Alan Pattullo's Euro 2020 diary; Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square.....er, Richmond Cemetery: Scotland fans get everywhere on Wembley weekender
Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Wembley Way are traditional gathering points for Scotland fans prior to and after away clashes with England.
But plot 6231 in section four of a 15-acre graveyard in south-west London is a new one. This is where Andrew Watson, the world’s first black international player, is buried.
His final resting place at Richmond Cemetery was only discovered as recently as 2013. The former Queen’s Park defender was previously thought to have died in Australia.
Alistair Firth, who started a crowdfunder to raise funds to refurbish and maintain such a significant site, finally paid his first visit on the morning of Friday night’s Euro 2020 clash between England and Scotland The heavy rain that fell almost all day meant the initial pilgrimage was not as pleasant as planned. He returned yesterday morning in more clement weather.
The Belfast-based Firth had his original plans to travel for the official ceremony to mark the refurbishment of the grave scuppered by Covid restrictions in April.
He missed a gathering that included former Rangers winger Mark Walters, who was recording a BBC documentary about his time as a black footballer playing in Scotland in the late 80s and early 1990s. But Firth has now finally seen for himself the gleaming headstone, describing the experience as “extremely poignant” when I caught up with him yesterday.
Several other Scottish fans had the same idea. Fresh flowers have been laid at the site.
Watson’s final resting place is around nine miles from the scene of one his finest moments as a footballer, when he skippered Scotland on his debut to a 6-1 victory over England at the Kennington Oval. It remains England’s heaviest home defeat.
While the current day Scots were not able to post such a historic result, the 0-0 draw – the first ever between the sides at Wembley – was a fine way to acknowledge Watson 100 years after his death, as was the gesture from both sides to take a knee before kick-off to demonstrate support for fighting discrimination in sport and wider society. Trailblazer Watson would have approved.
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