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The Day The Phoenix Rises 

This poem draws on the stories of my ancestors who told me about the importance of the phoenix in guarding the laws of Scotland and Ireland and the belief that our countries will finally be free of British rule on the day the phoenix rises. It is for that reason I have given it the title The Day The Phoenix Rises. I hope you enjoy the read. 
The Day The Phoenix Rises

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

 locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using language and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

 I’ve always known my blood is the blood of twin tribes 

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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The Glory And The Dream (A Poetic History Of Celtic Football Club )

On the day my club win the treble of Championship , League Cup, and Scottish Cup I take a poetic journey on Celtic through the ages from our formation in a church hall in the Calton, to a treble clinching Scottish Cup Win at Hampden this afternoon. I have given it the title The Glory  And The Dream in tribute to Tom.Campbell and Pat Woods who are the co-authors of the best ever history of our club .I hope you enjoy the read .

The Glory And The Dream

In a church hall in the Calton

a football club was born 

to feed the people of Glasgow’s East End

 who had fled famine and starvation 

inflicted on their nation 

by a cold and callous imperial United Kingdom 

but though founded to assist the Irish catholic poor 

our founders made sure no-one was excluded 

on the grounds of colour, creed,  or religion 

we would make it our mission 

to play up and play the game 

Willie Maley was the first man to claim 

the manager’s chair

moulding  teams with passion and flair 

which would be the Celtic way 

from our earliest days 

we would start as we meant to go on

attacking play to entertain the fans 

on terracing and in the stands 

this would be of paramount importance in our club’s story 

we play not for wealth and riches 

we play for the glory and the dream 

right from the early years 

when Maley built our first all conquering team 

set records not equalled till Stein 

made legends in green and white

Sunny Jim Young, and Jimmy Hay 

had their days in a trophy laden side

Quinn, and Gallagher added their names to the legacy 

that will be forever Celtic 

as did Johnny Thomson the bravest of the brave 

who went to his death to save us from defeat against Rangers 

and James and Willie McStay 

played a part in our story 

and even now when you mention Jimmy McGrory 

fans still know a name which  like so many others 

is immortalised in the songs we sing 

the post war years would bring us difficult times 

trophies like food still rationed in paradise 

as in the period between the wars 

we faced challenges with only occasional success

one off trophies were what we did best 

Exhibition and Coronation Cups 

both decked in green and white 

in the early to mid fifties whilst still  single 

my dad had in his words a team worth cheering 

a double built on that coronation victory 

fashioned by a half back line of Peacock, Evans, and Stein 

and the wing wizardry of Charles Patrick Tully 

who when he scored direct from a corner  

was ordered to take it again 

he did and placed it

 in exactly the same spot of the Falkirk net 

In 1957 and not long married came a memory

the old man would never forget 

when Lambhill’s finest Billy McPhail 

played a part in Hampden glory 

in a game forever etched in our club’s story 

as Rangers were crushed 7-1 in the league cup final that year 

as our fans cheered Hampden success 

we would be tested once more 

and for seven long seasons 

the trophy room would have none of the major honours 

to display to our faithful support 

the turning point came with the appointment of Stein 

a tactical genius who built teams to play in the traditions of the club

the man who had spies in every pub 

built a team capable of winning the European Cup 

and breaking down Inter Millan’s rock solid defence 

relentless attack was the plan 

which would take the team to glory 

on the greatest night in Scotland’s sporting history 

as with pride in the jersey 

and fire their hearts 

bhoys became men 

and lambs became lions 

under the Lisbon sun 

we won everything we entered 

that golden season 

including the second of nine successive titles 

Stein would create three sides during this time 

some of the football sublime to watch 

it was the way the game should played 

as names  like McGrain , Connolly , Hay and Dalglish 

gradually replaced the heroes of Lisbon 

with Atiken , Burns, and McCluskey coming later 

