The New Museum of Transport/Riverside Museum

The MOT is certainly an impressive sight, anchored at the confluence of the Kelvin and the Clyde on the site of the old Pointhouse Inn and Bowling Green. In a doff of the hat to the past, you can even catch the phoenix of the Govan Ferry to get to the Museum, though the single fare of £1.50 for an adult is certainly not redolent of yesteryear.

With the destruction of most of the buildings on the north bank of the Clyde, the Zaha Hadid design rules its section of the riverscape. If the mark of a good building is its visual distinctiveness, then the Riverside Museum is unlikely to be mistaken for any of Scotland’s other landmarks. However, the critical criterion for a museum is to show off its collection to maximum effect and utility and it is here where my optimism falters. Having been responsible for the Scottish Football Museum, I am all too aware of the core need to stick objects in cases so that visitors can peer at them. Therefore, though the placing of vintage cars ten metres up a wall may be a coup de theatre, it prevents me or anyone else from examining them.

The long term will prove the designers right or wrong, but I am always nervous when a museum’s display shouts so loudly that it deafens the story the institution is trying to tell. If the medium obscures the message, you need a new message.


The Scottish Catholic Observer

Sectarianism and Anti Irish Racism is an obsession with me. I only noticed it when I moved to Glasgow. Having been born in England, no-one cared that I was from an Irish family. Only when the Troubles (what a cracking example of litotes, kids) were at their height was there any real friction, if one excluded the pervasiveness of the Irish Joke. Hell, everyone who wasn’t a WASP was getting it tight in those days: why should we be left out?

So, when the Celtic sites noticed the piece by Kevin McKenna, I had a look and decided to put something up that I hope you will feel is possible. Most of it, without the introduction – is below.

“Currently I teach in a Catholic Secondary School – which is by far the best educational institution I have ever enjoyed the pleasure of working in. Having taught in C of E schools, non-denom, primary and secondary over the last thirty years, I know for a fact that Catholic schools are superior houses of education.

I admire and strongly support the moral drivers of the Catholic sector. In this I mean core values of respect for others and for oneself, understanding of a clear set of life goals and clear discipline which allows all to thrive. These ideals should be supported by all schools. They are ideals through which we can all attain long term personal fulfilment, even if we might debate in other fora, the existence of a supreme being.

On the subject of sectarianism: I despise this term, as it is used to lump bigots with innocents. The problem is one of anti Catholic and anti Irish bigotry. I have yet to meet an anti Protestant bigot – as I have yet to meet a Catholic who is concerned with any other religion. They are too busy getting on with their own lives. Until society takes on these facts, Catholic schools will still be subject to obtuse comments by those whose opinions are formed in the stygian gloom of total ignorance and stupidity.

Please don’t assume non Catholics are against you: I too can recognise an attempted cultural and religious pogrom when I see one.”

Ace McTastic and the Blackguard BeeBaw by Gedboy

The idea for Ace McTastic came to me one evening on the Bridge over the railway by the Tramway. In a flash I knew what I had to do. By a great piece of luck, my writing was helped by the SFA kicking me into touch in the February of 2004. This gave me the time to sit in the Tramway every afternoon for the best part of a year nursing one cup of coffee and typing away on my beloved MacBook. The story was quickly roughed out and a fitting denouement provided which would allow for the second and final part. The as yet unwritten ‘Ace McTastic Meets the Pugalizers’. I am immensely proud of my first born. Though I have gone back a hundred times to amend the grammar and improve the set pieces, I have never altered the core of the story.

The last years have been more prosaic. Six rejections, five years out to write and research ‘Played in Glasgow’ and now I have to do the MLitt without which I will be jobless and itinerant. I hope that someone will notice the book on Authonomy but if not I shall keep on going until my genius is accepted as a mundane fact.

You think I’m joking?

Henrik Larsson by Gedboy

I was one of those who saw Henrik make his debut as a substitute away to Hibs. This poem details that inauspicious start and the following glorious reign of the most beloved player of the last decade. The poem also gave me a chance to lash out at the legion of numpties who wore the green and white during the dark days of the nineties. There was a perverse pleasure to be taken in heading up to places like Dens Park to watch ninety minutes of garbage but have a ball in singing your heart out for two hours. Eh – the youngsters of today – they don’t know they’re born. I’m off to rub goose fat on my rickets whilst you can enjoy my paean to the King of Kings.




