LIFELONG Hibernian fan Craig Innes will line-up against his heroes next weekend to mark a decade with Preston Athletic.

The defensive stalwart will welcome an Easter Road XI to the Pennypit for his testimonial to represent 10 seasons with his hometown club.

Innes, who also had brief spells with Ormiston and Tranent Juniors, was looking forward to the game and the new season.

He said: “It is going to be amazing.

“Just celebrating 10 years of playing for the club is massive being from Prestonpans.

“I am a lifelong Hibs fan as well and getting to play a Hibs XI, probably a development squad, is an amazing day and opportunity.

“Hopefully, we will get to see the players from down the years coming and watching as well.”

Family and friends are expected to help attract a bumper crowd for the game, which will kick off at 2pm on Saturday (July 13).

Craig Innes has been a regular part of the Preston Athletic squad for a number of years

Craig Innes has been a regular part of the Preston Athletic squad for a number of years

Innes, son of the former leader of East Lothian Council, the late Councillor Willie Innes, made his debut for his hometown club when he was still a teenager.

Since then, he has clocked up a sizeable number of appearances for the club and stressed how much it meant to him.

He said: “Everybody who knows me knows how much the club means to me.

“It has been a massive part of me for the last 11 years.

“I used to go along and watch the team and my uncle, Robert Cochrane, used to play for them.

“I always used to try to watch when the big Scottish Cup ties came around.

“For me, I always wanted to try to get to that level and to play senior football for my local team for 10 years is massive.”

Scottish Cup journeys have seen Preston take on Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) stalwarts in Montrose and Stenhousemuir in recent years.

And it was the Road to Hampden that the 31-year-old left-back picked out as among the highlights.

He said: “[In 2021/22] we went up to Lossiemouth the night before and stayed over.

“We won the game and just the celebrations, the bus journey and getting through set up a big tie at home to Auchinleck Talbot.

“Unfortunately, we got beat but, to be fair, we should have won.

“We went down to 10 men and it is the Scottish Cup ties that are the main standouts.”

Now, Innes, who works as a compliance analyst with Baillie Gifford, is hoping to mark a milestone season with a memorable achievement.

The club has watched Dunbar United, Haddington Athletic, Musselburgh Athletic and Tranent gain promotion to the top flight of the East of Scotland Football League (EoSFL) – and, in Tranent’s case, beyond – in recent years.

In 2022, the Panners missed out on promotion by a single point to Oakley United.

Innes was hopeful that this could be the season they were celebrating and told Courier Sport: “There is no reason we cannot compete and go to that next level.

“Each year we are getting more professional, doing things better and adding more quality into the team.

“We have had a steady improvement since I have been here and hopefully it is a matter of time.

“We are getting more fans coming to watch us and getting bigger gates, more sponsors and increasing the budget at the club, which will help us get to the next level.

“We have played a lot of teams last year that are in the [EoSFL] Premier Division and the games have been really, really tight.”