fulfilling potential under Ceaser 

the man who captained our club

 on the greatest night in our history 

now in the gaffer’s chair 

he crafted a team built on guile and imagination 

the inspirational skills of Charlie Nicholas and Paul McStay 

showed that we will always put talent before age 

if your good enough to play the game 

 Celtic Park will be your stage 

as it was for McClair , McGarvey , McAvennie, McGhee 

Provan and McLeod 

in the dark depressing society that was 1980’s 

there free flowing football did the hoops proud 

though rewards were thinner on the ground 

than a team of their talents deserved 

a centenary double was won

with a McAvennie brace at Hampden

 in the sunshine of a may afternoon

the fitting reward for a club in the mood for a party 

but just when we thought we were flying  high 

the next nine years reminded us 

that sometimes even great clubs 

have barren years 

hopes were soon replaced by fears

then in 1994 our fans made a stand  

and by their actions saved the club

we love 

we demanded changes

the board had to be replaced 

and a man in a bunnet saved the day 

Fergus believed in the Celtic way 

and slowly but steadily we were back on the road to recovery 

we were playing great football under Tommy Burns

the bhoy from Soho Street 

who when he played was a poet with a ball at his feet 

whose twists and turns had those in the stands

 jumping up from their seats 

and the jungle chanting  his name 

but unfortunately the trophies never came 

and with Rangers equalling our  nine in a row 

we had to make a change 

heartbreaking though it was

It was the right decision 

though when we brought in Wim Jansen 

from Dutch champions Feyenoord 

some of our fans said oh my god 

what have we done 

but cometh the hour cometh the man

and our Dutch master had a plan 

he signed Marc Reiper to shore up our back four

he bought in Burley and Lambert midfield men who could score 

but the best thing he ever did for Celtic 

was sign a bhoy called Henrik 

and with the addition of one or two others

discovered we had a team 

capable of writing an important chapter in our story 

we stopped 10 in a row I was there to see it done 

when at 4.31 on the 9th May 1998 

Harold Brattback was fated to be the man

 who brought the title home 

and sparked scenes of celebration 

from our fantastic support 

Paradise was a sea of green and white

we were back where we belonged 

champions of Scotland 

then as sometimes  happens

we didn’t build on the progress of that season

Wim was allowed to leave 

and for a couple of years we were underachieving again 

until Martin O’Neill took the reins 

in  his first old first old firm game 

we had a beautiful Sunday which brought a 6-2 victory 

we were_3-0 up in just 11 minutes

personally I thought we let them off lightly 

 like all our fans I was delighted with a treble won in style 

football with a smile has always been 

the way we played the game 

yes we’ve had heartbreaks along the way 

Seville was a hard one to take 

especially as we watched 

our greatest rivals claim the treble 

but it fired our determination to succeed 

and in the main the early years of the new millennium 

have belonged to us 

Sutton , Hartson , and the Hooperman 

provided, goals to savour

and Petrov and Lennon the engine room for our success

Lubo’s artistry was something I was blessed to watch 

in the years since then  players and managers have come and gone 

but the glory and dream lives on

and in this history making season

a team unbeaten, in all domestic competitions

won the treble with flair and ambition

by playing the Celtic way 

now there are new heroes

who in years to come will be named 

when this generation are grandparents 

as they remember Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic Moussa Demeble, Craig Gordon, and Scott Sinclair 

they will talk of Kieron Tierney, Leigh Griffiths,  and Scott Brown 

and the 5-1 thrashings handed to Rangers at home and away. 

by the team that Brendan made

they will recall with pride the days we dug deep and ran on  empty 

because we are Celtic and that is what we do to win

for our  ever faithful fans 

it is the spirit of the club 

the beating heart of every Celtic team 

we play up and play the the game

and we do it  for the glory and the dream 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

50 Years Since Lisbon 


50 years ago today I was a five year old child as the men in this photograph took the field for Glasgow Celtic in the European Cup Final in the heat of the Lisbon sun. 

They went in to the biggest game of their lives as underdogs against the mighty Inter Milan and it’s fair to say nobody gave them a chance of bringing the European Cup back to Glasgow.

