Hibernian Park was the home ground of the Scottish football club Hibernian from 1880 until the club's dissolution in 1891. When the club was reformed in 1892, the club took out on a lease on a site which became known as Easter Road. Hibernian Park was also located in the Easter Road area; in fact, it was closer to Easter Road itself than the present stadium because it was on the site of what is now Bothwell Street.
Hibernian FC (Hibs) had played at a variety of grounds from their formation in 1875 until moving to Hibernian Park. Initially they played on the Meadows, along with all the other nascent Edinburgh clubs. They subsequently moved to grounds in Newington and Powderhall, but neither of these were used for more than a year at a time. Having lost the lease on the Newington ground in 1879, the opportunity to acquire a site off Easter Road was too good to miss because it was equidistant between Hibs' two main sources of supporters - the Little Ireland community of the Cowgate, and the Catholic population of the port of Leith.
Hibernian Park was known by the Hibs supporters as The Holy Ground, in reference to the fact that the club was operated by St. Patrick's Church in the Cowgate. Hibs were essentially a sporting arm of the Catholic Church in Edinburgh from their formation until 1891. Hibs supporters still use this moniker for the present Easter Road stadium.
Perhaps the most famous game played at Hibernian Park was when Hibs beat The Invincibles of Preston North End 2–1 in a match described as being the Association Football Championship of the World. The ground also hosted one Scotland international, a 5–1 win against Wales in the 1888 British Home Championship, which was the first ever football international played in Edinburgh. Hibs players Willie Groves and James McLaren both played in the match, with Groves scoring Scotland's fourth goal. The ground also hosted the first ever recorded instance of a women's football match, 'Scotland' beating 'England' 3–0 on 7 May 1881; all the players came from the Glasgow club.
After the high points of winning the Scottish Cup, beating Preston and hosting an international, however, Hibs were to suffer a dramatic decline and fall. This was largely precipitated by the formation of Celtic, who attracted many of Hibs' star players by offering financial inducements in a time when the Scottish game was still amateur. As Hibs were operated on a charitable basis, they were essentially broke despite being one of the most popular clubs in Scotland. At the same time, Hibs were riven by internal politics relating to the Irish Home Rule bills; a former secretary absconded with a significant amount of funds; and the club inexplicably failed to enter the Scottish Football League when it was formed in 1890.
The last first team match played at Hibernian Park was a 9–1 drubbing at the hands of Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup on 27 September 1890. Hibs had failed to secure the ground lease and building work had already started, which restricted the attendance the ground could hold. Later that season, the building work covered the rest of the park. This was during a period of intense construction work in the area. After the club failed to pay their subscriptions to the Scottish Football Association in 1891, Hibs were deleted from the membership rolls. Philip Farmer, an ancestor of current Hibs owner Sir Tom Farmer, played a major role in resurrecting the club and securing the site that is now known as Easter Road.
- Bothwell Street, Edinburgh., Google Maps.
- Lugton 1999, p. 45
- Lugton 1999, p. 46
- Parish Name: Saint Patrick's, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
- Swanson, Ian (3 May 2008). "Church's plans to re-site history has critics crying foul". Edinburgh Evening News (Johnston Press). Retrieved 30 June 2008.
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- Mackay 1986, p. 40
- Lugton 1999, pp. 121–123
- "Scotland Home Record by Venue". www.londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club.
This shows that the only grounds to hold an international earlier than Hibernian Park were the first Hampden Park, Cathkin Park and the West of Scotland Cricket Ground, which are all in Glasgow. Tynecastle hosted its first international in 1892. The present Easter Road stadium did not hold an international until as recently as 1998.
- Lugton 1999, p. 131
- "William Groves". www.londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club.
- William Groves at scottishfa.co.uk
- "James McLaren". www.londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club.
- James McLaren at scottishfa.co.uk
- "Sat 10 Mar 1888 Scotland 5 Wales 1". www.londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club.
- "Scotland v Wales". www.scottishfa.co.uk. Scottish Football Association.
- Sanders, Richard (2009). Beastly Fury: The Strange Birth of British Football. pp. 204–205. ISBN 978-0-593-05970-8.
- Campbell, Alan (19 October 2012). "No longer the game of two halves". The Herald (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 19 October 2012.
- Lugton 1999, pp. 140–141
- Lugton 1999, p. 144
- Lugton 1999, p. 156
- Lugton 1999, pp. 170–176
- Lugton 1999, p. 177
- Lugton 1999, p. 180
- Richard Rodger (2001). The Transformation of Edinburgh. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-78024-1. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
In east Edinburgh, therefore, the years 1885–93 were ones of intense building activity
- Lugton 1999, p. 190
- Lugton 1999, p. 199
- Lugton, Alan (1999). The Making of Hibernian 1. John Donald Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-85976-509-1.
- Mackay, John (1986). The Hibees. John Donald Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-85976-144-4.