FOUR of Edinburgh’s professional boxers will put faith in their feet when they take to the football field for this year’s Sean Collins Memorial Cup.
Alex Arthur MBE, Craig McEwan, Jason Hastie and Stephen Simmons will all turn out in memory of Sean Collins who, at the age of 21, suddenly lost his life almost three years ago.
The match, which will take place between amateur sides AC Midlothian and Bonnyrigg Rose, has undergone a change in the format this year, with the previous structure of a summer league competition having now been scrapped in favour of a one-off match between the two Midlothian-based outfits.
Organiser Bobby Collins, who was Sean’s uncle, revealed all proceeds will be donated to the city’s Diabetic Trust Clinic and is hoping the event can become a regular feature of the charity football calender.
Collins said: “When Sean was a youngster, he grew up in Wester Hailes and attended Clovenstone Boxing Club which both Craig and Stephen know very well. He had a health problem which nobody was aware of and went to his bed one night and never woke up the next morning. It was tragic.
“If things progress, we can maybe turn this into a regular, organised charity event. For me and my family, it’s a great way to remember Sean. He was a big Hibs fan, loved his football and boxing, and he will be looking down delighted that guys like Craig, Jason and Stephen are playing in the match.
“We want to raise as much money as possible for the charity. One of the officials for the match lost his wife to diabetes last year, so that’s the reason we decided on this charity.
“It also gives the players who play Sunday amateur football an opportunity to experience the routine of a professional football player. The sides will meet up at different venues, have a pre-match meal, read their profiles in the match-day programme and walk about on the pitch beforehand. We are we really trying to recreate that professional feel to it all.”
Thirty-year-old McEwan has recently returned from Los Angeles, where he spent some time at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card set-up in Hollywood.
He said: “We’ve had a few of the players in the gym, where I’ve put them through a small session, so I’ve seen how fit they are. I always wanted to be a football player when I was younger and play for my school and local clubs, but that never happened as I was always away boxing. Now I have this chance to run around the field. I didn’t know it was going to be such a big event when Bobby asked me to play, but it will be great to get out there. I just need to find a pair of football boots now.”
Hastie, 25, in his spare moments away from a tough training schedule, also coaches Salvesen Boys’ Club Under-16s, but fears his performance on the field could leave him in a shaky position should some of his youngsters choose to come and watch their coach in action.
“It’s a good event and Bobby’s done a great job organising it all,” Hastie said. “I’ve been getting stopped in the street and people are asking me about it so that’s a great sign. I just hope none of my lads are going to watch me because they’ll never listen to me again! But I’m looking forward to it.”
Simmons, who boxes at crusierweight and is currently preparing for his next bout at the undercard of the Ricky Burns v Kevin Mitchell lightweight title fight in September, added: “I am just happy to play in the game and help the charity, as it’s all for a good cause.”
Admission for the match at New Dundas Park, Bonnyrigg on Sunday, August 5 (kick-off 2pm) will be £2 for adults and £1 for concessions.