When The Clocks Go Back

Open the cupboard,

Find the winter coat

On the hanger at the back.

At the bottom,

Is a poly bag,

Full of seldom worn hats,

To find the scarf,

Last and lonely.

 

You raise it to your nose,

Stir the memories,

Hoping that it hasn’t been washed.

That the good luck clings,

Of a deflected last minute winner.

Or it has been washed,

Bad luck disappearing like a relegated rival.

 

Trainers are replaced by boots,

The change in weather will waste,

Vintage suede uppers.

Now where is the gloves,

That will be lost,

In Dingwall, Motherwell or on the bus?

 

The walk to the ground,

Sees kids weighed down,

Hats, scarfs and so much wrapping;

They could have been delivered by Amazon.

Still some wear the replica kit,

Refusing to entertain the thought of a jacket,

But the always worn scarf,

Now has a use

Other than unwavering support.

 

Words hang in the air,

The pace that you walk is quicker,

Pubs encourage you to ignore their faded fronts,

And have a yellow homely glow.

Its no longer the weather to hang about outside,

Discussing your team.

You dream that the turnstile

Will bring warmth beyond.

 

The smell of salty beef,

Replaces flat fizzy drinks,

Scolding lips with expletives –

Not heard since your full back,

Played their striker on that time.

The goalie tries not to be distracted,

By the crisp pokes dancing in the air,

Their shine enhanced,

By the floodlights,

On in the first half.

 

The cold and dark is forgotten,

If your home with three points,

Rosy cheeked.

Trip to the chippy,

To warm the insides:

Fish supper, single sausage.

Hand in pocket,

To pass over the cash,

Then you remember.

Look outside and see the bus pass,

With your gloves on board.

 

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The Book That Never Ends

Turn the page

Let the chapter write itself

There is always room for more celebration

No need to compare past glories

All have merits in daylight

Or LED light

None diminish with age

Memories are not shipwrecks on the shore

They always sail

Scott Brown will always be 400 not out

Playing the best football of his career

Scott Sinclair will always be wonderful

And magical

Moussa Dembele will always be holding up three figures celebrating

Mikael Lustig will always have his top over his head like the Turin shroud

Tom Rogic will always score that last minute winner

Kieran Tierney will always play like a wean

Chasing a ball

Trophies number 100,101 and 102 will always be inVIncible

We will always be inVIncible

Ten men will always win the league,

And Lisbon Lions will always win the lot

The chapters all have full stops

But the book never ends.

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. 

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.