He’s been a loyal supporter since he first arrived in Edinburgh in 1945 – and now the Capital’s oldest Hibby has revealed he’s still holding out hope this will be the year his beloved team finally take home the Scottish Cup.
Sam Martinez celebrated his 105th birthday yesterday surrounded by family and friends at his home in Wester Hailes, but the plucky centenarian has lost none of the easy charm that made him a legend in the Easter Road stands.
And he might have quit the terraces in favour of cheering his team on from the comfort of his living room, but the pensioner still makes it down to his local Ladbrokes to place the odd bet when he can.
Mr Martinez – whose birthday gifts included whisky, money for gambling and a letter from the Queen – came to the Highlands from his native Belize to aid the war effort in 1942 and has made the country his home ever since.
And his first contact with Hibs came early on, after he stumbled on a crowd of supporters making their way down to the stadium shortly after he arrived in the city.
“There was this big crowd – at first I thought it was a riot,” he said. “So I ran back to the hostel where I was staying and a Scots laddie told me there was a game on at Easter Road.
“I went back and followed the crowd and got into the queue, and a laddie came up to me and gave me a complimentary ticket. I was the only black man in the queue. I said I could pay my way, but he said, ‘No, genuinely, take it’.
“I sat behind the directors box and the Famous Five were playing in those days. I had a great seat. They were all dressed in green and white, and they are my favourite colours. I started to support Hibs, and have been ever since.”
And despite experiencing repeated heartbreak in the stands, the centenarian – the oldest member of the Hibs Supporters Club – has never lost hope his team will lift the Scottish Cup before he dies.
He said: “I hope for the best. I’ve been very disappointed in all the cups they have played, but I’m still hoping it could happen.”
Mr Martinez spent yesterday celebrating and eating birthday cake with his family as almost all of his six children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren packed into his compact flat, where photos of Hibs players and family snaps adorn the walls. And the pensioner, who worked in various jobs until retiring at the grand old age of 94, said the secret to his long life was not worrying.
“I don’t feel as I did when I was young,” he said. “Your body gets a bit wasted from working all your life. You’re not the same. But I’m feeling good.
“I live a contented life. I don’t worry about anything – I waste not, want not. I meet everybody face-to-face.”
Daughter Carol Martinez said: “He’s amazing. He can still chat away. He’s still active and when he gets a chance to go out he goes to the bookies.
“He still follows Hibs, too – he watches all the matches, but he doesn’t go out to the games any more.”