HIBERNIAN’S Inter-Cities Fairs cup match with Barcelona in February 1961 ended dramatically when infuriated Spanish players giant chased and assaulted the West German referee.

Some one hundred police officers patrolling the track at Easter Road had to enter the pitch to rescue the official, Herr Malka, after he had awarded the Edinburgh side a penalty kick just six minutes from time. The incident occurred during the second leg of the quarter-final tie. Hibs had drawn the first leg 4-4.

The Glasgow Herald reported that after signalling the penalty the referee “was then tripped, pushed, buffeted, struck on the body, chased into the Hibernian half and back to Barcelona’s 18-yard line”.

It took police seven minutes to restore order. At the end – Hibs won 3-2, and went through 7-6 on aggregate – the referee was escorted into the pavilion by a bodyguard of policemen.

The Barcelona players, meanwhile, continued to demonstrate until they were stopped by their own officials.

“To the everlasting credit of the Edinburgh audience, they, at least, kept their heads,” wrote our match reporter.

The police officers’ “Scottish phlegm was never more needed than in their efforts to calm the Barcelona team, whose officials also pled for order,” he added.


The following day, a senior Edinburgh police official said: “The situation was beginning to look potentially ugly. The referee was obviously apprehensive.

“In a situation such as this it takes very little to spark off real trouble, and the action of the police was fully justified”.

In overcoming Barcelona Hibs progressed to the semi-finals, where they encountered AS Roma but, after two drawn games, they lost 6-0 in a play-off.

The Italians went on to lift the trophy, beating Birmingham over two legs.

Read more: Herald Diary