Author: Ian Mackay
Full highlights to follow.
At times, I suspect there is a real longing among many football fans in Scotland for the game to be taken to a different and higher level. Well, a great example of 'what could be' in this country of ours was to be seen at Saughton Enclosure, when it appears just about everyone wanted to be involved in the latest staging of this massive event took place. Scotland team boss, Craig Levein was there in charge of a team of former Scottish International stars and although the scoreline was of no great importance on such an occasion, the Hutchison Vale select won 4-3. This event and many others over the years since Craig died in a tragic accident while with Falkirk FC, has grown and grown and the latest staging by Lothian/Hutchison Vale football clubs was the biggest and possibly the best of them all.
I have no idea how many people were in the enclosure but the main thrust of the day was to raise money for the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund and it was totally gratifying to see the mini-ambulance that this fund has provided through the link with the Sick Kids Foundation. Even better than the football game and all that surrounded it was the sight of three dsabled children getting their picture taken with Craig Levein. The Gowans family were also there and what an exceptional family this is. I can only imagine the suffering and what it is like to lose such a wonderful son at the age of 17 years, but they are an example to all, especially me, in how to handle grief. Craig's mum and dad, Sheila and John had what is unending support from their daughter, Lyndsay, and their two sons, Darren and Dean. Radio Forth were there as well and it was in every way a great family day out. Youth Football Scotland provided complete coverage from all angles and parked on the running track was a vehicle from Sky TV.
A bouncy castle did great business and a food stall and other side attractions ensured this was more than a football game. It was primarlly a game for a cup in Craig's memory but it was also a triumph to the dedication of the Gowans family to keep alive the name of a treasured son and brother. From a purely football view,. it appeared to me an example of how to stage a football game. I have heard and read so much over the years on how we in Scotland must change our image and get away from the booze, swearing and all the rest that has resulted in huge numbers of fans deserting the game at the top level. Well, the Craig Gowans Memorial Cup event at Saughton Enclosure was a real example of how we could achieve that aim. The crowds were out in massive numbers, the place was alive with the sounds of fun and laughter and no alcohol in sight or foul language to be heard to spoil the occasion either. Just good football to watch and admire and dare I say it: "Good, clean family fun to enjoy!"
The Craig Gowans Memorial Fund is unique as it is dedicated to the memory of a wonderful young person. I attend football at many different venues and have done so over many years. I have seen all that is bad in the game in the process and it is ongoing but there is an even greater force now, and that is a real desire to lift ourselves up to a different level and make watching the greatest team game in the world a totally enjoyable experience.The prime example of what it could be like was to be seen and experienced at Saughton Enclosure. I am a friend and supporter of the Gowans family but I am just one of thousands. If we are looking for people to lead us to greater horizons I would nominate this family as being the perfect role models to do just that. For a start, why not rename Saughton Enclosure the Craig Gowans Stadium. And build on all the good that this family and their army of supporters can bring to the game. I for one pledge my support to this memorable family and their ongoing work to help sick children - and in football as well!