AN INSPIRATIONAL dad who has been documenting his battle with terminal cancer has set up his own charity football team.

The NET Busters – named after NET (Neuroendocrine) cancer, which Johnnie Meechan was first diagnosed with in 2016 – played their first game on October 12 against Arnold Clark on Spartans’ community pitch in Edinburgh.

The Tranent father-of-five has blogged about ‘Johnnie’s Journey’, telling the story of his battle with the disease.

It is hoped the football team will play in charity matches, raising money for NET cancer awareness along the way.

Johnnie told the Courier: “I have two friends [Barry Chambers and Ross Clyde] who have been really good support in terms of raising awareness and trying to raise funds and it was them that came up with the idea.

“Without guys like them I can’t do what I’m doing. I get a lot of credit but these guys more than deserve it too.

“Football has always been close to me. I used to play with the guys who play in this team before I fell ill the first time.

“It was just trying to find something that had longevity, that we can continue to use every few months.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes.”

The game against Arnold Clark ended in a 5-0 win for the NET Busters, but Johnnie said that the win wasn’t the important part.

He said: “It went really well. It was a lot of guys playing that I grew up with.

“They won 5-0, but the result doesn’t matter at all. It’s about raising awareness of NET cancer.”

Johnnie’s son Jamie, 19, took part in the game, representing his father.

The NET Busters team was made up of Johnnie’s friends but is open to anyone.

“It’s not going to be every week, but once every two or three months. We’ll see which other ways we can take it, but I’m hoping to get a ladies’ team set up,” Johnnie said.

“Right now it’s just the ones that really wanted to play. Anyone can play, as long as they’re not just looking for a kick-about!

“[Jamie] wanted to be involved. I have three other kids who wanted to play but they’re a wee bit younger. We are hoping in the next game two of them can play.”

There is no second game in the pipeline at the moment, but Johnnie is keen to get more matches set up.

He said: “We don’t have something concrete because it’s quite new to me in the sense that there are a lot of charity teams and it’s just finding the right people to make contact with.

“We’re looking to do that, but anyone who wants to give us a game is more than welcome to contact us.”

Johnnie has set up a fundraising page for the NET Busters but says money is not the point of the team.

“It was always about trying to make kids proud and raising awareness because [the fight against] NET cancer really needs this help,” he said.

“I have always been in the mindset that any money raised is just a bonus.”

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