A toun’s identity hings on its infrastructure. A real toun maun boast a wheen kirks, chippies, howffs o various repute. An it maun hae a decent fitba team.

Tae hae a proper fitba team is like haein a cathedral in the centre o the biggins. It gies the toun status, lets fowk visitin ken that its a serious place they are dealin wi. Keeps the toun’s nemme in the paper, mindin fowk it exists.

Sae whan ane is awa tae dee, the hail toun is threatened. An currently Selkirk Fitba Club, this vital community organ, is hurplin badly an micht weel be aboot tae faa doon.

Bein ane o the Selkirk faithfu maun hae been a rollercoaster recently. They stertit the season the ither dey wi a ten-skud skelpin aff Lawland League rivals East Kilbride. This wasnae a record score, merely matchin the 10-0 blooterin that Selkirk theirsels dished oot tae neebors Hawick last year.

The record in the new league is 11-2 an o course involves oor heroes at Selkirk, the Souters tae its fans.  In 2013 they were whummelt by that score aff Spartans. That’s nae their aa-time record defeat but. That wis a 20-0 tae Stirling Albion in 1984. Some club.

The Herald: Photo: courtesy of Selkirk FC

Yin o Selkirk's youth teams

But gin bein a Selkirk fan is a rollercoaster, the last twa year it's been mair like a rollercoaster ye cannae get aff, the wheels scrievin an skraichin as ye accelerate an accelerate, bolts, haunles, stanchions drappin aff the frame ablow ye an plummetin tae earth wi a dunt.

The hail squad left efter last season, gien the fair excuse that nae ane o them hae received their siller aff the club in a guid lang whilie. Then, efter the previously citit ten-naethin embarrassment aff EK, baith the manager an his assistant left. Debt fae seasons o owre muckle spendthriftery at the club meant they couldnae bring onybody else in.

A new manager cam in fir their last league gemme, but ainly hud ten men tae stairt the gemme wi. There wis nae rammy nor caas fir the manager’s heid whan the eicht goals were scored against Selkirk.

A statement then cam oot. It contained the ominous line “At present, the club has not folded…”

Selkirk FC, ane o Scotland’s auldest clubs teeters richt on the craig’s edge, an seems awa tae faa. Whit wad Selkirk, an the hail fitba community staun tae tyne should the club fauld?

Selkirk FC’s poet-in-residence Tam Clark gied us mair guid reasons that I wad hae predictit.

“Ye’re leukin at a hunner an fifty years o history bein tint bi the toun. Fir a stairt that’s stories. There’s the fact we’re the ainly fitba team that’s ever pleyed in the Melrose 7’s [7-a-side rugby tournament]. We were invitit alang by mistake ae year, they thocht they were bringin the rugby team. But nae ainly did we turn up, we pleyed! An whit’s mair, probably did nae worse than we’d dae in a fitba tournament. If the club’s deid that story’s deid wi it.”

Read mair: Scots poet in residence Tam Clark 

Mair recent heroics sic as the 10-0 against Hawick are important, but fir Tam its aa aboot the heritage.

“Bob Mercer, Bobby Johnson, Scotland internationals hae stertit oot at Selkirk. That’s gone as weel. Mercer deed on the pitch here in 1926, durin a fund-raisin friendly tae stap the Souters gaun tae the waa last time…”

The Herald:

Tam Clark

Selkirk wadnae be the first club tae gae unner, afore re-emergin in a new form. Gretna were ae kenspeckle exaimple, but Airdrie, Rangers an mair hae been through the cycle. Tam asserts that ye couldnae endear a new team tae a toun sic as Selkirk wioot the layerin up o sentiment like sediment syne the clubs inception in 1880.

“History is the maist valuable asset we hae at Selkirk, but there’s nae cash in that. It’s siller we’re needin. Tae help them oot I wis thinkin o gien them the proceeds o ma poetry...but i’m nae sure a tenner is eneuch!”

The Herald:

Selkirk FC

Hope isnae lost but. Early this week the club pit on an open trainin session in an ettle tae bring in pleyers eneuch tae field a team. Accordin tae the club’s Facebook page Selkirk’s Yarrow Pairk pitches were thrang wi volunteers, maist o them drawn fae the local area, shawin the community hert o the club.

READ MAIR: Tartan Tourism nae mair: Scots scriever Alistair Heather taks a keek at Braemar

“There’s a lot o guid fowk in the toun that really dinnae want tae see whit is threatenin tae happen. I’m hopefu that no just the local community but the hail fitba community come thegither. Naebody wants tae see a club gae oot o business. Whan Clydebank an Gretna an the ithers went unner, it wis a national tragedy”

Whilst it maun be stressed that though naethin is confirmed anent the fate o Selkirk, its gey worryin times fir aabdy connectit wi the club. The faa o a fitba team is nae less a loss than the dingin doon o a cathedral on a toun’s identity an esteem. The intangible heritage o an airt connectit wi the beautiful, ephemeral gemme, means mair tae mony than ony auld kirk stanes ever could.

The Herald:

This is the latest article by Alistair Heather published by The Herald in Scots. Click on his byline above to see more.