Big-hearted Hibs fans have snapped up season tickets which will allow thousands of local kids to watch the Easter Road side in action.
And, in backing the “Kicks for Kids” organisation, they have helped take the Edinburgh club closer to its target of 10,000 season-ticket sales, the figure now nudging 9800.
Having bought 22 tickets for children when the project launched in 2013, a record 159 have already been paid for this summer with treasurer Susan Linn having upped her goal to 200.
She said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. I was delighted to beat last season’s total of 152 tickets but the money is still coming in. At the moment, I reckon we’ll eventually buy more than 170 but, just as (Hibs chief executive) Leeann Dempster has set a target of 10,000 season tickets, I’d love to hit the 200 mark.”
Donations have flooded in from around the world with, Linn admitted, Hibs’ historic Scottish Cup triumph contributing greatly, highlighting how captain and match-winner David Gray’s Hampden shirt had been auctioned in aid of the initiative.
Linn, a staff nurse at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, said: “We’ve had fans from New Zealand and Australia send £1000. These guys obviously can’t attend games themselves but they’re giving us their backing and helping put more money into Neil Lennon’s player budget.
“A programme from the 7-0 derby win against Hearts in 1973 brought in another £500 while the Hibs Supporters’ Association donated £750. But whether it’s £5 or £100, the money is pooled. Some fans are doing so via a direct debit of £6.25 a month which over a year adds up to another ticket for a youngster.
“What a feeling it was to be able to walk into the ticket office with a cheque for £11,900 and ask for 159 season tickets. And hopefully I’ll be back asking for more soon.”
Kicks for Kids works closely with a myriad of other organisations, schools, community groups and so on, both in Leith and further afield to ensure as many children as possible can get along to home games throughout the season. Linn added: “Going to Easter Road is an experience these youngsters, for one reason or another, would probably never have enjoyed otherwise and, from the letters and emails I receive, I know just how much they enjoy their day out.
“The 159 tickets we’ve already bought mean that over the course of the coming season almost 3000 kids will enjoy a Hibs match – and that figure looks set to rise even further.
“We’ve actually got our own section in the East Stand and the Hibs supporters in that area have really made the children welcome, teaching them the songs and telling them all about the club’s history. It really brings you back to the original ethos of the club, helping these children enjoy something they’d probably never get to experience and, perhaps, helping to nurture the next generation of Hibs supporters.”