Rule change means Falkirk fans miss play-off for another match of the day

Ashley Campbell and Gary McLachlan
Ashley Campbell and Gary McLachlan
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New competition rules mean a Falkirk fan who’s missed less than 10 games in the past decade will not see the Bairns’ biggest fixture of the season.

Gary McLachlan will marry his long-term partner Ashley Campbell in Bathgate on Saturday as Gary Holt’s side take on Queen of the South 12 miles away at Westfield in the second-leg of the Championship play-offs first round.

The 33-year-old painter from Falkirk thought he and his future wife had picked the perfect date for their big day as it fell on the weekend after the traditional end of the league season.

But that was before Scottish football authorities ripped up the rule book last summer and introduced a play-off system for teams that finish in the top four of the former First Division.

At a stroke, Gary’s long-planned wedding day had become the date of what would prove to be an all-important fixture for his beloved Bairns.

“It’s not just myself that will be missing the game,” he said. “I go to every away match with two of my friends, and another three join us at home games. In total, there are at least seven or eight Falkirk season ticket holders who will be at my wedding instead of at the game.

“I’ve taken a bit of a ribbing from them for ‘being selfish’ as I wouldn’t change the date of the wedding.”

Gary met dental nurse Ashley (28) 12 years ago on a night out in Edinburgh.

In another twist, Gary’s bride-to-be and her family are fans of Hibernian - a team that Falkirk could face in the play-off final for a place in the Premiership.

“It gets interesting when Falkirk play Hibs,” he said.

Even if the Bairns do manage to get to the play-off final - which would require them to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Queen of the South and then win a further two-legged tie against Hamilton Academical - the newly-weds will still not be around to see it.

They’ll be jetting off for a two-and-a-half week honeymoon in the United States in which they’ll spend time in Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco.

“I could be missing more matches in the next two weeks than I’ve missed in the last 10 years,” added Gary.