Match of the day! Cumbernauld duo raise thousands for Cancer Research UK

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 12:15 on 3 February 2015.
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Dale (left) with his gran, for a bit of post match analysis. Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media.
HOW would you react to being told you or a family member had cancer? Would you worry about the future – your family and friends? Would you isolate yourself? Would you travel the world? Or would you dedicate your time to fundraising? Well, for two Cumbernauld brothers, the latter was the only option.

22-year-old Greenfaulds resident Dale McNeil was given the earth shattering news that he had cancer in early December, last year. Waiting until Boxing Day to give his close friends and family the news that he had been diagnosed and that his treatment would start soon, Dale and his brother, Ross, devised a plan to raise money for a well-known cancer support charity.

Dale, a lifeguard at the Time Capsule in Coatbridge turned to his brother, 26-year-old Ross McNeil, to help organise a special fundraiser for Cancer Research UK, after announcing the unfortunate news to his family, after Christmas. What the duo devised was a special football match, in aid of Cancer Research UK. 

Together, they worked out the details of the match; and, after some planning decided that a match between Ross’s Cumbernauld Athletic Football Club and a few friends of Dale would be the best option. 

With the bare bones agreed, the brothers elected for January 25th as their chosen date – and, with the support of another of the team’s managers, a number of star line-ups were called in.

Alan Rough, Dougie Bell, Ronnie Yule, Brian Martin, Jim Chapman, Gordon Parks, Peter Martin and Tommy Sheridan were among the ex-professional star line-up who were called up to make the day even more of a success.

With the arrangements following into place, Ross – a Financial Administrator, from Glasgow – set up a Facebook event to raise to awareness of the event, as well as a special JustGiving fundraising page. 

By the time of the match – which kicked off at 11am on 25 January – the Facebook event had some 600 invited guests, while the JustGiving fundraising page had taken in over £1,200 worth of donations – well over the £500 set by Ross initially. 

And, by the time of this article’s publication, £1,632.30 had been donated to Cancer Research UK, through the JustGiving page – 226 per cent above the original three-figure target.

In addition to the £1,632.30 donated through JustGiving, players in Friday’s match each made a £10 donation before the first whistle, while spectators dipped into their pockets and donated £1,326 into the various buckets that were scattered throughout Abronhill’s Oak Road Football Park. 

Kicking off at 11am, the match ran for around 96 minutes, with the final score ending at 5-4 to Ross’s Cumbernauld Athletic Football Club, while his brother Dale scored the first goal to put his own team one nil up only 2 minutes into the match. 

After the match, Ross McNeil talked to Cumbernauld Media’s reporter, Scott Campbell. He described to us his “astonishment” at the “fantastic” support received, for a game that “came from nothing”.

Ross said: “After he was diagnosed, Dale and I got together and decided to arrange a special fundraiser match, with a group of his friends, who usually play 7-a-sides every week.

“When we got a big, positive response to our plans we decided to make it an 11-a-side match – I then had the idea to pit some of Dale’s mates up against Cumbernauld Athletic Football – which is the team I help run.” 

Describing to us why the fundraiser decided upon should be a football match, Ross told us: “We decided upon a football match because Dale plays 7-a-sides every week – his team, for example, was full of the boys who play 7-a-sides with him every week.

“Because he enjoyed his weekly 7-a-sides matches we just decided that, a football match would be the best fundraising option, viewing it has ‘once last match’, as a result of Dale’s treatment – that will mean he will not be able to play football for at least six months.”

After arranging the where and when of the special fundraiser match Ross took to Facebook to share the event amongst the people of Cumbernauld, hoping they would support the funding drive.

“After we got the match arranged, I created the event on Facebook, before I started a JustGiving site and started to invite folk to attend and lend their support,” Ross explained.

“From our online promotion, we then ended up in contact with a couple of ex-professionals, who came along to our match.”

He added: “I’m really astonished with how quickly everything turned round, in this past week, because it came out of nothing, and the feedback of everybody turning up and everybody involved has been great.”

Talking of the £1,632.30 raised on JustGiving, Ross told us: “I set up the JustGiving page up on Tuesday (20 January), which is when I set £500 as a target, thinking it might be quite hard to get beyond that – so it was realistic, in my mind. 

“And, within 24 hours we had beaten the target, and since then it’s just kept going up and up and up. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure whether we’d make it, but I was hopeful that we would – and we absolutely romped it, in the end.”

“From the JustGiving page, all of the money raised goes to Cancer Research UK, and anybody who donates that way has their donation automatically transferred to them,” he added. 

“Everybody who played today chipped in £10, in addition to the various buckets that were lying around. So, I imagine there will be a fair amount raised from today’s match.”

Describing to Cumbernauld Media how he felt when his younger brother came him the news that he had been diagnosed by cancer, Ross said “It was quite hard. Dale found out in either late November, or early December that he had bowel cancer, but he decided to wait until after Christmas, so it was Boxing Day before he told anybody. 

“Because he waited so long to tell anybody, he clearly done a lot by himself, by holding that in and not letting anybody know what was going on. 

“When he did tell us, it was quite hard for the family, but it’s a bit hard to describe how I and my family felt – he’s my little brother; you can’t really describe it, other than to say it was a bit of a shock, which leads you to start asking yourself questions, such as ‘where do it go from here?’ But, he has spoken to the doctor, and it’s definitely treatable, so he starts treatment this week.”

Talking about how he felt about the turnout to Friday’s match, Ross said: “It was fantastic. I didn’t expect a tenth of the folk who made it out to turn up.”

Dale, meanwhile, being humble told our reporter after the match that the support that had been pouring in was “appreciated” by both he and his family, adding “I had an excellent day – and the match was a good laugh too.”

You can donate to Dale and Ross’s fundraiser on JustGiving. Just click here.
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