Hibernian FC

JOHN OGILVIE (1928-2020)

JOHN OGILVIE (1928-2020)

By: John Hislop on 05 May, 2020 21:57

Everyone at Easter Road was saddened to learn of the passing of former Hibee John Ogilvie.

John featured alongside the Famous Five, in a team that captured the imagination of those who saw them play.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

John Hislop spoke to John two years ago for our matchday programme.

John Ogilvie is still fondly remembered by older Hibernian supporters – with his entertaining contribution to the excellent BBC ALBA documentary about the Famous Five introducing him to a whole new generation of fans.

John joined Hibernian from Thornliewood United and played for the club in their most successful era, when three league trophies were won.

He made his league debut aged 20 against Queen of the South on Christmas Day, 1948 then subsequently came to prominence in the latter part of the following season.

John was a joiner to trade and was popular with his team-mates for his singing talents and quick wit, as well as his swift tackling and no-nonsense approach. However, injuries limited his appearances in the green and white jersey to 56 run-outs.

John played in the 1951 League Cup Final against his hometown club Motherwell but an injury-ravaged Hibernian side lost 3-0 to The Steelmen having only weeks before beaten them 6-2 at Fir Park.

Later that year in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Tynecastle against Motherwell, watched by an enormous crowd of 46,000, John suffered a transverse fraction of his leg following a fearless challenge which prevented Jimmy Watson scoring. 

Willie Ormond also suffered ligament damage in the second half, so Hibs effectively played with nine men and the game ended 3-2 to Motherwell, although Gordon Smith had a ‘goal’ controversially disallowed with five minutes remaining.

That result was even more upsetting considering the Hibernian had beaten Rangers 3-2 at Ibrox en-route to the semi-final and were considered favourites to complete the double.

By this time, John was a first team regular, having made the left-back position his own, playing the best football of his career, and the day after the semi-final, Hugh Shaw visited him in the Western General Hospital to give him a new contract.

John would be out of the game for over a year and ironically spent much of his recuperation using Motherwell’s swimming baths.

John only played one more game for the club - a 2-2 draw with Rangers before Hibernian granted him a free transfer. In September 1955 he joined Leicester City, where he played for The Foxes who were promoted as Second Division champions to England's top-flight two years later.

His career there spanned four seasons in which he made 82 league appearances scoring twice.

John ended his senior career at Mansfield. In the seasons between 1959 and 1961 he played in 24 first-team league games.

John recalled: “Hibs had a great team when I played at Easter Road. Everyone had heard of the Famous Five at the time, although not so much the defenders!

“Most of the training was sprinting and running with big heavy medicine balls and I also remember us training on the sand at Portobello.

“Gordon Smith was a great player and he could score goals left, right and centre. He could also beat a full-back and find the centre-forward with a perfect cross.

 “Lawrie Reilly was a funny wee guy and he was always complaining if he didn’t score, saying that he hadn’t received the ball the right way but he could play and he could battle for his size. He used to get torn into the defenders. I remember him having a go at Jock Govan in training, but I told him that he’d better be quiet because Jock was a tough guy who would have sorted him out.

Ned (Eddie Turnbull) could play as well and on the park he would fight hard when he played against Celtic and Rangers and teams like that because he liked it.

“When Ned arrived, he said to me that whenever I got the ball I should pass it to him because if there was an opening he would put the ball in the net, and so he did.

“Ned came to visit me when Hibs sold Bobby Smith to Leicester City and it was great to catch-up.

“Bobby Johnstone was another fantastic player and a really good friend of mine. I used to stay with him in the Borders during the holidays. When he signed for Manchester City he was a bit nervous but I told him to play the best that he could, and he certainly did that. City were delighted with him and he showed the fans what he could do.

“Willie Ormond was another good player and he was a tough little guy.

“We used to beat everyone in those days and played some really good stuff.  I remember once taking some of the lads back to my house in Motherwell to meet my family shortly after we had hammered them at Fir Park.

“As I was walking down the street a woman shouted from a window ‘you are a turncoat’ but a friend of mine who also stayed in the street told her to be quiet as Hibs had easily beaten her team.

“Hibs should have reached the Scottish Cup Final that year. We were a better team than Motherwell but my leg was broken in the semi-final at Tynecastle and Willie Ormond was also injured so we finished with virtually nine men and lost the game 3-2.

“I joined Leicester City in 1955 and enjoyed playing there. I still live in the city and still go to every Leicester City home game and the club are kind enough to send two tickets for myself and my wife, Doreen.

“I particularly like Kasper Schmeichel, who is a great goalkeeper like his father, Peter. It would be a close thing between him and Tommy Younger as to who was the better.

“I am a friend of Neil Lennon from his Leicester days and I was delighted when he got the Hibs job. He was a really good player and Doreen and I went to Hibs’ first game of last season against Morton.

“It was good to hear that they were promoted back to the top-flight.”

 We’d like to thank John Hislop for sharing his article with us and repeat our best wishes for John Ogilvie’s family and friends.

His memory marches on.

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