Hearts and Hibs: The Full Story

Hearts Hibs rivalry

While much of Scotland’s footballing narrative has been based around the hostility between the Old Firm clubs – Celtic and Rangers – the Edinburgh derby between Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian remains one of the game’s oldest and most fiercely contested rivalries.

Both sides established themselves as the Scottish capital’s main clubs during the 1870’s, and in the aftermath of WWII the two enjoyed successful spells in what was a rather golden period for football in Edinburgh. However, each club was forced to contend with relegation in the years that followed, temporarily limiting the occasions on which they came face-to-face.

Recent successes

It’s Hearts who most recently had a taste of silverware in the form of the 2011-12 Scottish Cup, while Hibs last lifted a trophy (the Scottish League Cup) at the end of the 2006-07 campaign. But it has more than half a decade since either Hearts (1959-60) or Hibs (1951-52) were last crowned as Scottish League champions and Celtic’s dominance means they could remain as title outsiders for some time.

The 2013-14 campaign was a season that neither club will reflect upon fondly, as the Edinburgh duo finished at the foot of the league table, sending both sides down to the second tier. Hearts succeeded in earning an immediate return to Scotland’s top-flight, although Hibs remain in the league below their bitter foes.

Memorable matches

The first encounter between the two took place on Christmas Day in 1875, during which Hearts emerged as 1-0 victors in what happened to be Hibs’ maiden competitive fixture. Despite both Hearts and Hibs’ lack of league success in recent seasons, animosity between both sets of supporters has only intensified with time, and passions still run high on Edinburgh derby day. Between the 1980’s-90’s, Hearts set a record 22 consecutive Edinburgh derby fixtures without defeat – a feat that is yet to be matched. In the overall head-to-head record in competitive meetings, it’s Hearts who have the edge with 138 wins from 309 clashes, compared to Hibs’ tally of 80 victories.

The record attendance for an Edinburgh derby stands at 66,000 (Easter Road) – a game in which Hearts sneaked a 2-1 victory at the home of their archenemies, back in 1950.

There have been many classic encounters between the two over the years, although few have been as one-sided as the 7-0 drubbing that Hibs inflicted upon Hearts on their own turf (Tynecastle) on New Year’s Day, 1973 – a result that remains Hibs’ record derby day defeat over their rivals.

At Easter Road in September 1990, tensions were even higher than usual after a failed takeover bid of Hibs by the then Hearts chairman, Wallace Mercer. Things spiralled out of control that day after Hearts netted three goals before the half-time whistle, resulting in a pitch-invasion and outbreaks of violence in the crowd.

More recently, 2003 saw a memorable 4-4 draw in which Hearts’ 18-year-old derby day hero Graham Weir struck twice in injury time to tie the contest after coming on as a substitute. In 2012, the two sides came face-to-face in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park. It was a one-sided affair, with Hearts running out 5-1 winners during a season in which they came out on top in all three Edinburgh clashes.

Playing legends

Players have always been able to achieve legendary status for themselves by providing heroics on derby day, and this has been no different down the years for some of those who have pulled on the colours of either Hearts or Hibs.

John Robertson, endearingly labelled by Hearts fans as ‘The Hammer of Hibs’, is still to this day the leading goal scorer in the history of the Edinburgh derby with 27 goals to his name.

On the other side of Edinburgh, Hibernian’s Gordon Smith notched up a total of 15 goals against the men in maroon, before making the brave decision to swap allegiances and join Hearts in 1959, meaning that he actually enjoyed title success in both Hearts and Hibs colours!

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