THE hero who led Hibernian Football Club to their last Scottish Cup final triumph more than a century ago has lain largely forgotten in an unmarked grave near Easter Road stadium.
Now a supporters club is embarking on a fundraising drive to buy a headstone for Dan McMichael – one of the most influential figures in the club’s history – as Hibs seek to break one of Scottish football’s longest-running hoodoos.
The body of the Irishman, who managed the club to a Scottish Cup victory and Scottish League triumph in 1902, rests in a grave behind the Famous Five Stand in the Eastern Cemetery.
St Patrick’s Hibernian Supporters’ Branch have decided to raise funds for a fitting memorial to the club icon, with life-long member Hugh Cockburn riding from London to Edinburgh next month to support the fundraising drive.
Mr Cockburn will cycle 444 miles from Tower Bridge to Holyrood Park in just four days, starting from May 3.
The 57-year-old will wear the green and white of his beloved club on the mammoth journey. He is expected to complete the final section along Queen’s Drive by about 4pm on May 6.
The diehard supporter travels from his work base in Sunderland to attend almost every Hibs home game.
He said: “I felt this was something I wanted to give back to the branch. When I was told the story about Dan McMichael, being a life-long Hibs supporter I thought ‘that can’t be right. We’ll have to do something about this’.”
Mr McMichael moved to Edinburgh between 1895-98 where he lived with brother-in-law and Hibs player James “Judge” Murphy. He is the only manager to have taken charge of Hibs in two separate spells, firstly from 1900 to 1903 before returning in 1904.
Mr McMichael also worked in the roles of secretary, treasurer and team physiotherapist. The club legend became Hibs’ longest serving manager in a stint lasting 15 years.
His tenure at Hibs ended with his death in 1919, with Mr McMichael passing away at his home on Easter Road from chronic bronchitis.
Supporters have been urged to sponsor the London-Edinburgh cycle ride to make the creation of the gravestone a reality. Hibs will also be supporting the fundraising efforts, having posted a tribute to the historic manager on their official website.
St Patrick’s branch secretary Gordon McKinley described the icon as the ultimate “jack of all trades”.
“We just felt it was a shame that there was nothing to commemorate him,” he said.
“This has been planned for some time. The St Patrick’s branch had two projects – one was to have a plaque in St Patrick’s church where Hibs were founded in 1875.
“We achieved that last month. All the Hibs management were there and I expect they’ll be there this time, whenever this gravestone is placed.”
The timing is poignant, with Hibs playing Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup final on May 26.
Mr Cockburn has been to four losing cup finals and said: “I keep thinking this is the one.”
Fans can sponsor Mr Cockburn’s charity ride by visiting http://www.hiberniansaintpatricks.co.uk/donate/.