Morton goalkeeper Derek Gaston has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going the extra mile’ after visiting all 41 football stadiums in Scotland in 24 hours to raise money for charity.
Just three months ago Gaston and partner Kristen were given the devastating news that they had lost their unborn baby after going for the 12-week scan.
But instead of grieving in silence, the Ton number one admits he felt compelled to try and raise awareness of just how common miscarriages are.
And through his love for football, the 28-year-old, who has a four-year-old daughter Sophia, made a whistle-stop 960-mile tour around each of the professional stadiums with friends Nick Traquair and Robert Toal to raise money for Tommy’s.
The charity funds research into pregnancy problems and want to halve the number of babies that die during pregnancy or birth by 2030.
The trio – stopping at each ground only to take a selfie – began their epic journey on Tuesday evening at the home of Ross County and finished up at Hamilton 24 hours later.
Gaston, who reckons he has raised around £2,000 so far, said: “My partner Kristen and I went for our seven-week scan and everything was fine but when we went for the 12-week one we were told that the baby’s heart had stopped beating.
“That was on the 11th of January and my partner then went in on the 15th of January to have a procedure to remove the baby.
“It was obviously a big shock and nothing that you expect to happen to you.
“I started reading about out and I discovered that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.
“It’s actually quite a common thing but you probably find though that lot of people don’t speak about it.
“We told a few people and then your realise how common it actually is.
“A lot of people know someone that has gone through something similar.
“I thought it would be good to speak about it and raise awareness of it so people realise how commons it is.
“When it happens, you maybe start asking questions of yourself and your role in it.
“It’s maybe easier for us because we have a healthy four-year old daughter already so we knew we’ve come through it before.
“But when you speak about it and discover how commons it is, you maybe don’t feel so isolated.”
Explaining how he ended up touring Scotland to raise cash for Tommy’s, Gaston explained: “My friend Nick was going to be doing this anyway as he is raising money for Motor Neurone Disease and he asked me if I’d help him do it.
“I said I’d do it but I would do it for something that was close to my heart.
“I spoke to the manager Jim Duffy to make sure I could get some time off work and he was fine about it.
“Robert was drafted in at the last minute as well and he was a big help
“It was about 960 miles in total we travelled. We set off at 3pm on the Tuesday and travelled to Dingwall and then officially started at about 7.45pm at Ross County.
“We finished at 7.55pm on the Wednesday, it was just over 24 hours in total.
“I’ve raised well over £1,000 on my Just Giving page so far and there’s more to come from sponsor sheets and things like that. I think it will be close to £2,000 now.
“People have been amazing though, from messages of support to donating.
“I had a Hearts fan that donated and saying it was a great cause.
“I gave one of the ball boys my gloves at the end of last season and he actually auctioned them off and raised £100 as well, so that was great.”
Thankfully Gaston will not have to travel far today with Morton hosting Livingston in the Championship.
Understandably, the keeper admitted he was a bit groggy at training on Thursday following his epic tour.
He added: “I was back in training on Thursday but it wasn’t my best performance.
“The gaffer was good though in understanding what I had done.
“Our goalkeeping coach had come off the nightshift but he looked better than me, and that’s saying something.
“The boys have been great with me as well through all this. Dressing rooms are usually close-knit anyway and the boys were very supportive of me and were by my side.”