Meet the Leith-born man who is Scotland's oldest footballer

HE IS already Scotland’s oldest regular footballing star.

Tuesday, 27th August 2019, 4:37 pm
Bert Cunningham will celebrate his 90th birthday between the sticks at World of Football.

But now, shot stopping hero Bert Cunningham is set to celebrate a milestone between the sticks as he marks his 90th birthday by pulling on the gloves to keep goal for Edinburgh City Walking Football Club.

The Leith-born goalkeeper has been a constant member of the club since January 2015 after spotting an advert asking for players at their former home in Meadowbank Sports Centre.

The sport - marketed as “the beautiful game, only a little bit slower” - is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, with thousands of men and women taking part in matches across the country every week.

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And Bert is showing no signs of slowing down as he prepares to take to the field at World of Football in the Corn Exchange on September 5 - two days before celebrating his 90th birthday.He told the Evening News: “I love it, I’ll keep going as long as I am physically able.”

“I’ve always been determined to keep myself fit, I play bowls during the week too, so I’ll never give it up while I can still keep going.”

The rules of the walking football are similar to five-a-side, only with running banned and shorter match times.

In his younger days, Bert was a competitive cyclist, averaging more than 100 miles in the saddle every week and spent 40 years coaching aspiring athletes in a number of disciplines at Meadowbank.

However, he now admits he enjoys the community aspect of the games, adding: “For a lot of the players, it is really important to get out and mix with people, it is a way of stopping us becoming isolated.”

“It’s a really good group we have with us, I think there are about 30 years between myself and the youngest player, but we have a community during the games and meet up after.”

Earlier this year, Israeli goalkeeper Isaak Hayik entered the record books as the oldest player to take part in a professional match when he turned out for fourth tier side Ironi Or Yehuda in a 5-1 defeat to Maccabi Ramat Gan at the age of 73.

Teammate Colin Mackay, 68, added: “Given his age, I think some people do take a bit easier on Bert, but he still comes up with a few good saves in every game we play.”“He is a great guy to have around during the games, he’s someone we all look up to.”