Football photography exhibit shoots down prejudice

One young fan almost loses her pie as Aberdeen fans show their emotions during a match. Picture: Stuart Roy Clarke
One young fan almost loses her pie as Aberdeen fans show their emotions during a match. Picture: Stuart Roy Clarke
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ART will make a rare foray into Scottish football circles today, when an exhibition of photographs goes on show for the first time at the Falkirk Stadium in advance of Morton’s visit.

In the 20 years since he launched his first Homes of Football book, Stuart Roy Clarke has won admirers the length and breadth of the land for his gritty portrayal of the realities of following British football clubs, large and small. Over the past year or so he has spent his time traipsing around the 42 league clubs of Scotland capturing the passion, joy, dejection and downright lunacy of the loyal supporter, and The Colours Of Our Scarves is the result.

Falkirk and Morton fans, as well as any neutrals who have fuel in their cars and an interest in photography, will today have the opportunity to view the first selection of a 200-strong collection of original Clarke 
images which were captured at every ground in the Scottish Professional Football League.

Footing the bill for this long-awaited project is the Scottish Government, which agreed to sanction an endeavour that is designed to carry political impact as well as artistic flair.

The idea, as Paul Goodwin of Supporters Direct in Scotland said yesterday, was to prove as nonsense the notion that it is acceptable to hate a rival fan on the basis of religious preference or race.

“The issue of sectarianism in Scotland is one that has been discussed and debated, with varying levels of success from governments, charitable organisations, football clubs and independent bodies,” said Goodwin.

“Sectarianism itself is a deep-rooted cultural issue that dates back generations and affects society as a whole.

“It has traditionally been perceived to manifest itself through football supporters at football matches and football-related events through language, song and actions which in some cases lead to violence and tragically even murder.

“We hope that our The Colours Of Our Scarves programme, with the assistance of one of the greatest documentary photographers, Stuart Roy Clarke, we will help to highlight that the only real difference between football fans is the colours worn round our necks.”

Falkirk is only the first venue on the tour, with community workshops scheduled to surround exhibitions slated for the next few weeks.

Clarke’s pictures will also be on display in Hamilton, Dundee and Edinburgh, with other, as-yet unconfirmed venues to follow during the next 18 months.

In the 2012-13 season in Scotland there were 268 charges of offensive behaviour at regulated football matches reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, and 39 per cent of the charges made specific reference to religious and/or racial hatred.