Meet Edinburgh’s furthest travelling Season Ticket Member
We’ve all been there. It’s a cold night, the game is on TV and your couch is feeling that extra bit comfy. “I’m going to watch this one from home…”
That’s all good and well, but when you live in Shetland, hold two Edinburgh Rugby Season Tickets and it’s a 600-mile round trip to watch your team play in the flesh, then there really are no excuses...
Meet Martin Fraser. Shetland’s premier Edinburgh Rugby supporter and, unofficially, the club’s furthest travelling Season Ticket Member.
A dry stone builder by trade with four young boys of his own – all Edinburgh supporters themselves – Martin has been traveling south to the Scottish capital twice monthly to cheer on his club since the beginning of 2018.
“I’m born and bred in Shetland. I’ve lived here most of my life and I have a young family here now as well,” explained Martin. “It’s a brilliant place to raise kids because there’s so much space and they can really just get out and about.”
“I guess when my own son started to play for Shetland Rugby Club when he was in Primary 4, he really started to get into his rugby, and as all parents usually do, I started to help out with coaching – and then that gets you into the sport.
“I’ve always followed the national team at rugby and I used to go down to the big games quite a lot – but nothing regular. My sister-in-law lives in Kirkcaldy however, so when we travelled down to stay with her, we’d come through to an odd Edinburgh game on a Friday night and we just fell in love.”
That love affair with the club grew deeper when Martin took his kids down to an open training session at BT Murrayfield to kick-start Edinburgh’s season in 2018.
After chatting with some of their Burgh heroes and grabbing a few selfies to match, Martin decided he would get him – and his sons – a Season Ticket for the year ahead.
“Edinburgh ran an open training session on the back pitches, so we decided to come down for it and we ended up watching the team train, and my boys got their autographs and got photos with the whole squad – it was amazing.
“My son just absolutely loved it. I felt myself, these guys, this Edinburgh team are just brand new. They’re normal guys who we felt we could just really get behind.
“I was walking off the back pitch speaking to Stuart McInally, chatting away like I’ve known him my whole life. It was just brilliant. I guess we were kind of hooked from there!”
But surely the travel puts you off – you ask? Not for Martin, who looks to book the majority of his flights at the start of the season.
Often, he’ll fly to Aberdeen – and connect to Edinburgh via bus – or travel straight to the capital if he can get the booking.
However, if no flights are available, it’s a 12-hour ferry from Shetland to Aberdeen, and then a bus south… his commitment knows no boundaries.
“I bought myself a Season Ticket and Kids Season Ticket, and I thought I could bring a different son down to a different game every time.
“I always wait for the fixtures to come out in the summer time, and then we plan which games we want to go to - based on that.
“So, If I can book early enough, myself and my sons can get our travel sorted with Logan Air, and we’ve got an air discount scheme up here, so it can work out quite cheap!
“If you get a ‘tail wind’, you can do it in about an hour – so it’s not too bad and every flight I’ve made, I’ve got some points.
“I’ll often fly from Shetland to Aberdeen, get the bus down to Edinburgh, then fly back from Edinburgh. But the big European games that aren’t scheduled, I need to get the 12-hour ferry from Shetland to Aberdeen, then get the bus down from there.
“To get to a match, depending If I’m getting the ferry or flying, I’ll have to leave on a Thursday, and then come home on Saturday night or Sunday. I try to get as many flights as possible to avoid the boat!”
"If I can come from Shetland, then I just don’t see why you wouldn’t come and watch if you lived in Edinburgh."
Martin’s fandom is proof that rugby has the ability to influence us all – no matter how far away you are from the action.
There’s no doubt that 300 miles is quite the distance to watch your club play, but when rugby is your passion – so what?
“Everyone always says to me: why are you spending a small fortune to go watch club rugby?
“And I admit, yes I am. But, because I can’t get to every game, every one I do get to feels like such a big event and my sons have all managed to get to two matches each now, which is brilliant.
“I live out in the countryside in Shetland, and I don’t go out to the pubs every weekend. Going down to watch Edinburgh is my night out, and I only do it once or twice a month!
“My sons just love it, honestly. They get into the clubhouse and meet the players and every one of them has just been so great to me and my boys. My son has met Cockers a couple of times and he thinks he’s just brilliant.
“When we started coming down regularly, and the chat of the new stadium started, that’s when I thought, I need to get myself a Season Ticket because the people in Edinburgh have to start supporting the club then!
“I mean, If I can come from Shetland, then I just don’t see why you wouldn’t come and watch if you lived in Edinburgh.”
Martin and two of his sons were due to attend the club’s now-cancelled match against Ospreys in April, where the boys were booked in as mascots on the day.
That trip didn’t happen due to COVID-19, but a message from one of Edinburgh stars more than made up for the cancellation.
“My boys were supposed to be the mascots at the Ospreys game that was ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19, but we ended up getting a video message from Rory Sutherland instead, and they were so chuffed with that.
“We obviously hope to get back down to a match when we can, but Rory’s video message definitely made up for that!”
A 600-mile round trip to watch your club may add up over time, but the memories Martin is making with his four boys is no doubt priceless.