Terry Butcher received a warm welcome from Hibs’ fans when he made a surprise appearance at the ‘Erich Schaedler’ book launch at Easter Road last night, and if the new manager didn’t realise what was expected from him before, he certainly does now.
On his arrival, one fan shook his hand and said “Thank god you are here” and although the modest former England captain pointed out that he hadn’t actually played a game yet, it didn’t matter to anyone who was there as talk moved to winning the Scottish Cup, and more importantly building a team that the fans could be proud of.
Ironically, the event was to celebrate the life of one of the most dedicated, hard-working players ever to wear the famous green and white jersey, at a time when many Hibs supporters have been bemoaning the application of some of the current squad, something that Butcher and his assistant Maurice Malpas are expected to resolve quickly.
Erich’s former team-mates Pat Stanton and Paul Kane also welcomed Butcher to the club as did author Colin Leslie and compere for the evening Simon Pia, but the biggest round of applause was reserved for the Schaedler family in what was an emotional evening.
Erich was the son of a German prisoner of war who grew up in Peebles. Hi joined Hibs in 1969 from Stirling Albion and quickly won the respect of the Hibs supporters with his no-nonsense style in the left back position.
During his first spell with the club, he helped Hibs to win the League Cup and two Drybrough Cups and played in many European nights as well as a certain game at Tynecastle on new-year’s day 1973.
His performances were rewarded when he was selected to play for Scotland against West Germany and was part of the World Cup squad in 1974.
Erich left Easter Road and moved to Dundee where he helped the Dens Park side to a League Cup final before returning to his beloved Hibs in the early eighties.
Erich sadly took his own life on Christmas Eve 1985 but his memory lives on amongst those fortunate enough to have seen him play football.
Paul Kane said: “When Erich came to the Hibs for the second time I was just a young kid on the YTS and he was different class. Sometimes young guys can get bullied by older players but there was one thing for sure that if you were in Erich’s company you never got bullied by an older player because he would stick up for you. I remember when Hibs put in the undersoil heating and we drew one all with Manchester United. Erich was hard player but he was not a dirty player. He came across Bryan Robson who was also a hard player, but there was only one winner that day and Bryan Robson ended up with a broken collar bone.
“You talk about over achievement, well Erich pushed every young kid as hard as they could and I think Terry will be doing the same with the first team players now as they have the same nature.”
Renowned sports journalist Simon Pia said: “I think another thing about Erich that we should recognise is that on the other side of the pitch we had John Brownlie who was a fantastic full back and some people say that he was even better than Danny McGrain. In fact even some Celtic fans have admitted that to me, but the fact that Erich could still hold his own in that team and be respected by people says an awful lot about him.”
Hibs legend Pat Stanton said: “When I first saw Erich playing, if someone had said to me that Erich would be capped for Scotland I wouldn’t have believed them, but just through sheer enthusiasm, his willingness to listen and to work hard and overcome any sort of problems that he had, he was absolutely first class.
“Some of the players nowadays should look at Erich and see what he achieved by applying themselves.
“I remember my first game with Erich was against Gornik, the Polish team, and we were talking about tackling earlier on, well Erich tackled Peter Cormack who was in our team, and Peter got carried off and I can remember the Poles looking at each other and thinking ‘If that’s what he does to his own players…….’
“I spoke to him not long after he got capped fro Scotland against West Germany. He didn’t used to express his feelings and was quite low key, but when I asked him how he enjoyed it he said it was ‘Tremendous’ particularly with his background of his father being a prisoner of war. In fact how his father never escaped, I don’t know. Erich would have tunnelled under the fence.
“He appreciated what he had. He was given an opportunity here at Easter Road and he took it and it’s an example to any young kid of what can be achieved by just applying yourself and listening to what people told you and Erich was good at that. He went on to have a great career.
Shades: The short life and tragic death of Erich Schaedler by Colin Leslie is available from all good book shops.