April is usually a big month in the Scottish football calendar. Title dreams and ambitions can flourish or flounder and clubs can be pushed to the brink of the relegation trap door.

Traditionally, the Scottish Cup semi-finals take place during the month of April. It was on such an occasion 43 years ago that Celtic went head-to-head with a footballing phenomenon at Hampden.

While April 12 1980 is not a date synonymous with the illustrious history of the Hoops, it is the day they came up against the maverick and legendary talent that was George Best.

Former Manchester United star and 1968 European Cup winner Best joined Hibs in 1979 on a reputed £2,000-a-week wage. Then Hibs manager Eddie Turnbull branded him trouble but chairman Tom Hart overruled him. Best was back in the ball game.

The Northern Ireland international was 33 at the time and lasted 325 days in Auld Reekie. He played 22 games for the capital club and scored three goals.

A solo goal against Dundee is still revered as the stuff of legend down Easter Road. A wonderful counter against Celtic (which yours truly actually witnessed in the flesh) also took the breath away.

Meanwhile, a virtuoso performance against Rangers on a snowy pitch which saw the entertainer take a swig out of a beer can chucked at him by the visiting support was Best's personal highlight of his ill-fated spell in the capital.

Not even the mercurial genius could save Hibs on this Scottish Cup semi-final day against Celtic though. Best couldn't save the capital club from being relegated that season either.

Hibs crashed to a 5-0 defeat as another wing wizard took centre stage at the national stadium. He played in green and white all right but he just happened to be Davie Provan of Celtic who was given the man of the match award and a cheque for £150 by sponsors Younger’s.

Goals by Bobby Lennox, Provan, Johnny Doyle, Murdo MacLeod and Tom McAdam saw the Hoops run out easy winners on the day. Jackie McNamara Sr played for both clubs but sported the colours of Hibs in this unforgettable match.

McNamara readily admits Best turned up for the occasion - but Hibs didn't. As such, even the former European footballer of the year couldn't inspire the mediocrity around him.

READ MORE: Brian Clough, Celtic and 20 half-lagers - the 1983 Battle of Britain

The 70-year-old insists that he still laments the fact that a Best-led Hibs couldn't go one better than the class of 1979 and reach the Scottish Cup final. They would, he concedes, have loved to have gained the chance to exact revenge on Rangers for the 3-2 defeat in the showpiece 12 months before.

There were, however, genuine moments of genius from Best at Hibs and he was still a footballing icon who could deliver on the big stage. April 12 1980 was not to be one of them though.

Lennox gave Celtic a ninth-minute lead following a Provan run and cross down the right which they held until half-time. Provan added a second when he latched onto a short backpass and Hibs soon capitulated despite the efforts of Best. Doyle added the third and further goals from MacLeod and McAdam completed the rout.

The only crumb of comfort that Hibs, Eddie Turnbull and their supporters could take from such a mauling was that Best had actually graced the hallowed Hampden turf.

"George lined up against Celtic on his own that day in the 1980 Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden," McNamara told The Celtic Way. "George turned up. The rest of the 10 Hibs players in the team didn't.

"Eddie Turnbull always said that George was a step ahead of his team-mates and we were out of sync with him - he was right. George was a fabulous player but it didn't matter what he did that day as Hibs were always going to be second best to Celtic. It is as low-key and routine a 5-0 win in a major domestic cup semi-final as you will ever see.

"Davie Provan was awarded the man of the match but for the first hour or so George was giving the Celtic players a run for their money. Bobby Lennox was one of my football heroes and I adored him - he scored the opening goal at Hampden and then Provan scored and Hibs weren't really at the races after that. George actually played very well against Celtic but even he realised that he was fighting a losing battle in this one.

"I was desperate for Hibs to get to the Scottish Cup final again as we had lost to Rangers in the 1979 Scottish Cup final after two replays. If Hibs had gotten to the Scottish Cup final again in 1980 we would have stood a great chance of winning it with George in the team but Celtic emphatically put paid to that dream.

Celtic Way:

"The annoying thing is that they didn't have to do all that much on the day to win the game. George tried his utmost but Celtic, without hitting top gear, won the contest with ease. It was a real shame as I would have loved George to have bowed out of Scottish football by playing in a showpiece final with Hibs."

Ironically, McNamara believes that Best's playing style would have been more suited to one of Glasgow's big two than the Leith side. There were stories that Rangers tried to sign him but the move never quite materialised.

"George would have thrived and come alive once again if he had signed for Celtic or Rangers back then," McNamara insists. "Every now and again you would see his talent, he was a football genius and a total superstar. I loved him, I really did.

"It was a joy to play alongside him and he came into the Hibs dressing room. He was just one of the boys. He was such a humble, down-to-earth guy who we soon found out was being paid a fortune.

"I was better paid than some of the other boys and I was on £120 a week. Ally MacLeod was a decent player for Hibs at that time and he was on less than me. He wasn't happy and I had to go upstairs and see Eddie Turnbull on his behalf.

"I remember telling Eddie the boys were wondering why George Best was on two grand a week - although rumour has it that it was two grand a game. Eddie didn't say too much as there was no answer to it. I didn't dare ask Eddie what George Best had that I didn't have!

"But, truth be told, George would have been a better signing for Celtic or Rangers back in 1979. Either of those two could have revitalised his career and he would have won trophies regularly at Celtic or Rangers and had a diet of European football.

"That Scottish Cup semi-final defeat at Hampden against Celtic showed that George still had it. The sky-high wages and his maverick tendencies might have put both Celtic and Rangers off from making a move for him but he could still kick it with the best of them back then.

READ MORE: Inside the night 10 men won the league for Celtic

"He was a cracking guy whose company I enjoyed immensely. He even came back to play in my testimonial match which is the measure of him as a person. I would never have a bad word said about him. Now and again his legendary stories will pop into my head and I will have a right laugh."

Maverick tendencies are two words for it. That was ably demonstrated by Best in the Scottish Cup quarter-final a round previous, when McNamara recounts a legendary Best story from his time north of the border.

Best was staying in a capital hotel when Debbie Harry, at the height and peak of her Blondie musical fame and powers, turned up to play a two-night gig at Edinburgh Odeon.

They were put up in the same hotel as Best so, when he bumped into legendary rugby star Jean-Pierre Rives and the rest of the French international team as well, the rest as they say is history.

Best went AWOL for the Scottish Cup last-eight clash against Ayr United at Somerset Park, which Hibs won 2-0. There had, you see, been a drinking competition and of course Best was the last man standing.

"He never played against Ayr because he had got in tow with the French rugby team and Debbie Harry," McNamara said. "Well, you can guess the rest can't you?

"I saw it in action for myself whenever I walked down Easter Road with George. The women would just swoon, he was a handsome and charming man. When he was found on the morning of the Ayr United game he was put in the showers and given copious amounts of coffee to sober him up.

"But there was no chance of him playing. He had been up all night with Blondie after all! We were at the bar after the Ayr game and we got the whole story. It culminated in the great line 'what would you rather do? Play against Ayr United or entertain Debbie Harry? Play Ayr United my arse!'

"It was no contest. Well, it certainly wasn't for George Best!"

In April 1980, Celtic who thumped a Best-inspired Hibs side at Hampden Park and went on to do what they do best by beating Rangers in the Scottish Cup final courtesy of a George McCluskey goal.

As for George Best? I guess you could say an evening in a hotel room with Debbie Harry is another trophy of sorts from his dazzling, glittering and hell-raising career on and off the field.

Where did it all go wrong indeed?