Hibs stars rally round to honour Ron Gordon legacy

Ian Gordon, left, with Kit Gordon during the the inaugural event last year. Picture: Mark Scates/SNS GroupIan Gordon, left, with Kit Gordon during the the inaugural event last year. Picture: Mark Scates/SNS Group
Ian Gordon, left, with Kit Gordon during the the inaugural event last year. Picture: Mark Scates/SNS Group
First team players lining up to take part in marathon challenge

The fun stuff pays for the important stuff. Something worth remembering if you’re wondering to shuffle along to East Mains for the Ron Gordon Challenge on Saturday week.

As a stand-alone event, taking part in a 15-hour football marathon, meeting first team players or testing your shot power with a new bit of kit is enough to attract plenty of football fans. But there’s more to this one-off day of football than just a test of endurance and a chance to explore the Hibernian Training Centre.

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Every penny raised will go to the Hibernian Community Foundation. An extension of the football club that was very dear to the heart of the late chairman. And a hugely important part of the community it serves.

“I think Ron always wanted to make a difference both on the pitch and off the pitch,” explained John Humphries, head of fundraising and events at the Foundation. “So he saw the value that Hibs has for the community, but also that the community has for Hibernian.

“He made a big effort to ensure that the impact he made was seen across every aspect of the club, not just the football itself, but the Leith area. Because we put our work into community outreach and community football.

“Our lunch clubs offer three community lunches three days per week. Tying in with that, we serve 500 meals on Christmas day – and we’ve served 15,000 free meals in the last year. That’s a massive part of the community outreach.

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“We also have mental health support, mainly for men, because we’ve found that football is a great way to reach people who might be struggling with mental health issues. We also do a lot of work with new Scots, helping people to integrate into our community – not to Hibs but to Scotland and the Edinburgh community as a whole. It’s the fundraising, the things like the Ron Gordon Challenge, which raises the money for these things to be possible.”

The fact that the first team are on board with events like the Challenge obviously helps. David Gray’s men will be hard at work on Saturday morning, the first full sessions of pre-season after they report for testing on Friday. But they’ll then dive straight into doing their bit for the Foundation.

Humphries said: “It’s going brilliantly so far. As you know, it’s the second year we’ve done it. We’re building off the success of last year, sales are flying through, and we’ve added more variation to the hours this year.

“We’ve got kids’ hours, corporate entries, five-v-five challenges, probably about 450 players involved in non-stop football. Even away from the playing, we have other activities – small games set up, a chance to test your shot power in the speed cage, a panna cage for one-v-one games. It’s football mayhem.

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“The whole first team will be there, and the coaching staff as well, meeting and interacting with people. They actually have training that morning – I think it’s their second day of pre-season – and then they’ll all get out to meet people. Last year they were brilliant.

GET THE LATEST HIBS NEWS DIRECTLY TO YOUR EMAIL INBOX DAILY WITH OUR FREE NEWSLETTER SERVICE “Having the players involved just brings something special. It takes it up a level, reaches the fans, reaches people. The foundation has gone from strength to strength, and a lot of that is down to the first team.

“You’ll see the players down at our Christmas appeal. Ben Kensell and the Gordon family, they come down to lend a hand, which shows how much the entire staff get involved, how much they care.

“We had Kit and Ian there last year. That was lovely. They started the event off with the first kick of the ball this year. It’s a slightly altered format this year, with a 7 am start, so they will probably do something about halfway through.”