HIBS fans are jetting in from all four corners of the globe to join the exodus to Hampden as Scottish Cup history beckons for the Easter Road side tomorrow.
From Australia to Alaska, California to the Middle East, Hibbies have mobilised for the final against Celtic tomorrow – and hopefully the end of a 111-year wait to lift the cup.
For one pair of weary travellers the trip can already be called a success as they have already got their hands on the famous trophy.
Fred Leggatt, 62, and his brother-in-law, John Dearie, 64, flew in from Sydney on Wednesday and within hours they were parading the Scottish Cup down Easter Road.
Fred said: “We were walking past the William Hill bookmakers when a guy stuck his head out and asked if we’d like to have our photo taken with the cup. Hopefully we won’t be the only Hibees to get our hands on it.”
He added: “I was supposed to come back last year but my wife ended up having a hip operation which, though unfortunate, was a real blessing in disguise.
“I’m confident that we can do it this year, though.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip and we’ve done the whole journey in style, with a limo picking us up from the airport and we’ve stumped up £200 each for hospitality tickets at the game. All we need now is for Hibs to top it off with a win.”
Another fan who has travelled rather more than the Proclaimers-prescribed 500 miles is John Myles, 63, who flew in from Melbourne. John’s commitment to the cause cannot be questioned as he also made the 10,000-mile journey to attend last year’s final.
Originally from Leith, the former professional boxer emigrated in 1969.
He said: “My grandfather never saw them win it and neither did my dad. Someone in my family has to see them lift the cup, I just hope it will be me.
“Last year didn’t turn out so well and I ended up leaving at 4-1, but there are supporters who cover great distances each week to go and watch them so I don’t feel too sorry for myself. I love coming back to Leith and being around the city and catching up with family and friends.
“I’ve got a feeling this year will be different than last year, though. It can’t really be worse.”
Max Bodoin, from Boston, is another fan making the pilgrimage two years in a row and he will be meeting up with fellow members of the International Hibs Supporters Club for a drink in the Persevere Bar on Easter Road tonight.
He said: “I’m meeting up with some other Hibbies, international and otherwise, for a few pops just like we did last year.
“Last year I dyed my hair green but not this time – my hair isn’t long enough due to bad planning.”
Max will be travelling through to Hampden with his sister, brother-in-law and another friend – all Celtic fans.
He added: “I could have arranged alternative plans but this just seemed easiest all round. Someone is going to have to wait around until the final whistle has blown, and at least one of us is going to be miserable.
“Obviously I’m hoping that is not me – not this year. Whatever happens on Sunday it can’t be as bad as last year!”
Fellow US-based fan John Inglis, who turns 52 tomorrow, is hoping for a happy birthday.
John, from California, who flew into Edinburgh yesterday, said: “I decided that I would plan to be in Scotland for the aftermath of Hibs winning the cup.
“I’ve come in just prior to the game and I will stay for a week afterwards so that I can soak up the atmosphere and make myself available for any invitations to celebrate the win.”
He is also a member of the International Hibs Supporters Club and he explains how the online group, which boasts hundreds of members worldwide, came to exist.
He said: “A lot of Hibs fans had begun to migrate over the years and it was decided to start consolidating this into one e-mail list.
“It now covers all four corners of the globe with people all sharing one commonality in their love for Hibs.
“There’s is a large group of individuals travelling back from all walks of lives, from lawyers to bus drivers, all with one simple but powerful link.
“I think its a true sign of the commonality that can be found in football that an air traffic controller at Heathrow Airport and a journalist working in Brazil are able to meet up at one time and share in one common interest – their dedication to their football team.”
A lifelong fan, who emigrated in 1986, John also made the trip for last year’s game.
He said: “It was hard. I knew that Jambos all over the world would gloat about this one like I do about the greatest game ever played on January 1, 1973, when we won 7-0. Yes, I was there, I was 11 years old.
“They have a generation now that have that memory but when we win on my birthday this year, I will have something that will totally eclipse the memory from last year. That 6000 miles home was a long one but this year will make up for it.”
Lord Provost Donald Wilson is also backing Hibs to bring the Scottish Cup back to Edinburgh for a second successive season.
He said: “On behalf of the city – or one half of it, at least – I would like to wish Hibernian the very best of luck in the Scottish Cup final.
“Pat Fenlon’s side have ended their league campaign in a rich vein of form, winning their final three games in some style. Let’s hope they can make it four in a row against Celtic at Hampden, lifting the Scottish Cup and ending their fans’ long wait for success in this historic competition.
“I’m sure the many thousands of Hibs fans heading west will do their team and their city proud on what will hopefully be another momentous day for the Capital. And, if the team do bring the trophy back to Leith, we can look forward to a second successive Scottish Cup victory parade through the streets of Edinburgh.
“Interestingly, Hibs’ last victory in the competition came a year after Hearts lifted the trophy. And, in another echo of the past, their opponents that day were Celtic. Here’s hoping that history repeats itself.”
Supporters are being reminded that tomorrow the Edinburgh Marathon will also be taking place which may affect their travel plans.
It has been advised to avoid London Road, Regent Road, Lochend Road and Leith Links when leaving for Hampden and to use Ferry Road if possible. Fans travelling by rail have also been warned to allow for extra time as a bridge replacement project on the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street line will mean trains will not call at Falkirk High or Croy.
Services between Edinburgh and Glasgow Central will also be affected by work at Midcalder Junction, with a replacement bus service operating via Shotts until Wednesday.
If Hibs are victorious, the Lord Provost will welcome the team and backroom staff into the City Chambers on Monday evening for a celebratory reception before the team parades the trophy down the High Street and North Bridge.
At Waterloo Place, the open-top bus will turn on to Regent Road, down Easter Road, and right on to Albion Road to the stadium.