A BID for Scotland’s unique football history to receive Unesco World Heritage status has taken a step forward with three poets appointed to tell their rich story.
And ahead of Scotland’s World Cup play-off in Hampden, a special poem will be released to show solidarity with Ukraine.
It was written by Stuart Kenny, one of three poets appointed by the Hampden Collection, which is leading the Unesco bid, to capture the stories and sentiments of Scottish football history. Mr Kenny and Susi Briggs were also appointed along with Julie McNeill, Poet in Chief.
Read more: Hampden site: UNESCO World Heritage bid launched for historic site
Graeme Brown of The Hampden Collection said: “With over 100 poems in the collection to date, our World Home of Football Poetry is a fantastic way to engage fans of the beautiful game from across the football spectrum.
“More than a page is Stuart Kenny’s debut poem for us in his new role and the words are very poignant. While we may be two sides, the poem speaks about it, while we might be rivals, we welcome them with open arms. One line says we’re all blue and yellow and standing tall, and the poem shows solidarity.”
Football’s Square Mile, the world’s largest open-air football museum, opened last year following the discovery of the foundations of the world’s first gated, purpose-built international football ground – The 1st Hampden Park.
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Now those responsible are looking to apply for Unesco status and it coincides with the 150th anniversary of the world’s first international football match, played on St Andrew’s Day 1872 at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Partick, Glasgow.
The idea behind Poets-in-Residence is to support fans, who are also encouraged to submit their own poetry.
Mr Brown added: “All the poetry written to date is on our website and we encourage submissions throughout the year. We’d love to hear from fans about their memories or experiences through poetry.”
Julie McNeill, Poet-in-Chief of the Hampden Collection, was delighted that leading Scottish poets were able to join the team.
Ms McNeill said: “The World Home of Football Poetry has only gone from strength to strength, gathering voices from across Scotland and internationally to celebrate the past, present and future of beautiful football. Julie welcomes Stuart Kenny and Sue Briggs to complete the Poetic Front Three.
Poet, creative writer, football fan and journalist Stuart Kenny has taken on the role of Makar from Primo Poetica, which showcases cultural heritage and passion for football from across the football spectrum.
Mr Kenny said: “It is 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 the national legends – as it is about the game itself, and a lot of that comes from the history of football. There is arguably no place more important to the history of the sport than Glasgow’s Football’s Square Mile. I can’t wait to dive into this story and to encourage and write poetry that captures this visceral love for the game.”
Joining the team as Wean’s Makar, Susi Briggs is an award-winning author, storyteller and musician who champions and promotes the visibility and literacy of the Scottish language. She writes songs, poems, stories and picture books.
Ms Briggs said: “This project isn’t just about the beautiful game, it’s about the people, the community, the stories and the heritage that surrounds it. I look forward to being involved in raising awareness and encouraging young people to engage with an incredibly important heritage.”
Ms McNeill, who also runs 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 genesis of this beautiful game and as the founders of Football’s Square Mile and our UNESCO World Heritage campaign, The Hampden Collection is helping Scotland claim its rightful place as the home of world football. I am delighted to welcome leading Scottish poets Suzy and Stuart to The Hampden Collection team and look forward to seeing the poetry collections grow and prosper under their stewardship.”
Last year Archeology Scotland found the foundation stones of the original Hampden Pavilion, beer bottles, clay whistles and teacups from the period, and wire fencing surrounding the original pitch at Hampden Bowling Club. There are now plans for excavations later this month and another site nearby linked to Scotland’s football heritage.
If you would like to be part of the Hampden Collection Poetry Collection visit https://hampdencollection.com/the-world-home-of-football-poetry/
More than a Page, by Stuart Kenny
Blue on the shirts, on the fans, in the stands;
and yellow on the badge, on the kits, on the flags.
We, of flesh and fingers and hands
with hearts wrapped in soccer balls
and hopelessly caught up in the colors of our land.
We are all composed of the same things here:
of fantasy and passion and corner kicks;
of day jobs and daydreams and mortar and bricks;
of community and history and hope and exploits
and fear and family and faith and football.
But now we can only look at and admire your strength.
Every thing we are is only an essential part of us; a page.
And we who have so much in common
and those who love and cry and dream every night.
The worst that could happen to you
Warrior nation – and you have our solidarity in your struggle.
This game has us rivals, but we welcome you with open arms
today and tomorrow and really while it lasts.
So yes we will be cheering for our Bonnie Boys and
our lion rampantly draped in yellow surrounded by blue.
But make no mistake – we stand by you.
Every thing we are is just an essential part of us; a page
But there are so many similarities that define us all.
Today we are all blue and yellow and standing tall.
Today we are family and faith and football.