Fitba Daft

By Barbara Beaton

I guess I always knew I was different.

Not to look at. I was just a typical teenager - if there is such a thing. Unremarkable, quiet, bookish and shy. More comfortable reading, drawing or out walking my dog than going into town shopping and gossiping with the girls. Always a bit of a loner, but comfortable in my own company.

Then, around the age of thirteen, I discovered fitba. But not the team most of the rest of the people in my village and school supported. No - much to their disgust, my affinity was with THEM. Their name was rarely mentioned without the addition of a few expletives or other colourful language, so when I was first spotted wearing their colours it caused a bit of a reaction. I think I got off lightly, being a girl - I think a lad may have got more grief (or worse). As it was, the odd piece of name calling didn't bother me (oh to be that young and full of bravado - or was it foolhardiness? - again!). I didn't do it deliberately to cause a reaction - I just preferred them (my dad had supported them when he was younger and my uncle was a massive fan, so it was a family trait in a way). And, yes - OK - I was a hormonal thirteen year old girl and I thought their striker was drop dead gorgeous! So, where my pals were eyeing up boys and giggling at the sex articles in "Cosmo", I was absorbing every word of the sports pages of the Daily Record; and the highlights of my weekend literally were that - the football highlights of "Scotsport" and "Sportscene" (naturally preceded by a starter of "Friday Sportscene" and "Scotsport Extra Time"). This was back in the days when fitba meant 3pm on a Saturday - before Sky cannibalised the fixture list, and had the Scottish teams move their games to stupid times like 12.15pm - or, even worse - 5.45pm, just to fit in with the English sodding Premiership! But, whilst I was getting most of my fitba fix on terrestrial TV, I wanted more than anything to go to a live game, and experience the atmosphere for real. My mum and dad weren't keen though - I was only a kid, and a girl at that, and they were just worried I would get caught up in some of the more overzealous (and idiotic) elements of the rivalry. Looking back now, with a sensible (ish) adult head, I can see why they were worried, but to my teenage drama queen mind they were ruining my entire life FOREVER!

I did sneak off to a few games, but planning them was like a military operation, and I think my dad especially sussed fairly early on that I always seemed to go into town "shopping" when they were playing at home! All I wanted was to be able to go to games with my parents' blessing, so, just after my sixteenth birthday, I left my parents a note (in the kitchen cupboard, next to the teabags ... I knew it would be found there!). All the note said was that I would like their permission to go to games. I know I could just have asked them, but I've never been comfortable with confrontation or rejection, and by leaving the note it gave them all day whilst I was at school to discuss it. That was one of the longest school days I've ever endured - and I liked school! When I got home I could tell from my mum's face that she'd read the note, so I took a deep breath and said "Well...?" Mum proceeded to lecture me, saying I'd given them a fright ... they thought I was going to say I was pregnant, or had run away from home! So I think it was partly relief that made them say yes - home games only, and I wasn't allowed to go to games against our big rivals. That was fine by me - that still left 16 home games, and the derby games were always shown on TV anyway!

So there began my love affair with the "roon ba'". The odd game mushroomed into a weekly addiction (derby games included - eventually!), a season ticket, supporters' club, and travelling to games home and away. I became "one of the lads", more comfortable chatting about tactics, team selection and rules than fashion or make-up. I don't think the folks in my village ever totally forgave me for deciding to support them, but hey - you've got to be your own person, and if that means going against the tide, then go for it!

football, teenage rebellion