Hibee wins award – for managing Hearts pub

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RUNNING a pub in the heart of Jambo territory – it was never going to be the best of weeks for Hibby Kevin McGhee.

But now the popular publican has something to celebrate, despite his team getting dumped out of the cup by their fiercest rivals on Sunday.

BT Manager of the month - Kevin McGee, landlord of the Athletic Arms, being presented with the award by Hearts captain Christophe Berra

BT Manager of the month - Kevin McGee, landlord of the Athletic Arms, being presented with the award by Hearts captain Christophe Berra

Kevin has been named BT Sport’s Manager of the Month for running The Athletic Arms – better known as The Diggers – in Gorgie.

“Derby day is always an interesting one for me,” admitted Kevin, accepting the award yesterday.

“It was fantastic for the pub, but I was on the receiving end of some good-natured ribbing from the regulars.

“I was delighted with the performance of the staff here – not so much the Hibs players.”

Kevin has run The Diggers for eight years – so called because it was a regular watering hole for workers in Dalry Cemetery after they came off shift.

Hearts captain Christophe Berra and BT Sport pundit John Hartson were on hand yesterday to present the trophy to Kevin.

“It was a big surprise,” said Kevin. “I got nominated but I don’t know how or by who. It was a great surprise and I’m really, really chuffed.”

The award helped sweeten the weekend’s derby defeat which saw Hearts triumph 1-0 in the Scottish Cup.

“It’s difficult at times,” joked Kevin. “But I’ve got a good group of staff and great customers. There’s never any trouble – they usually just slag me off and I have to take it – then I take their money off them for a pint.”

Sports channel BT Sport came up with the monthly award to help celebrate people and stories in pubs across the UK.

Kevin scooped the December gong after impressing with the pub’s community spirit and links forged with the nearby Tynecastle club – despite his own allegiances.

“It’s great for the pub and the team because we are used to seeing the style bars in town get the awards rather than a traditional pub with sport, like ours,” said Kevin.

Photos and memorabilia adorn the walls of the Victorian pub and fans pour through the doors before and after matches.

The Diggers also sponsors several Hearts players and Kevin – whose uncle Alex McGhee played for Hibs – has held many fundraising events for the club.

Fans forum Jambos Kickback, who also use The Diggers, recently helped pay for the installation of a defibrillator at the pub.

As part of his prize, Kevin won a new £4,000 TV to further enhance the viewing experience of sports fans at the 
pub.

Bruce Cuthbert of BT Sport said: “Congratulations to Kevin and the team on winning the BT Sport Manager of the Month award.

“Pubs up and down the country make outstanding contributions to the communities they serve, and this award is a small way of recognising some of the work they do.”

Customers can nominate publicans for January’s competition now by tweeting @BTSportBars using the hashtag #BTMOTM.