Port O’ Leith Pub lands in a storm with Hearts fans amid colour change

Norrie Stewart, with Tommy Sweeney and Lawrie Smith at the pub. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Norrie Stewart, with Tommy Sweeney and Lawrie Smith at the pub. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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HUE dunnit? In a city divided by football allegiances – where almost all nail their colours to a maroon or green mast - the patrons at one Leith pub are crying foul after management painted its facade Hibernian green.

The Port O’ Leith Pub, once renowned for its blood-red exterior, changed its exterior this week prompting some Jambo-leaning regulars to talk of a boycott.

But they need not have feared as the pub – which has a long-held neutrality when it comes to footballing rivalry – has merely been temporarily redecorated as it’s set to form one of the backdrops to new film Sunshine On Leith. The movie, starring Peter Mullan, 53, and Jane Horrocks, 48, follows two soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

Adapted from the popular Stephen Greenhorn musical of the same name, tracks by Proclaimers Craig and Charlie Reid, right, are threaded throughout the story. But this apparently hasn’t appeased some patrons, shell-shocked to find their local bedecked in a new hue.

Pub manager Norrie Stewart admitted some regulars have been sniffy about the overnight colour change. “The people from Sunshine On Leith told me it was going to be painted yellow or else I would have told the punters in advance,” he explained.

“We even had one guy walk straight out when someone told him what colour it was. We are not a football pub and have a mixed crowd of Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Hibs supporters. We don’t even show football unless it’s on terrestrial TV – it’s not that kind of pub. But this guy wanted the pub boycotted because he reckoned we had become a Hibs pub.”

The Port O’ Leith will return to its traditional colour once filming has been completed.

“To be honest, anyone who wants to use the pub as a location for filming, we will bend over backwards to help them because it brings profile to Leith,” said Mr Stewart.

“We do get quite a lot of that sort of thing and have a documentary being made about the pub itself. The pub is pretty well known internationally because originally it was a place for sailors to drink so we get people from all over the world coming in and saying I used to drink in here 15 or 20 years ago.”

Tommy Martin, 44, one of the Port O’ Leith regulars, was less than enthusiastic about the makeover. He said he wasn’t setting foot in his favourite pub until it returned to original colour. He said: “It’s not really a football bar at all but I walked in there after work on Monday, ordered a pint and someone said ‘have you seen the colour of the pub outside?’

“I saw the green and white and walked right back out again. I’d been working hard all day and all I wanted was a pint and friendly face – not Hibs colours.

“I’ll not be going back until they change it. I’m not happy with about at all – this would never have happened under the previous owner Mary Moriarty – the Queen of Leith. I think they’re ruining the special character of the pub.”