It seems like only yesterday

That Henrik joined the Celts to play


We’d seen our share of hopeless men

Who’d shamed the Hoops and left again


The struggle lost – these shirts for hire

Would leave our Celtic in the mire


We needed men of strength and fight

We hoped the Club had chosen right


So off to Easter Road we went

To see the man on whom Wim spent


A paltry sum to give the Dutch

For Celtic didn’t have that much


It wasn’t great – if truth be known

For Henrik gave some cause to moan


With time still left he made a pass

It found a Hibee on the grass


A Celtic fan: such irony!

Chick Charnley lashed it in with glee.


The sun shone down, we did our best

But did our Bhoy just fail the test?


Now little did the legions know

This man would give us all a show


From this most inauspicious start

We took the Swedish Bhoy to heart


If mighty oaks from acorns grow

We reaped what Blessed Henrik sowed


For born from Henrik’s debut game

Would spring a legend worth the name


The King of Kings, for it is he

Is loved by all the hooped army


For seven years he did us proud

The number seven of the crowd


He made opponents look like dross

(His ball sailed sweetly over Klos)


His pace, his drive, his quality

Could lift the hearts of all who’d see


The Bhoys and Ghirls embraced this gift

He’d given all the Club a lift


But then the time it came to go

He gave his all – and more you know


The fans will always sing his name

For years to come we’ll shout the same


He more than earned each penny paid

His memory will never fade


In years to come, when we grow old

We’ll tell our kin of players bold


Of players they weren’t born to see

Who wore the green for you and me


But though the years will pass and more

We’ll not forget whom we adore


For Henke means far more than most

He gave us pride and cause to boast


We love so dear what fortune brings

God save you Henrik – King of Kings

John Thomson by Gedboy

I wrote this poem because I wanted to celebrate a man who gained legendary status when cut down in his prime. If he had lived he would have been assured of a place in Celtic’s pantheon for the undeniable brilliance of his game. I doubt if any Celtic goalkeeper will ever achieve the mythic status of John. I’ve made two pilgrimages to Cardenden Cemetery. Flowers always lie fresh for a man who died eighty years ago.

It is one small part in explaining the jigsaw of legend and pride which makes Celtic stand out in world football. The fact that people kick a bag of air up and down seems almost irrelevant to the culture that has grown up around the fans who constructed a club in an unfeasibly brief passage of time in 1888: a club which continues to serve as a manifestation of a mindset which cherishes its favoured sons and welcomes all who are happy to be called progressive.

The poem reads like a hymn, which is really where my poetic roots lie. I am proud of the last stanza: probably a tad too smugger than I deserve to be.



There lies a grave in Cardenden
A hero’s home for years
A man who kept the Celtic goal
A legend bred from tears

That day in Fife in ’31
They laid John’s body down
They’d dug a lair up on the hill
Made holy Celtic ground

John Thomson’s time had come so quick
His race had run too soon
His life snuffed out by fortune cruel
One fateful afternoon

The blameless Sam had run the ball
And bore down on our John
A clash like many ‘fore or since
And Celtic’s bhoy was gone

The crowd was hushed, the doctors rushed
To help him in his hour
But John had gone where humankind
Had neither realm nor power

So many miles the legions walked
To say goodbye to John
The roads were thronged the trains were full
Of broken hearts in Celtic song

An Autumn day of deep despair
But misery that morn
Gave way to hope for all who saw
A timeless story born

They shall not die – they shall not die
The verse they carved was true
The words they scribed upon the cross
Made light of death anew

John Thomson lives in all the hearts
Of those he left behind
His memory will never die
When Celtic comes to mind

There on a hill in Fife he lies
A stone wall backs his cross
The years go by and dim our pain
The agony of loss

The Kingdom came to take John home
The Dear Green Place was blessed
From Paradise John Thomson went
To his eternal rest

A Dog Named Shug by Gedboy

I started writing poetry when I was working in the warehouse and on the platform at the Royal Mail in Springburn. It was the winter of 2004-5 and I was in dire need of any sort of money. There was a lot of time waiting around and then hours of hard work in the cold. If it was below zero we got free soup. Anyway I decided to write a few poems to while the time away. The shift didn’t start until 4:30, so I had time in the morning to consider my work. The first one I’ve put up is the one best received, though it is not my favourite. It has been used in one school during the religion lesson. I don’t quite know what that means, but it is nice for any work to get an airing.

