IT could the most contested football fixture in British football – with the rival teams battling it out a staggering 1600 times.
What began as a bounce game for ten fleet-footed freshers at Edinburgh University has turned into a grudge match spanning four decades.
Started by 58-year-old Colin Beggs in 1980, the weekly five-a-side game at the Jack Kane Centre, Craigmillar, was initially designed to allow friends to run off the cobwebs while at Edinburgh University.
But it has grown into a Sunday tradition that sees many of the same players returning each week, with most now well into their fifties and, in one case, their sixties.
Mr Beggs said: “It’s fair to say we’ll probably stop when it no longer becomes fun, but we’ve got a few years left in us yet.”
The fixture is the longest running block booking at the sports centre, with the game played every week without fail.
Mr Beggs, a former financial controller for drinks giant Scottish & Newcastle, said: “It’s easily the best way of keeping fit. We started it and just kept going and we’re still as competitive – maybe just a few yards slower.”
The five-a-side fanatic revealed the Scottish Communities League Cup dropped into their last fixture, which saw Colin’s side squarely beaten.
“I think everyone got a bit more excited about the game this week because of the cup coming along,” he said. “It was a good game on Sunday but they have become a bit more polite these days with hardly any fouling – you are more likely to hear ‘your ball’ rather than ‘my ball’ at our games now.”
The one-hour Sunday contest has even outlasted the careers of staff members at the Jack Kane Centre.
Rangers fan Colin said: “There was a girl on reception who was there when we just started and she retired last year.”
Shirley Bowman, manager of the Jack Kane Centre, said: “We have seen many five-a-side teams enjoy a regular game of football at the Jack Kane Centre over the years, but the staying power of this particular team is second to none,” she said.
“We look forward to hosting them for many years to come.”
One or two of the original line-up have been forced to retire from injury or work commitments, but business consultant Will Craigie, 58, and fireman Alex Davidson, also 58, are two stalwarts of the original squad still charging up and down the pitch. The pals don’t play for named teams – or keep a weekly score tally – but are instead divided into opposing sides by Colin on account of ability.
He added: “Long may our game continue. We’re what football’s all about – enjoying the game and having a good laugh.”