Pals of tragic teen play whole season in week

Gemma Maxwell, left, takes on Lyndsay Gowans. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Gemma Maxwell, left, takes on Lyndsay Gowans. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Highly-paid professional footballers often grumble about having to play two 90-minute games in a week.

But they have nothing on a group of big-hearted amateurs who are currently aiming to complete an entire season in just five days.

Rhu White saves a goal from Neil Adair. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Rhu White saves a goal from Neil Adair. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Friends, family and teammates of the late Edinburgh-born Falkirk defender Craig Gowans started the feat of endurance two days ago to mark the tenth anniversary of his death – and to raise money for the charity set up in his memory.

Despite a Saturday lunchtime kick-off at Ainslie Park, the half-time whistle hadn’t even sounded when the Evening News hit the shelves today.

The 36 players – including Craig’s brothers Dean and Darren and sister Lyndsay – will have played for a total of 105 hours when the final whistle is blown on Wednesday.

Just under 30 hours into the challenge yesterday, the scoreline stood at 213 to the Reds and 171 to the Whites.

Craig Gowans

Craig Gowans

Craig’s dad John Gowans, 53, of Blackhall, said: “This is more than 100 hours of exceptional effort and the pace was still going 24 hours in. It’s phenomenal what they are doing.

“It’s a major undertaking and there is a lot of camaraderie.

“Anything like this is bound to be difficult for his friends and family.

“But the important thing is that good comes out of what happened.”

Players will burn more than 18,000 calories per day while getting regular intervals for a quick snooze.

A group of physios are on standby pitchside alongside a paddling pool filled with ice while 18 tents are lined along the perimeter for the players to grab a power nap.

Andrew Dickson, 63, of Baberton Mains, who was watching the game from the sidelines, cycled more than 4000 miles across America to raise money in Craig’s memory back in 2012 – but insisted this was tougher.

“This is far more challenging than what I did because these kids are hardly getting any sleep,” he said.

Several prominent figures from the football world have been helping out, including former Hibs managers John Hughes – who was Craig’s boss at Falkirk – and Alex McLeish.

The Craig Gowans Memorial Fund was set up by his family and friends following his death to ensure his memory was used as a driving force for good.

The 17-year-old defender, a former Stewart’s Melville College pupil, was electrocuted in July 2005, just two weeks into his professional contract with the club. He had been pushing a 20ft net designed to catch stray balls when a metal pole attached to it hit 11,000-volt overhead wires.

School friend Eoughan Molloy, 27, said: “This is a fitting tribute for Craig.

“He was brilliant at football and this is the perfect way to mark the tenth anniversary of his passing.”

Since the charity was formed in April 2007, the fund has raised more than £80,000, supporting charities such as the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, the Sick Kids Friends Foundation and the Chesney Trust.

The two 18-man squads have already smashed their £37,000 fundraising target, inspired by Craig’s professional number at Falkirk, 37, and the total continues to rise.

The money raised will be used to fund a “Snoezelen” room in Craig’s name at the new Sick Kids hospital.

The space will be a calming room with multi-sensory equipment providing a relaxing and stimulating space for children with sensory impairments.