Darren Jackson recalls flying to Hibs match on Tom Farmer’s private jet

Hibs play Wick again as part of the Highland club's 125th anniversary
Hibs play Wick again as part of the Highland club's 125th anniversary
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Darren Jackson and Kevin McAllister exchanged quizzical looks, the words “why us?” left unspoken as they were told they would be part of a Hibs squad heading to Wick for a friendly match.

But their mood soon changed when they learned they’d be getting superstar treatment, travelling north in style aboard the private jet of the owner of the Easter Road club, Sir Tom Farmer.

Darren Jackson travelled to Wick in style

Darren Jackson travelled to Wick in style

The Capital club will be making the 500-mile round trip again on Sunday, July 15 to mark the Highland League outfit’s 125th anniversary but, like the vast majority of the party which travelled in the mid-1990s, it will be by the more modest team coach.

Jackson, of course, became well accustomed to flying around Europe and further afield during his playing career in which he won 28 Scotland caps but, he admitted, nothing quite matched that flight.

He recalled: “The club were sending up mostly a reserve team but I think they’d promised Wick Academy there would be a couple of experienced players.

“I don’t know why Alex Miller picked on Crunchie and myself. The two of us were kind of giving each other that look of ‘why us?’ but you did what you were told.

“But then the carrot was produced as he told us how we’d be travelling. So the next morning the rest of the boys set off on the team coach. I think they left about eight o’clock and on the way they got caught in traffic because of an accident so it took them more than six hours and they were absolutely shattered.

“We headed to the airport, Alex, Douglas Cromb the chairman, and Crunchie and myself with our wee bags under our arms.

“We didn’t even have to go through the main terminal building – we just drove straight to where private jets were parked.

“If I remember correctly, there was only the four of us and the pilot on the plane. There were maybe six or eight of those big comfy seats and Alex was trying to make sure Crunchie and I weren’t getting too carried away.

“I don’t know where I had got it, but I had a foot long cigar which I’d taken with me and you can imagine the look on Alex’s face when he turned round to see that sticking out of my mouth.

“What a way to travel, it was the first time – and the last – I’d ever been on a private jet and, while it took the rest of the lads all that time to get up there, our flight wasn’t much more than half and hour.”

Not surprisingly Jackson can’t remember too much about the actual match itself other than saying “I think it wasn’t a bad game,” but he found the return flight equally memorable.

He said: “We stayed overnight but, while the rest of the boys got back on the coach, we flew down to Edinburgh to get to training.

“I remember flying over Cramond where we trained at the time, getting off the plane and heading there. It probably took us less time to get down from Wick than it took the boys who lived in Glasgow to get there.”

Next month’s match was the idea of Wick chairman James Innes, who took advantage of a business trip to Edinburgh to visit Hibs’ East Mains training centre to pitch his case to the club’s head of football operations, George Craig.

Innes said: “I’m actually something of an adopted Hibs fan because I’m in Edinburgh quite often and have been to Easter Road quite a few times. The scatter-gun approach just doesn’t work.

“You can fire off as many nice emails as you like asking clubs to visit and you’ll get lots of nice emails back saying thanks but no thanks but, after speaking to people I know in Edinburgh, I thought we might have a chance with Hibs and eventually I was invited out to their training ground.

“We’re the most northerly semi-professional club in Britain and we’re delighted Hibs will be passing every other club in Scotland to come and visit us on what is a special occasion for Wick Academy.”