The Loss of the Beautiful Game, by Niamh McInally

Over here at Document Scotland we’re always keen to see other documentary style photography from Scotland and are always open to submissions of work with a view to featuring it, helping share it, and helping promote photography within Scotland. Niamh McInally emailed us with her ‘Loss of the Beautiful Game’ portfolio below, which I’d already noticed on Instagram and we’re pleased to be able to share it… – Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert.

‘The Loss of the Beautiful Game’ (2021) by Niamh McInally 

(When asked how he came to support the football club): Bud- “My Grandfather was the first secretary of the club from 1912. It’s in the blood.” 

(When asked how not being able to follow the club during the pandemic has been for him as a supporter): Bud – “It’s been torture. Saturday’s are a wasted day. You miss the camaraderie and a blether.” 

The exploration into the subject of community and a sense of place was pivotal to this series of work. The aim of this project was to gain a unique collection of personal experiences and an understanding of the importance of Cumnock Juniors Football Club to the local community in the small town of Cumnock. 

My link to Cumnock Juniors Football Club was through my Dad, who was manager of the team from November 2019 to November 2021. I have always been supportive and enthusiastic about my Dad’s footballing career, so I obviously took an interest in Cumnock Juniors.

I was in my final year of university doing a BA Hons degree in Photography when I shot this series of work. I saw the Advanced Major Project (my final graded unit) as the perfect opportunity to educate myself on the club, whilst creating a photographic archive of portraits of some of the supporters during the Coronavirus pandemic. The desire to learn about the history of the club as well as understand the personalities of the supporters developed as the weeks turned to months in lockdown.

(When asked how not being able to follow the club during the pandemic has been for him as a supporter): Iain- “Frustrating. I’ve missed mixing with all of the supporters home and away, and interacting with all of the members from the club.” 

Three local businessmen who were determined to put their proud little market town firmly back on the football map formed Cumnock Juniors Football Club in the autumn of 1912. The men involved were William McMillan, Tom Burns and Joe Bain. With the formation of their rivals, Auchinleck Talbot, in 1909, the local newspaper publicly posed the burning question that was already on everybody’s minds in 1912; “Why is there not a good junior team in Cumnock?” Later that year, Cumnock Juniors FC was formed. 

As part of the research for this photographic project for my Advanced Major Unit in university, I asked the supporters the following questions in order to gain a better understanding of what the club meant to them and to also understand how they felt not being able to watch their beloved team every week:

How did you come to support Cumnock Juniors?

How long have you supported the football club?

What is your fondest memory of the club?

How has not being able to be at the club or following the club been for you as a football supporter? 

Thanks for looking, – Niamh McInally

Niamh McInally on Instagram, on Twitter, and website. All photos and text on this page ©Niamh McInally.

Share this:

Categories: Features

Tags: , ,

Since 2012, this website has been dedicated to featuring not only the collective's projects but also nurturing an archive that highlights the diverse documentary work created by numerous photographers throughout Scotland. Please consider supporting the work we do on Patreon if you can. Thank you.

Become a Patron!