Sunday amateur football side Spartans earned plaudits after finishing last season as Premier League champions of the Edinburgh and District Sunday Amateur Football Association.
The squad have collaborated with other representatives of the Ainslie Park club over the summer break to raise money and awareness of Huntington’s disease, a hereditary disorder of the central nervous system which affects about 4800 people in the United Kingdom.
Spartans coach Dean Philp has witnessed the effects of the disease, his uncle having recently been diagnosed with the illness, not to mention a former football coach who also passed away a few years ago.
Philp said: “We did some research into it and the thing about Huntington’s disease is not many people are aware of what it is. The Scottish Huntington’s Association don’t receive a lot of donations, so we thought it would be good to give to this charity as they need as much help as possible. I am still learning about the illness myself every day.
“There’s no cure for the disease and for a newborn there is a 50 per cent chance they will inherit it if a parent has the disease. So it’s hoped that this money can help give these people and their families an easier life.”
A number of donations to the club, including signed football strips – such as former Hearts star Scott Severin’s last ever Dundee United shirt – were the subject of a fierce bidding war at the club’s end-of-season Player of the Year dance.
The fundraising doesn’t stop there, however. The club has intentions to stage a charity match at Ainslie Park later this year with a view to featuring some of the families affected by the illness who are keen on lacing up their boots and making an appearance on the artificial turf.
Philp said: “We’re looking at doing a charity match in October or November and hope to get either Hibs’ or Hearts’ charity team, or push the boat out and get the Scotland charity team. If we were to get the Scotland side, it would spread the awareness that bit more. We would even look to invite some of those who are closely affected by the disease to come down and play some part in the match. But it’s all in the early stages at the moment.”
Spartans are currently preparing for the new season which kicks off on August 12. Philp hopes to replicate the success of last year, but must do it the hard way with a loss of some key personnel. However, he is confident that, with the new players he has inherited, the squad will be able to compete at the top end.
He added: “There was a great togetherness within the squad and I think that was a huge factor last year. We have lost a few players since then but I hope we can do well in the league and the domestic cups again this season.”