Tag Archive | Football

The Flying Winger

As this is Friday the 13th I thought I would share this newly written poem in memory of my late uncle Arthur Smith who was born on Friday 13th October 1929  Arthur was my dad’s youngest brother and his story though challenging and the kind of tale that many families would sweep under the nearest available carpet deserves to be told as a mark of respect to a good man whose life was blighted by the choices he made and the circumstances that shaped them. Due to the stories of his footballing skills I’ve given it the title The Flying Winger. I hope as he rests  enjoys the peace he never had in life. 

The Flying Winger 

Forgotton by an uncaring society 

which neglected those with issues

it was harder in your day 

some will say you brought problems on yourself 

you always had troubles with health 

the youngest son in the family 

you were named after your dad

the most talented footballer of the brothers

my dad always said you would have been discovered 

if only the flying winger had been 

more of a team player 

 you had the flair

but were far too greedy on the ball 

you were the boy who wanted it all

and could have had it 

when the chance came to take that job in England 

you should have grabbed it 

but you chose to stay to provide for the family 

as with brothers and sisters all married

you wanted to help your mammy

as your dad had been lost to cancer 

it was her death that broke you 

unable to cope you left a well paid job 

the calling off of your engagement

was a bitter blow which proved too hard to handle 

you turned to alcohol for comfort 

but your friend became your master

and would eventually leave you with only one kidney 

and living rough on the streets

you died in the great eastern hotel

a place where our city kept its lost sons

the ones that some would call scum 

but you were never that 

you were a kind man who made choices 

you believed to be right at the time 

you are part of me and your story deserves to be told 

I wish I had known you better 

maybe been able to help in some small way 

on the day of your funeral 

only my dad and my aunt Betty

said their goodbyes to their brother

and comforted by each other 

shed a tear for the flying winger. 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Advertisements

Secret Cinderella

With Glasgow Pride coming up next weekend it’s no surprise that this month’s edition of Extra Second is focusing on sexuality. As I’ve been billed to perform I thought I had better get cracking and write some poems on the topic. In this one I travel back in time to the summer of 1974 and recall the day I  started secondary school and the first real stirrings with regards to boys and being aware of being a socially awkward trans teen before I knew the term for it. I’ve given it the title Secret Cinderella, I hope you enjoy the read .

Secret Cinderella

It was the day that Nixon resigned 

and the Bay City Rollers made number one on Radio Clyde 

when I started high school

I tried so hard to fit in and be cool 

it didn’t work 

I wanted skirts not the trousers that were my fate

I hated being made to be a boy 

I couldn’t play the part 

my heart wasn’t in it 

there were limits to my acting skils 

I tried to play football but would sooner hang out with girls 

talk about what really mattered 

make up, boys, and teenage dreams 

the centrefold in that week’s Jackie magazine 

but when you lived in the schemes 

these stirrings had to be calmed if not completely quelled

Catholic or Protestant both guilt trips 

had the same destination 

a one way ticket on the road to hell 

and a child of a mixed marriage would be condemned to it twice 

secretly I would wear tights and dresses 

when nobody else was watching 

well Scotland was a different place back then

where men were men and no boys were ever allowed to cry 

even if denying the truth would have them climbing bedroom walls 

the secret Cinderella’s who never even made it 

to the school disco let alone the ball 

and wouldn’t kiss Prince Charming till their 40’s 

© Gayle Smith 2017

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 and 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 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 

Hidden 

On day 23 of NaPoWriMo I take a wander back in to my 1970’s youth and look at the  world of gender roles and how they impacted on me and girls like me who were growing up knowing we were different from the so-called societal norms. Though it would be  easy to look back on those days with the rose coloured glasses of time it would  be a misrepresention of the truth . Trust me in days less liberal than now there were Secrets you had to keep hidden which is why I’ve titled this poem Hidden I hope you enjoy the read. 
Hidden
Rebel teen 

was never punk 

too much of a boy thing

don’t you know 

loved stage shows and any kind of songs 

except heavy metal rock 

folks would be shocked 

if they knew how much she liked 

summer nights 

 loved grease and wanted to be Sandy

but the beauty school drop out 

was too cool for school 

or the rules that went with it 

she couldn’t cope with limits 

it wasn’t her scene 

though expressing herself as a dancing queen 

was strictly for her bedroom 

with the door firmly locked 

the family would be shocked 

if they saw the  lipsticks and leotards

she kept stashed away 

in secret hiding places 

the boys would blush 

if they saw the smile on her face 

when she thought of them 

but these were less enlightened days 

when Rising Damp and The Walton’s 

were the stuff of teenage television 

ambitions to be different 

were best kept hidden 

or reserved only for the rich 

meanwhile down at the football pitches 

she tried to fit in 

but was never picked for either side 

instead she watched from the back of the goal 

as sweat soaked would be football stars

never knew what she thought of their talents. 

or who she would like to be man of the match.
© Gayle Smith 2017 

The New Cruyff

​On day 12 of NaPoWriMo my topic is fate as I write a poem for a football loving poet whose friendship I value and whose work I greatly respect. The poet in question is Stephen Watt and though he may never have reached the heights of some of his footballing heroes I believe that by writing poems on the most challenging of subjects the impact he will leave on Scottish society may very well be greater than many of those he’s cheered on whilst supporting his team or should I say teams as both Aberdeen and  his home town team Dumbarton for whom he is official poet laureate have played and will continue to play an important parts in  his life I’ve given it the title The New Cruyff  I hope you enjoy the read

The New Cruyff 

Our  environment shapes us 

especially in the formative years

so when a well mannered child 

contemplates the fact 

that the beautiful game

may not be so beautiful after all

you have to realise 

he’s not daft just neutral

which is why the boy who likes his football 

supports two teams 

rather than make a choice 

between blue and green 

he decides to support Aberdeen 

whilst also following Dumbarton 

his home town club 

his character shaped by rocks and granite 

he spends his Saturday’s travelling

for 90 minutes of dreams

he never quite became the new Cruyff 

 the Dutch genius who almost signed for his team 

 his pen and his voice 

have been to him 

what boots were and  remain 

 to the heroes he cheered 

and still does 

they are the tools to hone his craft 

you have to understand 

the lad’s not daft 

he’s  a poet who uses words 

to score goals for  a better world 

It’s what he does

he asks questions in his work 

on topics others ignore 

he knows the score 

on issues on polite society ducks 

he’s been on the night bus

he knows what it’s like 

the poet who brings words to life 

with the bite of a tough tackling defender

delivering rapid fire rhymes 

with the pace of a flying winger 

this is the man who still plays  fives 

there’s nothing like keeping the dream alive 

on floodlit Tuesday nights 

though to me his place is on a bookshelf 

or rhyming behind the  mic 

this is where he really makes an impact 

in the way Cruyff did for Ajax, Barcelona, and  his national team 

some five a side players

may have dreams of following their heroes 

but this one was destined for a different path 

I am glad the pen replaced his boots 

and the new Cruyff became the voice 

for a kinder country .

© 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