We were all saddened to learn of the passing of John Grant, who featured for The Hibees in the late 1950s and early 60s.
Club Historian Tom Wright provided the following tribute.
Born in Edinburgh on July 22, 1931, John Grant began his football career as an inside forward with amateur side Colinton Mains United, playing in the local park before moving on to Merchiston Thistle.
It was during that spell with the juvenile side that he was first spotted by Hibs and realised his boyhood ambition when he was signed by then-manager Hugh Shaw in the summer of 1949. Turning out regularly for Hibs’ third team, the promising youngster scored 38 goals in 44 games while also turning in a couple of appearances for the reserves.
Grant’s work as an apprentice joiner with a Leith firm would mean his call-up for National Service being deferred until his apprenticeship had been completed, and he would be inducted into the armed forces at the start of the 1952-53 season. It was a move that hamper his progress at Easter Road.
Nicknamed ‘The Duke’ by the rest of his team-mates on account of his immaculate dress sense and elegant manner, Grant made his debut at right-half in a 2-1 home victory against St Mirren on December 4, 1954. He deputised for the injured Eddie Turnbull.
It was one of 14 appearances he would make that season.
Versatile Grant developed into a rugged and dependable defender who never shirked a tackle and, after earning rave reviews for his outstanding performances at centre-half, the elegant player would eventually revert back to wing-half before finally settling at right-back.
In the now-famous Scottish Cup tie against red-hot favourites Hearts at Tynecastle in March 1958, an inspired move by manager Hugh Shaw saw Grant pushed into the inside-forward position to nullify the midfield probing of Jimmy Milne and Dave McKay.
It was a move that worked better than possibly even Shaw could have anticipated, as the space created in midfield allowed the young Joe Baker to score all his side’s goals as underdogs Hibs claimed a thoroughly deserved 4-3 victory.
By this time Grant - a strong, tenacious tackler, who was also good in the air - had found his true position at right-back.
It was a position he would hold for the next few years, regularly lining up alongside full-back partner Joe McClelland, with Grant’s refined approach to the beautiful game perhaps in direct contrast to McClelland’s far more direct and robust style of play.
Grant’s consistently-dependable performances would soon catch the eye of the Scottish selectors, and he would make his international debut in a 3-0 victory over Wales at Ninian Park in October 1958 when lining up alongside fellow debutant Denis Law in what was Matt Busby’s first game as manager of the national side.
A 2-2 draw with Northern Ireland at Hampden a few weeks later would be his final appearance for the full side.
After almost 15 seasons at Easter Road, and a fixture in the first team for almost 10, Grant’s last appearance in the green and white jersey would be at centre-half in a 5-0 defeat by Celtic at Parkhead in March 1964.
Just a few weeks later Jock Stein would replace Walter Galbraith as the Hibs manager. Within weeks of his appointment Stein would return to his former club, Celtic, to make centre-half John McNamee his first signing - a move that would eventually spell the end of Grant’s time at Easter Road.
After a season with Second Division Raith Rovers, Grant would retire completely from the game and would eventually settle in the Cheshire town of Bramhall, although he would still make regular trips to Edinburgh to visit family.
Highly regarded by team-mates and opponents alike, in his 10 seasons as a first-team regular at Easter Road, John Grant would make over 300 appearances. He is another who will be fondly remembered by all who saw him play.