This day in football history
On 1 January 1973, visiting Hibernian defeated Hearts 0–7 in the Edinburgh derby before a crowd of 36,000 at Tynecastle. The scoreline remains the largest margin of victory in the derby and Hearts’ record margin of defeat in all competitions.
One of the oldest active rivalries in football, the Edinburgh derby is currently played three or four times a season, depending on whether both sides are in the top half of the SPL table when it splits near the end of the season. It can be played more often, as the the sides also meet occasionally in cup competitions. The mid-season derby is traditionally played on New Year’s Day or the following day, though it has moved slightly in recent years to accommodate television schedules.
By New Year’s Day 1973, Hibs had enjoyed a dominant run in derby matches, with 4 wins and 5 draws since their last loss on 7 September 1968. Hibs had won 2–0 in the first derby of the season, played on 9 September, and were sitting in second in the table at the start of the match, two points behind Celtic. Meanwhile, the Jambos were four points back in seventh place.
The match itself was entirely one-sided, as Hibs forward Jimmy O’Rourke scored in the 9th minute to start the rout. By the break, Hibs were up 5–0 after goals from Alan Gordon (15′), Arthur Duncan (26′, 37′), and Alex Cropley (35′). O’Rourke and Gordon both scored again in the second half to complete the thrashing.
The win sent Hibs to the top of the table, but they finished the year in third, behind Celtic and Rangers. It nonetheless remains a favorite match of Hibernian supporters, who refer to it as the Greatest Match of All Time.