From a struggling setup to one of the most successful youth sides of recent times, Edina Hibs rose from the depths of dispair, and became a success story over what was an incredible and successful period of time. It was more than two decades ago that the club fell into hardship after a glorious and successful stint, which helped produce past and present Scotland stars such as Willie Miller, John Hughes and current Wolves and Scotland star Christophe Berra. In their debut season, Edina won the Scottish Cup at what was then their home ground, The Jewel. However, during the 80's and the 90's Edina started to struggle and the future looked bleak for the east Edinburgh club. After their early success the standard of players started to decline and the club’s reputation fell in to a downward spiral.
With the club in disarray it was time for a change; the club's chairmen decided to launch a plan with the aim of getting this once successful institution back on the map. Former Hearts coach Scott Bonar was drafted in to coach the club's Under 15 side, who become the beacon of hope that would guide Edina out of the dark. The previous season had been one of heart-break for the team at Under 14 level, missing out on title glory by a mere three points to national champions and close rivals Tynecastle. Edina found their form and embarked on a trailblazing cup run which would take them all the way to the 2010/11 Scottish Cup Final.
Hibs faced a tough battle in the final as they came up against a much fancied Ayrshire side Clark Drive (action from the match pictured above right), and it was the boys in white and blue who emerged victorious with a convincing 3-1 victory. Although they lost out at the final hurdle, this moment marked the beginning of a new era for the club, with the squad gaining a massive confidence boost from the experience.
In their league campaign, Edina found themselves in a promising position in which either a win or a draw would secure them the title. However, this wasn’t an easy task as they faced up to their fierce rivals Tynecastle. The Balgreen boys were never going to give Hibs an easy ride, managing to edge the first half by a single goal. Scott Bonar inspired his players at the interval, and they pulled back level in the second half to secure the title in dramatic fashion.
The new season arrived in a flash with the pressure on Edina's new Under 16 side to win their second title in a row. Unfortunately Edina started poorly with an early exit from the Scottish Cup. The league campaign wasn't looking up to scratch either, with Hibs needlessly dropping points. However, the tightly knit squad banded together and pushed themselves to save their season. They managed to secure the first cup of a possible double in Steve Maskrey Cup Final, where they faced Harrison Park based North Merchiston. The scores were level at half-time but Merchiston looked like they had sealed the glory after racing to a 3-1 lead early in the second-half, but the Scottish Cup final heartbreak was ingrained in the minds of the Edina players and they were never going to let this chance slip away. The players rallyed around each other and produced a spectacular comeback to win the game by 4 goals to 3 in a thrilling finale, one of a number of local cup victories the squad enjoyed over the three year spell. This restored their self-belief heading into the final few games of the league campaign.
A month or so later, Edina faced North Merchiston again This time the motivatation was the possibility of winning their second consecutive league title. Merchiston had high hopes for a result in their favour, but that was never to be as Edina ran out 6-1 winners and clinched their second title (pictured, right). It turned out to be the team's final match.
After these two seasons of unprecedented success, pro youth teams from all over Scotland were interested in Edina players. Zach Szemis and Mario Campanile move up to the North East to sign with SPL side Aberdeen, while Ryan Forsyth signed for Perth club St Johnstone. Livingston seemed to take an incredibly keen interest in Bonar’s side, signing no less than six players from the squad - Jed Davie, Dylan Clark, John Pearson, Kyle Lander, Connar Easton and Kyle Galazka all turning out for the current SFL Under 17 Champions.
The Edina Hibs 1996 team may be gone, but they certainly won't be forgotten.