Raith Rovers players who fought in one of history’s bloodiest battles are being commemorated by a lifelong fan of the club.
Davie Hancock is cycling 760 miles from the turf where the seven McCrae’s Battalion soldiers played football to the French soil where three of them gave their lives.
He set off from Stark’s Park on his solo mission to pedal to the cairn at Contalmaison and pay tribute to the sacrifice they made on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
The 16th Royal Scots, nicknamed after their founder Lieutenant-Colonel Sir George McCrae, were at the forefront of the biggest Western Front battle of the First World War, in which more than one million men were killed or wounded.
Among their number were James H Logan, George McLay, Willie Porter, Willie Lavery, Jimmy Todd, Jimmy Scott and Jock Rattray. Todd, Scott and McLay never returned.
Keen cyclist Davie, 45, decided to pay his own tribute to them and fans who gave their lives in battle after interviewing representatives of the McCrae Battalion Trust when they visited Stark’s Park last October.
The Raith TV commentator said: “They stood on this exact spot where we are standing today and they signed up on November 27 then they were at the forefront of the most horrific battle.
“It’s the equivalent of the players today that we have become attached to suddenly going to war.
“Different people commemorate things in different ways.
“I’m not a soldier, I don’t have that history in my family, but what I am is someone who is really proud about where I come from and passionate about the club’s history. If I can do something which is within my capabilities then it helps to shine a little bit of light.”
As well as remembering the Raith players’ part in the battle, he has already raised over £1,800 for the McCrae Battalion Trust which ensures the long-term care and maintenance of the Contalmaison Cairn and that the story of the battalion is not forgotten.
Davie, of Coaltown of Balgonie, is accompanied by wife Linzi and daughter Molli, 14, who are travelling in a campervan.
Cycling around 60 miles a day he hopes to reach his destination in northern France in around 10 to 12 days, in time for a service at the cairn on July 1.
Rather than push himself to the limit and cycle up to 150 miles a day, Davie, a fostering agency service manager, decided to make the endeavour a family experience so Molli can learn about the ultimate sacrifice so many people made.
Every Raith Rovers supporters group, local businesses and Davie’s employer, Fosterplus, donated money to pay for his kit, which is a replica of the club’s McCrae’s Battalion commemorative strip.