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

HE IS already Scotland’s oldest regular footballing star.

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