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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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

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 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.

In The Heat Of Lisbon

In the heat of Lisbon….

 

as the clock turns from sixty six to sixty seven, the lights begin to shine. Not searching, the lights are not lost, they have found what they are looking for. The song stirs into life, calling on the spirit of the tunnel, where the symphony wasn’t going to be left unfinished or bitter sweet, the final chapter was to be written: the italians were there to be beat.

 

In the heat of Lisbon…..

 

they dismissed with tales of a mediocre Celtic. No-one knew what Big Jock was creating, apart from a linesman on Merseyside, who to the sway of the Kop, chirping the hits of the day, raised his flag, stopping a Hampden finale, just 12 months on from when Big Billy stopped the barren years.

 

In the heat of Lisbon…..

 

those long years, from when Dick Beatty held up 7 fingers,The Beatles had loved me do and we walked alone, Lisbon was just a place on the map like: Zurich, Nantes, Novi Sad and Prague, not yet arteries in the clubs heart, not yet the golden sun at the start of our day, not yet the most important growth ring in our tree.

 

In the heat of Lisbon…..

 

out of the tunnel to become heroes, the songs from then are now past, the beaten Italians have long since recovered from: pure, beautiful, inventive football, but the legacy is real. It’s all around us, wearing the hoops, the famous green and white. A Celtic created on that final whistle.

 

In the heat of Lisbon….

 

the dust was swept away and a vision revealed. An immortalized infinite fairytale, spoken in the present; celebrated in bronze, looming large, as solid as Brother Walfrids foundation: two breaths that are more important than our next win, loss or draw.

 

The heat of Lisbon…..

 

pumps the blood of the club, today, tomorrow and forever.

Originally published on Celtic Quick News. 

Scotland’s Game, Scotland’s Shame

Derby Day

 

Groups scurry into houses before streets awake

clinking bottles, in blue poly bags

hitting legs

denting shins

containing the breakfast of Derby Day.

 

Friends having a sociable drink

allowing the banter to flow

or

wife in the kitchen fearing

as the husband

has started drinking

hoping the result goes the right way?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame.

 

Gathering outside shuttered pubs

loitering in bus stops

on shopping precincts (that have seen better days)

awaiting transport to the game

watching cars slow as they go by.

 

Smiles, encouragement and thumbs up

or

windows down

contorted faces

spitting with the venom of a cornered snake?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

Stadium sold out

not a seat to be had

a cacophonous noise, greets entering fans

the players are given a gladiatorial welcome

which screams itself hoarse.

 

Songs of support to those on the pitch

celebrating famous victories

or

songs to offend each other

as those ones are always catchier?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

The colours as bright

as post shower rainbow

fluttering and waving furiously

held proudly in the hand of the fan.

 

Flags to inspire the teams

displays showing creativity and ingenuity

or

triumphant tribal battle lines

drawn to offend and divide?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

Pubs filling up

christmas eve in August,

a boost in the takings

money for the city

strangers entering territories seldom seen

day passes from family and the night is also theirs.

 

Friends greeting each other for a pint

watching the big screen

or

guys staring

working out what school you went to

by the colour of your trainers?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

Tv companies showing footage

the joy and despair of football

hopes

dreams

drama

the emotion of the game

creating images that will be watched again and again.

 

Cuddling strangers

after a goal

or

a brother and sister

cuddling upstairs

as Dad wrecks the living room

below?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame.

 

Sensationalist headlines

nodus narratives

rivalries revved

familiarised and set in stone

a scaffolding built build up

beamed and printed worldwide.

A colloquialism that sells

with millions of tv eyes

a panacea for the game

or

the media with no regard

to the ruined lives

the broken glass (that they don’t clean up)

print a discovered moral compass

after the blade has ruled the night?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame.

Winning Captains

Time to stop dancing: the jig of joy.

Time to take your triumphant teammates –

weary legged, but ecstatic,

up the stadium stairs,

or onto a hastily built podium.  

 

A walk of glory

to look at himself in the curved silver,

shining like a full moon

on a calm sea,

green and white ribbons, neatly tied,

 

fluttering in the sunlight,

glimmering in the floodlight,

as he lifts the cup,

to the sound of celebration,

that has changed over the years.

 

Caps and sticks in the air,

cards in hats,

joyus cheers,

confetti cannons,

fireworks that shake the stadiums foundations.

The emotion has never changed,

no matter if Glasgow or Lisbon,

the first, second or last,

history inscribed into silver,

the chapter closes, with you, always

a winning captain.    

Written after Celtic won their 100th trophy and inspired by the Walk With Shay print depicting captains of the club. First published on Celtic Quick News