From Lima to Leith: Hibs owner Ron Gordon details football journey that led him to brink of Scottish Cup glory
Ron Gordon offers a quick zoom tour of his football memorabilia.
There are framed shirts, from his Peruvian side and first love Universitario, from Boca Juniors, River Plate and an Ajax top, signed by the European Cup winners, including his favourite player, Johan Cruyff.
But, there will, undoubtedly, be space made for a signed Scottish Cup winners’ Hibs top should everything go to plan at Hampden tomorrow.
Entrepreneur and the current owner of the Easter Road club, Gordon is a man who built his fortune on sound planning and diligently moving towards his targets.
“I’m big on planning and creating a vision and then driving towards that. In business I have always gotten to the goals I set myself, maybe not always in that time frame, maybe a year or two later, but we have always got there.
“Sports is a bit different, though, because you are not in control of everything and performances can go up and down.”
He has faith in the men who have already delivered third place in the Premiership this season - the first time the Leith club have managed that in 16 years - and who he speaks so passionately about. But, such is the nature of football, he knows that belief will not guarantee him a carefree Saturday as he and his family and friends gather in his home just outside Washington DC to try to end what has already been a marvellous season on an unbelievable high.
“I usually watch the match with my wife [Kit]. I took her on one of our first dates to a football game so she knew what she was getting into! She has become a very big fan. Or my brother or friends join us.
“Quite honestly, the number of friends I have in the US who now follow Hibs is amazing so it would be nice if those in the area come over and we all watch the game together. It could be stressful but it could also be fun!
“I get nervous watching these games but I have enjoyed it, really really enjoyed it. Obviously, I would rather be there in person but this has worked out very well.
“It has been a wonderful experience to see the way the team has come together, the way they are playing and the results they are getting. I think we have been really, really good over the last couple of months, very consistent. We have one more big one, which could be huge. It would end up being a phenomenal season and I hope that supporters are happy. Certainly the way season ticket sales are going is encouraging.” Over 8,000 have already signed up.
When people think of businessmen moving into football there is usually a degree of scepticism. But, Gordon understands not only the game but also Scottish football, tapping into his Scottish heritage and his upbringing in another football-daft country.
Born in Peru, he was like any lad growing up in Leith, playing all day, every day.
La U were his team in Lima, where rivalries were just as intense as any Edinburgh derby and the passions that were ignited back then still burn.
“I am very religious about watching all the games but I have mellowed out. I used to yell at the tv but I don't anymore. Maybe that's because we are winning! Or, maybe I am becoming more philosophical about it.
“I played a lot. I was actually a very good little player when I was young, not at the level of these guys, but I did enjoy playing football. I played at my school and I played in my neighbourhood. I played a lot!
“Most of my friends when I was growing up were football nuts so we played a lot then I would go to the professional games as much as I could. I love the game. There is something about it that is beautiful, both in terms of the creativity and the things you see players come up with, their imagination and skill, and on the other hand, it is a very unpredictable, very unfair and cruel game at times. That is what ignites the passion. It gets you all worked up.
“You see that with supporters all over the world, but football fans are passionate supporters. I think that is what makes the game so unique and special.”
Over the years he has played, coached, written about and followed football. Owning a club was the dream progression. But moving to the US as a teenager provided some challenges.
“I arrived when I was 14, about a week before my 15th birthday and at high school there was no football. There were somes clubs who played and I did a bit of that but when I went to college I tried playing but it was really awful football, really really bad so I stopped but when I came back to Washington I started a football club and we were really, really good.”
His first business offers a further example of his obsession.
“It was a football newspaper. I started that when I was maybe 23 or 24 and at that time The Diplomats as they were called brought Cruyff and my first publication had a photo of Cruyff and the headline was ‘Diplomats buy gold’.”
Buying Hibs is the realisation of all his football dreams, and provided the opportunity to prove his two sons, Colin and Ian, wrong.
“They had been making fun of me because I had been talking about buying a football team for a long time and my kids eventually said: ‘Dad stop talking about it because you are never going to do it - we know you won’t’. But it’s like shopping for a home, you have to keep looking and then all of a sudden you walk into one and you think ‘this is it, this is the right one’. That was Hibs.”