IT was a party 114 years in the making.
As the full reality of Hibs’ historic Scottish Cup final victory sank in, grown men wept tears of pure joy, cheers rang out long into the night and fans danced and jumped in the street, belting out Sunshine On Leith until they were hoarse.
Publicans up and down Easter Road said they had never been so busy as beer pumps ran dry and bars filled to bursting.
The cup-winning Hibs squad was also quick to get a piece of the action, with Alan Stubbs and his team partying at Easter Road’s hospitality suite in a day that fans and players didn’t want to end.
Lisa McKenzie, a member of staff in Middletons Bar in Easter Road, which saw some of the wildest celebrations of the night, described a “brilliant atmosphere” with not even a hint of trouble.
She said: “The fans have been singing Sunshine on Leith all night long. I am born and bred in Leith and I have never seen anything like it. We have no tenants left and it’s crazy out there.”
Easter Road had a Hogmanay-like feel, fans said, as the atmosphere around Hibs’ home ground reached fever pitch.
Eric Gillespie, who lives off the thoroughfare, said: “The street has been like New Year on Princes Street. Everybody is singing and dancing. And when the pubs are too busy for people to get served, they’ve just been getting carry-outs.”
Ex-Royal Marine Martin Dixon, 35, who is originally from northern England but has lived in Leith for more than a decade, watched his team, Manchester United, win the FA Cup only hours after Hibs clinched their famous victory.
He said: “Hibs supporters party a lot harder than Manchester United fans. I know that because I called my sisters who were down there.”
Speaking from the The Mash Tun in Easter Road, Andy Johnston, 23, from Linlithgow, described unforgettable scenes of emotion.
“I’m still in shock,” he said. “I have never seen so many grown men cry. And it was the first time I have seen my dad cry.”
The party began as David Gray netted Hibs’ last-minute winner at the end of Saturday’s match – sparking a surge of happiness across Leith.
In The Mash Tun pub in Easter Road, bar manager Grant McNeil spoke of an electric atmosphere.
The 36-year-old said: “The whole place was going mental – well over 100 people were here. It’s going to be a good night. The place will be jumping.”
Long-suffering Hibby Robert Dick, drinking nearby, summed up the general elation and disbelief as he described going “numb” when captain Gray scored.
The 53-year-old said: “My wee one is 11 tomorrow, and he said to me, ‘Daddy, would it not be great if Hibs brought the Scottish Cup home – would that not be the best present ever for me?’
“He’s only 11, he doesn’t realise that his grandad and his dad have never seen Hibs win this cup either. Until the final whistle went, I still could not believe it was going to happen.”
Further along the bar, Adele Philips, 40, was celebrating with friends after watching the first half of the game in work.
The nurse, who lives in Kirkliston but grew up in Leith, said: “It’s been a long time coming. The mood in Leith has been lifted.
“When you support a football team, it goes through the generations. To be alive when they have lifted the cup – to have witnessed that – is something very special.”
Speaking over the rising cheers and chanting echoing through the pub, she added: “It brings a community together.”
That sense of community – of one big, extended Hibs family – was palpable up and down Easter Road as the night wore on. Strangers hugged and danced, cars honked their horns and bus passengers cheered through the windows as the celebrations ramped up into a full-blown mini-festival.
But there were conflicting emotions for some.
Propping up the bar at The Mash Tun was Val Bernard, a diehard Hibby born and bred in Leith.
The 46-year-old admitted to shedding a tear on the final whistle in memory of his Hibs-mad dad, who died from a brain tumour just a few years ago.
Toasting the victory with friends, he said: “My dad would have been jumping in his grave. It felt for me like it didn’t matter who you supported, everybody was just loving that Hibs had won. That was the vibe that I got. It was just such a massive, glorious feeling. It was absolutely amazing.
“When it got to 2-1, I was sitting with a Rangers supporter and I was saying to him ‘the game’s over’. And then it was like ‘bang, bang’ all of a sudden. And everybody just erupted and it was ecstatic.”
Further down Easter Road, in the Four In Hand pub, Demi Ness was reduced to tears.
Brought up in Leith but now living in Niddrie, the 21-year-old said: “There’s no feeling like seeing my dad crying. He has brought me to Easter Road since I was three, and to see his face when we won the Scottish Cup meant everything.”