A BID for Scotland’s unique footballing history to receive Unesco World Heritage Site status has taken a step forward with three poets appointed to tell its rich story.
And a special poem will be launched ahead of Scotland's World Cup play-off at Hampden to show solidarity with Ukraine.
It is written by Stuart Kenny, one of three poets appointed by The Hampden Collection, which is leading the Unesco bid, to capture the stories and feelings of Scotland’s football history. Along with Julie McNeill, Poet in Chief, Mr Kenny and Susi Briggs have also been appointed.
Graeme Brown, of The Hampden Collection, said: “Our World Home of Football Poetry has more than 100 poems in the collection so far, and is a fantastic way to engage fans of the beautiful game from across the footballing spectrum.
“More than One side is Stuart Kenny’s debut poem for us in his new role and the words are very poignant. While we might be two sides, the poem talks about while we might be rivals, we welcome them with open arms. One line says we are all blue and yellow and stand tall and the poem shows solidarity.”
Last year Football’s Square Mile, the World’s Biggest Open-Air Football Museum, was launched following the discovery of the foundations of the world’s first enclosed purposefully built international football ground - The 1st Hampden Park.
Now those behind the move want to bid for Unesco status and coincides with the 150th anniversary of the world’s first international football match, held at West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Partick, Glasgow, on St Andrew’s Day, 1872.
The idea behind poets-in-residence is to help engage with fans who are also encouraged to submit their own poems.
Mr Brown added: “All the poems which have been penned so far are on our website and we encourage submissions all year round. We would love to hear from fans about their memories or experiences through poetry.”
Julie McNeill, Poet in Chief of the Hampden Collection, was delighted to be joined by leading Scottish poets to join the team.
Ms McNeill said: “The World Home of Football Poetry has gone from strength to strength, gathering voices from across Scotland and internationally to celebrate the past, present and future of the beautiful game. Julie warmly welcomes Stuart Kenny and Susi Briggs to complete the ‘Poetic Front Three.’
Stuart Kenny, poet, creative writer, football fan and journalist, has taken on the role of Makar of Primo Poetica which showcases the cultural heritage and passion for football from across the footballing spectrum.
Mr Kenny said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to join The Hampden Collection as Makar of the Primo Poetica Collection. My love of football is as much about the culture – the passion, the stadiums, the rivalries, the club and national legends – as it is about the game itself, and so much of that comes from the history of the game. There’s arguably nowhere more important to the history of the sport than Football’s Square Mile in Glasgow. I can’t wait to get delving into that history and encouraging and writing poetry which captures that visceral love for the game.”
Susi Briggs joins the team as Wean’s Makar and is an award-winning author, storyteller and musician, advocating and promoting visibility and literacy of the Scots language. She writes songs, poetry, stories and picture books.
Ms Briggs said: “This project isn't just about the beautiful game but the people, the community, the stories and the heritage that surrounds it. I am excited to be involved with helping to raise awareness and encourage young folk to engage with what is an incredibly important heritage site.”
Ms McNeill, who also leads the Scottish Women’s National Team Poets Society, said The Hampden Collection celebrates football and poetry in all languages, through the voices of Scotland and beyond.
“We are proud of the beautiful game’s origin story, and as the founders of Football’s Square Mile and our UNESCO World Heritage Campaign, The Hampden Collection is helping Scotland take its rightful place as the home of world football. I’m delighted to welcome leading Scottish Poets Susi and Stuart to The Hampden Collection Team, and excited to watch the poetry collections grow and flourish under their stewardship.”
Last year Archaeology Scotland found the foundation stones of the original Hampden pavilion, beer bottles, clay pipes and teacups from the period, and wire fencing, which encompassed the original pitch at Hampden Bowling Club. There are now plans for dig later this month and another site close by which is linked to Scotland’s football heritage.
If you would like to be part of the Hampden Collection’s Poetry Collection go to https://hampdencollection.com/the-world-home-of-football-poetry/
More than One Side, by Stuart Kenny
Blue on the shirts, on the fans, on the stands;
and yellow on the badge, on the kits, on the flags.
We, made of flesh and fingers and hands
with hearts wrapped in football
and hopelessly caught in the colours of our land.
We are all here made up of the same things:
of pipedreams and passion and corner kicks;
of dayjobs and daydreams and mortar and bricks;
of community and history and hope and heroics
and fear and family and faith and football.
But now, we can only look and admire your strength.
Each thing we are is just one, essential part of us; one side.
And we, who have so much in common
and who love and who cry and who dream every night.
The worst thing that could have happened happened to you,
warrior nation - and you have our solidarity in your fight.
This game has us rivals, but we welcome you with open arms
today and tomorrow and truly for as long as it takes.
So aye, we’ll cheer on our bonnie boys, and
our lion rampant wrapped in yellow, surrounded by blue.
But make no mistake - that we stand with you.
Each thing we are is just one, essential part of us; one side
But there is so much in common that makes up us all.
Today we are all blue and yellow and stand tall.
Today we are family and faith and football.