1985

Hampden appeared in the gloom. A coloseum attracting a green and white swarm. The rain wasn’t dampening the spirits, it was cup final day.

 

Faulty turnstyles caused a delay. The swarm became stuck and restless. My young frame was pressed against a wall. Adults frantically protecting me. The smell of beer, fags and damp was over-powering. I was drowning.

 

A shout, a bear like polisman, an open gate, then a never ending staircase. I’m placed on a cold wet crush barrier, a vantage point of a king, looking over the sodden bobble hats of the crowd.

 

A set back made the rain feel colder and older. I was held tightly and a prophet reassuringly whispered: “He’s scoring here”. The fairytale ending was as close as my next breath. A cross and a dive of green and white. My eyes closed with excitement surrounded by joy. The cup was coming home.

published in Mind The Time, which is available to buy with all proceeds going to Football Memories Scotland. 

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from paris to lennoxtown

A footballer’s life is never dull and can lead them to strange places that they didn’t know that existed. Take Odsonne Eduardo. One day your training in the heat and beauty of Paris, the next you’re in a rain swept Lennoxtown, unable to communicate with any of your team-mates.

 

You then make your debut on a plastic pitch that has seen better days, in a stadium that has a temporary stand down one side where you’re introduced to the industrial nature of the Scottish game. You take a while to get into the game but eventually find your speed, which defenders find difficult to stop. Couple this with skill, rawness plus an unmistakeable Frenchness then you have an interesting season watching how much game time the player will get.

 

He’s shown enough to suggest it will be enjoyable and absorbing.  

this was printed in the scotsman fanzone wednesday 13th september 2017  

This Time: Scotland v England

This time

My dance of joy

Amongst the red plastic

My charge

To the fluorescent line

Guarding my ninety minute foe

From my joy

And my skint shins

Sending them homeward to think again.

Will be worth it

 

This time

I will be folding

My kilt into my case

Getting a new badge on my hat

I will be flying the lion rampant

In a new country

 

This time

The ghost

Of France 1998

Won’t be a millstone

It will be exorcised

A new time for heroes

 

This time

We are staring into space

Gasping breath

Hoping to rewind time

Our howls wishing:

Harry Kane is not left alone,

That we defended better in Slovakia

We won against Lithuania

This time

We’re going homeward

To think again. Qualification?

Those days are past now and in

The past they will remain until:

Our instinct to be Scotland

To gloriously fail

Ends.

this poem was part of a pair written after scotland played england on 10th June. it’s sister poem was published in Nutmeg Issue 5

the letter box of fate

Strange and as unlikely as it seems, Scotland are now peering through the letterbox of a possible playoff spot hoping that someone will let them in. It’s testament to Strachan’s sheer stubbornness that he has lead us to this position.

 

Most would have walked after the first half of this campaign but he is now the longest serving manager since Craig Brown and we have just won back to back games in qualifying for the first time in ten years.

 

Most successful or semi decent international teams are made up of a core from one or two clubs and are extremely organised. Six Celtic players started both games aided by the impressive Andrew Robertson, first Liverpool player to score Scotland since Kenny Dalglish,and Matt Phillips. Strachan is the man for the job and he must remain so after October.  

published in the scotsman fanzone on 6th September 2017 

hail caeser

Your iconic pose is head-turning as you drive past.

You stand, welcoming all,

with a reminder to the most important moment in the club’s history.

A tribute in bronze and glory.

 

It’s not how I remember you.

 

Crouched down in 80’s dug outs,

barking instructions.

Running and dancing on the Hampden turf,

in your cup final suit,

celebrating improbable wins.

 

A link between the fairytale and the changing present.

Stories that I had been told weren’t myth as you were part of those.

A towering presence of a king and leader getting extra from your charges during our birthday year.

An old school fighter facing a modern foe.  

 

We came to celebrate with you.

In our thousands,

we spilled onto the red ash

and onto seldom used terrace

in early summer sun.

The only cross to bear was proudly on our kits.

 

This was my Lisbon. This is my Caeser.

 

published in mind the time. an anthology of poems published to raise money for football memories scotland. it can be purchased here 

also, the first poem i ever performed live at the mind the time book launch in glasgow. 

 

the foundation of rock bottom

The most solid foundation you can have is rock bottom. While it’s wrong to suggest that when Rodgers took over the club was at rock bottom it certainly didn’t look to have a solid foundation.

 

We played a usually tension fraught Champions League Play Off last week but by 70 mins, were looking towards the Champions League. But we have no sea legs and our lead looked slender after the opening of the second half.   

 

Overall though we dominated a tough tie for the majority of the two games, scored eight goals and only looked ropey when we downed tools and the momentum switched but, importantly, was regained.

 

Since Rodgers arrived he has transformed the thinking of the club from one that hoped to qualify for the Champions League to one that expects too. Raised expectations built on solid foundations.

Printed in The Scotsman 23rd August 2017. This was re-written after the final whistle of the play off game after a phone call from the paper. i was on a treadmill at the time…..

the belfast child(s)

Football is littered with pantomime villains but it’s also full of those, who have an extended interest in the game, believing – in their own fickle minds – that players are actual villains. Villains who deserve to be abused for 90 minutes.

 

Last week, Kyle Lafferty took centre stage at Celtic Park last week, charging around failing to get sent off and he reacted to the crowd when being substituted. This week Neil Lennon spoke the unwritten truth then over celebrated a Hibs goal at Ibrox. Fans called for the death penalty for both men. The only thing in common is some fans abusing these players think Scotland 2017 is actually Belfast in the early eighties.  

 

We have been told to move on over the summer but the only thing that needs to move on in the game are these fans.

 

Printed in the Scotsman Fanzone Wednesday 16th August. i’m beginning to sound like pat nevin.