Capital crackers: Six of the best festive Edinburgh derbies

Wednesday sees the second Edinburgh derby of the season, the first to be played at the renovated Tynecastle Park and the first of two (the teams meet again later this month in the Scottish Cup) in the space of 26 days. Here we look back at six festive Capital crackers ...
Hearts winger Neil McCann is challenged by Hibs defender Willie Miller at Tynecastle on New Year's Day 1998Hearts winger Neil McCann is challenged by Hibs defender Willie Miller at Tynecastle on New Year's Day 1998
Hearts winger Neil McCann is challenged by Hibs defender Willie Miller at Tynecastle on New Year's Day 1998

Hearts 1, Hibs 0: December 25, 1875

Where it all began. On Christmas Day, a few hundred people in Edinburgh made their way to the Meadows, for a festive football match. Local side Heart of Midlothian, formed the year before, had agreed to play Hibernians, a recently-established team from the Cowgate set up through the Catholic Young Men’s Society, and made almost entirely of Irish immigrants. The new club had been reduced to playing practice games among its own players, having been blocked from joining both the Edinburgh Football Assocation (EFA) and Scottish Football Association (SFA). The latter reportedly told Hibernians representatives that the association ‘catered for Scotsmen, not Irishmen’. The EFA had advised its members not to play the newcomers, but Heart of Midlothian broke ranks and agreed to play the Irishmen in what would become known as the first ever ‘Edinburgh Derby’. Playing in unfamiliar colours of red, white and blue – the famous maroon not yet adopted – just eight players started for Hearts, the full complement of players not arriving until 20 minutes into the match. Hibernians, in white shirts with green trim and a harp emblem on the chest, were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage. Hearts won 1-0, with The Scotsman printed two days later highlighting the performances of Wylie and Laidlaw for the victors while Cavanagh and Byrne were the stand-outs for the Irishmen. A plaque on Jawbone Walk, the pathway through the centre of Meadows, commemorates the fixture, which was said to be a slow game, with more dribbling than passing on display.

Hearts 0, Hibs 7: January 1, 1973

Arthur Duncan celebrates scoring in Hibs 7-0 demolition of HeartsArthur Duncan celebrates scoring in Hibs 7-0 demolition of Hearts
Arthur Duncan celebrates scoring in Hibs 7-0 demolition of Hearts

Just shy of 36,000 were in attendance at Tynecastle as Hibs delivered perhaps the most defining result in a league fixture between the sides. Coming into the encounter, the Hibees had lost only one of their previous 13 Edinburgh derbies, with Hearts last scoring in 1968. Nine minutes in and it didn’t look good for the hosts as Eddie Turnbull’s men went ahead as Jimmy O’Rourke took advantage of statue-esque defending from the home side. Alan Gordon and Arthur Duncan would make it two and three respectively with unopposed finishes as Hibs displayed why they were one of the finest teams in the country. The pick of the goals arrived from the boot of Alex Cropley, who volleyed in superbly from the edge of the box to put Hibs in dreamland. It was followed by a more scruffy effort, Duncan heading in off his shoulder to give the Hibees an unassailable five-goal half-time lead. O’Rourke and Gordon both added to the goals they scored in the first half to take the lead to seven. But it could easily have been double figures if it wasn’t for the saves of Kenny Garland as Hibs went top of the league.

Hearts 2, Hibs 2: January 1, 1998

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Rarely have the Edinburgh clubs met in a derby in such contrasting moods. Hearts were flying high in the league, while their neighbours were mired in a relegation battle. The game started as the form guide suggested it would. Hearts were ahead early on in somewhat bizarre circumstances. A Neil McCann cross was diverted towards goal by Steve Fulton’s head, looping over Hibs goalkeeper Chris Reid and into the net. Hibs then provided a belated Christmas present with comical defending allowing Fulton to double the lead with less than ten minutes on the clock. For some in the crowd, on both sides, there would have been thoughts about Hearts avenging the aforementioned 7-0. Yet Hearts were wasteful in front of goal for the rest of the half with Hibs sustaining no more damage. Jim Duffy shook his charges during the interval. A great run from Kevin Harper down the right was followed by a teasing cross which found French goalkeeper Gilles Rousset in no-man’s land and the head of Andy Walker did the rest. Pat McGinlay brought Hibs level midway through the half, confidently converting a cross. Hearts pressed for the winner but it did not arrive.

