100 Weeks of Scotland: week 19

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Gretna Football Club, birthday celebrations, and the Garthamlock Water Tower all appear in this week’s snaps from Alan McCredie’s 100 Weeks of Scotland photo project.

In the run-up to the independence referendum in 2014, we will be featuring Alan’s work on Scotsman.com.

A Gretna fan at his side's game with Spartans last week. Picture: Alan McCredie

A Gretna fan at his side's game with Spartans last week. Picture: Alan McCredie

As well as the photos, Alan tells us the story behind the shots:

Mark McDonnell, Actor

This portrait of the actor Mark McDonnell is part of my ongoing ‘Magnetic North’ project. Mark has worked constantly in TV & theatre since moving to Scotland to study drama at Queen Margaret.

When I was a child, playgrounds were quite frankly, terrifying places. If you survived being catapulted from broken swings onto cracked tarmac, dodged the broken glass and avoided being decapitated by the strange battering-ram-like metal horse ride then the ever present threat of getting your head kicked in seemed almost a pleasant diversion. The Harrington jacket, the Fred Perry top and the pork pie hat are synonymous to me with this period and I wanted Mark to be dressed like that, in a kids playground as a tawdry tribute to those doc-martin-booted days.

The only threat of violence in this playground came from a mother & toddler group who took a very dim view of the play-park shenanigans of Mark & I.

Football Fan, Gretna

As a St Johnstone fan I had a very great dislike for the old Gretna FC team that pipped us to promotion to the Scottish Premier League in the last minute, of the last game of the 2006/2007 season (to rub salt further into my wounds my car broke down on a terrifyingly busy junction on the same day as I tried in vain to reach the Hamilton-St Johnstone match).

So it was with a sense of trepidation that I made the long trip to Gretna on a bitterly cold night to take photos of their match against Spartans, a team that I have been photographing for several years now. I knew they were a club reborn, after the demise of the old Gretna in 2008 and wholly owned now by their supporters. I need not have worried. From the moment I got near their wonderfully old-fashioned ground I was enraptured. I love old football grounds. The out-of-town prefabricated Ikea style stadiums that so many clubs now have (including sadly my home town team) have taken so much joy out of the game for me.

But here, in Gretna, was a place out of time. Supporters were free to stand or sit as they wished. Free to wander or change ends at half-time. So many people spoke to me as I snapped away, genuinely interested in what I was doing and keen to promote their club in any way they could. The simple act of trying to stay warm is made so much easier without being sandwiched together, unmoving, on plastic seats.

I came away from the game as in love with football as I had ever been. It may be a futile yearning for a way long-gone of watching the sport, but that night football was exactly as it should be – local people supporting their local club and having a belief that they, the fan, matter. These people were here not for the glamour or the glory but for the belonging. This was as far from the soulless corporate obscenity that top-flight football has now become as was possible and was truly the better for it.

I can forgive you now Gretna.

Darren is 21, Girvan

We have all seen them – the badly drawn, sometime slightly tattered, banners that occasionally festoon our towns, expressing congratulations for milestone birthdays. I love them. I love the fact that people have taken the time and the energy to make them. I love the very home-madeness of them and I love that they appear in such banal and strange places.

Darren’s banner was draped below road signs in the middle of a pretty busy roundabout on the main road south into Girvan. I hope Darren had a good birthday. I bet he did, because whether it was friends or family that made the sign, people made the effort for him. Happy Birthday Darren, whoever you may be.

Water Tower, Garthamlock, Glasgow

I had been early for a photo-shoot in Easterhouse in Glasgow and had gone exploring to see if I could find anything to photograph. Nothing was leaping out at me until I literally turned a corner and far off in the distance I saw the water tower, white and gleaming in the early spring sun. I had very little time before my job started so I ran back to the car and within minutes was below the wonderful structure. I had often seen these buildings in the distance but had never been near one before.

They are big.

I find them quite awe inspiring also – they are structures straight out of a science fiction novel. They were built in the mid 1950s (there is a smaller tower next to the one in the photo) and hold one million gallons of water pumped in, I think, from Loch Katrine. It is the second tallest tower in Britain but is the biggest in terms of capacity.

Alan McCredie began the ‘one hundred weeks of scotland’ website in October last year, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.

McCredie says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.

“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”

Watch our slideshow of some of the photos from ‘one hundred weeks of scotland’ above, and follow the project at http://www.100weeksofscotland.com. You can also follow Alan on Twitter.

• All pictures (c) Alan McCredie/ 100 weeks of Scotland