25 years ago this summer, Alex Miller’s SKOL League Cup holders played big-spending English Premiership side Blackburn Rovers in a pre-season friendly at Easter Road. Until recent times, we always seemed to get at least one pre-season friendly at home to a big English club, it was tradition - and we usually won.
This match was played on Monday 27th July 1992. Rovers boss Kenny Dalglish had spent £10m on players that close-season, the biggest outlay being the £4m capture of hot-shot young striker Alan Shearer, at the time a British record fee. Shearer and co arrived at Easter Road in good humour and the striker happily signed autographs outside the main stand. Shearer made his Blackburn debut at Easter Road that evening, but he was to be eclipsed, in goals at least, by another striker making his debut at Easter Road. Blackburn weren’t yet the title-challengers that they would become, yet still boasted many famous players including Mike Newell, Tim Sherwood, Stuart Ripley, Stuart Munro, defenders David May and Colin Hendry and USA star Roy Wegerle. On the bench they also had a certain talented young midfielder whom the media down south were already dubbing ‘The New Paul Gascoigne’. His name was, of course, Lee Makel.
Around 8000 fans saw a typical Scottish V English club encounter. Scottish teams usually had a slight edge in these friendlies as our season began before England’s, so we were always slightly sharper, and it showed in this match. Tommy McIntyre, hero of the previous season’s Scottish League Cup win , along with Neil Orr, shackled the vaunted Alan Shearer superbly, making the striker seem decidedly ordinary, for one afternoon at least. On the few occasions that Shearer got a sight of goal, he couldn’t beat Chris Reid.
It was Tommy McIntyre who gave Hibs the lead, beating future Scotland skipper Colin Hendry to a Murdo Macleod corner and heading the ball into the net after 23 minutes. Mickey Weir skilfully terrorised Blackburn’s ex-Rangers full-back Stuart Munro for much of the match. Munro’s mistake on 62 minutes helped put Hibs 2-0 up, as he was beaten to a Graham Mitchell cross by Brian Hamilton, who bundled the ball into the net.
The other striker who was making his debut that summer day was Darren Jackson, in the green jersey of Hibernian. He was the only addition to the squad for season 92/93 and much was expected of his new strike-partnership with club hero Keith Wright. Jackson would go on to become a mainstay of the Hibernian team for five years.
The striker had been signed from Dundee Utd. Out of contract but still registered at Tannadice, under the old rules his transfer fee was still to be decided by a transfer tribunal. He would ultimately cost Hibernian £400,000 – a tenth of Shearer’s fee but still worth every penny. Yet on this day, Jackson and Hibs came out on top, Jackson scoring on his Easter Road debut, catching David May in possession on 69 minutes before coolly slotting the ball past Blackburn ‘keeper Bobby Mimms.
Among the jubilant chants from the Hibs fans on the East terrace was ‘what a waste of money’, a ditty aimed at Alan Shearer, who was substituted after 73 minutes. The match, refereed by Bill Crombie, ended Hibernian 3 Blackburn Rovers 0. The likes of Shearer, May, Hendry and Sherwood would go on to become legends in their future careers, but it should never be forgotten that they couldn’t beat the Hibees at Easter Road and Shearer couldn’t score into Chris Reid. Both clubs were formed in 1875. On that day in 1992, the teams were:
Hibs - Reid, Miller, Mitchell, Orr, McIntyre, Macleod, Weir, Hamilton, Wright, Jackson, McGinlay.
Subs -- Evans, McGraw, Beaumont, Tortolano.
Blackburn Rovers - Mimms, Munro, Sherwood, Hendry, Hill, Ripley, Cowans, Newell, Shearer, Wegerle. Subs -- Atkins, Makel, Price, Dobson, May.