Borders football hero John Collins and Gala Fairydean Rovers stalwart brother Norrie taking on uphill struggle to boost £8,000 op appeal

Gala Fairydean Rovers stalwart Norrie Collins is setting his sights high to raise funds for an operation needed by one of the team’s defenders and he’s roped in his football star brother John to help.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 7:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 9:24 am
Norrie Collins is taking on a fundraising walk up Ben Nevis to raise funds for an op needed by Gala Fairydean Rovers defender Ben Herdman (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Rovers committee member and ex-player Collins, 59, and his younger sibling, 53, an ambassador for the Netherdale club, are planning to walk and climb their way up Scotland’s highest mountain next week, weather permitting, to boost an £8,000 crowdfunding appeal launched to pay for an operation for right-back Ben Herdman.

The 24-year-old suffered an injury to his left knee just five minutes into the Galashiels side’s first game of this Scottish Lowland Football League season, a 3-0 home loss to East Stirlingshire in mid-July, and requires surgery before he’ll be able to get back to playing.

It’s not known how long he’d have to wait for surgery to fix his torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus at a National Health Service hospital but it could be years rather than months, so team-mates and club officials are rallying round to try to raise enough money to pay for a private op expected to cost about £8,000.

Gala Fairydean Rovers defender Ben Herdman (Photo: Thomas Brown)

If any surplus money is raised, it will be donated to the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

Herdman, of Kelso, is hoping the appeal proves a success as he’s champing at the bit to get back on the pitch but he’s aware he’d still face a wait of about nine months to return to full fitness after such an op.

This is the second time Herdman, at Gala since September 2015, has sustained an ACL injury, the last time being six years ago to his right knee, ruling him out of selection for a year and a half.

Father-of-three Collins, of Denholm, admits being apprehensive about the challenge he’s taking on as though he’s been up the 4,413ft-tall mountain in Lochaber twice before, once with his brother John, the last time was at least a decade and a half ago.

Ex-Scotland footballer John Collins pictured in 2015 in Motherwell (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)

“I’m getting butterflies thinking about it as it’s quite a difficult challenge for an older man,” said Collins, now running a recycled furniture business called TopDrawerOriginals.

“That’s why we picked it, though, as it could be two years before Ben can get back on the pitch even with this op so anything we can do to help him get back as soon as he can will be worth it.

“We also picked it because of its name association with Ben.

“Ben’s a lovely guy and he’s some player. He’s a big miss to the club so the sooner we can get him back the better.

This is the second time he’s had this injury as well so he’s been really unlucky.”

Besides helping out at Rovers in recent years, Collins’ younger brother, now based in East Lothian, enjoyed a top-level playing career as a midfielder at the likes of Hibernian, Celtic, Fulham, Everton and Monaco, also winning 58 caps for Scotland between 1988 and 1999, scoring 12 goals.

To boost the Collins brothers’ fundraising efforts, go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/galafairydeanroversfc-players

Herdman’s op appeal is now over a third of the way to its target and is nearing the £3,000 mark.