Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hibernian FC

Hibernian 0 Queen of the South 0 - Scottish Championship

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, situated in Lothian on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. It is the second most populous city in Scotland and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh has been recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, but political power moved south to London after the Union of the Crowns in 1603 and the Union of Parliaments in 1707. After nearly three centuries of unitary government, a measure of self-government returned in the shape of the devolved Scottish Parliament, which officially opened in Edinburgh in 1999. The city is also the annual venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and home to many national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. Edinburgh's relatively buoyant economy, traditionally centred on banking and insurance, but now encompassing a wide range of businesses, makes it the biggest financial centre in the UK after London. Many Scottish companies have established their head offices in the city. Although Edinburgh's traditional industries of printing, brewing and distilling continued to grow in the 19th century and were joined by new rubber works and engineering works there was little industrialisation compared with other cities in Britain. By 1821, Edinburgh had been overtaken by Glasgow as Scotland's largest city. The city centre between Princes Street and George Street became a major commercial and shopping district, a development partly stimulated by the arrival of railways in the 1840s. In 1998, the Scotland Act, which came into force the following year, established a devolved Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive (renamed the Scottish Government since September 2007). Both based in Edinburgh, they are responsible for governing Scotland while reserved matters such as defence, taxation and foreign affairs remain the responsibility of the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London.

Hibernian Football Club is located in Leith in the north of Edinburgh. 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. Home matches are played at Easter Road, in use since 1893, when the club joined the Scottish Football League. Hibernian was the first club from the east coast of Scotland to win a major trophy, the 1887 Scottish Cup.  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 twice, in 1887 and 1902; but have lost ten Scottish Cup Finals since, most recently in 2013. The last major trophy won by the club was the 2007 Scottish League Cup, when Kilmarnock were beaten 5–1 in the final. It was the third time that the club had won the League Cup, also winning in 1972 and 1991.

This Pieman attempted to visit Easter Road 25 years ago but was thwarted by last minute engineering work on the railways. For many reasons in the interim period, plans to reach Leith have been thwarted and so it was with a feeling of hope that I set of for Edinburgh on the 08.00 departure from Kings Cross. The carriage was populated by a large group of New Zealand Rugby Union supporters who were on their way to Murrayfield for the international match with Scotland. Although these lads were enthusiastic and at times a bit loud, they were no trouble at all and it was good to listen to the banter.

The walk from Waverley to Easter Road takes between 20-25 minutes. This means that for a traditional 3pm kick off, the 17.30 train to London Kings Cross should not be an issue after the match. En route there are a number of pubs and eating establishments, either near the centre or on Easter Road itself. I opted for The Playfair (Wetherspoons) where the Highland Burger with Haggis and Chips was a welcome treat. This was washed down with a superb pint of Merlin (4.2%) from the Broughton Brewery. This deep golden pale ale has a clean tasting, refreshing malt flavour, overlaid with a strong fruit hop character. With triple the hops of a normal bitter.

Easter Road is a very modern stadium, with four seated stands affording a good view of proceedings. Like many new or redeveloped grounds, the comfortable surrounds are good, but lack individual character. If I had arrived in Leith 25 years ago, I would have experienced a venue more akin to the history of Hibernian FC.

This match saw 4th placed Hibernian host Queen of the South. A victory by two clear goals would have seen Hibernian go 3rd in the table above the visitors who were currently occupying that spot. Accordingly, there was potential to witness a really good match. Unfortunately this was not the case and despite best intentions, a defensive Dumfries outfit and a disjointed Hibernian side played out a 0-0 draw. The home side missed a very good scoring opportunity in the closing minutes when a lack of composure saw the ball lifted over the bar, not quite reaching this Pieman in the upper tier of the Famous Five Stand.

The match was not the classic hoped for, but the day out was good. It was nice to complete my ‘Edinburgh set’, adding to previous visits to Heart of Midlothian and Meadowbank Thistle – a reminder of the latter being the stadium floodlights visible from Easter Road. The train journey home was good reaching Kings Cross on time at 22:18.

Attendance: 10,069
Admission: £22:00
Programme: £4:00 (52 pages) - Special edition to commemorate the Great War


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