• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Sunshine on Leith

ByStuart McKenzie

Oct 28, 2021
Hibernian FC's Easter Road stadium, looking out onto the River Forth.Hibs' Easter Road stadium in Leith

One year Hearts’ junior, Hibs were founded by members of Edinburgh’s Irish community living on the Cowgate, and initially shared the Meadows with their rival. Their title drought is even longer than that of Hearts, having not won the Scottish League since 1952.
The Hibees are not without their share of claims to fame, however; they were the first British side to compete in European Football, losing to the then French Champions Stade de Reims in the first-ever European Cup. Hibs also once boasted the services of one of the game’s greats in George Best, who made 17 appearances for the club in the 1979/80 season.

Where will I find them?

Hibs play at the 20,421 seater Easter Road Stadium in Leith, which is helpfully not actually situated on Easter Road. It’s about a 40-minute walk from Pollock or half an hour from Waverley station and served by plenty of bus routes. Despite being rooted in Edinburgh’s Irish Catholic community, modern-day geography plays the biggest part in allocating sides; Hibs tend to draw their support from Leith and Edinburgh’s northern and easterly suburbs. If you’ve landed in any of the Pollock Halls, Brae House, or Murano for example, Hibs are the team for you.

What is there to do pre and post-match?

Look, if you want to be painfully boring go to the OMNI Centre, drink in Spoons and eat at Nando’s and remain entirely separate from your new home’s unique offerings. If you want to get stuck in, there’s no shortage of food and drink around Easter Road, Abbeyhill, and Leith Walk. The only issue is, the closer you get to both the stadium and kickoff, the busier the concourse of Easter Road becomes. My personal shout would be The Brass Monkey on Leith Walk (don’t get confused with a pub of the same name on Drummond Street near Old College), or Safari Lounge on Cadzow Place.

Okay, but are they actually any good?

The answer depends on your opinion of Scottish Football. Admittedly, by domestic standards, Hibs are jostling to claim a sort of ‘best of the rest’ status. Celtic and Rangers of course dominate the landscape, but Hibs managed a third-place finish in the 2020/21 season, and currently sit just four points behind Rangers (with two points more than Celtic). They also appeared in the qualifiers for the inaugural Europa Conference League but were dumped out 5-2 on aggregate in the third round by Croatian outfit HNK Rijeka.

If you don’t come into it expecting the polished, sanitised game of the English Premier League, you might get a pleasant surprise. Whilst there isn’t the tactical finesse or star power found south of the border, the Scottish Premier League is the best-attended league in Europe per capita, full of passionate fans, crunching tackles, ripping shots, and reckless abandon. Forget watching Burnley v Norwich on mute in an overpriced central pub and get back to what football is about.

Image credit: ‘Duncan’ via Wikimedia Commons