A Friendly visit to Edinburgh - 1952

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hibernian, 11th December 2021)

Hibs v St. Mirren 1952

Hibs v St. Mirren 1952

The widespread issue of programmes by Scottish clubs began in the immediate Post-war period but a number of significant League and Cup matches still saw no programmes issued, a situation which existed well into the 1960s. It would therefore be a bit of a surprise for fans travelling to Easter Road on Saturday, 22nd March 1952 for St. Mirren’s friendly against Hibernian to find that a full-size programme was available. The Edinburgh Club, along with local rivals Hearts bucked the trend of programme production during this time, issuing for almost all First team and Reserve team matches.

The eight-page programme, priced at threepence, was printed black on white semi-gloss paper with green spot colour on the outside covers and centre pages. The large-size page format was unique amongst contemporary programmes but it was not very convenient for handling and storage. As a consequence, few copies survive to this day that have not been folded or creased in some way.

The front cover contained the match details above and below a Scottish Daily Mail photo of the Hibs players in the dressing room at the end of a recent match. The issue was marked as Volume 3 Number 40, this being the third season of this format. The fact that it was the fortieth programme of the season shows just how prolific the Easter Road issue was in these days.

Inside, Manager Hugh Shaw’s column discussed the run-in to the final matches of the League Championship. Hibs were setting the pace with two matches remaining and were three points ahead of second-placed Rangers, but the Ibrox Club had two games in hand. The opposite page, headed “Pride O’ Paisley”, provided pen pictures of the St. Mirren players and noted that, although the Club had been playing a brand of football that should have seen them challenging for honours, they were currently placed only a few points above the relegation zone. Saints had played all of their League matches and had to “wait and see” how the other teams would finish and decide their fate.

The centre pages displayed the sides in the usual 2-3-5 formation, surrounded by adverts and snippets of news. The teams who took the field matched those listed in the programme with the exception of both centre-halves. Paterson was replaced by McKenzie for the home side, whilst Jackie Waddell replaced Willie Telfer for Saints.

Page six was dominated by a photo and report of Hibs’ Gordon Smith receiving the Bob Kingsley “Footballer of the Year” trophy from Edinburgh’s Lord Provost. The opposite page carried the ever-popular “Hibernian Record”, listing the scorers and team line-ups for recent Hibs matches at all levels.

Page seven also presented the Half-Time Scoreboard for the day’s fixtures. The twenty-eight Scottish and English matches, each identified by a letter, necessitated a “First showing” for the Scottish fixtures and a “Second showing” for the English matches. In the days before transistor radios and mobile phones, fans would clamour around the nearest copy of the programme to decipher which score was which. It is little wonder that few of these issues survive intact!

The back page reproduced an interesting cartoon from the “Evening News” of September 1934, showing the events of a League match in which Hibs defeated Hearts 1-0. Supporters notes brought the issue to a close.

This programme can still be found for sale from time to time and would be expected to command a price of around £30.

As for the match itself, St. Mirren succumbed to the eventual League Champions by a score of 4-1. All of the goals were scored in the second half; Buchanan, Turnbull, Reilly and Ormond scoring for the home side and Alex Crowe getting Saints’ consolation goal.