By Cameron Deacon – @Cam_Deacon21
No title sponsor. Not well marketed enough. No respect for the game outwith Scotland. These are some of the issues and put downs that are set against the Scottish game. However, as Cameron writes here, the Scottish game means so much to him and here’s why.
I have been a fan of football for as long as I can remember. Walking down every Saturday to Ewood Park with my dad to then walk back laughing or crying at the result. But looking back, at a younger age I was nothing more than a fan. Supporting Blackburn Rovers and taking everything that comes with it at face value. Football was football and nothing else, people kicking a ball around while others watch. A pass time to keep you entertained on the weekends.
I always tell people that what changed my view on football and sport was South Africa 2010. Being 12 it was really the first World Cup that I was able to watch and engage in. But it wasn’t the football itself that changed me, it was the culture and the colours around it that amazed me. I saw the passion of the people in the stadiums and in the streets and realized that it all meant something more! That was what started me on a path that meant that sport and football would become everything that I live and breathe. From that point on I would go out of my way to watch more and more football, beyond just my own team, beyond my own league and beyond my country.
To me, Scotland is a second home. I figured out that I have spent more time in the highlands than I did in the house that I was born into. Every year we go to the Highlands for two weeks and it was here that a real love and understanding for Football began to develop. In 2012 myself and my Dad started a tradition where if either Ross County or Inverness were playing at home during the weekend while we were there, we would go to watch them. The first game I saw was Celtic drub Calley 4-2, three months before that same Celtic side went on to beat Barcelona. I continued to follow the club and eventually two years later the stars aligned and the next match that I got see was Inverness v Celtic once again! This time I watched as Inverness beat Celtic 1-0 to go top of the SPL at the time. Then nine months later we were back but this time we were in Glasgow because Inverness had beaten Celtic for a second time that year and were in the Scottish Cup final! For the first time in my life I got to see a team that I was supporting lift a trophy.
But now there was a difference in the way I was seeing games. When I watched Celtic beat Inverness, I was in awe at the level of noise being made by the Celtic fans. Again, their passion and unity following their team across the country was the thing that impressed me the most. When Inverness beat Celtic, I was being overwhelmed by the tension of the match, completely taken up in the moment because of the atmosphere created by the fans, to who the win meant so much. Then in the Scottish Cup after the final whistle I watched the fans, I watched as the people who had supported this team their entire life where completely overcome by joy having just won a major trophy for the first time. Embracing, crying, and laughing completely overwhelmed by the moment. It’s a strange feeling being overcome by the joy and happiness of the people around you something that I have never felt in football since.
Scotland also introduced me to true community clubs. Going to a place like Dingwall, so far away from anywhere else, and living through the weekly routine of men and women who have watched their local team grow into a true community hub and being able to see what a club means to elderly men even after a 4-1 demolition by Livingston it wasn’t all about the game it was being there and being together. It is so refreshing to me that I can experience these big moments that mean so much to so few, in those moments for the first time in my life it is no longer a flash in the pan that you watch on match of the day and then forget for the rest of the season. In those moments, the football means something more, it feels real. Eating a Haggis pie while watching Ross County v Partick Thistle, then looking up and seeing the Munros of the Highlands on a day that sees all four seasons in an hour. That’s real. It’s a cultural experience that makes you want to see more. I wanted to go an watch Queens Park play a League 2 game in Hampden Park, I want to go and watch Eriskay play football on the most unique pitch in the world, I have played against “the worst team in the world” Northend Thistle in the Isle of Arran, I have been lucky enough that Blackburn in the past two seasons have played away at Easter Road and The Ibrox. I want to see the things that make Scottish football so special, the unique attributes that show why I have come to love football as more than just a game.
I’ve come to realize that Scottish football is different. I take a lot of flak from my friends for following it but trying to explain to someone that it is not the game itself but instead the community, the history and pride that every fan takes in their support of their team. I want football to mean as much to me as it does to those people. I want the ability to transcend past wanting to watch football for the players on the pitch and instead I want to watch a game for the moment and the meaning. I’m praying that things can return to normal soon, there is so much to experience, and I want to be able to see them before it’s too late.