Thursday, 12 June 2014

World Cup Brazil 2014

Today marks the start of the biggest sporting event on the Planet the “World Cup”
 A two week extravaganza of the World’s best Football,

 or as our North American cousins call it Soccer.

With the first game today featuring the host nation of Brazil, so what’s the connection between the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd and indeed the previous shipyards on the same part of Leith waterfront? and the country of Brazil.

Well we can start with the ships first, and many a ship built at Leith has been a visitor to the long coastline of Brazil the 5th largest country in the world and now a large player in the shipbuilding field as well.


SATURNO Ship No 81 ready to launch at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd in 1928

Apart from many of the sailing ships that were built at the Leith Shipyards of Ramage and Ferguson shipbuilders there is also the famous old salvage tug SATURNO this tug was the fore runner of all the very large and powerful seagoing tugs built at Leith and she was a very well known sight at her home port of Santos, which just happens to be the home city of the team that Pele played for arguably the finest footballer ever.

Football and the shipyards of Leith have always had a close relationship and more so with the team associated with Leith a team right now in some decline it has to be said and not without there troubles to seek that team being Hibernian Football Club or Hibs as the locals call the first team in green in Scotland.

A few of the former players were employed in the shipyards with the most famous of them being the mercurial winger Gordon Smith the only player to win three league titles with three different teams he was that good.
Gordon was employed in the Mould Loft at the Henry Robb yard during World War II
He was also part of the most successful side that Hibernian ever had and played during the 1950’s as part of a forward line that was known as the “Famous Five” this team were invited to take part in a tournament 61 years ago in the country now hosting the World Cup 2014 and for more on this I reproduce a piece from the official Hibernian website which can be found at

As you will see there is quite a link between Hibernian Football Club, the Leith Shipyards and Brazil and I have taken the liberty of adding in some of my own comments in brackets.

Flashback: Hibernian in Rio

 11 Jun 2014

Famous Five at the Maracana - 61 years on...

On the eve of the 20th FIFA World Cup, all eyes will now be on host nation, Brazil and the tournament also coincides with the 61-year anniversary of Hibernian's ground-breaking trip to Rio de Janeiro; when the Maracana fell in love with the Famous Five.

Elegant, flamboyant, entertaining and aesthetically pleasing, (a bit like some of the ships built at the Leith Shipyards, while some of the ships were a bit more workman like and could never be called elegant they were no less built for purpose unlike the present day team at Easter Road) Hibernian had won the Scottish championship during the 1951/52 season in emphatic style.

Bright and adventurous, Hibernian, fielding the feted forward line of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond, had also won over a sea of admirers because of their captivating brand of exhilarating and fast-moving football.

The sport's popularity in Brazil had exploded and there was a particular fascination with British football, thus Hibernian, recognised as the great entertainers of the Scottish game, were invited to participate in the Octagonal Rivadavia Correa Meyer in June 1953.

An overseas summer tour wasn't uncharted territory for a club famed for its pioneering spirit; there had already been visionary forays into Denmark, Austria, Germany, Norway, Belgium, France and Czechoslovakia stretching as far back as 1921.

As the late Lawrie Reilly said: "The Hibs were a great touring side and in the close season we always travelled away on tour. Hibs were the team to play for if you wanted to see the world."

Hibernian's squad, managed by Hugh Shaw, flew from Edinburgh to Rio, albeit via five stop-offs, during an epic journey across to South America.

When the team landed, Hibernian were greeted by an enthusiastic Brazilian crowd - keen to be entertained and educated by a truly formidable group of players.

Hibernian were scheduled to play in an eight-team competitive tournament featuring Brazil's Vasco Da Gama, Botafogo, Fluminese, Sao Paulo and Corinthians, Portugal's Sporting Lisbon and Uruguay's Nacional.

The tournament, organised by the Brazilian FA, was dubbed the unofficial 'World Club Championship' and Hibernian's group contained Vasco Da Gama, Botafogo and Fluminese with all matches staged at the Maracana.

In the opening match against eventual tournament winners, Vasco Da Gama, Hibernian recorded a creditable 3-3 draw in searing heat.

Hibernian's goals were a trademark 'cannonball' shot from powerful inside forward Eddie Turnbull and two from prolific centre-forward Reilly - the second scored in the final minute of the contest.
To read more on this story see the official Hibernian website

The club's next fixture was against Botafogo, who had finished runners-up in the previous year's intercontinental club tournament held in Rio, six days later at the Maracana.

The 30,000 crowd were instantly impressed by Hibernian's magnificent number seven, Gordon Smith - his absolute mastery of the ball and magical spontaneity on the pitch struck an immediate chord with the Brazilian public.

With his perfect balance, athleticism and acute intelligence, Smith was a phenomenal all-round footballer and his performances in the Rio heat elevated him to a more exalted plane - it placed him among the greatest players in the world. The Rio crowd recognised his class and duly worshipped him.

But despite producing some enchanting passages of play in the stifling heat, Hibernian lost 3-1 - the consolation goal scored by Reilly, who had only hours previously been confined to a hospital bed after suffering from acute sickness.

Nevertheless the reaction to the match, which had been shown live on television in Brazil, was overwhelmingly positive - Hibernian had played the game beautifully and for that they were warmly applauded.

The final group game against Fluminese ended in a 3-0 loss six days later - Hibernian again struggling to acclimatise to the intense heat of the Maracana.

Overall the tournament had ended unproductively, but it had underlined the ambitious and progressive nature of Hibernian, thus paving the way through for the club to eventually become the first British team to compete in European competition in 1955.

Hibernian had also left a lasting impression on the way the game subsequently developed tactically in Brazil - the attack-minded, adaptable and exciting style widely admired amongst the country's football community.

In fact, a Brazilian football encyclopaedia published in the late 1960s dedicated an entire chapter to Hibernian's cavalier style of play.

An extract from the book said: "Hibernian played an interchanging positional game that bamboozled their opponents and delighted the watching aficionados, and were included (in the tournament) because at the time they were at the forefront of the British game and brought to it a style that was original for those times."

Hibernian's involvement in the Octagonal Rivadavia Correa Meyer Tournament took place six decades ago, but the memory marches on.

So there you have it the link between today’s World Cup 2014 being held in Brazil and the Leith Shipyards. I could have also added that football in fact really took off in Brazil originally with all thanks to a Scot but that is another story and I cannot really justify going into this safe to say that yet another World Cup starts without my own country being involved in it so we can only watch from afar like kids watching the television through the shop window, not invited again, so this Scot will be shouting for Brazil.



1 comment:

DCM30 said...

Thanks for this wonderful article!