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. 

Advertisements

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 

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 sand and the century

A new season. The pitches are pristine green, the goal mouths beg to be dived in but if you look closely you can see the base of sand that will appear in the winter gloom. Scottish Football is also built on a base of sand that will soon be exposed.  When exposed there will be no winners or losers just more questions, accusations and regrets.

 

The game on the pitch is the easiest part not to question. Not dark just light. Leigh Griffiths, after his heroics at Hampden, has lifted his game to a level that most didn’t think possible. He is a testament to listening to coaches, hard work and making the best of your talent.

 

He’s talismanic already in this early season but will be a welcome addition to the Celtic Centenary Club before it is out.

Printed in The Scotsman Fanzone, Wednesday 9th August 2017

The Final Whistle

The final whistle was the fuse of joy;

That exploded all over the dear green place.

The bench launched like a rocket,

Onto the park they went at pace.

Jock, alone with his thoughts,

Stared immortality in the face.

Jock just looked it in the eye,

And locked it in an eternal embrace.

 

 

Simpson, Craig, Gemmell

Murdoch, McNeill, Clark

Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers

Auld and Lennox,

Were the fuse spark.

Their names will never be diminished

by the sands of time.

They changed Celtic forever.

The day the hoops were worn.

That afternoon in Lisbon,

Where a wondrous beauty was born.