St. Patrick’s Branch of the Hibernian Supporters Association would like to congratulate Sam Martinez, the oldest Hibernian F.C. Supporter alive, and wish him a very happy 105th birthday, tomorrow Wed. 18th February.
Sam has been watching Hibs since he moved to Edinburgh at the end of the Second World War. He first came to Scotland in 1942 from British Honduras, modern day Belize, to help with the War effort.
He was engaged in forestry work near Ullapool, before coming to Edinburgh to live and work as a cook at the British Honduras Hostel in York Place.
He then came across Hibs by complete accident……….
“One Saturday afternoon, as a perfect stranger in Edinburgh, I took a walk down York Place towards the Playhouse,”
“I saw this big crowd. Being a stranger, I was frightened, thinking it was a riot going on. I went back to my hostel because I was scared.
“The manager of the hostel said to me ‘don’t worry, those men are going to Easter Road to see football.
“I had not seen football for years. I followed the crowd and I got into the queue. A young fellow offered me a complimentary ticket. I said ‘No I don’t want it, I can pay my way’, but another gentleman standing beside me said ‘Take it, you are perfectly safe’.
“I sat in my seat and I asked a fellow which is which. He said ‘the green is Hibs, the blue is Rangers’.
“I had a team back home in my own country – Astrans – who were green and white also. Green is my favourite colour.”
Sam then became a regular at Hibs games and traveled around the country with fellow Hibbies from the Hawkhill Supporters Branch.
He was at the Scottish Cup Final in 1947 when they lost 2-1 to Aberdeen and remembers Hampden being a “big dirty place” where he was “knee deep in water” at the bottom of the stand.
He was also at the Cup Final defeats to Clyde in 1958, Celtic in 1972 and the three finals against Rangers in 1979. Furthermore, he recalls a Scottish Cup game in Montrose, when he missed the bus home and had to walk from the Angus town back to Edinburgh.
Sam settled in the Capital and met his wife Mary at a dance (they went on to have three daughters and three sons). They were married for almost 50 years before she died in 2007.
He worked at Balerno Paper Mill for 25 years, however after retiring at 65, he went back to work at a butchers and kept various other jobs until heart problems forced him to retire at the age of 94.
His experiences of emigration were told in TV documentary, The Tree Fellers, and he also featured in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.
Now a great-grandfather, Sam says ”I have lived a happy life and have been very blessed. If you have a contented life and kind people around you, then you can live a full life-no matter what age you are. You really don’t know how long you have to live, particularly at this age but by golly I am happy.
On the vexed question we have all asked ourselves dozens of times Sam’s response typifies the wee man……… ‘A lot of people say I will never see Hibs win the Cup’. ‘You are the oldest person not to have seen Hibs win the Cup’. I say well, there is always time.’
Have a great day Sam.