HE has been a Hibs supporter for more than eight decades and has followed his team from the highs of the Famous Five to the lows of relegation.
And now at the grand old age of 90 season ticket holder Stewart Woolard is getting to live out his boyhood dreams after being invited to head out on to the hallowed turf at Easter Road in the first home game of the season.
As part of a special birthday treat organised by the club and his family, Stewart will tomorrow take on the role of honorary mascot, walking out in front of the fans to experience the atmosphere from the ground.
The starring role came about when he turned 90 last month, and at a party to celebrate, held at the Hibs Club on Sunnyside near the stadium, a family friend suggested his devotion to the club should be recognised at a match.
Hibs stepped up and joined forces with Stewart’s son, Ian, 58, to make this a reality for the lifelong supporter.
Ian says his father’s jaw dropped when he found out about what had been arranged, and said: “He was a bit stunned at first but he’s been like the Cheshire cat – delighted and really excited.
“He’s been like a kid looking forward to Christmas since he found out.”
Stewart gave his own take on the unique invite, describing it as “magic”.
He said of being a Hibs fan “I always have been and I always will be” – despite the rest of his family being Hearts fans.
The Stockbridge resident has lived in the area for his whole life, and in his youth was a keen footballer himself.
Like so many other young boys from the area however his football ambitions were cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War.
He joined the army aged 17, undergoing training for the huge allied invasions before taking part in the landings on D-Day at Sword Beach aged just 19.
“It was horrendous,” he said, explaining that getting through it “was a matter of survival”.
“It wasn’t nice, although it was an experience I’ll never forget.”
He returned home and married his childhood sweetheart Jessie in 1947, and well as Ian they had another son George and two daughters.
Now a widower since 1985, he also has seven grandchildren, who were apparently also “over the moon” when they found out about him being chosen for the Hibs honour.
The highlights of his years of support include the League Cup wins against Celtic in 1972 and Kilmarnock in 2007. However, like every Hibs fan alive he has never seen his team lift the Scottish Cup, and admitted: “I don’t suppose I ever will.”
Fittingly for a fan with a regular seat in the Famous Five stand his favourite player of all time is Gordon Smith.
A Hibs spokesman said: “We hope Stewart enjoys his special day at our home and we look forward to welcoming him back to Easter Road for what promises to be a memorable season.”
“His loyalty and commitment to Hibernian over the past eight decades is truly phenomenal and throughout his life, both in his day-to-day and during the war, he has displayed true Hibernian spirit.”
As for whether his favourite team will beat Livingston tomorrow, Stewart is optimistic. “Of course we will win,” he said, before admitting: “I always say that though and it doesn’t always work out that way.”