To win this game according to many  more than a dream, after all better teams that Celtic had tried and failed to break Inter’s impregnable defence and when Inter scored from a Mazzola penalty after only 7 minutes it looked to some at least that the doomsayers may have been right. But undaunted Celtic kept attacking in the hope that an equaliser would come. However, when the referee blew for half time Celtic were still a goal down. Lesser teams would have buckled when they saw the half time scoreboard reading

Celtic 0 Inter Milan 1

This however was not a lesser team this was Glasgow Celtic

The second half started as the first had ended with Celtic on top on everything but the scoreboard. As they relentlessly pushed for an equaliser there was always a danger they could be caught by a sucker punch on the break but this team was not to be beaten and in the 62nd minute a pass from Jim Craig set up Tommy Gemmell whose shot from the edge of the box flew in to Inter net faster than a speeding bullet and as it did so, it changed not only the scoreboard but the game. With Inter’s resistance now broken, the Celtic players scented victory and from that moment on there was only going to be one winner as the scoreboard read 

Celtic 1 Inter Millan 1

As Celtic pressed forward it was only a matter of time before the winner came and come it did when Stevie Chalmers scored from inside the penalty box with five minutes remaining. Inter now were a beaten side and they knew it from then till the end of the game it was simply a matter of playing out time.

Finally  as the referee blew for full time, the fairytale became reality and the scoreboard told the story of the club’s most famous victory and and it’s greatest ever game as it said 

Final Score Celtic 2 Inter Millan 1

As club captain Billy McNeill lifted the trophy to show the travelling faithful it dawned on the world that  Celtic were champions of Europe and the team of local boys who defeated a team of superstars by playing them off the park had won the ultimate prize in European football and in doing so  had become the Lisbon Lions 

They will be forever immortal 

Hail Hail 

Till next time

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle XX 

I’m Back From A Break I Had To Take When Life Got In The Way 

As you may have noticed things have been a wee bit quiet on here in the last few days so I thought I’d better explain why I have taken my longest ever blogger break and why I’m delighted to be back.

As regular readers will be aware my last post was my final poem of this year’s NaPoWriMo. As any poet whose tried to write 30 poems in 30 days well tell you it is not an easy task.Whilst it may be enjoyable, it is also very challenging and can be emotionally draining. However draining though this was there were other factors at play  not least of which was the fact that just a few days before the end of NaPoWriMo I had a very bad fall just yards from my home as I walked home from the shops after purchasing my lottery ticket.  

The fall which occurred as I walked down a lane I have walked down thousands of times in my 15 years living in the area had a catastrophic impact on my social life and on my mental and emotional well being so I was shall we say a wee bit under motivated as I focused on my recovery from injury.  

There was also the not so small matter of the run up to the Scottish local elections to consider. Though I have my own very definate political views and will share them on here from time to time it is not uncommon for me to take a break of a few days in the lead up to the campaign as I am usually out assisting my party in whatever way I can but this year I couldn’t even do that and to make matters worse I couldn’t even jump up to celebrate Celtic’s goals in our 5-1 demolition job against Rangers at Ibrox and when I can’t celebrate our  second 5-1 thrashing of our main rivals this season ( we had already  done a job on them at our place last September) then you know that something is definitely wrong. 

Indeed it is fair to say that my social life has also been shredded since my accident and  it wasn’t just Celtic and the SNP who didn’t get the benefit of my natural cheerfulness and repartee my injury stopped me  from attending church last Sunday and also meant I had to cancel this month’s edition of Words and Music which was scheduled for  Tuesday evening. This was a very difficult decision to take but bearing in mind my inability to walk for more than a few paces it was the one I had to take. Well when the host can’t get to her own event there really is no other choice they can make. I mean things were so bad for a few days that I was given time off  from campaigning in the local elections a lift to my local station in order to cast my vote by our former constituency chairman Lachie McNeil. Needless to say I was grateful for the lift but was gutted that I couldn’t do my shift at Swinton Primary as I had hoped as I always enjoy the banter on election day with both voters and political opponents. 

On the subject of the local elections I  was going to post about them yesterday but with emotions still raw I decided to make this my comeback post and when I eventually do post my thoughts on them it will not be the usual analysis of results and  will be slightly more personal in tone as my blog is my space for me to share my thoughts and believe me that is exactly what I’ll be doing now I’m back on tartan tights.  
Finally I will end this post with an admission. I didn’t actually mean to take a blogging break it just kinda happened when life got in the way  and you know what , I’m glad that I did.  Looking back there are other times when I could and possibly should have taken one but plodded on regardless and I’m sure my content must have suffered at those times. Maybe I didn’t take a break because I was scared you would forget about me and I would  lose a readership I have worked hard to build. Now however I’m a more confident blogger and if I need to take a break I’ll do so and I’ll do confident in the knowledge I’ll come back refreshed and writing better content because of it. So that’s my self imposed blogging break over and it feels really good to be back writing and doing what I enjoy. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. 

