By: Hibernian Media on 25 Apr, 2020 11:14
A local lad and a Hibernian supporter, born and bred, Darren McGregor never took a single day for granted.
However, the events of the last month have allowed the centre-back the breathing space to really appreciate the things that matter to him – not least family, friends, health and football.
The health heroes on the frontline for the NHS are central to all of that and Darren was delighted to learn that Hibernian will pay tribute to their efforts with our new home kit for next season – which features a ‘Thank You NHS’ message and will help raise a significant sum, alongside other benefits, for those who have put the wellbeing of others before their own.
Darren, we all have our own personal stories, but what does the NHS mean to you?
The NHS staff have put themselves in harm’s way and have done an incredible job. In the dealings I’ve had with them, through the birth of my three kids, they’ve been excellent. Every midwife we’ve had and every single person who came into the room have been first class. These four or five weeks have just shone a light on the amazing work that they do. It’s the least we can do and they deserve all the plaudits they’re receiving. Even as a footballer, the treatment I received after sustaining my cruciate ligament injury was vital in me getting back. As with many things in life, you’re maybe not as aware of what they do as you should be until you have direct contact with then. Between the injuries and the birth of my children, I know all too well that the work they do is magnificent.
How has the lockdown been for you?
I think my partner, Erin, might be filing for divorce! It would be silly to lie and say every minute has been a bunch of roses. The situation comes with its challenges and pitfalls, when you have three kids and you are getting on top of each other, but it’s been exciting as well. Erin’s taught our daughter, Miah, how to cycle without the stabilisers, so she’s been whizzing around outside the front of the house. My wee man, Max, is just mad about football so he’s easy to keep entertained. I don’t think I’m the best person to coach him. I think he’s better with the ball at his feet than me already! He just loves it. He’s got about six different strips and a pair of football boots that are miles too big for him, so he’s running about with them flopping about in front of him.
We take it he’s every inch the Hibs kid?
I’ve got high hopes for him. I’ve already said to Max ‘you’re playing for Hibs when you’re older’. He’s started to believe that as well. Get it built in early doors! Hopefully that drives him on to become a professional. I’d never put any pressure on him but it’s incredible to see the enthusiasm he has for the game. I can never remember being like that, even when I was five or six, but he has that appetite and he’s always kicking a ball or talking about it. I’m learning a lot about myself and my family, which is nice. The upside is you get to see the kids a lot more, although I’m being put to work around the house – hanging pictures and doing other bit of DIY, even though I’m probably the worst DIY guy you could ever meet!
How have you found it in general? It’s clearly a different experience for everyone.
This is new to me, just like everyone else, so it’s just about trying to keep busy. I’ve been going out every morning for my hour of allocated exercise time. That gives you purpose and helps keep you ticking over. When all this kicked off, it was just like a break and a bit of time around the house. But, as it’s gone on, you can lose that bit of professional focus. Of course, being a dad, a brother and a partner is the most important thing, but in terms of your work, you can lose that sense of purpose and that can be tough. I feel really fortunate to have a family to support me during isolation, but you can see why some people would get down and it’s not as easy as some people might have imagined it would be. The uncertainty is the thing that plays with your mind. If you were told a rough date that gives you something to aim for but, at present, we are in a strange predicament where we don’t know whether the season will go ahead of finish, or if reconstruction will come in. It’s a waiting game. It’s not just meeting the lads that you miss, it’s the competitive aspect of it. Having a good day’s training, winning at five-a-sides and knowing you had a really good day. You miss working hard at the gym and the endorphins that come from that. When you take that away then it can be a bit challenging for some people, especially those on their own.
A few of the boys have made reference to what the club has done for staff to reduce those feelings of isolation…
Hibs have been really good by setting up a social club on Zoom and keeping everyone together in WhatsApp groups. It’s not for everybody and some people are absolutely fine in their own company and aren’t too fussed. Other guys maybe have different personalities and Hibs have made sure they let everyone know that someone is on the other end of the phone, if they need it. We have a WhatsApp group that includes everyone from Ron Gordon to the physios and youth team so we still have that feeling of being connected.
Darren McGregor was in conversation with Capital City Press and you can read the original article here.
We can’t wait to see you all back where you belong when football restarts and we’ve missed a packed-out Easter Road Stadium. You can secure your seat with a season ticket now.
When we do return, we’ll be proudly sporting our new home kit – complete with our ‘Thank You NHS’ message – and you can pre-order the fastest-selling Hibernian strip of all time here.