22 February 2016
Campaigners have praised Borders football fans for helping clean up the image of the sport in Scotland as part of a new tour highlighting the positives of the ‘Beautiful Game’.
On Saturday 20th Feb Nil by Mouth teamed up with Lowland League side Selkirk FC to host a ‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ football night as part of a ten date nationwide tour of clubs and supporters groups focusing on the positive impact football has on communities.
A packed clubhouse listened to Football writer and TV Presenter Daniel Gray talk about his odyssey across Scottish grounds during the writing of his cult book ‘Stramash’, followed by a specially designed football quiz testing their knowledge of the sport. As an extra bonus Selkirk FC ‘Poet in Residence’ Thomas Clark entertained the audience with a selection of his poems inspired by the team’s season.
‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ was launched last summer by Nil by Mouth and hundreds of people have taken part in events including quiz nights, school sports competitions, penalty kick competitions and online campaigns encouraging fans to post images of what make them love the game. Support from the Scottish Government ensured all ten dates on the tour are free of charge and Minister for Community Safety, and South of Scotland MSP, Paul Wheelhouse donned his blue and white Selkirk scarf to join in the fun.
Nil by Mouth have been very active in the Borders over the past 12 months working with senior pupils at Selkirk High School and becoming a community partner of Gala Fairydean Rovers.
Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said:
’We are delighted with the support from Selkirk and its supporters and it was great to see fans of all ages come along on the night. Even speaking as a Gala Fairydean Rovers season ticket holder this was the best night of the tour so far, with a brilliant atmosphere and lots of laugher and fun. Daniel Gray is one of the brightest writing talents in the country and his words and reflections on the high and lows of the game always chime with genuine football fans. We were also thrilled that the UK’s only football poet in residence, Thomas Clark, also performed on the night. Selkirk FC are a very forward thinking club and we’d like to thank Chairman Ross Anderson and his team for making us so welcome.
The purpose of this tour is to remind people that the vast majority of fans are decent people and we can be rivals on the pitch without being enemies off it. It’s also to celebrate people like Ross and his committee who devote hundreds of hours of their time every year to ensuring towns like Selkirk have a football scene. They, not the noisy minority we sometimes see, hear or read about, are what Scottish football is really all about. We have seen real progress over the last 15 years on tackling abuse at grounds and if enough fans get behind campaigns like this we will rid our game of bigotry once and for all.’