Till Next Time 

Gayle X

The Goal That Changed The Game (A Poem In Memory Of Tommy Gemmell Celtic And Scotland 16-10-1943- 02-03-2017)

As regular readers will know I am football girl who wears her heart on her sleeve and like all of the Celtic family I was saddened to hear of the death of Tommy Gemmell who as left back in our greatest ever side  played a pivotal role in winning the European Cup for Celtic.  

 Not only did he carry out his defensive duties for our club he always joined in the attack at every opportunity and in the 62nd minute when  his shot from just outside the penalty box levelled the score at 1-1 it broke what we were told was the unbreakable Inter Milan defence and forced them to abandon their tactics and play the game on our terms. This was exactly what Celtic wanted as from that moment on there was only team who were going to be European Champions that night and that was Glasgow Celtic.

 As every Celtic fan will tell you it was Stevie Chalmers 85th minute goal that won the game for Celtic and with it secured the greatest result in the history of the club, however as any fan knows if are behind in any game you first of all need to equalise before you can think of victory so Tommy Gemmell’s goal was a critical importance in our victory and that is why I’ve given this poem the title The Goal That Changed The Game. I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Goal That Changed The Game

You scored the goal that changed the game 

on the night we became lions

and Lisbon gained a permanent place

In the heart of Celtic fans

your shot from the edge of the box 

had the kind of power 

which made it impossible to stop

and broke the resistance of Inter’s impregnable defence 

which everyone said  could never be breached 

from that moment on

we knew glory was within our reach 

we could win the big cup 

and of course we went on to achieve the dream 

the first time a team from north of the Mediterranean had done it 

Champions of Europe the title was ours 

and we won it the Celtic way 

you scored the goal that changed the game 

ensured your name would be known forever more 

for scoring a goal when as a defender 

your job was to stop them 

for Celtic and Scotland that was exactly what you did 

a tough tackling defender 

you played hard but fair 

though you didn’t have the flair of Jinky 

you were a wing back before the term was invented 

you were never totally content 

to curb your attacking instinct 

and on a sunny night in Lisbon 

we are so glad you didn’t 

you broke the iron defence

shattering their resistance 

and paved the way to glory 

the Celtic story will always  speak of  your name 

you scored the goal that changed the game

on the night the lions roared 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

The Clothes Of An Honest Man 

Hey Readers On what would have been his 90th Birthday I post a poem I’ve spent the whole day working on in loving memory of my father John James Smith. I would have liked to post it earlier but I had to get it just right before sharing it. My dad was an engineering inspector and would have expected no less. I am however pleased to say that I have finally completed it to my satisfaction and it will be posted on time. I have given it the title The Clothes Of An Honest Man. I hope you enjoy the read.

