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Exhibition captures agony and ecstasy of match day

AN anti-sectarianism project has sent a renowned photographer to dozens of football grounds across Scotland to capture the emotions fans go through on match day.

The 200 candid pictures, from all senior grounds in Scotland, have been commissioned for The Colours of Our Scarves anti-sectarianism project by Supporters Direct Scotland.

The exhibition by photographer Stuart Roy Clarke opens today at the Falkirk Stadium.

"This initiative, using the power of imagery around the ­football grounds of Scotland, is trying to emphasise to the supporter base that all of us are just the same. It's just the colours of our scarves that are different," said Paul Goodwin, head of Supporters Direct in Scotland.

"It's cutting through the ­tribalism, differences and rivalries - though there are some good things about rivalry - that we have as fans.

"The emotions we all go through at 3 o'clock on a Saturday are the same. Whether it's me as a Patrick Thistle fan walking up Firhill Road or a Dunfermline fan walking up Halbeath Road, the family ties on the way and the emotions once you are there, are the same."

He said people would be "blown away" by the exhibition, which includes humorous, ­affectionate and poignant images.

"Stuart Roy Clarke is the doyen of football photography - the World Cup's his next job," he said. "I have a couple of favourites. For instance, there's a guy on crutches and when his team scores both his crutches go up in the air."

Stuart Roy Clarke said: "For 22 years I have been harbouring this feeling that the Scottish fitbaw has an extra something, an ingredient or three not found ­elsewhere. This is the length of time I have been taking photographs of Scottish football. For a similar period before that I just romanticised, given the flow of managers and players coming into England, where I was growing up, on football.

"This last six months I have stepped up my search for 'what it is about Scottish football' and there is a real purpose and window to my photographic findings, given the Supporters Direct mission to bring out the best in Scottish fandom.

"The test is the public. Not just the Scottish public. This is my World Cup of picture-taking: ­Scottish football deserves to get right through to the final, considering what it has given, given, given to the game. I will be out in Brazil later on, but only after Falkirk, Hamilton, Dundee, ­Hibernian, Alloa, Arbroath and so on, and I will showing off some of these pictures there and forever more."

The broader Colours of Our Scarves initiative, delivered by Supporters Direct and Nil By Mouth, is aimed at engaging with football supporters, clubs, schools, youth groups and people living close to football grounds, to gain greater understanding of sectarianism, including how it varies around Scotland.

The new exhibition will be ­touring around Scotland during the next 18 months, starting this year in Dundee, Falkirk, Hamilton and Edinburgh.

Roseanna Cunningham MSP, the Community Safety and Legal Affairs minister, said: "The key for the solution to ending the scourge of sectarianism lies in and with our communities. The projects we are supporting across the country, including The Colours of our Scarves, will tackle sectarianism at its roots helping to finally consign such outdated prejudices to history. By engaging with football communities across the country, Supporters Direct Scotland will gain a new perspective on the issue of sectarianism."

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