Stars play but charities are the real winners . .

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A HOST of ex-Hearts and Hibs players turned out for a Capital select against Hutchison Vale in the annual Craig Gowans Memorial Trophy at Saughton Enclosure yesterday.

Former Hibs players Keith Wright and Graham Love were both on target for the Hearts/Hibs select, who were worthy 2-0 winners.

Supporters of all ages were present to see some of their former sporting heroes in action as the players took to the field in honour of 17-year-old, Craig, who tragically lost his life in 2005 after a freak training ground accident only two weeks into his professional contract with Falkirk FC.

With some of the biggest names ever to don a maroon or green jersey on show, including John Robertson, Keith Wright and Darren Jackson – the latter who enjoyed a spell with both Edinburgh clubs during his career – the Hutchison Vale players faced a mammoth task with some of the “golden oldies” of Hearts and Hibs still proving to be valuable assets around the football park.

Craig’s father, John, spoke on behalf of his family who continue to treasure the matchday event which has now been running since 2009, two years after the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund was established. Since its inception five years ago, the fund has collaborated with the Sick Kids Friends Foundation to support a number of charities and, this year, was able to fund a new state-of-the-art mini-bus for Sunndach, a service within NHS Lothian offering special care for children with complex disabilities.

“An occasion like this is for us to remember our Craig,” John said. “We want people who have come along to support the fund to enjoy themselves and go away having had a really good time. This is the fourth year we’ve held this match. It’s getting busier every year so we’re already looking forward to the next one.

“The momentum has certainly gathered since 2007. We’ll have a second mini-bus on the road in the autumn so that will be a great help.

“We went through to Sunndach recently and you see the work that goes into helping kids with severe disabilities. They’re absolute angels and it’s so nice they can take them away on trips to Center Parcs and places like that. We’re calling it a bus but it’s really a small ambulance as it has everything needed inside. Some of the other money from Craig’s trust has gone to equipment for brain surgery at the hospital but what these buses provide are opportunities for kids who normally wouldn’t be able to go on short trips the chance to get away.”

Looking ahead, John disclosed he and his family are exploring additional ways to raise the profile of the fund which will help benefit further charities in the near future.

He added: “We plan to advertise next year’s match well in advance to encourage even more people to come along and my other two sons have suggested having something like a ceilidh as well.”

Jackson, who was the standout player with his superb control and variety of passing, was delighted to be asked to lead his team out and paid tribute to the Gowans family for their continuous efforts.

He said: “It’s been magic and a great turnout from the supporters. We thought the weather would be maybe go against us but it stayed fine. I have been really lucky to organise the team this year and the game last year as well, so it’s great the guys give their time to play as it’s for such a good cause.

“It was tragic what happened to Craig but all we want is for his memory to live on and I’d be happy to put a team together for many years to come.

“What great credit to John, Sheila and all who are involved in raising money for charities.”