To mark World Book Day, and as part of the ‘Us and Them’ football writing project, we are delighted to present two poems from Dumbarton FC Club Poet Stephen Watt .

During Lockdown Stephen has been researching his home town’s connections with Celtic and Rangers and came across two graves of legendary figures from both clubs past. We are grateful to him for allowing us to share these on our website and hope you can take a few minutes to enjoy his evocative prose. You can follow Stephen on Twitter: Stephen Watt (@StephenWattSpit) / Twitter




Rhu’s True Blue

The last resting place of Moses McNeil

Moses McNeil was the founding member of Rangers Football Club in March/May 1872. McNeil was born in Rhu and is buried at St Modan’s RC churchyard at Rosneath.

Dreaming teen, his mind winds

to designs of dynamic kits, rugby strip and what stimulates kids of his day

Fish in the Gare Loch

are propelled by his shredding oars

pushing waves on like ideas

towards Helensburgh’s shore.

His grin is upturned like a hook.

In the Fleshers’ Haugh

by the River Clyde,

flat-capped hordes shed their boats

to watch two experimental sides

fist-fight over a pig’s bladder

on Glasgow Green’s lawn.

Decked in their civvies,

rough and ready,

Rangers fought out a goalless draw

and embedded themselves

into Scottish football history.

By the second match

white jersey and a blue star badge

on the left breast

heralded McNeill’s vision had come to life.

An eleven-nil victory against Clyde

and the lakeside foresight

was now physical, material, palpable

as the heroes in his sports annuals.

With his final breath in Dumbarton,

the clouded ribbons of Ibrox gates

welcomed home its founding son

and in one mute Rosneath churchyard,

the pilgrims come

to thank and remember him:

leave flowers the colours

of sunsets in rivers.





Bonhill’s Shadow

The last resting place of Neilly McCallum.










Neilly McCallum, aka The Shadow, was the first player to score a goal for Celtic Football Club on 28 May 1888 in a 5-2 victory against Rangers. McCallum was born in Braehead, Bonhill and is buried in Bonhill churchyard.

Not yet twenty – and yet history maker.

The Shadow’s debut against Rangers

 was Celtic’s first ever game, taking

less than ten minutes to make his name

and pronounce the club’s arrival.

Like a new moon rising, the ball ascents,

twirling like the onlooking moustaches;

all leather wax and stitches.

The cow’s rump

lands perfectly on McCallum’s bonce

and in this bronze sunshine of May,

the only first there ever will be,

stops all clocks,

alighting between pre-nets, square posts.

His laced boots

dance back to the halfway line

like the River Leven courses

through villages in the Vale.

Twists and turns run in his blood.

The bones of this Bonhill-built hero

are buried in the springtime grass.

Breathe in where the shadows grow long

and golden brass church bells toll

for a goal deemed to everlast.