OK peeps, its been a long summer but the end is in sight! Tomorrow see's the final stop on Sunderland's pre-season tour with a trip to Edinburgh to face Hibs at Easter Road. Bruce will no doubt be happy to see his squad come through the off season relatively unscathed with only John O'Shea having picked up a knock, which looks likely to see him sit out the opener at Anfield.
Lets not get ahead of ourselves however, as SAFC have a cracking tie for the travelling fans before the season begins in earnest. So, for the last time, lets fire up the old Robin Reliant and make our way back to bonny Scotland!
Founded in 1875 by the Irishmen residing in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh the club were originally named Hibernians Football Club, which means "Irish Football Club". Given the importance of religion the Scots place on the sport there was some initial sectarian resistance to an Irish club joining the Scottish football. Following a period of dominance combined with mismanagement off the field Hibernians went out of business, as it were, in 1891, but were quickly reformed under the new moniker... Hibernian.
One of the most significant changes that came about during this "reformation" was the lack of importance placed on religion, with the geographical placement of the club being more important, drawing most of their support from the North and East of Edinburgh.
Hibs have a history they can quite rightly be proud of. The "Famous Five" forward line up of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond being widely regarded as the finest in Scottish Football with a combined record of over a hundred goals for the club.
Hibs were also the first British Club to compete in Europe having being invited to compete in the inaugural season of the European Cup and managed to make it to the semi-final.
Hibs picked up the lease to a site on Easter Road in 1892 and have remained there since. The ground has undergone a number of changes since the 1800's, as you'd imagine, mostly to bring the huge terraces into line to appease the Taylor Report.
Further improvements were made in the mid 1990's as all four stands were erected, with the East Stand undergoing further redevelopment in 2010.
Easter Road used to be infamous for the pronounced slope of the pitch, however, which was disappointingly levelled in 2000.
As one of the most famous cities on these fair isles there is little I can write that you probably haven't already visited or at least heard of, so instead here's some of the more obscure that Edinburgh has to offer:
- Edinburgh's Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
This place is probably best seen to truly understand what it does, but I'll try my best. Inside a weird old Victorian rooftop chamber moving images are projected through a giant periscope onto a large viewing table whilst being entertained by tales of the city by the on hand guide.
- Edinburgh Paranormal Underground Walking Tour.
If like me you're a bit of a sucker for the weird and wonderful the guided tour under Edinburgh's supposedly haunted South Bridge will be right up your street, just don't forget to bring a change of underwear, just incase.
- Scotch Whisky Experience
Take some time out to see the history behind the Jock's favourite tipple before maybe picking up a forty year old bottle of Dalmore from an Oloroso Sherry Cask, snip at just £1425.
The benefit of being based in Edinburgh eh? There will be no shortage of boozers to dive in on your way to game, but here are a few worthy of mention based on Easter Road itself.
- The Four In Hand: Very much an old school pub and a favourite with the Hibs faithful but looks can be deceiving and away fans are assured a warm welcome.
- Middletons Bar: Nothing to do with the sisters bringing the "sexy" to the royal family, but instead offering a great atmosphere on match day with both sets of fans mingling together and enjoying the banter.
PLAYED FOR BOTH
A member of the Sunderland side that reached the 1985 League Cup Final which ultimately succumbed to Norwich, Gordon Chisholm made 197 appearances for the Black Cats before moving to Hibs in the summer following the doomed cup run.
More recently Liam Miller, who spent three years on Wearside before moving to Hibs via a brief spell with QPR in 2009.
Also who could forget Anthony Stokes. The "goal machine" ended his "successful" spell with Sunderland before breaking our hearts with a move to the Edinburgh side in 2009...