Dear St. Patrick’s Branch Members on behalf of the Committee I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year
Firstly membership numbers. We started January 2013 with 96 members and now have 185, not a bad result. Our membership now truly stretches worldwide, from Sunny Leith to Sunny Qatar, Tranent to Torquay, Niddrie to New Zealand. Glasgow to Georgia and everywhere in between. We have even gone way out West and this year have our first member in the USA.
With regards our main events and projects, in March we had the mother of all St. Patrick’s Days, in fact we made a full weekend of it! Our main social event of the year was St. Patrick’s Night in the Hibs Club, held on Friday 16th March and was packed to the rafters not only with members from all over the UK but a large contingent of our Members from Groningen ,in the Netherlands. A superb night.
On the 17th, St. Patrick’s Day we created the first wee bit history of the year, funded by the Branch, we erected a Plaque in St. Patrick’s Church, Cowgate, proudly displaying the names of our Clubs Founding Fathers and the Parish birth place. Our Branch Patron Pat Stanton unveiled the commemorative Plaque and was joined by the Hibernian Supporters Association, the Hibernian F.C. Board, Chairman, Manager and Staff. It was a very proud moment for us all.
Not content in making one little bit of history in the year we got on our bikes,well at least Hugh Cockburn did on the 6th May. Our member from Sunderland completed his fundraising London to Edinburgh cycle ride with all proceeds going to the Dan McMichael Gravestone fund. As you know the sad story of Dan, the last Hibernian Manager to lift the Scottish Cup was lying in an unmarked grave which had been discovered by our Secretary ‘Big G’ (Gordon McKinley) and Branch member ‘Bone’ (Willie Wilson), Gordon’s immediate reaction was that this Branch was not going to let that continue and with Hugh galvanising the whole fund raising theme we were well and truly underway with Hibernian Supporters from near and far pitching in to make the wonderful £3,000 headstone happen.
On the pitch unfortunately the season had not gone that well and by end of May 2012/2013 we could only finish the best of the rest, although we had made it through to the Scottish Cup Final again. As in so many years previously sadly it was not to be!
One of the great things about St. Patrick’s Branch is that so many members are involved in many varying good works within the Hibernian Family network, LWT, Kicks for Kids, Leith Links, MCFB and many more, (check them out on the website news items). I feel it’s through these good works our Branch is seen as a positive influence and perhaps for this reason we were also invited to a couple of interesting Consultations this year. Firstly following the disastrous start to the 2013/14 Season and the continuing debacle over Pat Fenlon’s future. In early August I was invited to be interviewed on behalf of the Branch by BT Sport (Ok for interview, read 3 minute pre-game slot with Steven what’s his name that no longer works for BT Sport), but as you would expect from your Chairperson, there was no dirty washing hung out in St. Patrick’s Branch name. Our words were clear Pat Fenlon would know when it was time to go and on the wider Club and fan relationship, we said this needed serious attention and that can only be done by Mr Petrie and the Board in discussion with Hibs fans.
As we know the season deteriorated and as things went from bad to worse, came that second Consultation, In September Rod Petrie himself had invited members of fans groups for a chat. With our connection to the LWT forum via Branch Member and LWT Coordinator Gordon MacKay both Gordon McKinley and myself, along with fans representing The Bounce, Hibs.net and others, several of whom were also St. Pat’s Members, made our way to the Boardroom. Again our website has the full summary. In what could be described as a very frank and candid discussion, St.Pat’s and the other reps, certainly made Rod aware of where we saw the disconnect between the Club and fans. He was rattled but I believe it made its mark and our improving relationship with the club was set.
As now known Pat did say that it was time to go and on the 1st November left the club. Regardless of how we felt about the results we sent Pat, via the Club, a courteous farewell.
Likewise in mid November we sent a warm welcome to the new Manager, Terry Butcher, a management signing and potential transformation in direction we hope. This can present a great opportunity not only on the field but to heal the disconnect between Club and fans.
Our Branch and others did have a meaningful conversation with Rod Petrie and fanciful or not we hope that whatever was taken from those conversation might make that slightest of differences in making Hibernian F.C. a more Fan aware club.
So back to our other bit of History making this year; With the funds now raised from Hugh’s cycle ride, along with the generosity of all our Branch Members and Hibernian Supporters, not to mention the organizational skills of our Secretary Big G, the scene was set to deliver the long awaited Dan McMichael commemorative Headstone on Saturday 7th December. Although you can see the video of the ceremony on the website, I don’t think this gives the full extent of what was another proud day for St. Patrick’s. The combined guest list of the, Hibernian Supporters Association, the Club Board, Club Chairman, the team Manager, Sir Tom Farmer, the 20 strong McMichael family, including Dan’s Grandson and Granddaughter, Fr. John McFadden and of course our very own patron Pat Stanton, along with several hundred Hibernian Supporters, gave the ceremony a truly history making feel about it. Every single St Pat’s member should be proud of that day and the making a wee bit more Hibernian (and St Patrick’s Branch) history.
So again another splendid year, I think it’s fair to say that in 2013 St. Patrick’s Branch came of age. Our relationships with the Hibernian Supporters Association, the Club Board, Chairman and Manager are in good shape. We have record numbers attending our Branch Meetings, in which we have had some great speakers and of course where the banter is one of the best reasons to be a member ! We intend to continue building on all these things in 2014 and therefore ask for your continued assistance in re-affiliation and introducing new Members.
I would take this opportunity to thank all your hard working Branch Committee and each and every Member for your continued support. Our opening comment on the St.Pat’s website;
Our aim is to keep the historic name of St. Patrick’s (the home of Hibernian Football Club), as the Supporters’ Voice and Link to the Club
Finally a mention of absent friends;
Lawrie Reilly, 1928 – 2013 RIP
Branch Member Steve Archibald of Drayton, Somerset 1963-2013 RIP
Proud to be Chairman of St. Patrick’s,