John, a lollipop man at his old primary Leith St Mary’s, remembers that the first time great-grandson Liam attended a game he was just three. “He grabbed my hand and was telling me, ‘look grandad, that’s where they play football’.”
Now Liam Nichol, nine, has a season ticket of his own and is a regular attendee along with dad, Steven, 33, who is the son of one of John’s two daughters.
Steven, who now lives in West Lothian, has been a season ticket holder for 15 years. He said: “I grew up in Leith and it was part of the culture. My dad didn’t go but my granddad started taking me when I was quite young. I just got hooked. The best times were when we won the Skol cup in 1991 – then we won the CIS cup in 2007. And of course, when we beat Hearts six two.
“Following a team is about more than just the football, it’s about who you are and where you come from. Liam understands that. I think he likes spending time with his dad, his uncle and great-grandad too.”
The latest addition to the team in the stands is Ryan, five, who has a season ticket of his own for the first time this year. He comes with his dad, Kenny McCalman, 30, who is married to Steven’s sister and John’s granddaughter, Sara-Louise. The pair met at Holyrood High and have four children. Daughter Rachel, nine, also likes to go along to Easter Road.
Kenny, a website designer, said: “It is quite a family atmosphere at Easter Road. We all get together in one place to get really frustrated! That’s being a Hibs supporter for you.
“Ryan is quite wee but he enjoys watching the game and getting a hot dog at half-time. He likes the whole atmosphere of it and so does Rachel.”
For John, the glory days were watching the legendary “Famous Five” in the late 1940s and early 50s, then “Turnbull’s Tornadoes” in the 1970s.
“We all grew up playing football all the time, constantly,” he said. “One street would play another street, a shilling a man. You would have to pay a shilling if you lost the game.
“Maybe they play for longer now but I don’t think they have the ball control.”
Wife Irina “can tell by my face when I come in after a game if we have won or lost. If we have lost she will make me a cup of tea. I can’t eat anything. I get a wee bit nervous when we are playing the Hearts. I am a bag of nerves.