We remember one of our greats, Lawrie Reilly, eight years after his passing.
Reilly, who died aged 84, will always have a special place in Hibernian’s history being part of the “Famous Five” forward line and bringing great success to the football club.
Flanked by Gordon Smith and Bobby Johnstone on the right, and Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond on the left, the “Famous Five” brought Hibs two consecutive league titles, in 1951 and 1952, and created some incredible memories in Europe.
Born in Edinburgh, Lawrie was Hibs through and through – he supported the team as a young boy and stayed with the club for his whole career.
During his time with the club, he scored 185 goals for us in 253 league games, an incredible strike rate.
Now, on the anniversary of his passing, we look back on our first ever game in Europe – a match that he starred in.
On September 14, 1955, we made history as the first British team to compete in European competition. In the first round we were drawn against German champions Essen and few outside Scotland gave Hugh Shaw’s men any chance.
The game was played in heavy rain which turned the pitch into a quagmire and the estimated 5,000 crowd included around 1,000 soldiers from the British Army on the Rhine who were determined to provide vocal backing.
In the 35th minute of the game, Eddie Turnbull – renowned for his powerful shot – wrote his name into the history books. He hammered the ball past German international goalkeeper Fritz Herkenrath into the bottom corner of the net.
We added our second just before half-time with a fine solo effort by Reilly, who collected the ball on the halfway line before beating several defenders and slotting the ball into the net.
11 minutes after the break, we made it three after strong play between Ormond and Preston culminated in Turnbull firing the ball home from an acute angle.
And with eight minutes left Thomson broke down the right wing before squaring a wonderful pass to Ormond who crashed a superb 20-yard strike off the underside of the bar.
After the fantastic victory, one German paper even wrote: “Last night the Hibernian team from Scotland gave the greatest display by a British team since the war.”
Reilly also recalled the victory in Germany in his book, The Life and Times of Last Minute Reilly.
“There was no lack of motivation in our ranks as it was only 10 years since the end of World War II. We were quite happy to accept that the war was over and we had to make a new beginning.
“Eddie Turnbull had served in the navy and my own uncle, Laurence, whom I was named after, had been killed in World War I. So we may not have been bearing old grudges, but we were harbouring poignant memories and were, shall we say, very keen to win and win well.
“As the game progressed, we began to realise that we were a far superior side to Essen. Players like Gordon Smith, Eddie Turnbull, Willie Ormond and myself began to look at each other and say ‘we are better than this team, why are we holding back? Let’s go for it!’ We threw caution to the wind, took control of the game and won convincingly 4-0.”
Lawrie will always have a special place in our Hibernian Family and will always be remembered with incredibly fond memories.
RIP Lawrie Reilly.