Above the floodlights

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Ten thousands of starlings have gathered near the estuary, seen from the motorway, on the borders between England and Scotland. Their number swelled to 50,000 by the arrivals of more escaping Russia’s serious cold. The gathering of the clever little birds paints patterns across the sky as they move and circle and dip, as one, changing shape, losing sections only to rejoin.

This is in the sunset and beneath the full moon. The shapes are glorious and pyschedelic, ranging in split moments from a pharoah sat upright to a dolphin swimming. Then a spaceship, then a figure of eight. Anything you want to see will be there if you look for long enough. Certainly a love heart, definitely a face. Humans gather knowing they have met their artist.

Within sight at Gretna, the football club is in shock. The patron gravely ill. The manager departed. The wages delayed or gone for good. The club bottom, detached. They were top for years on end, success upon success. THAT goal which got them to the Premiership proved their undoing.

Almost a year ago in April I watched from a safe distance the owner (Brooks Mileson) choaking on the drama, his team’s chances ebbing away into many minutes of injury and torture time. Then wee James Grady popped it in. Gretna were up!

But it meant moving away from their small stadium – playing every game away at Motherwell, dragging what support they could muster to many miles from home and always away from the home of the fairy-tales. With a refit of players continually throughout the season as oldies once goodies on borrowed time and long contracts were farmed out and the younger legs needed schooled in.

All in mid-flight. With mountainous appointments with Hibs and Hearts, not to mention Celtic and Rangers. All this needing the guidance of one man now gravely ill. The Premiership adventure was a season too soon.

Get well Brooks - get on home from the hospital – the starlings are in sight of your house.