A notorious Scottish football hooligan has traveled to Ukraine to join its armed forces and fight against the Russian invasion.
Robert Grady took part in a recruitment video wielding an assault rifle alongside his new comrades and urged other volunteers to enlist.
The reformed Hibs casually posted Facebook messages yesterday from the frontline telling pals: “I intend to kill as many as I can.”
Known to pals as Rab, the Edinburgh native built up a reputation as a notorious hooligan linked to the Easter Road club from the early 1980s.
He was a member of the Hibs casual gang the Capital City Service (CCS) and received a football banning order as recently as 2014 for taking part in a street brawl after a cup final.
Now other casuals – including those with military experience – are said to be on the verge of heading to Ukraine themselves.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky previously appealed to foreigners to join an “international legion” to defend his country.
Potential volunteers from Edinburgh are drawing parallels with the International Brigades of the 1930s which saw hundreds of Scots take up arms against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.
In the 30-second video, Rab, who is believed to be in Kyiv, is dressed in camouflage body armor and holding the assault weapon following his arrival in Ukraine.
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Standing behind him are two other armed men believed to be Ukrainian fighters.
He tells the camera: “My name is Rob. I’m a 61-year-old grandfather from Scotland.
“I’ve traveled to Ukraine to help Ukraine fight the Russians.
“I’ll do anything I can in my power to save Ukraine from Putin.
“Everybody in the world please help Ukraine. They need everybody to help, Volunteers, please.”
Rab, who is understood to be a youth worker, is a well-known figure in the capital’s Niddrie area.
On his Facebook page on Monday he wrote: “Just to keep you all updated Ukrainian army are shelling Russian position at the moment. The ORKS won’t like it.”
He told how he did “some time in the TA paras in the 70s and 80s but have the heart”.
Asked by a pal about conditions on the ground, Rab said it was “fine” but would be “bad” when he enters the city. I added: “I intend to kill as many as I can.”
A friend posted back: “Go on rab ccs style.”
Another pal wrote: “We are all proud of you. Take out as many of them as you can. Stay safe matte. Make sure you always have cover from your firing positions.”
A friend said, “Keep the heed doon and nae heroics ma auld pal…proud of you” while another wrote, “Ur oor niddrie hero Rab, stay safe and stick in there.”
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While in Ukraine on Saturday, Rab asked friends on social media: “What’s the Hibs score?”
A pal wrote back, “Get on with killing Russians ffs” while another said, “Not kicked off yet mate.”
A source said last night: “Rab was CCS for many years. He was one of the first Hibs boys ever. This is going back 40 years.
“This was a time when the casual scene was big and the Hibs boys were involved in large-scale street fighting.
“He’s been watching what was happening in the Ukraine and now he’s traveled out there to fight the Russians.
“He’s not particularly political but he’s found this cause.
“Rab was a ‘frontline’ Hibs casual and really steeped in that world. He’s 61 but a physically capable man. He’s a man who knows how to use his fists, but it will be a different world in Ukraine.
“A lot of people are saying how brave he is for going. I imagine he’s been asked to appear in this video to try and boost recruitment. They need everyone they can get over there.
“There’s a couple of Hearts boys who are also looking into going. There’s casuals in Edinburgh who think it’s a romantic quest, like joining the old International Brigades in Spain or fighting Hitler.”
In 2014 Rab was one of six men who were banned from football matches for a total of eight-and-a-half years following a brawl before the Ramsdens Cup final match between Rangers and Raith Rovers at Easter Road.
Rab was hit with a one-year football banning order at Edinburgh Sheriff Court over the incident in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket area.
President Zelensky previously appealed for foreign volunteers to make their way to Ukraine where they would be given arms to help battle the Russian troops.
UK foreign secretary Liz Truss revealed she would support British nationals who wished to travel and help the military efforts in Ukraine.
But several of her UK cabinet colleagues have contradicted her and effectively warned against people traveling to Ukraine to take up arms.
It’s understood volunteers from around the world have traveled to the Polish border with Ukraine in a bid to sign up. The Ukrainians have sent “recruiters” to those areas to help organize their passage into the war-torn region.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.