The 2020/21 season has seen football fans locked out of matches across the country. Hibs fans haven’t stepped foot inside Easter Road in over a year and the stadium has laid empty as Jack Ross and the squad attempt to secure a third-place finish for the first time since 2005.
As part of our #RoadToEurope initiative, Hibernian Supporters want to share the stories of the fans who have been forced to watch the team in very different ways this year.
Despite the difficulties faced by everyone due to Covid-19, Hibs fans have stepped forward time and time again to make sure the club is as strong as it possibly can be when a return to the stands is possible.
First up in our new content series is Peter Gray, a lifelong Hibee from Edinburgh who has missed watching the men in green and white and can’t wait to get back as soon as restrictions allow. With over a year of watching on the television rather than in the flesh, Peter is itching to return to Easter Road.
“I’ve missed watching Hibs more than anything quite frankly! You don’t realise how much you miss it until it’s gone – Saturdays just aren’t the same without the Cabbage and ribs!
“Watching at home just isn’t the same as being there but I have been religiously been going round and watching the games with my dad, which makes him really happy and has been giving him something to look forward to each week.”
A visit to the football on a Saturday afternoon is the highlight of the week for so many, with the chance to catch up with friends and family before, during and after the match almost as important as the football itself.
With supporters limited to their own social bubbles, much of the weekly ritual has been impossible due to the Covid-19 restrictions we have all been living with. Peter says he is missing the feeling of watching the Hibees with other people – he can’t wait to walk out of the stadium with that winning feeling again soon.
“It’s been hard with no social interaction with anyone really. There’s nothing better than pre-match drinks with your mates or family and the buzz you get walking through the turnstiles – it’s even better when you walk out with the result everyone wanted!”
With Jack Ross’ side sitting in third place in the SPFL Premiership with five games to go, Hibs are in a strong position to secure European football at Easter Road next season. With supporters locked out for a whole season the prospect of playing in Europe is one that looks particularly exciting ahead of the return of fans later this year.
“Qualifying for Europe would be massive – especially from the money side of things as the club have taken a big hit this year with no ticket sales.
“It would give the fans something to look forward to, especially with a chance of European football until Christmas!”
In a year filled with new ways of doing things the prospect of returning to live football – something which for so long seemed so normal – will for the first-time present lots of strange experiences.
With Ofir Marciano set to play his last game for the Hibees without a chance to say goodbye to supporters, Peter says the possibility that some players will move on in the summer and not be there when fans return is a strange thing to comprehend.
“It’s strange to think that no fan will ever see Rocky Marciano play in a Hibs strip ever again! Some players that we have signed this season we’ve yet to see play in the flesh – there’s also the possibility that we might never get to see them play live if they decide to move on!”
Throughout the season Hibs fans have backed the club with over 11,000 season tickets sold, record sales of the home shirt and in excess of £20,000 contributed via Hibernian Supporters every month. Peter has been delighted to see Hibees everywhere doing their best to help the club through an extremely difficult spell for all professional football clubs.
“I’ve always been proud of this club because it’s what I love, but this season just goes to show that the backing is there. To smash record shirt sales and keep the season ticket sales up to the levels they are at is more than anyone could have asked for!”
Looking back on a whole season without seeing his beloved football club live Peter says it’s been “absolutely murder!” but he is looking forward to a return to Easter Road – hopefully sooner rather than later.
“I think it’ll be even weirder when we manage to get back through the doors but what a feeling it’ll be! Roll on!”
If you’d like to feature in our #RoadToEurope series before the end of the season, you can click here to tell us your story of the season behind closed doors and we’ll use the best ones online.