Capital Stuff – Edinburgh Showpiece is now Scotland’s Biggest Derby Game

by Karl Hofer.


Wednesday 30th October – Live on BBC Scotland, KO 7pm

With the Auld Firm game currently on hold until the new version of Rangers return to Scotland’s summit, Scotland’s biggest local derby is now the one from the nations capital – and the two rivals will meet again on Wednesday night in the League Cup.

Hearts currently hold the bragging rights after winning the first derby of the season 1-0 back in August with Callum Patersen’s header proving decisive in front of a crowd of over 16,000.

How times have changed. A few generations ago Hibs and Hearts would challenge for the league title on a regular basis and matches between the pair would attract crowds of equal or greater measure than the Auld Firm.

Indeed the largest attendance for the fixture was 65,860 on January 2nd 1950 – this is still the largest attendance for any fixture played outside of Glasgow.

These days nether side is sadly in a position to step into the hole created by the dissolution of Rangers. Hibs are stuck in mid-table mediocrity currently rebuilding with limited resources under Pat Fenlon, whilst across the way Hearts are facing an uphill season long battle against relegation having been docked 15 points for entering administration before a ball was kicked in anger.

John Robertson netted 22 times in Edinburgh derbies

So perhaps it is fitting that the derby spotlight should fall on these two giants of the Scottish game now, because now more than ever they really need it.

Over the years the record scorer in Edinburgh derbies has been John Robertson, better known to Hearts supporters as ‘the hammer of Hibs’ for his prolific record in this match. ‘Robbo’ notched up 22 strikes against Hibs during his 12 years at Tynecastle, whilst Hibernian’s Gordon Smith rattled in 15 times to be top scorer for the green half of Edinburgh in derbies.

Classic games between the two have  been commonplace since they first met in the 19th century, below we’ve picked out two of the more remarkable Edinburgh derbies in living memory.

Hearts 0-7 Hibernian (January 1st 1973)

There are certainly better ways to begin a New Year then seeing your beloved team slapped at home by your biggest rivals. Conversely, the best possible start to the year for Hibs’ supporters was a record derby defeat inflicted on Hearts at Tynecastle. The goal-scoring heroes of this still-celebrated encounter were Jimmy O’Rourke, Alan Gordon, Arthur Duncan – twice – and Alex Cropley who afforded Hibernian a 5-0 lead by half-time. To make it even sweeter (if that’s possible) Eddie Turnbull’s Hibs side went to the top of the league after the rout.

The Scotsman’s match report read: “Only three excellent saves by goalkeeper Kenny Garland from Pat Stanton, Alan Gordon and Jimmy O’Rourke prevented this first match of the year from being a double-figure tale of woe.”

Hibernian 0-3 Hearts (September 15th 1990)

The Edinburgh derby is always a feisty occasion, this one probably tops the list though. This was the first derby after the highly controversial bid by the then Hearts chairman, Wallace Mercer, to take over Hibs in order to merge the rival entities into one. Mercer required a security guards at his home and did not attend the game on safety advice.

With tensions so high at Easter Road it was perhaps inevitable that bad sentiment spilled over, and after Hearts raced into a 3-0 lead before half-time the players were removed from the field for eight minutes after a pitch invasion and sporadic outbreaks of crowd trouble. Incredibly during the interval, police went into the Hearts dressing room to warn of the potential for further disorder should the lead be extended!

There was no more scoring, but more than 50 arrests and 17 fans taken to hospital with injuries.


Below is classic archive footage of a 2-2 draw at Tynecastle from September 1959.

The match features Jimmy Murray scoring an equaliser for Hearts after Joe Baker had put Hibs ahead. Ex-Hibs legend Gordon Smith is playing for Hearts in a team that would ultimately be crowned Champions, the last time a side from the capital would fly the Championship flag.


HIBERNIAN:   4/5   DRAW:   23/10   HEART of MIDLOTHIAN:   11/4

Hibernian’s James Collins is 9/2 to open the scoring

First Goalscorer:

R0wan Vine (Hibs) –  9/2

James Collins (Hibs) –   9/2

Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) –  15/2

Callum Patersen (Hearts) –  15/2

Liam Craig  (Hibs) – 6/1

Gary Oliver (Hearts) –  9/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY – Ryan Stevenson to score anytime & Hearts to win: 5/1


Odds courtesy of William Hill



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