Battle of the Football Bards

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August 28 2017

The winner takes it all

Scottish Football’s first ‘Battle of the Bards’ took place at the weekend with Dumbarton FC clinching the first piece of silverware of the new season.

Dumbarton’s ‘Poet in Residence’ Stephen Watt won the first ‘Poetry and Penalties’ competition pipping St Johnstone FC’s Jim Mackintosh and Selkirk FC’s Thomas Clarke in a special shoot out at the Stowed Out Festival in the Scottish Borders. The competition was sponsored by the Nil by Mouth charity as part of its campaign to celebrate the positives of Scottish football.

The three poets performed a set of their works before donning their club jerseys and taking part in a penalty shoot out to determine the winner of the trophy in front of an audience of festival-goers. Scotland’s first footballing poet-in residence, Thomas Clark, was also the first to bow out hitting the target only once from five efforts. Whilst Stephen Watt and Jim Mackintosh scored three each and headed into a sudden death ‘winner takes it all’ showdown. There was heartbreak for Jim as his penalty cracked off the underside of the crossbar just staying out of the goal leaving Stephen to power home his effort to bring the first piece of silverware of the new season back to Dumbarton.

The trio also used the event to promote ‘Mind The Time’ a collection of 100 poems about Scottish football, the profits from which are being used to support the Football Memories project working with people with Alzheimer’s across the country.


Winner Stephen Watt said:
‘Making poetry fun, proving football and literature work together, and of course getting an important message across about the work of Nil by Mouth and Football Memories were all key to what made this competition work. I’m lucky that my penalties went in but getting to spend time with the guys was, by far, the best part of it. And having a nice shiny trophy to bring back to Dumbarton makes life a little sweeter.’

Thomas Clark said:
‘It was a nail-biting competition which had everything you hope for from football – drama, poetry, dodgy refereeing decisions, plus a wee bit of handbags to boot. Stephen’s winning penalty was definitely a thing of beauty. A fine talent was lost to Scottish football when this man picked up a pen.’

Jim Mackintosh said:
‘It was brilliant to get the chance to promote ‘Mind the Time’ alongside my fellow football poets. We had fun reading poems together for the first time and the day was capped off by a penalty competition where there was one winner but no losers. Although I am convinced after my controversial final penalty Scottish football must consider goal line technology. I can confirm that I am available to take penalties for St Johnstone this season.’

Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said:
‘This was a day of firsts given it was the first time Scotland’s three footballing poets performed together and the staging of the inaugural ‘Poetry and Penalties’ competition. The Poets were all up for a laugh and with a bit more practice their footballing skills will rival the quality of their prose. We already have plans to get them together again in the next few months for another event and I’ve no doubt Jim and Thomas are already planning on taking Steven’s crown next year.’