THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Hibernian’s reputation for falling at the last has resulted in the “Hibsing It” insult

Hibernian

20 May ~ This weekend’s Scottish Cup final is the first in its 143-year history to be contested by two lower-league teams. When East Fife became the first winners from outside the top flight, in 1938, no one thought the second would be Rangers or Hibernian.

Since 2012’s liquidation forced the former to restart in the bottom tier, winning every lower-league honour has only encouraged the taunt “You’re not Rangers anymore”. Less fair, however, is the fact “Hibsing It” (#HibsedIt), has become a Scotticism for bottle crashing. On Saturday Hibs could easily win their first Scottish Cup since 1902.

Rangers secured the SPFL Championship in early April. Last Friday Hibernian augmented their reputation for tragi-comic last-ditch failure by losing the promotion play-off semi-final in injury time. In both legs they led Falkirk with ten minutes remaining. In this season’s League Cup final they lost to a last-minute Ross County goal.

Far worse was losing the 2012 Scottish Cup final 5-1 to city rivals Hearts. A 3-0 defeat to Celtic the following season was their tenth straight loss in the final, including the 1978-79 edition against Rangers, decided by an own goal ten minutes from the end of extra time in the second replay.  

After winning three Scottish League titles in the post-war years Hibs, Scotland’s fifth-best supported club, were invited to compete in the inaugural European Cup in 1955-56, becoming Britain’s first ever semi-finalists. Yet high-profile failure seemed institutional at Easter Road by the time they lost the 2003-04 League Cup final to Livingston, who had just entered administration.

“Hibsing It” became common usage when, after losing the 2013-14 derby in which they could have relegated Hearts, Hibs were themselves dragged down into the relegation play-off berth. Losing on penalties at home to Hamilton, despite being 2-0 up from the away leg, saw supporters protesting against chairman Rod Petrie.  

Petrie remained on the board by relinquishing his duties to Leeann Dempster, the impressive chief executive he’d just poached from Motherwell. She sacked Terry Butcher as manager and appointed Alan Stubbs. Yet last season Hibs again lost in the promotion play-offs and had to watch Hearts return straight back to the top-flight in style.

With a third straight season in the Championship now confirmed, Stubbs and his chairman are inevitably being blamed. But Petrie helped Hibs avoid liquidation in the early 1990s, has supplied an East Lothian training facility the envy of most other Scottish clubs and completely rebuilt a stadium which now regularly hosts internationals. Any transfer market frugality seems sensible when so many rivals have endured humiliating financial meltdowns this decade alone.

Stubbs may be a victim of his own success. He’s defeated five Premiership clubs, including Hearts, in this season’s cup competitions. Eliminating holders Inverness from the Scottish Cup just three days after losing that League Cup final speaks of an obstinacy at the core of his Hibs side. Rangers haven’t won over 90 minutes since April 10, haven’t played a competitive match for three weeks and were out-thought when losing both league ties at Hibs this season.  

In the Proclaimers’ Sunshine on Leith, Hibs fans have the best song in Scottish football. It might just be time for them to be rid of the country’s worst jinx and most insulting hashtag. Alex Anderson

Photo by Colin McPherson/WSC Photography: Easter Road, home to Hibernian

Related articles

Photo of the week ~ Burntisland Shipyard as seen from The Binn
Burntisland Shipyard 0 Colville Park 7, 12/08/2017, The Recreation Ground, Scottish Cup first preliminary round Early stages of the game seen...
Rangers’ “other” Glasgow derby as key to Pedro Caixinha’s future as Celtic clash
Embed from Getty Images // After an inconsistent start that has included some historic losses, Rangers’ League Cup quarter-final against...
There’s always last year ~ Scottish Premiership 2016-17
Embed from Getty Images Top two for Celtic, Aberdeen to have a decent cup run and Rangers to resume “the world’s most tiresome...