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Official Review by Chris Tuck, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Scarves are held high and voices lifted as the largest crowd at Hibernian in 23 years (20,205) belt out their club anthem 'Sunshine on Leith.' It's spine tingling stuff as Easter Road celebrates a 3-1 Scottish Cup 5th round replay win against arch rivals Hearts. The 3,800 away supporters in the south stand start the mile-and-a-half trek back to Edinburgh city centre.
Hibs have played at their home on Albion Road since 1893, with a full refurbishment completed in 2010. With 4 individual stands it's the archetypal set up; three of the sides are two tiered, the noisy east stand simply one big bank of bouncing support.
Whilst the ground is completely rebuilt, with the structures and sight lines transformed, you can still feel the considerable history as you step into the arena sensing it's a special place to watch football.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
If you choose to eat in the ground there are the usual establishments in all the concourse areas. Service in the upper west stand is quick and the staff friendly. It is good to see some variety in the menu with pepperoni pizza (£4) and chicken curry deluxe pie (£3.10) alongside the usual burgers, hot dogs and snacks.
A half time cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate will set you back £2.20, which is a little on the steep side. Coke (22oz) is £2.50, Ribena is £1.90 and an Orange Capri Sun just £1.50. I went for a steak pie (£2.60) which, although it looked a little on the small side, turned out to be a good choice.
At the game of this review, the atmosphere was excellent as you'd expect for a cup match against local rivals under lights. One club official suggested it even topped the big European nights v AEK Athens in 2001 and v Dnipro in 2005. The game itself was played out at a frenetic pace. Hibs raced into a three goal lead before Hearts pulled a goal back midway through the second half. Hibs were very much in the ascendancy though, made even more impressive by the fact they currently play one league below their visitors Hearts.
Sight lines are good from all four stands. The top corner of both end stands are cut off providing a glimpse of character and there is a small scoreboard at the south end of the ground. My seat was in the west stand which had a great view over proceedings. The lower east is the place to be for a good sing and shout. The whole ground is covered but front seats may attract the inclement weather Scotland is sometimes known for!
Edinburgh is an incredible city that demands that you stay for a few days at the very least. For football fans you could attempt to visit other local teams like Spartans, Leith Athletic and Edinburgh City as well as today's opponents Hearts. There's also Murrayfield Stadium to the west of the city which is the home of Scottish rugby.
Accommodation options are of course numerous. My recommendation is to stay at a superb B&B called A-Haven on Ferry Road. Call David there for a really good room and breakfast for a really good price. If you stay at A-Haven you can cut through to Leith Walk easily and even stop off at Bonningtons, a great local pub recently rebuilt after a fire. Alternatively you can join the 'River of Leith' walkway, a conservation walk which will take you towards the town centre described as a 'silver thread in a ribbon of green.'
The Beer House at Waverley Station is a good start for those heading to the game and arriving by train. A pint of 'Scotlands favourite beer,' Tennent's, costs £3.85 and has food options such as sausage & mash at £8.50 or chicken burger and chips £9.50. Then head down Leith Walk for numerous pub options before cutting across to Easter Road where you can visit fans favourite 'Four in Hand.' This is a great local pub where the singing starts early with football on the tv, and it is a great place to meet passionate Hibs fans.
'The Office' is a newer looking bar opposite, which also looks busy with the football on and seems friendly enough. Both sell locally made 'Crabbies' - alcoholic ginger beer worth trying; you will either love it or hate it! The Iona bar further up Easter Road can complete a hat trick of decent bars to visit. To drink at the ground head to 'Behind the Goals' which has cheap drink, food and live music. Just show your match ticket to get inside.
City guides for Edinburgh are plentiful. They'll tell you about a visit to The Brittania moored in Leith docks, a climb up to Arthur's Seat and of course the delightful Edinburgh Castle. At the top of Leith Walk there is the Omni Centre which has a Frankie and Benny's, Nando's, Filling Station etc. plus a 12 screen cinema. For a little more culture, the Edinburgh Playhouse is next door. On Sunday morning head to Central Church in the centre of Edinburgh to meet a great bunch of friendly and inclusive locals (@centralchurched).
On this occasion Hibs fans excelled; loud, passionate, relentless in their support and ultimately rewarded with a fine win. Hibs Historic Trust meet monthly and seek to ensure the rich history around the club is remembered and celebrated. Join them for one of their monthly meetings if you can.
Songs on the night included 'On our way, two in a row,' 'Green Army,' 'Hail hail the Hibs are here' and the mesmerising 'We are Hibs' to the tune of runaround Sue which is still bouncing around in my head one week later!
Hibs average league attendance in 2016/2017 is just above 15,000, easily the highest in their league. In fact that support is the 4th highest in Scotland even taking into account top flight teams. Edinburgh news reported the next day that fans could be heard 'three miles away' as they roared their team to victory.
Getting to the ground is straightforward whether you arrive by car, train or plane. Edinburgh airport is to the west of the city with an excellent tram service that will get you into central Edinburgh.
Waverley is the main train station which is about 1.5 miles from the ground. If you come by car the roads around the ground are quite narrow and be careful to ensure you don't park in 'residents only' spaces. Getting into the ground is simple enough, and you can pick your ticket up from the office on the corner of the west stand and the Famous Five stand. If you have any particular access issues simply contact the club in advance.
The club website and social media will keep you up to date with any changes to the match day timetable, also providing team news and match reports. Their twitter handle is @hibsofficiall. Other good fans twitter sites include @hibernian_fc, @hibernianfcnews, @hibeehibernian, @fourinhandhsc, @follow_hibees and @hibstrust.
Overall I'd say it's great value to visit one of Scotland's iconic clubs. If you choose the restaurants and bars in Princes Street, the Royal Mile and The Haymarket in the centre of Edinburgh then of course you will get clobbered. Stick to the establishments from this review and your pocket won't suffer too much and you'll get a more than satisfactory return on investment.
Tickets are priced at £22 for adults and £12 for concessions. The match day program costs £3, which is average for this level.
Head to the club shop which is situated directly behind the 'Famous Five' stand. It's a spacious shop with a friendly staff team, headed up by Neil, an Englishman (and Southampton fan)! All the usual merchandise is available, all of course in green and white, including a gnome which Neil helpfully showed off especially for Stadium Journey readers! (See photos tab at the top of this article).
The find of the day however was nestled in a small shop unit on Albion Road. The football program shop run by Brian Johnson is an absolute mine of programs going back over 60 years: Hibs programs, Scottish internationals, cup finals, non league and much much more. The shop is open all week and of course on match days. Well worth a visit!
Ok, so I chose a top match to attend, but the city of Edinburgh is simply stunning and if you get to watch a derby match too then it's a winning recipe. Sing along to the 'Sunshine on Leith' classic, written by local band The Proclaimers, at the end of the match and you'll be offered your money back if the hairs are not standing on the back of your neck by the end of the song!
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Edinburgh Waverley Station
+44 141 847 0576
218 Easter Road
Edinburgh, EH7 6HN
+44 131 538 9911
Edinburgh, EH1 3AN
+44 131 524 7770
180 Ferry Road
Edinburgh, EH6 4NS
+44 131 554 6559
51-53 Newhaven Place
Edinburgh, EH6 4TX
+44 871 527 8360