A Kirriemuir man used his 40th birthday celebrations to help raise awareness for Frank’s Law, by visiting football grounds across the world.
Jonathen Smith, from Colin M Smith, turned 40 in April last year and vowed to visit 40 new football grounds to mark the occasion.
At each ground, he donned a Frank’s Law T-shirt to raise awareness for the campaign.
Speaking about his decision to visit 40 grounds, Jonathen, who is the president of Kirriemuir Thistle junior football club, explained: “I turned 40 last year and I wanted to do something special to remember it by.
“I really like my football, so I decided to visit 40 brand new grounds in a year.”
His tour saw him travel up and down Scotland visiting grounds, as well as London, France and the US.
It was in France that Jonathen visited his favourite stadium of the tour. He said: “My favourite was Stade Saint-Symphorien in Metz. It’s built on the back of a river. I watched Scotland against France in a warm up game ahead of Euro 2016. I didn’t like the game though - we got beat 3-0.”
It was a Scottish ground that hosted his favourite game of the tour, however, with a mid-week match in Buckie topping the list. He said: “My favourite match was a Buckie Thistle, Brora Rangers game on a Wednesday night. It was me and my pal, and there was around 750 folk there for a top of the table clash. The first half was really even, and at the start of the second half Brora looked really sharp.
“I said to my pal that Buckie could be in danger, but they went on to win 5-0 with four fantastic goals.”
A trip to Orlando took the title of the worst game. Jonathen, who travelled with his wife and children to Florida, said: “The worst match was Orlando City v Houston. It finished 0-0 and it was dire. In the background, there was a thunderstorm going on so we got to see a fantastic lightning show.”
The challenge concluded with a visit to Stamford Bridge the day before his 41st birthday. Of his challenge, Jonathen added: “I really enjoyed it. I definitely got the bug to do some more ground hopping. It certainly beats the humdrum from watching your team get beat.”
As well as a memorable way to mark a milestone birthday, Jonathen was also raising awareness for Frank’s Law. He said: “A lot of people were asking why I was doing what I was doing, and about Frank. In Scotland, a lot of people already knew. It did get a bit of a reaction so that was good.”
During one visit to Harlaw Park in Inverurie, the club recorded an interview about Jonathen’s awareness campaign. The Frank’s Law campaign, in memory of footballer Frank Kopel, wants to see free personal care for under 65s who have a debilitating condition such as dementia, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Frank and his wife Amanda had started the campaign together in 2013, but Frank sadly passed away in 2014 aged 64 after a battle with dementia. Amanda has continued to campaign for the change in law, which at present says anyone over the age of 65, when assessed as requiring personal care should not have to pay for it.
To find out more about Frank’s Law, visit www.frankslaw.org