Couple brave war and bombs to promote Hibs abroad

Fred and Rita Daniels have spread their love of Hibs to all corners of the Earth. Picture: Jane Barlow

Fred and Rita Daniels have spread their love of Hibs to all corners of the Earth. Picture: Jane Barlow

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They have braved Saddam’s forces, survived a terrifying bombing in Kashmir and communed with monks in Laos – all to spread the word about Hibernian Football Club.

Hibs-daft couple Fred and Rita Daniels, of Colinton, have seen their love of the Easter Road side take them to the ends of the Earth and sometimes putting themselves in imminent danger to spread their footballing message. 
The pair started travelling around 30 years ago and always take badges and pennants of the team wherever they go to promote the club.

Their travels have taken them to remote regions in more than 80 countries including China, Australia and even Timbuktu, making their way through war zones and battling severe dehydration in the 
outback.

The couple said the tradition of taking out the Hibs pieces started “by accident” decades ago.

Mrs Daniels, 70, said: “We were offered some pennants to take and when we gave them to different people they loved it. It’s a great communication tool for people and they love getting gifts.”

Retired bookseller Mr Daniels, 71, a diehard Hibby who went to his first game at Easter Road in 1947, said there had been more than a few near-death experiences, including a terrifying terrorist attack in Kashmir.

“It was so scary, we heard people drop grenades into vehicles and there were five people killed in the streets just 400 yards from us while we were staying in houseboats,” he said.

“In Iraq, we bribed the soldiers with Hibs badges and cigarettes to get 500 yards over the border so we could take a picture of what is considered the oldest civilisation in the world. The guards were quite happy, though, and that was when Saddam Hussein was still in power.”

The couple, who have been married 49 years, became dangerously dehydrated in 95F heat while trekking through the Australian outback but said it was all worth it, especially when they got to give a badge to the owner of a bar whose dingo danced on a piano.

Other notable shots have included giving badges to Buddhist monks in Laos and a boy in China who Mr Daniels was able to communicate with by using the badge and imitating kicking a football.

And they have already planned their next backpacking trip to Canada and the United States where they vow to continue the tradition of giving out the memorabilia.

Hibs Supporters’ Association chairman Mike Riley said Mr and Mrs Daniels were an 
inspiration.

“It’s unbelievable how they support the world of Hibs,” he said.

“It’s just that extraordinary support and it’s absolutely great – maybe some of the players would work a bit harder if they knew what they do.”