Hibs fans get surprise calls from first-team stars as club makes brilliant gesture to supporters
The Easter Road side want to make sure their supporters are coping well in the current climate
By Joel Sked
Thursday, 26th March 2020, 2:25 pm
1 hour ago
Hibs supporters have been getting surprise phone calls from first-team stars as the club look keep in touch with the fan base.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has presented teams with a challenge when it comes to connecting with their support during a difficult period.
Hibs had hoped to do various things out and about in the community while there was no football, but had to alter plans due to the latest Government guidance around social distancing.
After discussions between staff, the club opted to connect with fans via the telephone, using the first-team players to reach out to supporters who fall under specific criteria and check in on them to make sure things were okay.
It was an idea which the players fully bought into once it had been floated into the club’s Whatsapp group, Graeme Mathie, Hibs sporting director, told the Evening News.
He said: “It might seem like a really simple thing but it was one message into the Whatsapp group and suddenly a huge number of the players are holding their hands up saying ‘no problem, I’ll do it. Give me the details and I’m on it’.
“Davie Flynn (child wellbeing and safety officer) did a great job organising it and 12 of the players initially said they would do it with three or four coming in later.
“The players don’t need to do that.
“At these times you learn a lot about yourself but you also learn a good amount about other people as well. And in that sense it has been good to see the whole Hibs family, for want of a better term, looking out for each other and working well together and taking this challenge head on and finding ways to deal with it.”
He added: “That’s all it was. A three or four minute phone call: ‘How are you doing, how’s things, is everything going alright, we’re missing you at Easter Road, hopefully see you soon, if there’s anything in the meantime the club can do for you just let us know’.
“I think people just genuinely appreciated someone taking the time just to pick up the phone and see how they were doing. I guess that is a great message for everybody at this period.”
It is an initiative which will continue, with the club eager to see fans back at Easter Road, healthy and safe once the pandemic subsides.
Mathie said: “I made the mistake this morning of asking if we can get a longer list of the details for supporters in a specific age range and specific criteria which is running into the thousands now!
“I’m having to rely on the support of all the football department. So unfortunately some of the supporters may get a phone call from me rather than Martin Boyle!
“As a club we think it’s important to keep in touch with those who are seen as vulnerable in our supporter base.
“Whether they get a phone call from me or one of the first team players hopefully it is just appreciated that we are thinking about them and we are part of one family and that we want to see everybody back safe and sound at Easter Road as quickly as possible.”
The club have been proactive in continuing to engage with fans, especially on social media as it tries to help a void which will be apparent in a lot of lives. It is that sense of community which is important to Hibs and Mathie.
“One aspect of football I love is walking into the stadium on a match day,” he said.
You walk past loads of people, family, friends and everybody from all sides have the same level of excitement, expectation, you just see community in front of you. That’s the bit I miss the most. I love it.
“That’s the thing everyone is missing at the moment, the aspect of community. Amongst the players, amongst the staff, amongst the supporters.”