Hearts 4, Hibs 4: January 2, 2003

Graham Weir's late double salvaged an unlikely draw for HeartsGraham Weir's late double salvaged an unlikely draw for Hearts
Graham Weir's late double salvaged an unlikely draw for Hearts

It’s the game Hearts fans can’t quite believe they didn’t lose. It’s the game Hibs fans can’t quite believe they didn’t win. By the 17th minute, Hibs were 2-0 ahead, showing their rivals what it was to be clinical with Derek Townsley and Tam McManus beating Roddy McKenzie. Hearts got back into the game via Steven Pressley’s penalty after Stuart Dougal adjudged Nick Colgan to have fouled Andy Kirk, and were level in the second half when Mark de Vries added to the four goals he scored in the first meeting between the clubs that season. Then came the finale. Craig James appeared to have won it when he fired a strike into the net in front of a raucous away support. And the icing on the cake was seemingly applied by Grant Brebner, who followed up to score after Mixu Paatelainen’s penalty which had been saved. With the game well into stoppage time, Hearts fans edging towards the exit and Hibs fans wishing their rivals a ‘Happy New Year’, 18-year-old substitute Graham Weir flicked in after some unconventional defending from Hibs. It seemed all Hibs had to do was keep the ball for a few seconds or launch it deep into the corner and out of play. Instead, it was chipped up the centre, a free-kick conceded allowing Hearts one more attack. McKenzie thumped the ball forward, De Vries bundled into the box, crossed and Weir fired home to write his name into Hearts’ history books.

Hearts 3, Hibs 2: December 26, 2006

This classic festive encounter was a thrilling spectacle that had everything. Hearts boss Valdas Ivanauskas could have seen his charges fall behind within the first 40 seconds as Abdessalam Benjelloun set the tone for the match by firing narrowly wide after ball pinged around at pace. Within a matter of seconds, the ball was in the net at the other end, Edgaras Jankauskas flicking on and Roman Bednar squaring for an onrushing Paul Hartley to net. Both sides missed gilt-edged chances through Bednar and Chris Killen as the first half finished with only one goal. That would soon change after the interval as Hibs keeper Zibi Malkowski – prone to a derby gaffe – delivered again by spilling a tame free-kick for Jankauskas to net his only goal that season from a few centimetres out. Yet Hibs would rally moments later, Killen powering a header past Gordon from a corner. From resurgence, Hibs were soon rampant. Pushing Hearts back, Dean Shiels was felled in the box by Nerijus Barasa. He would take the kick himself and beat Gordon. There was only one team winning this game, and it was the side from Leith. Until, remarkably, Shiels poleaxed Gordon when collecting the ball, creating an almighty rammy in the Hearts net. The pendulum had swung Hearts’ way and they were back in front when Saulius Mikoliunas ran on to a ball on the edge of the box and curled a shot into the top corner. This match, more akin to basketball than football, wasn’t quite finished there. Steven Whittaker rampaged forward unleashing a shot which came off both posts and to safety. Breathless.

Hibs 1, Hearts 3: January 2, 2012

Dean Shiels and Craig Gordon clash in 2006Dean Shiels and Craig Gordon clash in 2006
Dean Shiels and Craig Gordon clash in 2006

Negativity swirled around both Gorgie and Leith. Money issues at Tynecastle had become clear with players unsure when they’d be paid with Ian Black going as far as doing a bit of painting and decorating on the side. In EH7, Hibs had yet to win a game after Pat Fenlon had taken over from Colin Calderwood. Hibs started the match with Lewis Stevenson as a holding midfielder and Paul Hanlon at right-back, while Adrian Mrowiec and Martin Scott battled in midfield. The teams would go into the interval level after the main protagonist of the afternoon, Black, saw a penalty saved by Graham Stack. The game would come to life in the second half when the sides exchanged goals around the hour mark. Ryan McGowan nodded in from on the goal-line before Marius Zaliukas scored into his own net, turning in Danny Galbraith’s cross. The game swung back and forth but Hibs’ vulnerability from set-pieces came to the fore six minutes remaining as another Black corner was eventually finished by Andy Webster. With Hibs pushing for an equaliser, John Sutton outpaced Sean O’Hanlon to set up Rudi Skacel for the coup de grace. Black then displayed a “I’ll paint this place Maroon” t-shirt at the final whistle.