I wrote the poem after a particularly satisfying Celtic win. It just seemed to flow onto the screen. I’ve never had trouble writing – truth be told I have no idea what comes out of my brain until it’s there.

A Dog Named Shug by Gedboy

I had a dog

Its name was Shug

I bought it from a man

His nose was red

His team was blue

He sold it from a van

My dog had died

I missed it so

I had to fill the void

I looked at Shug

He looked at me

I thought of Tommy Boyd

I brought Shug home

I showed him round

I fed him bowls of meat

He barked he licked

He bit the wife

I thought him rather neat

I gave Shug walks

I threw him sticks

He frolicked in the snow

He seemed to be the perfect dog

So how was I to know?

He had a secret deep and dark

As black as any cave

For Shug was born down Govan way

He had no soul to save

The truth came out

One awful day

When kick off time drew near

For Celtic had been doing well

A good start to the year

Soon came the opening Rangers match

The telly was warmed up

I sat to cheer the mighty Hoops

With at my feet the pup

Shug loved me – so I just assumed

He also loved my team

But dark as any traitor’s heart

Were Shuggy’s thoughts so mean

The match kicked off

The fans all cheered

I shouted Up the ‘Tic!

Well Shug got up and growled at me

His jowls awash with spit

He bared his teeth

He shook his head

He dribbled on the floor

His bulging eyes were filled with hate

His mouth let out a roar

Shug just stared and barked at me

He looked like Richard Nixon

Mistakes like this I couldn’t make!

I’d bought Fernando Ricksen!

The match went on, shots came and went

The score it stayed nought – nought

Shug settled down – the spittle stopped

He thought the Celts were caught

He growled a bit from time to time

The second half flew by

It seemed the Gers would get a point

and leave with heads held high

But wait, what’s this? a final burst

And Thommo was the boss!

He trapped the ball as blue men closed

And set his sights on Klos

Now Shug could see the danger there

For Rangers it was bad

The Thompson gun was primed and cocked

We’d time to do it lads!

The shot was struck

It swooped and curved

Klos tried to grab thin air

The ball whizzed by

The net it bulged

I screamed with not a care

But Shug got up

his face all puce

and maddened by this farce

He lunged at me

Mouth flecked with foam

And bit me on the arse

I cried in pain

And threw him off

But he prepared to jump

He’d tasted blood

He wanted more

A juicy Timmite rump

He dived – I ducked

He got it wrong

The window wasn’t shut

My head he missed by just a hair

My flat is ten floors up

So out the window Shuggy went

For fortune can be hard

I thought I heard his dying bark

Before he hit the yard

I’m sure I heard his final cry

He fell like Humpty Dumpty

We arra people! Fenian clown!

1-0 ya canine numpty!

I’ve got a cat now Shug has gone

Goes by the name of Tim

Its fur is green, its eyes are white

It’s sleek and smart and slim

It sits with me to watch the games

It purrs and gets a cuddle

My feline chum who loves the kids

And always does the Huddle

If there’s a moral to this tale

It’s ‘look before you leap’

And pick a team the fans all love

For loyalty is cheap

I’m sad Shug’s gone

But life is tough

For some it’s just a slog

If Celtic isn’t in your heart

For you it’s dog eat dog.

Which Team Do I Support?

When I was a child, Springhill School playground was opposite the Dell, the old home of Southampton FC.  Having been born in Milton Rd, 300 yards up from the ground, it was not unexpected that I would develop a certain regard for the men in red and white stripes. My father, on his way back from his Saturday shift helping build Marchwood Power Station looked in at the Third Division team and started following them. He had grown up following Cork in both GAA codes, so his devotion to the new ‘blood and bandage’ was reasonable. I feel sorry for the youngsters of today who don’t have the chance of trooping down to their local ground to watch their reserves play as they wait for news of the big team playing away. I learnt to love football by playing on the terraces with my sisters until I crossed that invisible line which divides the football fan from lesser mortals who have nothing to believe in and therefore nothing to live for.

There was a fault line however, for at my father’s knee it was explained that Celtic were ‘our team’ because they were the team of the poor Irish. He never saw Celtic play in the flesh. He never went north of Northampton, as far as I’m aware. It didn’t matter, for Celtic were and remain ‘more than a team’. Following Celtic in the 60s was difficult, given the technology of the time. Apart from the scores and that dalliance with the Big Cup, the English press weren’t interested. My move to Manchester to work in 1981 made me closer. Paradise was achieved in 1993 when I moved north permanently.