor, Derek Riordan, Kevin Thomson and Scott Brown. These players featured heavily as Hibs eliminated both halves of the Old Firm to reach the 2004 Scottish League Cup Final, only to lose 2–0 to Livingston. Williamson departed near the end of that season to manage Plymouth Argyle and was replaced by Tony Mowbray. Mowbray promised fast-flowing, passing football, with which Hibs finished third in his first season as manager, while Mowbray won the SFWA Manager of the Year award.
Mowbray left Hibs in October 2006 to manage West Bromwich Albion, and was replaced by former player John Collins. The team won the 2007 Scottish League Cup Final under his management, but the club sold Kevin Thomson, Scott Brown and Steven Whittaker for fees totalling more than £8 million. Collins resigned later that year, frustrated by the lack of funds provided to sign new players. Former Hibs player Mixu Paatelainen was hired to replace Collins, but he left after the end of his first full season.
Another former Hibernian player, John Hughes, was soon appointed in place of Paatelainen. Hughes, who made high-profile signings such as Anthony Stokes and Liam Miller, led Hibs to a good start to the 2009–10 season. Hibs finished fourth and qualified for the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League. A poor start to the following season, including first round exits in Europe and the League Cup, led to Hughes leaving the club by mutual consent. Hughes was replaced by Colin Calderwood, who was himself sacked on 6 November 2011.
Pat Fenlon was appointed to replace Calderwood. The club avoided relegation in 2011–12 and reached the 2012 Scottish Cup Final, but this was lost 5–1 to Hearts. Fenlon largely rebuilt the team after this defeat. This resulted in an improved league position in 2012–13 and the team reaching the 2013 Scottish Cup Final, which was lost 3–0 to league champions Celtic. Hibs qualified for the 2013–14 UEFA Europa League, but they suffered a Scottish record defeat in European competition (9–0 on aggregate against Malmö). Fenlon resigned on 1 November and was replaced by Terry Butcher. A run of 13 games without a win to finish the 2013–14 Scottish Premiership season meant that Hibs fell into a relegation play-off, which was lost after a penalty shootout against Hamilton Academical.
Butcher was sacked in June and was replaced by Alan Stubbs. He was unable to lead the team to promotion, but the 2015–16 season saw considerable cup success. The team reached the League Cup final, which was lost to Ross County. This was followed by victory in the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902, culminating in a cup final win against Rangers. Soon after the cup win Stubbs left Hibs to manage Rotherham United. He was replaced by Neil Lennon, who led the team to promotion by winning the 2016–17 Scottish Championship.
The predominant club colours are green and white, which have been used since the formation of the club in 1875. The strip typically has a green body, white sleeves and a white collar. The shorts are normally white, although green has been used in recent seasons. The socks are green, usually with some white detail. Hibs have used yellow, purple, black, white and a dark green in recent seasons for their alternate kits. In 1977, Hibs became the first club in Scotland to bear sponsorship on their shirts. This arrangement prompted television companies to threaten a boycott of Hibs games if they used the sponsored kit, which resulted in the club using an alternate kit for the first time.
Hibs wore green and white hooped shirts during the 1870s, which was the inspiration for the style later adopted by Celtic. Hibs then wore all-green shirts from 1879 until 1938, when white sleeves were added to the shirts. This was similar in style to Arsenal, who had added white sleeves to their red shirts earlier in the 1930s. The colour of the shorts was changed to a green which matched the shirts in 2004, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of a friendly win in October 1964 against Real Madrid. Green shorts were used in that match to avoid a colour clash with the all-white colours of Real Madrid. Hibs also used green shorts in the 2006–07, 2007–08 and 2008–09 seasons. For the 2012–13 season, Hibs changed the primary colour of the shirts to a darker "bottle" green, instead of the normal emerald green. A darker green had been used until the 1930s. For the 2014–15 season, Hibs removed the traditional white sleeves from their home kit, as they changed to a darker green shirt in commemoration of the Famous Five forward line.
The badge used to identify the club has changed frequently over the years, which has reflected an ongoing debate about its identity. This debate has centred on whether its Irish heritage should be proudly displayed, or ignored for fear of being accused of sectarianism. The Irish harp was first removed in the 1950s, then re-introduced to the club badge when it was last re-designed in 2000. Scottish Football Museum director Ged O'Brien said in 2001, that the current design shows that Hibs "are comfortable with all the strands of their tradition – it has Leith, Edinburgh and Ireland in it."
Hibs played on The Meadows for the first two years of their history, before moving to grounds in Newington (Mayfield Park) and Bonnington Road, Leith (Powderhall), in different spells between 1877 and 1879. After the lease on Mayfield Park expired, Hibs moved to a ground known as Hibernian Park, on what is now Bothwell Street in Leith. Hibs failed to secure the ground lease and a builder started constructing houses on the site in 1890. Hibs obtained a lease on a site that is now known as Easter Road in 1892 and have played their home matches there since February 1893.
