Saturday, July 5, 2014

SOCCER! The Rough Sport More than a Game to the Scots

With World Cup Soccer matches hot in the news, I reminisce the many Sundays playing behind the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco while my father played "fitball" (football or soccer) as the Scots say. The game was a big deal in my family although rarely watched or talked in the U.S. back then. My father would get newspapers from home (Scotland) to keep him updated on his favorite team, the Celtics' wins or loses. 
What team you rallied for meant much more than picking a sports team, it was about your religion too. In Scotland the team you were cheered told of your religious connection. Therefore, the feelings were intense at games brawls could easily erupt in the name of God and soccer. 

Being such a huge part of my growing up life I included sentiments about soccer in Scotland in both my novels. The excerpts below are from "The Skye in June."

Learn Scottish words, customs and immigrants' challenges in my novels.

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 " The driver, along with so many others in Glasgow, deeply respected Willie Buchanan, or Mr. B, as he had been known for as far back as anyone could remember. Mr. B had earned a reputation for being a fair man. Years ago he had rallied a group of well-off citizens to provide funds in support of youth soccer teams for the town’s underprivileged children. He had insisted that the money be shared equally between Catholic and Protestant teams––an unusual act, since prejudice between the two religious groups was still very intense in Scotland. Although some people protested, most citizens supported his efforts."

"The men began to talk about football. Sandy told Jimmy that in America, football was played differently, and the Americans called Scottish football, soccer. For a Glaswegian man, soccer was a passionate subject. Arguments about the two rival teams, the Protestant Rangers and the Catholic Celtics could easily lead to fist fights. Sandy said there were many football teams in the States and religion wasn’t associated with them. He went on to say American football was reserved for “pansies” that needed gear. “They’re afraid they’ll get hurt, poor, wee lassies,” he added, laughing.
June enjoyed herself looking at all the new scenery passing by and listening to the men talk. She liked seeing her father relaxed. Everything seemed better when he laughed. He told Sandy the story about when Peter’s wife, Janet, gave birth. The doctor, who was also a Ranger’s player, had rushed from his game to deliver the baby without taking time to change from his soccer uniform. When he arrived at Janet’s bedside, she screamed at him to get away from her. She didn’t want any Protestant touching her body, let alone her baby!
With tears of laughter running down his face, Sandy choked out between laughs, “Och, away with you. You’re full of it, man!’
“I am not! I’m telling you the truth,” Jimmy could hardly talk for laughing. “They had to call in a Catholic doctor. But I never did find out if he was a Celtic fan.”
The humming of the car and deep laughter of the men finally lulled June to sleep with her head resting on the front seat. When the car stopped, the girls woke up and rubbed the sleep from their eyes. Outside they saw a parade of cars following a bus."

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