Special Aussie rules cup in honour of former Linlithgow player

Ash (centre) with his uncle and fellow player Ewan McIntyre (right) and 2019 club captain Steve Downie (left).
Ash (centre) with his uncle and fellow player Ewan McIntyre (right) and 2019 club captain Steve Downie (left).

A Linlithgow-based Australian rules football club is gearing up to hold its second annual fundraiser cup competition, for a former player who was left severely disabled in a car crash five yeas ago.

The Ashley Palmer Cup will be contested between Ashley from Linlithgow’s former teams West Lothian Eagles, Falkirk Silverbacks and Glasgow Sharks at Linlithgow Rugby Club on March 14.

Ashley, who represented Scotland in the sport, was left with multiple physical disabilities and brain injuries, and is confined to a wheelchair, following the car crash.

West Lothian Eagles president Jamie Townend said: “He was pretty badly hurt in the crash. He can’t speak properly but he can type.

“Ash has a passion for Aussie rules. He is very knowledgeable of the sport. Obviously he can’t play it but he is still active on social media and he comes along to club events if his dad can bring him. He is there pretty much every game cheering us on.”

Although the club was formally founded two years ago, after Ash’s accident, he was part of the group of players’ that became West Lothian Eagles and is a current member.

Jamie added: “Our club and the wider AFL community has tried to rally round to provide support for our former teammate. The Falkirk Silverbacks have folded now but they will always come for this game. We might add more teams depending on who is interested.”

The family fun day will also feature a bouncy castle, raffle and face painting as well as the ‘Aussie rules’ action.

“This is the biggest event we put on ourselves every year. It’s our big pre-season event,” said Jamie.

“Last year there was 100 people there. It was a huge success. We are looking forward to it again, a fun family day. It’s more about the off-pitch side of things. If anyone is interested in participating or putting something in for the raffle that would great.”

West Lothian Eagles has around 50 members and trains at Linlithgow Academy and Linlithgow Rugby Club, where it also plays its home matches.

Ashley was previously a pupil at Linlithgow Academy and played for Linlithgow and Bo’ness rugby clubs.

Commenting on Facebook, he said: “Thank you for holding this trophy that’s named after me. I still can’t believe that there is a trophy named after me. And I am aiming to make an appearance at it this year.”

West Lothian Eagles are the only Australian rules football team based in the Lothians and central Scotland. They compete in summer in the Scottish Aussie rules football league against teams from Fife, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

To get involved in the Ashley Palmer Cup or donate a raffle prize, email jtownend26@gmail.com.