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16 October 2014

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Hibernian reach the first European Cup semi-finals 1956

Willie Ormond in 1973, then Scotland manager


Scottish clubs would continue to do well in both the Fairs Cup (precursor to the UEFA Cup, and the European Champions Cup).

Hibs qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1961 and beat Lausanne in the first away leg. Lausanne, perhaps sensing a costly journey to Edinburgh, withdrew, so Hibs joined Barcelona in the quarter-finals drawing 4–4 at the Camp Nou and beating them 3–2 at Easter Road in the return tie.

In the semi-final Hibs played AS Roma with club legend Joe Baker taking his tally to six goals in four games. But after drawing home and away (2-2, 3-3), Hibs mysteriously collapsed 6–0 in the final play-off, Roma inspired by the brilliant Argentinian striker Pedro Manfredini.

The following year - 1962 - was a vintage year for Scottish football in Europe, with highlights including Bob Shankly's Dundee beating Cologne 8–1 in the European Champions Cup and Dunfermline beating Everton (2-0) then Valencia 6-2 in the Fairs Cup.

Shankly came to Dens Park in 1959/60 after previously managing Falkirk and Third Lanark. He quickly honed a well-balanced side, winning the league in 1961/2. The team comprised: Liney, Hamilton, Cox, Sieth, Ure, Wishart, Smith, Penman, Cousin, Gilzean and Robertson. Future Scotland manager Craig Brown was a squad member.

For the '62/63 European campaign Shankly added Liverpool keeper Bert Slater and drew in younger players to freshen things up. En route to the semi-final they beat Cologne (8-1), Anderlecht (4-1; 2-1) and Sporting Lisbon before being stopped by AC Milan at the San Siro (despite beating them at Dens).

Dundee's famous victory over Cologne caused shockwaves through European football but the match was overshadowed when the Cologne keeper was hurt in the opening leg at Dens Park. There was some sinister talk that the Dundee keeper might suffer the same in Germany, and indeed Bert Slater was kicked in the head when going for a ball. He was put on a stretcher and was being taken off when he realised what was happening and fought back into the ground. He played on the wing till frustration took over and he relaced the stand-in Andy Penman in goals, holding the Germans to 4 – 0.

John Rafferty in One Hundred Years of Football writes: "The game finished with the thick crowd round the touchlines and police holding them back with dogs on leads. So nasty was the atmosphere of the match that Dundee refused to join Cologne at the after-match banquet."

Next Dundee would beat Sporting Lisbon, then Anderlecht before facing AC Milan. With the final that year to be played at Wembley, many have commented that if it weren't for a cruel semi-final draw, Dundee might have been the first British club to lift the European Cup. If it had been the case it would have been Ayshire's Bob, not Bill, Shankly to be associated with British club success in Europe.

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