Before the Taylor Report demanded that the stadium be all-seated, Easter Road had vast banks of terracing on three sides, which meant that it could hold crowds in excess of 60,000. The record attendance of 65,860, which is also a record for a football match played in Edinburgh, was set by an Edinburgh derby played on 2 January 1950. Such vast crowds were drawn by the success of the Famous Five.
The pitch was noted for its pronounced slope, but this was removed in 2000. The ground is currently all-seated and has a capacity of 20,421. Easter Road is a modern stadium, with all four of its stands having been built since 1995. The most recent redevelopment was the construction of a new East Stand in 2010.
Scotland have played seven of their home matches at Easter Road, all of them since 1998. The most recent international match played at the ground was a friendly between Scotland and Canada in March 2017. The ground has hosted one international not involving Scotland, a friendly played between Ghana and South Korea preceding the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Easter Road has also sometimes been used as a neutral venue for Scottish League Cup semi-final matches and once hosted a Scottish Challenge Cup final.
Hibs have a traditional local rivalry in Edinburgh with Hearts; the Edinburgh derby match between the two clubs is one of the oldest rivalries in world football. Graham Spiers has described it as "one of the jewels of the Scottish game". The clubs first met on Christmas Day 1875, when Hearts won 1–0, in the first match ever contested by Hibs. The two clubs became preeminent in Edinburgh after a five-game struggle for the Edinburgh Football Association Cup in 1878, which Hearts finally won with a 3–2 victory after four successive draws. The clubs have met each other in two Scottish Cup Finals, in 1896 and 2012, both of which were won by Hearts. The 1896 match is also notable for being the only Scottish Cup Final to be played outside Glasgow.
Both clubs have been champions of Scotland four times, although Hearts have won more cup competitions and have the better record in derbies, with 144 wins to 94 in 334 competitive matches. Hibs recorded the biggest derby win in a competitive match when they won 7–0 at Tynecastle on New Year's Day 1973. While it has been noted that religious background lies behind the rivalry, that aspect is "muted" and is a "pale reflection" of the sectarianism in Glasgow. Although the clubs are inescapable rivals, the rivalry is mainly "good-natured" and has had beneficial effects.
Hibernian are one of only two full-time professional football clubs in Edinburgh, which is the capital of and second largest city in Scotland. The club had the fourth largest average attendance in the Scottish leagues during the 2016–17 season, with 15,394. This was a significant increase on recent seasons, inspired by the Scottish Cup victory in 2016. In the period after the Second World War, Hibs attracted average attendances in excess of 20,000, peaking at 31,567 in the 1951–52 season. Since Easter Road was redeveloped into an all-seater stadium in the mid-1990s, average attendance has varied between a high of 15,394 in 2016–17 and a low of 9,150 in 2003–04. In the 1980s and 1990s, a minority of the club's supporters had a reputation as one of Britain's most prominent casuals groups, known as the Capital City Service.
The works of author Irvine Welsh, particularly Trainspotting, contain several references to Hibernian. The team is often mentioned in casual conversation and is the team many of his characters support. Visual references to Hibs are noticeable in Danny Boyle's film adaptation of Trainspotting; Begbie wears a Hibs shirt while he plays five-a-side football, while many Hibs posters and pictures can be seen on the walls of Mark Renton's bedroom.
In the final short story of the trilogy The Acid House, Coco Bryce, a boy from the "Hibs firm" Capital City Service, is struck by lightning while under the influence of LSD in a Pilton park. His soul is then transferred to the body of an unborn child from one of the more affluent areas of Edinburgh.
Hibernian are also frequently referred to in the Inspector Rebus series of detective novels by Ian Rankin. Rebus himself is a Raith Rovers fan in the books, but he is a Hibs fan in the 2000s television adaptation of the series. Ironically, that version of Rebus is played by a Hearts supporter, Ken Stott. DS Siobhan Clarke, his colleague in the later books, is a "loyal supporter" of Hibs.
The Hibs anthem Glory, Glory to the Hibees was written and performed by Scottish comedian Hector Nicol. Former Marillion singer Fish is a Hibs fan; Easter Road is mentioned in the song 'Lucky', from the album Internal Exile. The Proclaimers are lifelong Hibs fans, and were heavily involved with the "Hands off Hibs" campaign to save the club in 1990. The title track from their Sunshine on Leith album has become a Hibs anthem, which is traditionally played before big matches at Easter Road and after cup final victories. In their song "Cap in Hand", also from the Sunshine on Leith album, The Proclaimers sing:
The song Joyful Kilmarnock Blues, from the first album released by The Proclaimers, is about a Hibs victory away from home. The song includes the following lyrics:
Although the football club was formed in 1875, it was not incorporated until 1903. The club remained a private company until 1988, when it was publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange. This public listing, combined with poor financial performance, made Hibs vulnerable to an attempted takeover in 1990 by Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer. This attempt was averted when Mercer was unable to acquire the 75% shareholding needed to liquidate the company.
