Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Fitba' crazy

After being caught (momentarily) last Wednesday by a hoax news item, I merely smiled indulgently when I saw in the same edition of the Guardian a rather silly joke in the last paragraph of an article by their Arts correspondent about an exhibition of Henry VIII's armour and weapons at the Tower of London:
Another quirk to the exhibition is the display of what is thought to be the oldest football in the world. It was discovered in the 1980s in the roof above Mary Queen of Scots' bedroom at Stirling Castle, and it is thought that Mary—a keen football fan and possible player—may have put it there to ward away demons.

It was cheating a bit, I thought, to slip an April Fool joke into the last paragraph of a perfectly serious and accurate, if boring, article. But I was wrong, for it was not a joke: Mary's love of sport has been quoted by her biographers since the sixteenth century, though it is definitely not true that she was the highest scorer ever for St Mirren.

The song from which I took the title of this post goes as follows:
Noo ye a' ken my big brither Jock,
His richt name is Johnny Shaw,
We'll he's lately jined a fitba' club,
For he's daft aboot fitba''
He's twa black een already
An three teeth oot by the root,
Whaur his face did come in contact wi'
Some ither fellow's boot.
He's fitba' crazy fegs,
He's clean stane mad,
His fitba' capers robbed him o'

Whit wee bit sense he had'
It wid tak a dizen servents
His clase tae patch and scrub,
Since Jock's become a member o' the Dooley fitba' club.

This is the first known song about organised football but it was written by one James Curran in the nineteenth century so Mary couldn't have sung it on the terraces.

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