Green and white army is on the march from Kabul to Easter Rd

FROM the far reaches of eastern Afghanistan to the tenements of Easter Road, Hibs fans are preparing to cheer on their heroes to League Cup final glory at Hampden tomorrow.

Saturday, 12th March 2016, 10:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 3:43 pm
Connie, 7, Shania, 3, and Zara Stenhouse, 5, get geared up for Hampden. Picture: Greg Macvean

And with tens of thousands set to descend on the national stadium for the big match against Ross County, messages of support have been flooding in.

Some have stumped up hundreds of pounds for long-distance trips from countries including the United States.

And those unable to make it in person said they would be there in spirit, cheering the Hibees as they bid to win a fourth League Cup crown.

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Alan Duncan will be tuning in with the 2 Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland based in Penicuik. Picture: contributed

Proclaimers legend Charlie Reid was today among those hoping that tomorrow will see the Edinburgh side triumph.

Charlie, one half of the iconic Leith-born folk duo, said: “I’m looking forward to the match and hoping that the team can win the trophy for us again.”

Lord Provost Donald Wilson has also confirmed players will be honoured with an open-top bus parade if they are victorious.

Taking place on March 21, the event would see the team travel from the High Street to Easter Road.

Chris Kettles and wife Heather. Picture: contributed

City publicans – many of whom have arranged for coaches to take supporters to Glasgow – said excitement was at fever pitch ahead of tomorrow’s final.

James Colvin, owner of Easter Road’s Iona Bar, said: “It’s a great atmosphere and has been for quite a few weeks.

“It’s a young side that Hibs have at the moment and there’s a lot of pressure on them.

“But they’ve been great. The best thing that could have happened was bringing in head coach Alan Stubbs.

Alan Duncan will be tuning in with the 2 Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland based in Penicuik. Picture: contributed

“I hope we can hold on to him.”

Soldiers serving in Afghanistan won’t make it to Hampden but are determined not to miss the match.

A group from Penicuik-based 2 SCOTS, who are on an eight-month tour of duty in Kabul, will be tuning in from thousands of miles away.

Alan Duncan, a colour sergeant with 2 Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said he would watch the final via the British Forces Broadcasting Service.

Chris Kettles and wife Heather. Picture: contributed

“Unfortunately we won’t make the final as we are not home until April,” he said.

“We will, however, be glued to a TV come 7.30 local time to cheer the Hibees on and hopefully a nice wee cup win to boost our spirits during our final month in Kabul.”

Alan, originally from Newtongrange but now living in Bonnyrigg, has been in the army for nearly 20 years.

“I’m really gutted to be missing Hibs winning the League Cup,” he said. “But I will be back in time for the big cup final in May to cheer the Hibees on for that one.”

Teacher Chris Kettles, 28, who moved to the US 18 months ago, paid around £800 to fly back. “I swithered about coming over,” he admitted. “But these things don’t happen often. It took many persuasive conversations with my good lady to sanction the trip.”

Chris, who was a history teacher at Ross High School in Tranent before going to live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his American wife, Heather, has had a season ticket since the age of ten.

He now subscribes to Hibs TV so he can see their fixtures.

“I’m an eternal optimist,” he said. “I’m hoping we get that one day in the sun – and I’m hoping for that for tomorrow.”

Lisa Meiklejohn has been travelling in Australia but flew home to make sure she did not miss the big match.

“I’ve been a Hibee since the day I was born and I wouldn’t miss being amongst 30,000 Hibees at Hampden – even if it is the most expensive cup final of my life,” she said. “I will forever bleed green. C’mon the Hibees.”

Businessman Bruce Davie said: “I run a business in Manchester and had booked hospitality at Twickenham for the England v Wales rugby today before it dawned on me that Hibs were in the final on Sunday. I had in my head the final would be later in the month.

“So I’m taking the early train to London today, getting back to Manchester at midnight, then in my car for 9am tomorrow and drive to Glasgow, watch final then overnight in Edinburgh for the party.

“I’m a Leither born and bred and no way I’m missing this.”