My Brief Life as a Hibs Fan – Edinburgh, Scotland

November, Edinburgh

Hibsfans350Hibernians! Hibernians!

It’s not easy being a Hibs fan. You have to wear green, jump up and down on stadium seating and worse–know all the words to the Proclaimers’ songs.

It’s soccer back in the USA, a sport more known as the venue of soccer moms than soccer  dudes, but its football in Edinburgh, and it’s us versus them.  Draped in green Hibs’ scarves, standing on the stadium seats, we’re cheering our team, the Hibernians against the Hearts with song, volume and energy. The Hibs (Hibernians) do not have a  recently stellar track record, but this is the golden year.

I am a bystander, a  dragged- in companion to three enthusiastic Hibs fans; Barry, Gwynedd and my Tom, who is also a diehard Cubs and Red Sox fan, and knows adversity when he sees it. The game begins with each team parading out, and squaring off.  Both teams’s supporters’ noise from the stands (the Hearts–Heart of Midlothian or  Jambos, are the “other” Edinburgh team) is loud and semi musical. Imagine rows and terraced rows, of loud men wearing loud colors, singing as loudly as they can– the green half of them singing, “Glory, glory to the Hibees” and the maroon half singing   “the Hearts’ Song” –fans swaying slightly to the tune, waving football scarves like matadors to bulls.

HibsactionAlthough the stands do have seats, no one sits. Football clubs in Edinburgh do not serve beer at games but there is  plenty of evidence of its consumption on the streets leading to Leith’s Easter Road Stadium, and in the general demeanor of the fans. That they remember all the words to all the songs is remarkable, but it’s also possible that singing keeps them sober. 

Barry and Gwynedd are clearly part of the Hibs fraternity, Tom and I lipsynch.  Hearts score, Hibs sing. Hibs score, Hearts sing. Yellow jacketed officers patrol the foot of the stands in an effort to keep fans from rushing the field–a popular pastime. There is of course, a certain amount of that universal, men in herds, stands shakin’  foot stomping. Removing it from play, I wrap my Hibs scarf -as muffler around my head.

And so it goes. I am caught up in the game, and the songs and the general energy. Football is Fun! It’s a close game, but the nod goes to Hibernian and the fans go wild. Really wild.  Then lights dim.  Hibs supporters throughout the stands wrap arms across each others’  shoulders–and sing, some in three part harmony.

Curiously the song is the melancholic, somewhat obtuse Proclaimers tune, Sunshine on Leith, which may be about broken hearted love, interminable gray skies in Scotland–or football.  Although I am pretty sure some of the Hearts fans are singing rather unsportsmanlike lyrics to the same tune,  we all–Hearts and Hibs fans alike, have a wee tearie in our eye.

Sunshine on Leith on Youtube

proclaimersMy heart was broken, my heart was broken
Sorrow sorrow sorrow sorrow
My heart was broken, my heart was broken
You saw it, you claimed it
You touched it, you saved it
My tears are drying, my tears are drying
Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou
My tears are drying, my tears are drying

Your beauty and kindness
Made tears clear my blindness
While I’m worth my room on this earth
I will be with you
While the chief, puts sunshine on Leith
Ill thank him for his work
And your birth and my birth.

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