FROM the south coast of England to the Highlands, he has travelled thousands of miles to hundreds of football matches to catch his beloved Hibs and Sunderland in action – but he has never seen a kick.
Carl McGee, or “Macar” as he is better known to fans, has been blind from birth and relies on the radio and live commentary to follow developments on the pitch.
That has not stopped the 24-year-old from Stanley, County Durham, from clocking up the train and bus miles on trips to Edinburgh and grounds across the UK.
Last weekend, he was in the Capital to take in the Easter Road side’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of Celtic just a day after experiencing Sunderland beating Arsenal 2-0 in their fifth-round FA Cup tie.
“I do it because I love Hibs with all my heart,” he told the Evening News. “The fans are spot on. They help me to and from the matches, and out of the ground once the match is over. They are incredible.”
Carl’s blindness does not get in the way of his enjoyment of the live match experience.
He said: “I like being part of it and I love the atmosphere.
“The away games are great because you get the diehards singing for 90 minutes and I sing along myself – songs like Paddy Fenlon’s Green and White Army and all that. It’s fantastic because I get to be with my friends and give the team my backing.”
So strong is Carl’s drive to support the Edinburgh side that he has decided to forego specialist commentary services to join fans in the East Stand at Easter Road.
“The singing is really important,” he said. “The Hibs fans are passionate but, at times, they can go a bit quiet if the team is not doing well and it goes a bit edgy.
“At Sunderland, the fans go all out for a song to lift the team if they aren’t playing well.
“I try and do the same at Hibs. Ultimately, we are the 12th man and we need all the fans to push them over the finishing line.”
Carl’s passion for Hibs began during the 2001-2 season when, as a pupil at the Capital’s Royal Blind School, he happened to turn on the radio during a Hibs away match against Rangers. Striker Paco Luna was only moments away from heading a goal against the Ibrox club.
He said: “I just liked the commentary and from then on I decided I was going to be a Hibs fan.
“I like Edinburgh and I love Scotland in general really – I also support the Scotland team.
“I don’t like the way the press portray the England team. They come across as if they are going to win everything and I don’t like that.
“The Scotland fans are so passionate. I love going to Hampden and hearing the national anthem sung by Amy Macdonald.”
His enthusiasm has rubbed off on the fans at Easter Road, where he is a well-recognised figure.
Friend Janet Craig, 26, who has known Carl since his days at the Royal Blind School, said: “He just gets out there and does what he wants to. I think it’s amazing that he’s got the confidence to go to all these matches and mix with the fans.”
“I’ve never really heard or seen him down,” added Hibs fan Graham Jameson, 56, who drives him to and from matches at Easter Road. “He’s always very upbeat.”