The Clothes Of An Honest Man

 
Born at the time of depression 

he was the fifth of nine children 

eight of whom survived to adult years

In reflective moments my dad wept tears for Alexander 

the wee brother who died 

in infancy 

a quiet man who kept his dignity 

he never showed emotions

in front of others 

I was the exception to his rule 

he encouraged me to do well at school 

and knew my rebellious streak 

was his gift to his youngest child 

he couldn’t deny the reality 

even if he wanted to try 

too many others knew the truth 

with proof from his younger days 

used as evidence to convict him 

the man who lost his religion

but never his team

 green  and white till the day he died

though the faith of his fathers lapsed 

when a priest threw a book at him 

for forgetting his catacisim 

in class 

never again did my dad go to mass 

and when he was told  

he couldn’t marry outside the church 

he told the priest what he thought 

a proud pragmatic Scot 

he often went fishing 

though he seldom caught a fish 

as for his politics he had a very clear vision 

of a better nation 

 which he claimed much to my mother’s annoyance 

could only come with independence

like most unionists I knew growing up 

 she avoided poltical debate 

having what my dad called  Mrs Bouquet syndrome 

and I  knew what he meant 

she was content to leave the world to it’s fate 

claiming it was just the way it was 

I got more sense out of Santa Claus 

than I got from my mum 

too many friends of her family 

 banged on the empty drums 

of a lost cause 

and could never forgive her 

for marrying a catholic 

even if he did raise his children 

in the faith these people walked for 

but seldom if ever practiced 

and to those who thought 

that the wee man should know his place 

I answer that he did 

and it was way beyond 

anywhere they could ever reach 

this was a man who never gave up on me 

when I was ill and doctors claimed  

I wouldn’t see my first birthday

he told them  I would come through  

because I was a fighter 

on my graduation day 

he knew the truth of his prediction 

my honours gained by the hard work and commitment

which were the hallmark of a skilled engineer 

who rose to the rank of inspector 

in the job he held for 30 years

till Thatcher closed the gates 

in the name of electoral geography 

and votes in marginal seats in the midlands

in this united kingdom

which he said was united only in name 

whilst the so-called workers party 

did union jack to help others 

I have long since discovered the truth of the words 

he spoke in anger on that fair Friday night 

when he said Labour had always  played the Westminster game 

and must be viewed with suspicion 

in everything they do 

they would he said

 always put the red and white 

before the blue  

 they were the  secret enemy

 whose mask would eventually slip 

his daughter I now attend the kirk 

though this socialist republican Scot 

is an internationalist to the core 

my father never wore a sash 

preferring the clothes of an honest man 

Maggie and Arthur can be proud of their son 

the  boy from the scheme 

who was equally at home in the countryside

may have been a rebel 

but during his time among us 

he taught me the values I keep to this day 

fair play,  honesty, and being the best you can be 

whilst doing your best to help  others 

were the marks of the man 

the quiet rebel  

I am proud to call dad 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

Game Changer 

Hey Readers. In this my latest post for LGBT history month I look at football from the perspective of a community often stereotyped as not being interested in the game or for that matter any form of team sports. This of course is complete nonsense and I speak from the experience of being a transsexual Celtic fan who cares passionately for her club. The idea that there are no LGBT football fans is about as ludicrous as saying that we should return to the days when children were working down mines Among my friends I count gay men, lesbians and fellow trans women who support both  Celtic and Rangers  as well as a number of   other clubs and they have every right to support the team of their choice  without fear ,  prejudice , or discrimination. It is with in mind I have written this poem  which chronicles the gradual shift in social and cultural attitudes which has made it easier for us to support our teams with pride and at pride.  I have given it the title Game Changer I hope you enjoy the read. 

Game Changer 

It’s a West of Scotland Saturday 

sexuality or gender identity 

are the last things on the minds

of many friends who ready themselves 

to go to football games

and faithfully support their sides

as kick off time approaches 

I ask myself the question

from which they can run but never hide 

will we ever see footballers at pride 

the way we do at anti racist events 

surely this would be a game changer 

as to how fans view the rainbow 

I speak from the heart on this issue 

as an out trans woman I proudly wear 

My Celtic scarf around my neck 

In a way which would not have been possible 

30 years ago or even 15

when cheering our team no matter  who 

 would have been a far more  difficult ask 

the mask of respectably 

would have deemed it a game we couldn’t win 

we’ve travelled a  long journey since then 

those were  the days 

when football was or so we are told 

the  preserve of macho voices 

on terraces and stands 

 our community the silent fans 

who supported our clubs in all seasons 

 now openly express affection 

when goals are scored and trophies won 

but will rocks melt with the sun 

before a big name player comes out 

during their glory years 

is there still a culture of fear in the beautiful game 

 which lives on through talk which links football

with ships and whisky 

and  after match drinks in bars 

in bars perceived too risky 

for women to enter 

as men said no surrender 

to the ways of the grand old team 

Is scheme nostalgia still alive 

in homes with middle class salaries 

a football fan’s sexuality or gender identity 

doesn’t mean an automatic penalty 

for the opposition

 in every game we play 

we can watch sportscene  and match of the day 

talk tactics and debate substitutions 

just as well as any straight white man can 

and many cases better 

it’s time to blow the whistle 

on this homophobic and transphobic agenda

and give the red card to the last unspoken prejudice 

our fans wear all colours 

cheer their teams through thick and thin 

we don’t just go for glamour clubs

or sing when we’re winning 

maybe if players came to pride 

or attended LGBT history events 

it would kick off a new game

with respect as the goal to be scored 

then no longer marginalised or ignored 

we would have our game changing moment 

with every club included in the rainbow. 

@ Gayle Smith 2017