Sunday, 21 June 2020

Poetry from the Backroom 98: Thomas Clark

Scottish football is a continual delight and it’s a real shame for folk who don’t get it. Money has ruined most national leagues but in Scotland we still operate according to the old rules. It is about the rise and ruin of empires. It is about hubris, nemesis and perhaps most of all heterairea, insane loyalty. Aeschylus and Aristophanes would have had a field day with Scottish football. My son has worries about the virus’ affect on his job but every morning he rings and instead of moaning on about that, glories instead in the ongoing saga of Heart of Midlothian’s humiliation. Such is the power of football.

I am glad to see it return but football without spectators will be a hard one as the living language often finds no better expression than in a football stadium. I remember during my time working in a Bulgarian school expressing a wish to see a football match and Bulgaria being a country of matchless hospitality, this was immediately arranged, the head of the English dept volunteering to arrange this and escort me. “I have no interest at all in football”, Maria said, “it is a game for children but I will translate.” The game she’d chosen was none other than Boteb Plovdiv, the local team, v Levski Sofia, a great grudge match at a time when Bulgarian football’s reputation was at an all time high. She led me to a seat at the front between two lines of riot police and proceeded to read her book. Levski Sofia came onto the pitch to great howls of rage and anger from the home support and a repeated chant.

“Blue pedarasts, blue pederasts” said Maria, not looking up from the page.
At one point Levski scored and the scorer, a Bulgarian international who had played a stormer for the national team just the week before, seemed to appeal to the local support for calm.

“He is seeking national solidarity “ said my translator where upon a small man catapulted himself from behind us to the front, frothing at the mouth and screaming.

“You are a bald illegitimate” said Maria, “how did you get so bald, forcing your head into your managers intestines?”

My guest in the Backroom today is Thomas Clark, poet, writer, and occasional journalist, originally from Glasgow but now living in the Scottish Borders. He is poet in residence at Selkirk FC, the first writer in residence in any Scottish football team, and a bard of the beautiful game, in Scots and English. In September 2015, his first poetry book, 'Intae the Snaw', was released by Gatehouse Press. He has been published in many outlets from 'The Scotsman' and 'The Sunday Mail'  to'' and 'Bella Caledonia'. He has performed his work at various venues and festivals across Scotland (and further afield), and also on ITV, the BBC, and Sky Sports.

In 2019 his  book ‘Diary o a Wimpy Wean’ from Itchy Coo and Black and White Publishing won Scots Bairns’ Book o the Year at the first-ever Scots Language Awards in Glasgow.

Here he reads 'O Johnny Moscardini!', Clark's celebration of the life of Scots-Italian footballer Giovanni Moscardini. It was first performed before a match between Italy Writers and Scotland Writers in the stadium named after Moscardini in his hometown of Barga, Tuscany.

His website here:

An Interview here: 

A reverie on the place of Scottish football here:

O Johnny Moscardini!

So noo they’re sayin Meredith’s the best there’s ever been;
Last week it’s Alan Morton; next week it’s Dixie Dean. 
Ye cannae talk tae writers; but wan day, they’ll talk tae me,
An ah’ll tell them - Moscardini, plays for Campbeltoon FC.

O, Johnny Moscardini! He plays for Campbeltoon;
He scores the goals as quickly as the ref can write them doon;
He’s got a right-fit blooter that’d clear the Irish Sea,
Yon Moscardini boy that plays for Campeltoon FC!

Ye dinnae want tae miss it. Ye’re needin early doon.
He wins the toss, he takes the aff, it’s wan-nil tae the Toon!
The best defence in aw Kintyre, big Jock an Shug an Airchie,
He sucks them in, an then it’s BANG, an ciao, arrivederci!

O, Johnny Moscardini! He plays for Campbeltoon;
The ither team’s got different shirts, but aw their shorts are broon;
Yer weaker fit fae thirty yards? He scores them wi his knee!
Yon Moscardini boy that plays for Campbeltoon FC!

He hits it wi his ootside fit; it corkscrews through the air;
He climbs above defenders like he’s rinnin up the stair;
He fills the box at corners; he’s built like a machine;
But when his marker checks for him, he’s naewhaur tae be seen!

O Johnny Moscardini! He plays for Campbeltoon;
If he disnae skin ye this time, well, he’ll work his wey aroon;
Forget yer catenaccio, for this lad’s got the key,
Yon Moscardini boy that plays for Campbeltoon FC!

Ah deh ken how he plays for them; there’s bigger clubs insteid,
He could play for Tobermory, he’d get goals for Garelochheid;
His uncle’s got a chippy, but ye’d think he’d get gey bored
O jist sittin wrappin suppers in the news o goals he’s scored.

O Johnny Moscardini! He plays for Campbeltoon;
He disnae need a Model-T tae gie the runaroon;
He’s full-backs for his breakfast, haddock singles for his tea;
Yon Moscardini boy that plays for Campbeltoon FC!

Ah guess wan day he’ll jack it, an gie the rest a kick,
Afore they cannae hack it an spend weekends on the sick;
They’ll no be quick tae miss him; but in twenty years they’ll say
That Johnny Moscardini was the best they ever played.

O Johnny Moscardini! He plays for Campbeltoon;
He sells the dummies freely, sells the chips for hauf a croon;
We’ll never see a better - Mamma mia! Michty me! -
Than yon boy cawed Moscardini - plays for Campbeltoon FC.

1 comment:

  1. "The best defence in aw Kintyre, big Jock an Shug an Airchie,
    He sucks them in, an then it’s BANG, an ciao, arrivederci!"

    Love it! You won't find a better rhyme than that!