The club's parent company, Forth Investments plc, entered receivership in 1991. Sir Tom Farmer acquired control of the club from the receiver for £3 million. Farmer has continued to fund developments of Easter Road and financial losses made by Hibs, although he has delegated control to other figures, such as Rod Petrie. As of 2014, the club was 98% owned by its holding company, H.F.C. Holdings Limited. This holding company is beneficially owned by Farmer (90%) and Petrie (10%). In December 2014, the club publicised plans to sell up to 51% ownership of the club to its supporters. By October 2016, supporters had increased their shareholding in the club from about 2% to just under 32%.As of 23.59, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Arthur Duncan holds the record for most league appearances for Hibs, with 446. All of the Famous Five – Gordon Smith, Eddie Turnbull, Lawrie Reilly, Bobby Johnstone and Willie Ormond – scored more than 100 league goals for Hibs.
Hibernian players have been capped at full international level for 22 different national teams, with 61 Hibernian players appearing for Scotland. Hibernian rank fifth amongst all clubs in providing players for Scotland, behind the Old Firm, Queen's Park and Hearts. James Lundie and James McGhee were the first Hibs players to play for Scotland, in an 1886 British Home Championship match against Wales. Lawrie Reilly holds the record for most international caps earned while a Hibs player, making 38 appearances for Scotland between 1949 and 1957. In 1959, Hibs forward Joe Baker became the first player to play for England without having previously played for an English club.
To mark the club's 135th birthday, the club created a Hall of Fame in 2010. The first group of nominees, including 13 former players, were inducted at a dinner later that year.
From 1875 until 1903, Hibs were managed by a committee, although Dan McMichael, who also acted as treasurer, secretary and a physiotherapist, was effectively the manager when the club won the 1902 Scottish Cup and the 1903 league championship. Willie McCartney took charge of part of the league-winning 1947–48 season, but he collapsed and died after a Scottish Cup match in January 1948. Hugh Shaw inherited that team, and went on to win three league championships in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Alan Stubbs won the Scottish Cup in 2015–16, ending a 114-year drought in that competition. Eddie Turnbull, Alex Miller and John Collins all won one Scottish League Cup each. Bobby Templeton, Bertie Auld, Alex McLeish and Neil Lennon all won second tier championships.Scottish league, first tierWinners (4): 1902–03, 1947–48, 1950–51, 1951–52
Runners-up (6): 1896–97, 1946–47, 1949–50, 1952–53, 1973–74, 1974–75
Scottish CupWinners (3): 1886–87, 1901–02, 2015–16
Runners-up (11): 1895–96, 1913–14, 1922–23, 1923–24, 1946–47, 1957–58, 1971–72, 1978–79, 2000–01, 2011–12, 2012–13
Scottish League CupWinners (3): 1972–73, 1991–92, 2006–07
Runners-up (7): 1950–51, 1968–69, 1974–75, 1985–86, 1993–94, 2003–04, 2015–16
Scottish league, second tierWinners (6): 1893–94, 1894–95, 1932–33, 1980–81, 1998–99, 2016–17
Drybrough CupWinners (2): 1972, 1973
Summer CupWinners (2): 1942, 1964
Southern League CupWinners (1): 1943–44
As of 13:38, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Highest single game attendance: 65,860 vs Hearts, 2 January 1950
Highest average home attendance: 30,700 in the 1951–52 season
Highest attendance for any match involving Hibs: 143,570 vs Rangers at Hampden Park, 27 March 1948
Biggest victory: 22–1 vs Black Watch Highlanders, 3 September 1881
Biggest competitive victory: 15–1 vs Peebles Rovers, 11 February 1961
Biggest league victory: 11–1 vs Airdrie, 24 October 1959 and vs Hamilton, 6 November 1965
Biggest defeat: 0–10 vs Rangers, 24 December 1898
Caps and appearances
Most capped player: Lawrie Reilly, 38 for Scotland
Most league appearances: Arthur Duncan, 446
Most competitive goals: Reilly, 234
Most league goals: Reilly, 187
Most competitive goals in a season: Joe Baker, 46 in 1959–60
Most league goals in a season: Baker, 42 in 1959–60
Record fee paid: £700,000 for Ulises de la Cruz to LDU Quito in 2001
Record fee received: £4,400,000 for Scott Brown from Celtic in 2007