Legends from the Highland League are preparing to go the distance to support a popular north-east striker’s battle with motor neurone disease.
Martin Johnston terrorised defences across the country during his career with Peterhead, Elgin City and Brechin City while also claiming three championship medals with Cove Rangers.
However, the 42-year-old, who lives in Kingswells near Aberdeen, faces the toughest challenge of his life now after being diagnosed with the illness that attacks the brain and nerves, causing muscle wasting, in 2018.
Next weekend dozens of former teammates, opponents and coaches of the father-of-two will turn out to show solidarity with the structural designer by each running a mile to raise cash for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which supports MND research.
Johnston’s former Peterhead and Cove teammate Keith Robertson explained there had been no shortage of familiar football names from across the north and north-east wanting to take part.
He said: “Everybody I’ve asked have wanted to be part of it.
“Even guys from other clubs who didn’t play with him have joined in because Martin is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, such a talented football player too.
“Three guys from Forres didn’t play with him or against him but wanted to help anyway.
“It just shows what a friendly league the Highland League and the wider Scottish leagues are because they are prepared to support each other in difficult times.”
The squad of footballer past and present will be undertaking a 24-hour running challenge from noon on Saturday next week by each running a mile in a constant relay until the following day.
Current players including Formartine United’s Daniel Park, Cove’s Connor Scully and Inverurie Locos’ goalkeeper Andy Reid are joining the group of veterans.
Meanwhile, former Cove boss Kevin Tindal and former Peterhead midfielder Craig Cooper will be completing a mile between themselves.
And Adrian Thomson, better known as Edser, who was a stalwart behind the scenes at Cove as a youth coach and committee member will be walking his leg.
Mr Robertson added: “We’re going to have guys doing their mile all the way from Shetland down to about Arbroath, which is really incredible.”
Donations can be made online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/keith-robertson6