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Gretna Mould

For well over a century the most widely covered sport in the Scottish media, even in the close season, has been football. On 13 March 1873 seven Scottish Football Clubs - Queen's Park, Clydesdale, Vale of Leven, Dumbreck, Third Lanark Volunteer Reserves, Eastern and Granville - met in Dewar's Hotel, Glasgow, to form the Scottish Football Association. Kilmarnock sent a letter stating their willingness to join. The clubs agreed to form themselves into an association for the promotion of football according to the rules of the Football Association and to play annually for a challenge cup. Rules and regulations thus came into effect to change football from the crude version which had been played in Scotland for centuries and can still be seen in the annual Ba' Game in Jedburgh. The 'mob' form of the game was dangerous to life, limb and property. indeed in the 15th century various attempts were made to ban 'fute-ball' ( and 'golfe' ) which interfered with the Nation's defence which required archery practise! In the first Parliament of James 1, King of Scots, 'Halden at Perth the XX1 day of Maii, the year of God, ane thousand foure hundreth tuentie foure ziere, it was ordained - That na man play at the fute-ball, under the paine of fiftie schillings, to be raised to the Lord of the land, als often as he be tainted or to the Schireffe of the land of his ministers, gif the Lordes will not punish sic trespassoures.' A Parliament of James 11 held in Edinburgh in 1457 decreed that 'the fute-ball and the golfe be utterly cried down'. In 1491 a Parliament of James V1 decreed,'that in na place of the Realme there be used fute-ball, golfe, or other such unprofitable sportes'. Football and golf unprofitable - tell that to our over-paid footballers or America's Tiger Woods!
 
Five hundred years on and football is still the number one attraction for Scots. Clubs have come and gone and the season which kicked off on Saturday 3 August 2002 was no exception as two new clubs entered the Senior Scottish Leagues. Airdrionians ( founded 1877 ) went into liquidation at the end of last season, the first Senior Scottish club to fold since Third Lanark in the 1960s, but a revived Airdrie United vied with several other non-league clubs to take the place of Airdrionians. The vote went to Border team Gretna, who have for over 50 years played their football in England, to fill the vacancy in the Scottish Third Division. Meantime in another twist Airdrie United took over the financially crippled Clydebank and thus secured a position in the Scottish Second Division thus ensuring the town of Airdrie a continuing place in the senior game. Airdrie United made a winning start to season 2002/2003 and Gretna made a stunning start to their 'Scottish' Senior career by scoring after only 19 seconds through Matthew Henny. Their opponents Morton, another Scottish club who have seen better days, equalised five minutes later to secure a draw at the end of 90 minutes. But for the little town of Gretna, more famous for weddings, some 5,000 last year alone, a little bit of history had been made as their team's Scottish League presence was handselled in front of 1,800 spectators.
 
So this week we celebrate Gretna's new footballing status with a Gretna recipe. The recipe for Gretna Mould was originated in the town's Gretna Hall Hotel - a hotel which, alone, saw some 1,134 entries of marriages between 1825 and 1856, before the Marriage Laws in England were changed. Gretna Mould is a meal fit for a 'new' Senior team or indeed a wedding feast!
 
Gretna Mould
 
Ingredients : 1 lb ( 1 kg ) lean stewing beef, minced fine; 8 oz ( 225 g ) ham, minced fine; 8 oz ( 225 g ) breadcrumbs; 1 egg; a little chopped parsley; salt & pepper; nutmeg
 
Mix all well together and steam for two-and-a-half hours in a mould or basin covered with greased paper. Serves 4.

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