While Cove Rangers continue to push for a place in next season’s Scottish Championship, one of the star members of their squad is using his creative nous to thrive off the field, too, writes Peter White.
Forward Leighton McIntosh has made 20 appearances for the Toonsers since signing up ahead of Cove’s first season in the third tier, in which they have made an impressive attempt to keep rising through the ranks.
Having debuted for boyhood club Dundee in late 2010 McIntosh’s football career has seen him enjoy spells in Scotland, Iceland and England, before he made the move closer to home last summer following his departure from National League outfit Wrexham.
A return to part-time football afforded McIntosh additional time to focus on his passion for art, and the self-taught 28-year-old - who works under the name Geckor Designs - believes the growing success of his pop art-inspired cartoon paintings goes hand-in-hand with his exploits on the pitch.
“When things are going well on one side of your life it’s always good to use that positivity in something else, and that works both ways with my football and my art,” he said.
“I’ve always been into animation and cartoons, and I’ve always been creative. I learnt the basic principles and techniques at school, but the football naturally took over when I became a professional.
“I gradually got into it more and more through social media, and it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve thought about taking it more seriously and making it my main job when I finish with football.
“At the end of last season I had a few options, and I was really fortunate to sign a long-term deal with Cove that has given me the foundation to push on with my art, which I’m really enjoying.”
For now McIntosh’s success with his paintbrush is providing him with sufficient financial support alongside his exploits in the football arena, and he is keen to continue building his reputation.
“I think I’d struggle going into an office job, or something like that,” he said. “I did do a bit of personal training earlier in my career, but in terms of looking long-term I much prefer art.
“I like being creative and spontaneous, so while I have the foundation of football I’m really trying to drive the art so I can make it a focal job and income.”
Having sold paintings through galleries and worked alongside fashion brands McIntosh was recently tasked with creating a special print to adorn Purplebricks for sale and to let boards in Scotland on the theme of inspiring Olympic support.
And though he largely keeps his sporting career separate from his art McIntosh believes his own experiences helped capture the energy and unique nature of the Olympic flame in his finished piece, ‘Shine Bright’.
He added: “It was interesting to do something that touched on both sport and art because it’s not something I usually do, but I have started to make works that incorporate some of the things I’ve experienced.
“I know how much sport changes without fans, and it’s been great to be part of the campaign to get everybody behind them at home.”
Leighton McIntosh is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK. To enter the draw to receive one of 2,020 limited edition prints, visit https://page.purplebricks.co.uk/teamgb_homesupport/