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Mary, Queen of Scots and Her Connections To Scottish Football

Date: 17th February 2022

This is an article that takes us back in time and outside of my wheelhouse but I hope you enjoy it. 

Mary, Queen of Scots reigned during the 16th century. She was a lady who was well ahead of her time, in so many ways, but unfortunately for her she lived in a time that would stifle her at every turn due to misogyny, greed and sectarianism. These are themes that still hamper Scottish society today but it was a whole lot worse for Mary in her time. 

Mary’s life can almost be mapped out in the tragedies in which she had to suffered in her forty-four years of life. 

But she was a progressive woman, who would continually battle against those that treated her with contempt. 

She was a person who loved her sports; golf and tennis to name but two. She also had a liking to an extremely early form of football! 

The earliest known football was found inside The Queen’s Chamber at Stirling Castle. The historical artefact has been dated to the sixteenth century and who would be brought to the castle as a child during this time? Well the infant Queen Mary of course. 

Later in life, Mary would find herself at Carlise Castle after her loss at the Battle of Langside. During her enforced stay at the castle she’d watch football matches that were played on the green (Source Marie-Stuart). Quite possibly she watched the first ever footballing encounter between Auld Enemy rivals England and Scotland. 

You’d guess after her unfortunate (to say the least) beheading in 1587, that would be the end of Mary’s links to our great game. 

Yet that’s not the case! 

We should all know by now that Queen’s Park FC are the team that gave us the modern passing game. It’s quite possible without Queen’s Park we’d never have seen the game develop the way it did. Without Queen’s Park you wouldn’t have the brilliant Hungarian team of the 60s, the dazzling Brazilian’s of the 70s and the recent tiki-taka success at FC Barcelona. Before Queens Park, football was all kick and rush and to hell with the rest of it. 

Now how can we link Queen’s Park to Mary, Queen of Scots? 

Well Queen’s Park was formed in 1867 at No.3 Eglinton Terrace and named after the nearby park and recreation field who shared the same name. People might believe that that particular park was named after Queen Victoria, as there’s a Victoria Road that leads straight into the park. But alas no, it was actually dedicated to Mary, Queen of Scots as it was the site of her loss in Langside in 1568.

It’s a befitting name for a progressive football club that would give us the first glimpses of the beautiful game. 

Now the links don’t end there either. 

Going back to the Battle of Langside once again, the battle saw armies on both sides taking high ground before fighting commenced. 

The opposition and eventual winners would take to the top of Langside, where the Queen’s Park flagpole now stands. 

Where did Mary and her army set up?

Well originally they were positioned in a hill opposite to what’s now Queen Park and what sits just behind that hill today? Our national stadium Hampden Park! 

Ironically Mary, Queen of Scots might be the first ‘manager’ to lose on that ground. Even more ironically it was a battle that not only pitted siblings against each other (Mary vs her illegitimate brother) but also Catholics (Mary’s side) against Protestants (Her Brother’s men). I suppose the Old Firm Cup finals don’t seem quite as volatile now. 

It’s such a shame that our society and even our game hasn’t fully moved on from the 16th century. We still have issues with sectarianism, misogyny and greed that’s for sure. 

But in someways present day football is getting better and a lot of that is down to progressive women taking prominent roles and leading by example. That’s maybe something we can give credit to Mary, Queen of Scots. 

I must stress, I’m not a historian. So if I’ve got any facts wrong (I’ve researched as much as possible) then feel free to tell me on twitter and I’ll apologise. 

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