Saints Overcome Hibs in the League Cup On This Day - 1952
(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hibs, 27th August 2022)
St. Mirren v Hibs 1952
The 1952/53 season opened with the traditional League Cup sectional ties, in which St. Mirren were drawn against Hibernian, Celtic and Partick Thistle in Division A, Section A, as the sections were then designated..
Saints got off to a poor start in the tournament, losing their first two ties at home to Celtic (1-0) and away to Hibs (5-2). There was a glimmer of hope in the next home match against Partick Thistle when a sterling second-half performance saw St. Mirren defeat the Jags by 5-1. However, the momentum was lost without a midweek fixture and on the following Saturday they lost 3-1 at Celtic Park, effectively ending their interest in the tournament.
St. Mirren issued their standard eight-page programme for the return visit of Hibs on 27th August 1952. This was printed black on white semi-gloss paper, marked as Issue No. 80 and priced at threepence. The cover was typical of the Saints issues from 1948 until 1953 and featured the illustration of a player alongside the match details and a note of the next match to be played at Love Street, the one for this issue being a Division “C” (reserve) match against Motherwell.
Inside, page two listed the season’s fixtures and, with the scores filled in up until the preceding Saturday fixture against Celtic, this indicated that the issue was right up to date. The “Club Notes” on page 3 discussed the side’s “very good display” at Easter Road and the “convincing win” against Partick Thistle. The “drab game” at Celtic Park was reviewed in detail, and noted how the St. Mirren players had stuck in well for the second half, despite being two goals down and effectively down to ten men with an injury to Jimmy Duncanson rendering him more or less a passenger. Celtic’s first goal had been hotly disputed by the visitors, who maintained that the ball had crossed the bye-line before being crossed for McPhail to score. This incident had unsettled the side and the tempo of the game later suffered from a number of unnecessary fouls.
The centre pages accurately listed the Saints and Hibs players who took the field. The line-ups were surrounded by adverts from local traders, including a notice for the Football Special train to the forthcoming match between St. Mirren and Partick Thistle at Firhill, costing 1/6d (8p).
The “Club Notes” on page five mentioned how the reserve side had played four matches without defeat and had dropped only one point to Stranraer. It was also noted that the injury list had now risen to five with Jimmy Duncanson’s injury against Celtic and the article correctly predicted that Peter Rice would take his place against Hibs.
Page seven displayed the Half-Time Scoreboard, covering the other fourteen League Cup ties being played that night, whilst the back page consisted of more adverts.
At present, 1950s programmes involving Hibs are at a premium, so copies of this issue may fetch well in excess of £50.
A Love Street crowd of around 14,000 saw St. Mirren, with the wind and the setting sun behind them, go on the attack from the kick off. In the second minute they were awarded a penalty for handball against Jock Govan but Willie Telfer, having had to respot the ball, then shot weakly at McCracken and the ‘keeper cleared with ease. The home side didn’t let that squandered opportunity get them down and, in 14 minutes, George Stewart took advantage of a poor clearance by Govan to put Saints ahead. Eleven minutes later, Tommy Gemmell increased the lead with a terrific drive and Duncan McGill netted a third after 33 minutes.
Hibs pulled a goal back eight minutes into the second half when Jim Lornie failed to hold a long lob from Willie Clark and Bobby Johnstone nipped in to score. However, the away side never looked like adding to that total and St. Mirren remained in command until the end, winning 3-1.
Hibs went on to win the section on goal average over Celtic, while St. Mirren finished in third spot following a 2-2 draw at Firhill.