It’s January 2, 1956, four weeks short of my fourth birthday. Post-Christmas excitement is in the air, and that’s added to by the fact that my Uncle James is staying with us. He’s a Franciscan Friar in Dundee, so we don’t often see him in Edinburgh; he used to play for Hibs, and he makes me laugh. There’s even more excitement when along with Uncle James, my dad and mum, I find myself in a taxi – maybe for the first time ever.
It takes us to Easter Road and I find myself up towards the back of the old West Stand, towards the Dunbar End. I’ve no idea what’s happening, but it’s a great feeling. Vaguely aware of something going on, down on the green ground far below, I spend most of my time, back to the pitch, watching my dad and his brother, laughing and joshing each other, as brothers do.
The stats tell me that Hibs drew 2-2 with Hearts in front of just under 61,000 fans. Lawrie Reilly and Willie Ormond score for HIbs, and though I always tell folk I saw the Famous Five play that day, I didn’t really, as Combe replaced Bobby Johnstone, who must have been injured.
It was my first football match, and the only time I went to a game with my dad or my uncle. Just over a year later my dad would be dead, and two years later so was Uncle James. Fifty years later I still miss them, and for more reasons than football.
We moved to England after my dad died and I spent the 1960s supporting Southport in the lower divisions, establishing a football-going habit that has never left me.
The next time I saw Hibs was in April 1963, on a visit to my hometown; I badgered a family friend into taking me to a midweek game against Motherwell: Hibs won 1-0, but I missed the goal, as we were finding our seats when Gerry Baker scored.
However, university brought me back to Edinburgh full time in 1970 and Easter Road is a fixture in my life still. I’m so glad that I can say I went to a game with my dad and uncle, it’s a memory that means more with each passing year.
In May 1994, my son, aged six, came to his first game at Easter Road – but that’s another story…