Highland League challenge for Dons Heritage Trust
Two Aberdeen FC fans are embarking on a journey to visit 18 Highland League grounds in just 18 hours to raise funds for their favourite football club.
Jock Gardiner and Bob Bain will take on the challenge this July to raise cash for the Aberdeen FC Heritage Trust, of which they are both charitable trustees.
The pair, who have attended thousands of Dons matches between them over the past 45 years, will raise cash to help create a museum and learning centre at the club’s planned Kingsford Stadium.
Starting at Cove Rangers’ new Balmoral Stadium, the journey will take Mr Gardiner and Mr Bain 547 miles through the Highlands to Wick Academy FC’s Harmsworth Park.
Mr Bain said: “Aberdeen FC has a strong connection to the Highland League.
“Many players start their career in the Highland teams before ‘graduating’ to the Premier League with Aberdeen.
“Likewise, many former Aberdeen players choose to play out the final years of their careers in the Highlands.
“It’s fantastic to be able to highlight that vital link and celebrate all it has afforded both Aberdeen and the Highland League teams.”
Mr Bain said he wants to take on the challenge to give something back to his favourite club.
He said: “I attended my first Aberdeen game in March 1974.
“I can still remember the excitement of stepping out on to the south terrace, as it was known then, and watching over the heads of the crowd as my dad held me up high.
“From the moment I first stepped into Pittodrie I fell in love with the club.
“Since 1975, when the Premier League was founded, I’ve only missed 22 first team home games – none voluntarily – and I’ve also been to a large percentage of the away games over the years.”
Mr Gardiner said: “My favourite team as a child growing up in the Lake District was Manchester United, so when I moved up to Scotland I started supporting Aberdeen as they played in the same red-coloured strip.
“I used to travel up to see the Dons play as much as I could on the East Central 1903 supporters bus, and when it came time to apply for university there was really only one choice for me – the Granite City, just so I could see Aberdeen play at Pittodrie every second week.”
As trustees of the AFC heritage trust, it’s important for the two men to celebrate the history and legacy of Aberdeen FC and its players.
He added: “And what better way to recognise the club’s connection with the Highland League than by visiting all 18 clubs in one day?
“We hope that by making this pilgrimage to Highland stadiums, we can highlight the amazing history of Aberdeen FC and its Highland League connections in order to raise muchneeded funds for the Aberdeen FC Heritage Trust museum and learning centre project.”
Part of their trip will be sponsored by the independent accountancy firm Hall Morrice, where Mr Bain is a managing partner.
Transport for the trip has been organised by Eddie Morrison of Morrison Motors in Turriff.
To donate, visit www.afcheritage.org
Bob Bain, left, and Jock Gardiner are going on a 547-mile trek