YOUNG footballers were celebrating a great result last night after they won their fight to wear new strips which warn other children about the dangers of knife crime.
The Paisley Daily Express had revealed how youngsters were left disappointed after football chiefs showed a red card to their new jerseys.
Caring dad-of-two Alex McKendrick had helped coaches of Johnstone Burgh’s Under-14 team raise £1,000 to pay for strips featuring the logo of the Stop Knives, Save Lives campaign being run by the Paisley Daily Express.
Alex reckoned the high-profile logo would be the perfect way to hammer home the message to kids that they should steer clear of knives.
But he was stunned when a high-ranking official from the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) refused to give the go-ahead for the logo to be used on the strips because it features an image of a knife.
However, following talks between Craig Donohoe, who coaches Burgh’s Under-14s, and SYFA national secretary David Little, the youngsters have now been given the go-ahead to wear the logo with pride. Craig told the Express: “David Little called me and we had a long chat about it. He insisted he was 100 per cent behind what we were trying to do but asked me to try to see it from his point of view.
“He was concerned that other teams might feel intimidated by the image of a knife and I can see where he’s coming from but the bigger picture is that the logo sends out a positive, educational message.”
Craig also revealed that the Scottish Football Association are now set to highlight Burgh’s anti-knives stance on their official website.
He added: “That would mean great exposure for the Paisley Daily Express campaign.
“We don’t just teach the kids football skills – we also teach them about life and how they have to earn respect from others and make the right choices.
“Knife crime is so high profile at the moment and we are delighted to give the campaign our backing.” Johnstone man Alex, whose son Alexander plays for Burgh’s Under-14 team, had threatened to hand back cash to people who made donations towards the cost of the new strips if the SYFA refused to budge on the use of the logo.
Now he is delighted that SYFA bosses have had a rethink.
Alex, 40, said: “I had gathered in the money after telling people that the excellent Stop Knives, Save Lives campaign would be highlighted on the strips.
“When I told folk what we were doing, they were delighted we were taking a stand against knife crime.
“I’m so glad I won’t need to give the money back. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed.”
Johnstone councillor Iain McMillan also welcomed the SYFA’s decision.
He said: “I was disgusted when Alex told me that the SYFA had forbidden them from using the logo on their strips. I have backed the campaign since day one, so I’m glad the SYFA have had a change of heart.
“The Stop Knives, Save Lives campaign sends out all the right messages and it’s ideal that kids aged around 12 and 13 are being targeted as they can be highly impressionable at that age.”
The Express launched the Stop Knives, Save Lives campaign in March last year following the brutal murder of Lochwinnoch man Paul McGee.
Hero soldier Paul, who served with the Scots Guards, was knifed to death outside the family home.
His sister Kelly teamed up with the Express to launch the campaign, which has since been backed by a number of celebrities, politicians and sport stars.
You can show your support by picking up one of our free car stickers from the Express office at 14 New Street, Paisley.