ONE pitch was flooded, the other heavily waterlogged – but this was one match that was never going to be abandoned.
Players from clubs and schools across Edinburgh, cheered on by hundreds of rain-sodden supporters, braved the mudbath to take part in the clash to honour tragic young footballer Jamie Skinner.
The 13-year-old collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack after making his debut for Tynecastle FC three days before Christmas.
Friends and family rallied to organise the charity game, with collection buckets overflowing with donations at yesterday’s fixture.
Brother Tony Skinner, 26, said the family had been overwhelmed by the response, which Jamie “would have loved”.
“Jamie would think it’s brilliant. I think it’s fate. He always said that one day he’d be famous and this is a crowd just for him,” he said.
“He was a well-liked young man and the support has been amazing, absolutely brilliant, we couldn’t wish for any more.
“Jamie’s obviously touched a lot of hearts. It’s a great turnout.
“No words can describe what people have done – Hearts, Tynecastle, friends, family, it has been amazing.
“Even though there’s been a lot of games cancelled today for all these boys to come out, get a game and play football, and friends and family to come out, it’s just amazing what they’re doing.”
The match was originally planned to take place at Inch Park but flooding, caused by torrential downpours, meant it had to be moved to nearby Kirkbrae Playing Field.
A two-minute silence was followed by applause to remember the Liberton High pupil, who had been released by Hearts just a week earlier.
His dad George, who was cheering both teams from the sidelines, said he was very proud of the display – which raised hundreds of pounds for the British Heart Foundation.
He said: “The turnout is absolutely fantastic, I’m so proud of him. I didn’t expect as many people to come, especially when you look at the weather, it’s miserable.
“Jamie’s probably up there saying they’re all mad for coming out in this. He will be laughing away.
“The response has been incredible. There was that much demand and people wanting to play that they’ve organised another match. It just shows how popular Jamie was. There will be even more people at his funeral, we’ve got people coming from all over.”
School friend Neil Lennie, 15, from Gilmerton, took part in the match He said: “I was friends with Jamie and really wanted to take part.
“I think it’s a really good way to remember Jamie because football is what he loved best.”
Kimberley Ratcliffe, 13, went to primary school with Jamie and said he was “known by everyone”. She attended the match with mum Noreen as both wanted to pay their respects. She said: “He was very funny and everyone knew him and liked him. He liked to play pranks so I think he would find it funny that it’s raining so much today.”
A friends and family football match has been organised at the same venue for January 17 and a third memorial game will be played by friends on January 10.