A TEAM of online gamers are representing Gala Fairydean Rovers FC in a virtual football competition.

Gas engineer Darren Smith, of Galashiels, helped launch an 11-a-side league on FIFA 20 in which his hometown club has been enjoying considerable success.

Smith, 30, told the Border Telegraph: “Considering it’s the first season, it’s been excellent – and so has the reaction we’ve got from people.”

The Scottish league, played on a PlayStation 4, contains a number of teams representing official clubs, including Berwick Rangers, Greenock Morton and East Stirlingshire.

But the Galashiels side has been performing admirably, according to Smith – who has his sights set on a lofty finish.

“We’ve only beaten twice,” said Smith, whose side currently sit third. “Last Sunday we got beaten and we got beaten on the first day of the season.”

He added: “We’re still to play the second-placed team and we’re still to play the team at the top.

“I think if we go unbeaten and they drop a few points, it’s there to be done and I’d be happy with second place.”

A total of 24 players have signed up to Gala’s virtual squad, with three players from the town itself.

As the recruitment drive was mainly carried out through Twitter, Smith was able to procure the services of gamers from across Britain and further afield. One of the goalkeepers, for instance, lives in Egypt.

Asked to describe what it is like playing a video game in co-operation with 10 other people, Smith indicated it has been a hugely enjoyable experience.

He said: “Playing with 10 others is sometimes challenging when it comes to getting everyone on for a certain time.

“However, being manager of the team, I have the luxury of picking who is in the team and I have managed to get some really good guys in who are competitive but also able to enjoy playing the game, which is what it's all about in the end.”

When the real-life football season is in full swing, Smith takes to the park for Lauder Amateur FC.

But, for now, the left-back is quite happy plying his trade for Gala online - and he is already considering adding a second tier to the virtual set-up next season.

“The competition gives people a place to go and relax and enjoy themselves without the stresses of life's problems,” he said.