Book Review: The Life and Times of a Famous Football Club by Tom Wright
Hibernian Football Club was founded in 1875 in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh by a group from the city’s Irish community.
Tom Wright delves into the first 142 years of the club’s history in his book: The Life and Times of a Famous Football Club.
It is a gripping read with Wright discussing the early challenges facing the club in the early years of the organised game in Scotland, through two World Wars, the era of the Famous Five, memorable European nights against Barcelona and Napoli, the attempted takeover by Hearts, the years of Franck Sauzee and of course, the famous 2016 Scottish Cup Final to end 114 years without winning the competition.
Throughout the book, Wright picks out brilliant stories and anecdotes, and this book gives you a clear sense of just how much the club means to the supporters it represents. The history of the club has had some dark moments, but it has also had a great share of brilliant moments. It is a club which means a lot for its local community and has always come back stronger when things have started to look bleak.
The club has seen some wonderful players represent it other the years — Joe Baker, Gordon Smith, Eddie Turnbull, George Best, Jackie McNamara, Pat Stanton to name a few. At times the football has been breathtaking, particularly under Hugh Shaw and Jock Stein.
In 1968, Hibs overcame a second leg rally from Porto in the first round of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, before overhauling a 4–1 first-leg defeat to beat Napoli 5–0 at Easter Road. Napoli rested World Cup winner José Altafini for the second leg, as he had a knock and they had a strong lead. A narrow defeat to Leeds United in the third round followed and it would be Leeds who would win the tournament. This section of the book is particularly strong because the descriptions of these games, the passion of the crowd, is wonderful. As with the 2016 Cup Final, Wright paints a very vivid picture.
My only criticism is the sections after the Famous Five years seems very squashed and there could be a bit more depth at these points, like in the earlier years. But, Wright is attempting to stick 142 years into just over 250 pages. The book he has produced is wonderful. A must-read for anyone who wants to know more about Hibernian, and the changes in Scottish football that happened around them.
Rating — 4/5 stars
Next book to review: Do You Know What? Life According to Andrew Flintoff