Two Ayrshire College students are setting aside their sporting differences and lining up together for a new book examining football rivalry across the globe.
‘Us and Them: New Journeys in Football Rivalry’ edited by the critically acclaimed author Daniel Gray and published by leading charity Nil by Mouth, turns the spotlight on the sport in Glasgow, Bilbao, China, Jersey and Kosovo but also finds time to visit Kilmarnock.
In the chapter ‘City Rivals’ Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott goes in search of fans, players and managers who have built strong and lasting friendships across the ‘Old Firm’ divide. He visits the college’s Kilmarnock campus to meet Rangers fan Ross Munro and Celtic supporter Reegan Stevenson who have recently graduated with an HND in Sport. Firm friends through their accomplished careers in Boccia, a version of bowls for athletes with severe physical disabilities, the duo reflect on how their footballing rivalry cemented, rather than damaged, their friendship, sharing their experiences of growing up in the west of Scotland and their belief that fans can be rivals not enemies.
Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott said:
‘Football rivalry is a cocktail of pride, passion, pantomime and poison and this book aims to provide some perspective. It would be easy to focus on the negatives but we choose to look at some interesting stories of friendship across the ‘Old Form’ divide. Meeting Reegan and Ross was a real highlight for me. They are two very typical west of Scotland guys with sharp wit and real passion for their sport. During the interview I was struck by how they instinctively knew how to wind each other up but always do it with a smile on their face. They also make important points about people feeling able to wear their colours with pride without being judged by others. They represent the true spirit and value of football to our society and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the joy the sport brings to so many people. The loss of football in recent months has had a deep impact on many because the sport is so deeply entrenched in their lives and in this book we are seeking to look at why the ‘Us versus Them’ narrative is so compelling and essential to so many people’s identities.’