Football fans urged to kiss bigotry goodbye

Author Daniel Gray will be travelling on the re-opened Waverley line to his free event in Galashiels as party of the new Kiss Bigotry Goodbye campaign. Picture: Neil Hanna
Author Daniel Gray will be travelling on the re-opened Waverley line to his free event in Galashiels as party of the new Kiss Bigotry Goodbye campaign. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A SCOTS author will begin a book tour with a difference this month as part of a national campaign to stamp out bigotry among football fans.

Daniel Gray will bring his unique combination of football, travel writing and social history to the Borders in at a free event at Gala Fairydean Rovers’ Netherdale Stadium on November 28, prior to the to the Lowland League derby with Vale of Leithen.

We’ve always understood that sectarianism isn’t unique to football but the sad fact is a third of all arrests for sectarian offences are directly related to the game

Dave Scott, Nil By Mouth campaign director

The event marks the first date of a planned Scotland wide tour for the Kiss Bigotry Goodbye campaign which was launched earlier this year by the anti-sectarianism charity Nil by Mouth.

A third of arrests for sectarian offences are directly linked to football.

The campaign encourages fans to post photos of themselves on social media sites with the person, place or thing that makes them love the national game.

Since its launch fans have posted hundreds of photos on social media sites backing the campaign.

The charity now hopes to take the campaign on tour of clubs and supporters groups across Scotland, kicking off with a visit to Netherdale.

“Scotland has a rich and varied football culture and I’ve always been fascinated by the important role clubs play in towns across the country,” said Gray, host of the People’s History Show on STV Edinburgh.

“Netherdale has one of only two listed football stands in Scotland and when I visited for the first time last summer I was absolutely mesmerised by the main stand. I’ve been to many, many football grounds but seen nothing like it. It was like finding a giant Picasso painting.

“I’ve long spoken and written and ranted about the good that football can do - it smashes barriers, unites communities and makes fellas like me hug complete strangers after a goal. What can be more uplifting than that? This campaign is a celebration of our differences, and yet everything that binds us as fans.”

Dave Scott, campaign director at Nil By Mouth, said: “We’ve always understood that sectarianism isn’t unique to football but the sad fact is a third of all arrests for sectarian offences are directly related to the game. This can colour the way society views fans in general.

“We want to challenge these negative perceptions and use this tour as a way of reaching the silent majority of fans who are fed up with the actions of small, baleful minority of people damaging the reputation of the Scottish game.

“We are delighted that Dan, the clubs and the Scottish Book Trust are getting behind this effort to remind people of the positive role football plays in many communities across Scotland. We are in discussions with a number of charities including dementia, carers and befriending projects about using future Kiss Bigotry Goodbye events to assist their worthy causes and show football really can be the beautiful game.”

Nil by Mouth was co-founded by Cara Henderson, David Graham and Louise Cumming in 2000. Henderson was a school friend of Celtic fan Mark Scott (16), who was the victim of a sectarian murder in 1995 while walking home from a match at Parkhead.