Friday, 21 July 2017

Hamilton Academical

My friend and former colleague the Revd Manny Faria (Rector since 1999 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Beverly, MA) is in Hamilton, Scotland with his wife LouAnn.

They are there for a wedding.  The bride is the daughter of a Scottish Episcopal Church Rector and his wife.

The Scottish Rector will walk his daughter down the aisle.  Manny will officiate at the marriage service.

Manny and LouAnn's presence in Hamilton brought back 60 year old memories.

Back then, in the days before T.V. in the U.K., and with the BBC having a virtual monopoly on radio, we would, on Saturday evenings, listen to the Football results. Most football games were played on Saturday afternoons.

They were announced in solemn tones by a BBC announcer.

First, the English League (including two teams in Wales) with its four divisions - with the first division being the top clubs, and the fourth division being the less successful clubs.  At the end of the season promotion or relegation was possible between the bottom and top teams in the four divisions.

Then came the Scottish league, with its two divisions.  The names of some Scottish teams seemed to be positively exotic to Sassenach ears, viz

"Heart of Midlothian"; "Partick Thistle" (Partick had been an independent burgh which was absorbed into Glasgow); and "Queen of the South".

Most exotic to English ears  was "Hamilton Academical".

My good friends Manny and LouAnn are in Hamilton! The team still exists.  My word to them is "Go Accies"!


Back in those days, long before corporate sponsorship and the "celebrification" of football players. football in England and Scotland was a working man's sport (and yes, we were mostly men),

We stood on terraces (only the effete middle classes sat in grandstands).

We wore overcoats, scarves and cloth caps. Most men smoked.  We stomped our feet to keep them warm.

Teams played on "grounds" (e.,g. in my home city "the Rovers Ground" in Eastville, and "the City Ground' in Southville", not in stadiums.

Perverse as I am I gave my loyalty not to the east Bristol Rovers F.C  (I grew up in east Bristol), but to the south Bristol City.F.C.

My best moment at the City Ground was when our goalie took a goal kick.  It was a powerful kick.  It bounced just over midfield, and went directly into the opposing team's goal.  Our goalie had scored a goal.

We could scarcely believe what we had seen. We BCFC fans went crazy with delight!


Incidentally for Europeans and Central/South Americans "football" is not be confused with that dreary  "Theatre of the Absurd" known as AMERICAN FOOTBALL.

The real game is known in these parts as soccer, a word derived from the U.K.'s "Association  Football, in order to distinguish from that other game "Rugby Football"  a.k.a "Rugger"

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