Match Day

Other women have told me that they don’t like match day, they take themselves off for the afternoon or evening, or they adjourn to the back to the flat to block it all out. I like it; I find the unruliness enlivening rather than unsettling. Before I look out the window, I can feel the unique energy of match day. Before any significant crowds have amassed and the volume rises, the air is different: empty but expectant, the crackling quietness of a fire about to catch.

One voice rises, then half a dozen, then scores of them bellow out songs as though the sky is a bowl to be filled, as though it’s their pint glass and they need it to be brimming. The fellowship of man. The primal urge to chant in unison. The faith about to be fulfilled or frustrated. Makes me happy to hear it. Joy Division’s, Love Will Tear Us Apart. I can’t make out the words, what they have changed them to, but the sound is expansive and joyous. Super Trouper, I’ve heard it sung too, with re-fashioned lyrics. Then comes the hymns, same melodies, substituted words, although the sentiment behind them is the same as when they’re sung in a church: praise, thanks, jubilation. Give Me Joy in My Heart. Bread of Heaven. Men singing as loud as their lungs will let them: tuneful, slow and deliberate. This is their devotion, they are bound for the altar of the pitch, and they bless their team with music before the ceremony begins.

The drum roll is the clatter of horses’ hooves, when, on the busiest days, mounted police, four abreast, halt the traffic and watch from sixteen hands, their seasoned eyes reading the street’s dynamic, attuned as to which which high jinks might curdle and which are harmless. Scanning eyes let the lads know they can push the fun to a certain point, but no further. From three floors up, I watch colours knit together, a thick cable of green entwining in a knot with purple, or, as it was a few weeks ago, the blue of the Glasgow steam pouring through Easter Road’s banks of green.

In they all go and before long the street is quiet and I hear strains of the local song rising from the stadium, floating over tenements, proclaiming life. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

8 thoughts on “Match Day

  1. Love this. I used to live in Harrismith Place near Easter Road and can relate to the ‘joyous’ part of this. Always planned to go to a match but never did. My son is now the fan. Like the musical references (my favourite Joy Division song) and how you don’t mention ‘football’ or any obvious links, and you avoid mentioning that fine Proclaimers’ tune and adopted anthem at Easter Road stadium. *Smiling*


    1. Thanks Kim, never want to be too obvious, those from the city will know the iconic lines. Love it when I hear the old: ‘you saw it, you claimed it, you touched it, you saved it.’ xx


      1. *possible spoiler alert* haha, my son says the Joy Division lyric is ‘Hearts, Hearts are falling apart again… ‘


  2. Interesting that the rise in sports as a spectator event is coincident with the increase in women and children singing in churches and the correspondent rise in the pitch of church hymns. In the early 19th century Catholic and Episcopalian churches only had male voice choirs (or specialist child choirs). Perhaps as men with untrained voices could no longer achieve the pitch of church music, football chants began? I wonder is that part of the appeal of football?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s