Poet In Chief III

Julie McNeill, our Poet In Chief, welcomes you to ‘The World Home of Football Poetry’. The Hampden Collection is the world headquarters of Football poetry with a collection of poetry from the finest football poets on the planet.

Poet In Chief III – 28th November 2021

Julie was the Hampden Collection Makar for the SWNT Poet’s Society and started Braw Words to promote the voices of the football bairns. She is the poet in residence at St Mirren FC CF, the only female poet in the world attached to a professional football club.

Her debut poetry collection ‘Ragged Rainbows’ is available through Dreich Publishers and she has also co-authored a book for children and families with dyslexia ‘Mission Dyslexia’ published by JKP Books.

Julie says ‘it’s a great honour to follow in the footsteps of previous Hampden Collection poets Jim Mackintosh and Stephen Watt who have done so much to nurture the Hampden Collection Poetry offering. This is a unique and important collection and I’m delighted they have entrusted me with it. So – send me your poems, be part of the story…the greatest story ever told, the birth and life of football itself and the celebration of all its highs and lows.’

You can follow Julie on Twitter @JulieMcNeill1 and her Facebook Page @thesoulscribbler

THC16 – From Hampden park with Heavy Feet

We had 90 minutes to prove it
we were practically a shoe-in
the flights were booked
for Qatar and Cardiff
just 90 minutes to do it.

The Tifo Saltire glistened proudly
we were freed from desire
the blue and white
the blue and white
this was going to be our night.

But then came the blue and yellow
the flag we’ve all been rooting for
and despite a rally at the end
we just didn’t make the score

the sun shined down upon their glory
as we tasted the defeat
dragging bucket hats and scarfs and flags
from Hampden Park with heavy feet.

But today we dust them off again
today we hope for something more
today we tell ourselves
we’d rather go to Germany than Qatar.

by Julie McNeill

(Post Match Scotland v Ukraine; and ahead of Scotland v Armenia – June 2022)

THC15 – Pass it on

We are nothing without someone to pass to
an open foot bent to cushion the ball
or a hand to raise up when we inevitably fall
because everybody falls.

The twelfth man or woman
to heat up the car, to get us there,
no matter ow far, to dab the skint knees
or give us a much needed ruffle of the hair

the power is always in the crowd
willing us on.
In the numbers standing proud.
We are all guardians of our history

and as the magic of our game
sweeps us all away 
it’s our job to remember the build up.
To remember where it started

Who started it
Where and when

and then
to take it as far as we can
before raising our heads to pass it on,
because we are nothing without someone to pass to.

by Julie McNeill

THC14 – Echoes

On Glasgow’s Southside
by a rose scented garden
a man waits patiently
for the post.
Too afraid of the echoes
he walks from Cathkin Park
to the cricket ground, to
Hampden and back
to the old bowling club
to the pavilion, to the beginning.
It’s in his hands, now
and so with trepidation
he tears the envelope open
and scans the railway map inside

fragments of legends gather
from across the decades
the way shards of iron
bend towards a magnetic force.

They form the words that change everything
‘football ground’ he smiles,
right here by the railway line
as sure now as the earth beneath our feet.

by Julie McNeill