The Thistle and the Grail

By Robin Jenkins


The Thistle is the unlucky local football team of Drumsagart, a drab industrial town in Lanarkshire. Cursed with poverty, an ineffective president and a string of defeats, the Thistle team members are running low on morale, especially when it seems like there are many people against them...

Year of Publication


This novel, for me, is the Lionel Messi of football fiction although, given it was published in 1954, Alfredo Di Stefano would perhaps be a more appropriate comparison. The Thistle and the Grail is a great novel that just happens to be about football. Jenkins succeeds where other writers, whether in books or films, have failed, in managing to make the football captivating while also realising that the story is actually about the characters. Jock Stein famously said that football without the fans is nothing. It’s a sentiment I’m sure that Robin Jenkins would have most wholeheartedly agreed with. - Paul Cuddihy 

Set in Post War Lanarkshire the novel centres on the local junior football side, Drumsagart Thistle and their quest for glory in the Scottish Junior Cup.  In a town rife with unemployment and discontent the supporters of Thistle cling to the team as their only means of escape. And when the team looks like they might yet make the final of the cup the whole town begins to cling to the hope offered by Thistle. - Duncan Wright

Author Biography

Robin Jenkins was born in 1912. He studied at Glasgow University and travelled and worked in Spain, Afghanistan and Borneo. He is the author of over twenty novels, including the acclaimed Fergus Lamont and The Cone Gatherers. In 2003 he was awarded a Saltire Award for Life-time Achievement. He died in 2005.