EDINBURGH United have paid an emotional tribute to one of their players, who died just days after the team secured its first Junior league championship in 28 years.
Joe McVey, who had played for the club since he was 14, passed away last Thursday, plunging the team into mourning at the end of a remarkable season.
The 22-year-old started the title run with Edinburgh United last year, but had recently returned to its amateur outfit, Edinburgh United Alba, after being out with injury.
On Saturday, his Alba team-mates held a minute’s silence before playing North Merchiston Vale at their Paties Road ground, a tribute attended by Joe’s girlfriend, Caitlin Laird, and his sisters, Catherine, Louise and Tracy-Ann.
Barry Campbell, a former coach of Mr McVey’s at Edinburgh United, said: “We were unsure whether to go ahead with the game but we spoke to Joe’s family and decided it’s what he would have wanted.
“Michael Collin wore the number seven shirt, which was Joe’s number, in his memory. Michael scored and dedicated the goal to Joe.
“It was a very emotional occasion. We lost 3-2 but it took a lot out of the players to get through it.”
Mr McVey, who lived in Burdiehouse, enjoyed success with Edinburgh United since his schoolboy days, captaining the under-21 side to a league win and notching up Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year accolades during his career.
Mr Campbell said: “Joe was a versatile player who could play in defence or midfield. He won the Scottish Cup with the under-19s, scoring a goal in the final.
“Joe lost his father, Brian, five years ago and the club were able to support him through it. I think that experience gave him a great loyalty and dedication to Edinburgh United. Other teams were interested in signing him over the years, but he stayed with us. His death is a tremendous loss.”
Edinburgh United, who clinched the South League title on April 5, are set to organise a charity match in Joe’s honour.
Mr Campbell added: “Joe always greeted you with a smile and was so popular. Huge numbers of people have contacted us to find out when his funeral will be held.”
A Hibs and Manchester United fan who also had an older brother, Dean, Mr McVey worked as a fibre glass laminator and would have turned 23 yesterday.
His girlfriend, Caitlin, 22, an air hostess with British Airways, had been with Joe for three-and-a-half years after they met while he worked for her mother’s company.
She said: “Joe was an amazing person. He was fun and loving and so full of life. He treated me like a princess.
“I went to the game on Saturday with his sisters. It was really lovely to pay tribute to Joe. We only stayed for five minutes because it was too difficult, but we appreciated it.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “A 22-year-old man was found dead at a property in Burdiehouse Avenue on April 10. There are no suspicious circumstances.”