When the call came out for runners, Dan Park was only too happy to answer.
The Formartine United man is one of 24 runners taking part in the Highland League Legends charity run, which is raising money for former Cove and Peterhead striker Martin Johnston, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2018.
The first runner starts at 12pm on Saturday, with the last one finishing at lunchtime on Sunday. Park has an early start on Sunday as he takes the 5-6am slot. Each runner will run for one hour, with organiser Keith Robertson drawing names out of a hat for the respective slots.
The fundraising target of £5,000 has already been exceeded on the justgiving page set up by Robertson, with Cove making a £1,000 donation themselves. Johnston’s chosen charity is My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, set up by Scotland rugby legend Doddie Weir after he received a similar diagnosis.
Park is keen to help out in any way he can and hopes others can continue doing the same.
He said: “I saw it on Facebook and there’d been a few things I hadn’t been able to get to. They messaged a few of the lads that played with him and me and Connor Scully wrote back.
“It’s about raising money and raising awareness, to let him know we’re all thinking about him. I know times are tough right now but anything that people can give is much appreciated.
“Keith has done a great job organising it and a few guys have sorted out sponsorship. We’re over our target now and it shows the support he has.”
Ex-Cove manager Kevin Tindal, who won the Highland League with Johnston in 2013, is taking part, as is current Cove midfielder Connor Scully and former Aberdeen defender Mark Perry. Highland League players past and present in Russell McBride, Ryan Christie, Andy Reid, Stuart Soane and Steve Dolan will also do their bit, with contributors from Shetland down to Arbroath.
Park used to watch Cove as a youngster, when his father Graeme was assistant manager. He has fond memories of watching Johnston turn out in a Cove shirt.
He added: “My dad was his manager at Cove for a few years. I went to watch him when I was younger and I got to play alongside him. He was a really good player and could play anywhere.
“He scored goals and was the nutmeg king – he would do it in training and in games. He is just an all-round nice guy. He was one of the first people that would come up to you after a game. He was always gracious.
“(When he was diagnosed) it was a massive shock. But he’s approached it with a positive mindset, when some people can take that news the opposite way.”
To donate to the fundraiser visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/keith-robertson6