THE captain of the Scottish lacrosse team who was killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan has inspired his former team-mates to new heights after they qualified to compete in the world’s top league.
Private Robert Hetherington, 25, was one of three British soldiers who lost their lives when their Mastiff armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device on a routine patrol in Helmand last April.
Known as Bobby, the 7 Scots hero had been a star of the national lacrosse outfit and always dreamed of taking his country to the Elite Division where they would compete against America and Canada
Now, the ex-Craigmount High pupil’s former team-mates have fulfilled this long-held ambition and dedicated the promotion to his memory.But instead of retiring Hetherington’s No 4 jersey, the team now presents it to the player who has worked hardest throughout the season.
Team fundraiser Liam Fennell said it was a “poignant” tribute and always “means a lot” to the player who receives it. “Last year was a really difficult time,” he said. “[Robert died] just before the team was playing in the British National Championships.”
He added: “It was very difficult for all of them and still extremely poignant and difficult for the lads who were playing, it’s still at the forefront of their minds.”
The recent success in the game is a particular coup, given the gulf between traditional lacrosse-playing teams in North America and countries such as Scotland, where the game is less popular. Keith Robertson, director of Lacrosse Scotland, said the achievement was “beyond what anybody would have dreamed”.
He added: “We are over the moon.
“Bobby and I had spoken about trying to get into it, about how we would ever do that.
“It was a dream too far.”
“This was the dream of his, of mine, of a lot of others, and a year and a third on from when he was killed, it’s happened.”
He added: “We were very close. He was a good friend and a team-mate.
He said handing the No 4 shirt to a player who best embodies Bobby’s “commitment to public and private leadership” was a fitting honour.