Hibernian fans have backed the club phenomenally over the last 12 months and with over 3,000 season tickets already sold for next season it is yet another reminder of the top class support the club has received.
In our #RoadToEurope series we are aiming to highlight to superb efforts of the fanbase and countdown to the Hibees return to the European stage during the 2020/21 campaign.
With a top four finish now secured in the SPFL Premiership Hibernian will compete in Europe in some form next season, with the remaining league games and the Scottish Cup set to decide what shape our participation will take.
Season ticket holder Ollie Johnstone is next up to tell us how he’s found the season behind closed doors. As the business end of the season continues it is even more disappointing than ever that there will be no fans inside Easter Road to cheer on the team against St Johnstone this weekend.
During the Covid-19 restrictions Ollie says he has really missed the feeling of travelling across Scotland with his fellow supporters to watch the Hibees. Instead of his usual day out he’s had to turn to the digital world to discuss the football, with group chats, social media and fans forums filling the void.
“It’s what I’ve missed most unfortunately, not just the actual football but the day out, the people that I’d see, the train to obscure Scottish Towns to obscure bars. It’s rubbish without it.”
Watching matches from home just doesn’t do the trick for most supporters who are used to attending games in person. Ollie says that his feelings towards Hibs have been diluted throughout the course of the season but he’s in no doubt that the hunger and passion will return when fans are allowed back in the stands.
“I watch out of something to do to avoid boredom rather than because I enjoy it. If I was asked to swap our league position for a season we finished in the bottom 6 but we could attend home and away then I would without a shadow of a doubt.
“I get more frustrated at home without the tonic of the day out and all the good things that come with it. When we win it doesn’t feel as good but I suppose the flip side is that when we lose it rarely feels as bad.
“It’s created a real ambivalence towards Hibs unfortunately but I know that’ll stop when we get to go back because it’s my favourite hobby by a mile.”
As well as missing seeing the action unfold in front of him inside the stadium, Ollie has really missed the social interaction which centres around Hibs games and says there are people who he only sees at the matches who he’s looking forward to catching up with.
“I live with my family but I’ve missed days out with friends and I’ve also really missed the people that I know from the football but I’m not close enough to have group chats with or meet up with under current circumstances.
“It’s totally rubbish I just miss the day out and everything that came from it, life without it is totally vanilla.”
With qualification for European competition secured next season, we’re all hoping that fans will be permitted to attend the matches when they come around. Ollie feels that playing in Europe will mean less to him if he’s unable to travel home and away to watch Hibs in action.
“It will be nowhere near as important as normal because if we can’t go and don’t get the European away trips then it takes away the reason you want to qualify.
“Getting to follow Hibs to interesting places around Europe is the main bit of excitement for me. It’ll give me something to do on a Thursday night for a few weeks though at least and it’s good to see the club getting more money and progressing, however it’ll feel like a missed opportunity the whole time thinking ‘imagine we were there’.”
Like many football supporters Ollie has come to value the non-football aspects of being a fan with many of the parts of a day out at the match taken away from him during the pandemic.
“It’s made me realise how little the actual football is of importance and how much everything else is of importance. When we play well normally it’s amazing and exciting but take the day out away and it’s just not the same.”
With some light at the end of the tunnel and a return of supporters to Easter Road a possibility after the summer, Ollie reflects on the financial backing shown by Hibs fans which have allowed the club to weather the storm and secure European football.
“The fans have been class in terms of financial backing, personally renewed my season ticket and will next season to help out the club and help them get through these difficult times.”
If you’d like to feature in our #RoadToEurope series before the end of the season, you can do so by clicking here to complete a short questionnaire via Google Forms.