Fans and rivalry

Date: 27th October 2020

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

And the colours? If they know their history…

I once wrote in the Ayr United matchday programme that I would rather my son came home in a Killie top than in a Rangers or Celtic strip. I meant it. I still do.

Local rivalry is something that we all love but the loss to some local clubs of supporters to one of the big two is hard to take.

Rivalry is part of the life blood of our game. It makes it thrive, but it can be taken too far.

Mind you, now and again something comes along to challenge your views.

One of the reasons I think the way I do is because of the racist nonsense that some supporters spout from both sides of the divide across Glasgow. When you find that ordinary fans have the ability to turn that off, ignore it and indulge in real honest passion for the game along with a rivalry that is healthy, it is time to doff your hats and acknowledge it.

So, imagine my delight when an old employer of mine came up on my Linked In profile with the story of Ross Munroe and Reegan Stevenson. One a Celtic fan, the other a Rangers afficionado. Both Ayrshire College students have put their rivalries aside to become part of the ‘Us and Them: New Journeys in Football Rivalry’ project which is edited by Daniel Gray and published by Nil by Mouth.

Munro and Stevenson are in the chapter entitled, ‘City Rivals’ they demonstrate the strong and lasting friendships across the ‘Old Firm’ divide. Both, recent graduates with an HND in Sport & Fitness are firm friends through their accomplished careers in Boccia. It is a story of how their footballing rivalry cemented, rather than damaged, their friendship, and they have shared their experiences of growing up in the west of Scotland and their belief that fans can be rivals not enemies. It sounds an intriguing and inspirational tale.

Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott commented in his press release, “Meeting Reegan and Ross was a real highlight for me. They are two very typical west of Scotland guys with sharp wit and real passion for their sport. During the interview I was struck by how they instinctively knew how to wind each other up but always do it with a smile on their face. They also make important points about people feeling able to wear their colours with pride without being judged by others. They represent the true spirit and value of football to our society and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the joy the sport brings to so many people.”

I left the College some time ago but knew that I left behind many a colleague who was fully equipped with the right attitude for the spread of equality and the passion to make real difference in their communities. This is a treat of a press release to read and now I have to go in search of the book. I wonder if they would like to swap with the Why I Love My Club book being compiled by SFSA…

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