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
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.
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.