Fairydean Rovers settle down for a stramash

Football and literary fans from across the Borders will be given the chance to take part in a special ‘stramash’ at Netherdale later this month as part of Book Week Scotland.

On Saturday, November 28, at 2pm, author Daniel Gray brings his unique combination of football, travel writing and social history to the Borders in a special free event at Gala Fairydean Rovers stadium prior to their Lowland League Borders derby with Vale of Leithen.

Fans of both clubs, and people from across the Borders, are being invited to attend the event which is being funded by the Scottish Book Trust and charity Nil by Mouth as part of its Kiss Bigotry Goodbye Campaign.

Daniel is the author of Stramash: Tackling Scotland’s Towns and Teams, a football travelogue which takes him across 12 Scottish towns and teams during a football season.

He also hosts STV Edinburgh’s People’s History Show, and has written several books including Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters: Travels Through England’s Football Provinces and Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War, which was turned into a documentary by STV in 2009.

Daniel said: “As an author, I’m privileged to be asked to do live events across Britain. I always look forward to them and am humbled that people turn up to hear my words, but there is something extra-special about this one. It has everything I love about a good day out – a train journey, a walk around a cracking town, a match, chatting with folk I’ve never before met ... and even sweets.

“I can’t wait to be back in Gala, either. We did a chapter about it for my most recent book, ‘This is Scotland’, a mix of my travel writing and the evocative photography of Alan McCredie.

“I developed a real soft spot for the town, and am excited about coming back to feel the railway buzz. We visited Netherdale for the book, the first time for both of us.

“We were absolutely mesmerised by the main stand. I’ve been to many, many football grounds, but seen nothing like it. We both kept staring at it, like we’d found a giant Picasso painting. It is something else, and beautiful.”

During the event, he will read from a number of his books and take questions from the audience about his adventures across Scottish towns and football clubs.

GFR secretary Graeme McIver said: “We think a Borders derby at Netherdale, on a Lowland League matchday, is the perfect setting for Daniel Gray to read from his writings on both travel and football.

“A genuine love of the game at all its levels shines through from the pages of Daniel’s books and I am sure will have a particular resonance with supporters of non-league football. The fact that the event has been organised by our community partners Nil by Mouth ensures that as well as being enjoyable and informative, the day can play a part in advertising and raising awareness about the charity’s important Kiss Bigotry Goodbye campaign.”

Book Week Scotland is a week-long celebration of books and reading and will take place from Monday to Sunday, 23-29 November.

The first 50 people to arrive at the venue will also receive a free copy of the ‘Journey’ book – donated by the Scottish Book Trust.

There will also be chances to win specially-signed copies of Daniel’s books.