When I went back to football in 2014, I had been thinking about it for a while. By this point I lived in Glasgow and I could have chosen one of many teams. But I had been a Hibs fan since I was a kid. I couldn’t just go and support anyone else. I went to the relegation play-off between Hibs and Hamilton Accies at Easter Road and with a penalty shootout Hibs went down to the Championship. Despite that I enjoyed being back at a match again. I found myself at Ibrox for Hibs’ very next competitive fixture in the Challenge Cup and at quite a few games after that, home and away. I was hooked. Even though I couldn’t get to see Hibs every Saturday, I got there whenever I could, managing leave and willing games to be moved to Sundays and weekdays. When my work pattern changed and I was off every second Saturday, I ended up with a season ticket. Each time the fixture list comes around, I sit with the work diary and put in leave and arrange swaps. Last season I missed two home fixtures at Easter Road. One was due to a conference, the other because of the lurgy. This coming season I have made sure I’m clear for all home fixtures until Christmas at least.
Glasgow is a football city and I’ve worked with supporters of various teams, mostly the Old Firm but occasionally St. Mirren, Dumbarton, even Clyde. I have endured good-natured ribbing and in turn colleagues have heard me rant about the footballing ills of the day. Football helps me talk to people, particularly men, though my strong opinions against Celtic and Rangers tend to be greeted with bemused silence. During the recent World Cup, of which I watched not a single minute, that bemusement became more pronounced as I couldn’t venture an opinion on any of the Galacticos playing over in Russia.
There aren’t many Hibs fans in the west of Scotland. There are some, there’s even a supporters club, I believe, though in recent months I’ve seen a lot more. The other night I was coming back from Edinburgh after a game and there were a few Hibees travelling all the way to Queen Street as I was. After a game of last season, there was a family in Hibs gear standing beside me in Central Station. Very often as I head to Easter Road of a Saturday there are fans of other teams heading to other games passing me in Glasgow city centre, sometimes Celtic or Rangers, occasionally Kilmarnock or Ayr United, accents from Aberdeen, Dundee or Edinburgh off on an away day. I am usually more subtle in my dress just in case going through Glasgow, shedding my jacket once I get on the Edinburgh train.
In Glasgow two teams dominate. I often start yelling at the STV News at 6 as Raman starts his report with the words ‘Rangers’ or ‘Brendan Rodgers’. That’s before I consider how I have to ignore so many of the back pages, Hibs only coming up when there’s a controversy or a player to be signed and whisked off to Glasgow. There are forty other teams in the SPFL, two other league teams within the city boundary before you consider the many more nearby. It is only part of the reason why I loathe Celtic and Rangers and extra motivation to enjoy a win over either of them just that little bit more.
One perk is that some away trips are very easy for me. I can walk to Ibrox though I tend to avoid it whenever possible. Celtic Park had me home within an hour, same with Firhill. St. Mirren’s ground is by far the easiest, a five minute walk to the train station, ten minutes on the train then across the road to the turnstile. Cappielow is also easy, reachable within about half an hour too. Hampden is also straightforward, a half hour on the bus, though I have even been known to walk it back from some of Hibs’ many visits to the National Stadium.
Some of my best Hibs experiences have happened here in Glasgow. Not just the Cup Final but the game one freezing February night at Ibrox when Lewis Stevenson scored. The 2-2 game at Celtic Park when Super John McGinn scored 2, Coolio did the half-time draw and I left with a very sore throat. Hopefully some more will happen this coming season.
I think I’ve become more of a Hibs fan the last few years despite where I live, maybe even because of it. Hibs are an integral part of who I am and they are a link to where I grew up and how I grew up. Even with all the bad days, all the cold days, it is still worth it for the bright days, the Cups, the shimmies and curling goals into the top corner. I wouldn’t give it up for a ‘big’ team. Hibs are my big team and that won’t ever change.