Columnist: The enduring beauty of the beautiful game

I love this time of the season. The intensity, the noise, and the emotion invested in every single moment of every single game.

Saturday, 7th May 2016, 10:00 am
St Mirren v Raith Rovers - Happy Raith fans at full time (Fife Photo Agency)

Sport is drama and theatre. Call it ‘the business end’ of the season’ if you must, but, on and off the pitch, it’s all about hopes and dreams.

Leicester City’s Premier League triumph is remarkable. It’s joyful. It does more for football than any bloated Sky promo package ever will. It makes the game special once more.

The story of City’s triumph will be told for decades to come, the players will become legends in the city, and beyond.

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And with the play-offs in full swing, let’s hope there are more incredible victories, because there is nothing finer than seeing a stadium erupt in celebration or sink in despair - often at the same time as a goal changes the entire direction of a game. One half screams with joy, the other sits in silent anxiety, thinking ‘’we’re okay, there’s time, it’s fine, just need to focus ’’ before findings its voice to rally their team for one more surge.

I can still recall the day Raith won promotion. In the stands around me, grown men wept. Unashamed tears of joy and pride.

It takes all sorts to make a crowd - the noisy ones, the gobby ones, the ones who sit engrossed, and the ones riddled with nervous energy who can’t sit still - but when they come together to form one huge support, stadiums can be electrified.

And, when there’s a championship final or promotion place on the line, you cannot help but get caught up in the sheer excitement.

And when it all comes together and we get to witness the moment the team triumphs against all the odds then it’s one we remember.

When that happens, sport becomes something incredible, something quite magical. As David Bowie sang “we can be heroes - just for one day.’’

Bill Shankly, the wily old Liverpool manager, got pelters for saying football was more important than life or death. He was wrong, of course, but, you know what, in those moments, he was spot on.

The other week, a colleague posted footage of Hibs fans celebrating their 2007 CIS Cup final victory.

The pitchside interviews were as banal as ever, but BBC did something lovely. It stopped the talking and listened to the fans singing ‘Sunshine on Leith’ - The Proclaimers’ song that has become their anthem.

It remains the single most uplifting, joyful and deeply moving moment ever broadcast from a football game in Scotland.

There’s a moment when manager John Collins stands centre of the pitch, a scarf draped round his shoulders, and simply listens. He’d lost his dad not long before. The song, its lyrics and the occasion combined so perfectly that it still moves you to tears.

That’s what sport does. It infuses your heart and soul. It creates moments you will never ever forget - moments of great triumph and personal reflection, often all in one. Just ask Leicester City’s fans ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Fife Flyers’ match programme.