Socrates MacSporran

Socrates MacSporran
No I am not Chick Young, but I can remember when Scottish football was good

Thursday, 14 December 2017

There Is A Long Way To Go In The Great Hampden Debate

THESE are serious times for the Churnalists and Stenographers in the Lap Top Loyal, The Green Brigade Apologists and the others in the Glasgow football-writing fraternity.

Hampden - should we stay or should we go

Because there is a story going the rounds, which will take these august gentlemen out of their comfort zone. I refer to the ongoing debate about whether or not the SFA should kick Hampden into touch as the National Stadium, and, if they do – where do they go?

I think there is general agreement – Hampden is not fit for purpose, but, what is to be done to either replace it, or make it fit for purpose, well that's an argument which could run and run.

I yesterday praised Wee Fergus for having his say, now, today, the Queen's Park Hierarchy have more or less said the wee man was talking through his bunnet, but, they will not rise to his bait and discuss the matter in public.

For Queen's Park to take this stance backs-up William Randolph Hearst's old dictum about news and advertising: “News is something somebody doesn't want discussed – everything else is advertising.”

Much as we journalists would love to be writing about this story, the men in the bowler hats at Hampden would rather it remained confidential. This is the Queen's Park way, minimum fuss, get on with things, nothing to see here. Annoying though this stance is from a journalist's perspective – I rather admire it. And, might I say, I have covered football at nearly every one of Scotland's 42 senior grounds, and nowhere have I met as-nice people as I met when covering Queen's Park, at Hampden. Ladies and gentlemen, every one.

Why, they even had a well-known sports journalist on their committee, a man I could quite happily have strangled many times in arguments of a professional nature – but, a total gentleman when I encountered him wearing his Queen's Park tie.

So, if the Queen's Park men say wee Fergus might not have been scrupulously honest in his assertions regarding relations between the two clubs – I think I will prefer the Hampden version.

The trouble with the SFA pulling-out of Hampden is, when the ground was, albeit badly, redeveloped at the back end of the last century, as part of the deal, the SFA abandoned their Park Gardens offices and moved in there. Since when, serious money has been spent on such things as the Hampden Museum. Now, I dare say, that could survive an SFA pull-out; likewise, the sixth-floor office space could well be re-let to perhaps a non-football organisation, but, the SFA would then be forced to relocate, and office space in Glasgow is not getting any cheaper.

They could always, I suppose, move into sportscotland's village of governing bodies in Edinburgh, but, what a body blow that would be to Glasgow's view of itself as Football City. The same loss of status is, while on the face of it a tenuous one, a thread in the argument against switching internationals and big cup finals to Murrayfield.

As I have often said, Scotland is a very-conservative nation – except when it comes to voting Conservative and Unionist. So, you have to think, when all the sound and fury has been expended, when all the pros and cons looked into – that 100-plus years of football history will come into play, and we may well see Scotland remaining at Hampden.

I have no doubts, expensive though another re-development would be, with or without Scottish Government assistance, it could be financed. And, this time, it would be done correctly – with the “Rangers” and “Celtic” Ends' stands brought in closer to the bye-lines, more-steeply-tiered seating and other improvements made – why, even a state-of-the-art 4G pitch installed, and, perhaps an increase in capacity. We could, for all it would not be as good in my view as a totally new greenfield site national stadium, have a neutral ground fit for purpose.

While it was being done, I would like to see a deal, whereby Lesser Hampden was also re-developed as a fitting home for Queen's Park, rather as Cardiff rugby Club's Arms Park now sits in the shadow of the Principality Stadium.

OR

If bringing Hampden properly into the 21st century, why not, at the same time re-locate Queen's Park back to the site of the second Hampden Park, or as it later became known – Cathkin. The first Hampden is, I understand, now a bowling green, but, bringing Cathkin back into football use would not be a difficult task, and re-locating Queen's Park back there would free-up additional space at the National Stadium.

Present-day Cathkin Park

The clock is ticking on this one, the interested parties really need to get their act together, starting with the SFA. Mind you, some of us have been waiting for the SFA to get their act together since the days of brown Manfield Hotspur boots and leather Tomlinson T-balls.



A WORD for all the Hibs' fans – of course it was a penalty, but, in terms of Great Rangers Penalty Escapes, I am afraid, it will not get into the first edition of the multi-edition chronicle of such poor decisions.


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Bunnet Is Thrown Into The Hampden Debate

FERGUS McCann surfaced yesterday, with an open letter in the Herald, concerning the current debate about Hampden. On the grounds that “The Bunnet” will nearly always have something sensible to say about football – even though he is on the other side of the Atlantic most of the time – it was worth reading.

 Fergus McCann - always worth a hearing

But, and there had to be a but, the letter was written by one of the elders of The Celtic Family, and, therefore, Mr McCann approached the Hampden problem from a Celtic point of view. Of course, had there been someone of similar stature from “the other side”, I dare say that person's letter would have been written from a Rangers' point of view.

The below the line comments were naturally, another exercise in Old Firm Whitabootery, albeit with the occasional intervention from a fan of one of the “diddy” clubs.

The problem with what do we do about the Hampden problem is – it keeps coming back to the sense of entitlement of the Hatfields and McCoys of Scottish football, and the Weegie belief that their city somehow “owns” Scottish football.

As I have repeatedly written, and I firmly believe – if we MUST have a “National Stadium”, then, perhaps we ought to do it properly.

  • Build it on a greenfield site
  • Ensure we have the best possible road and rail access
  • Make it so the fans have an enjoyable experience
  • Make it weather-proof
  • Make it state of the art
  • Make it suitable for multi-sport use and for international events

Now, building such a stadium would not be – as re-developing Hampden was – a cheap job, to be done piece-meal. Given the potential of “Old Firm” cup finals, or Scotland v England football or rugby internationals, it would need to be a 100,000-capacity, roofed stadium, with an all-weather 4G pitch – you are going to need several hundred million pounds sterling to build it.

There is no way even a combined operation between the SFA and the SRU could afford to finance, far less build such a stadium, government would need to be involved. The devolved Scottish government could not afford it, even if the will to undertake the project was there – a national multi-sport stadium is a long way down any Scottish Government wish list.

Since it is a “National” stadium, might the UK Government get involved? Don't be silly, Westminster's notions of nationhood end at the M25. The Thatcher government of the 1980s was not moved to put money into upgrading the slum that Hampden had become back then – does anyone expect Thatcher's Children in the 21st century Conservative Party to be any more favourable towards those troublesome, “subsidy junkie” “Sweaties”?

Again I repeat myself. A new, proper Scottish National Stadium will not be built until Scotland is again an independent nation. Even then, I would say such a project will be a long way down the wish list for any independent Scottish government. I am 70 now, I do not ever expect to see it built.

Decisions - decisions

So, it looks as if we are left, for the meantime, with making do. But, make do with what?

The SFA's official supporters club was recently asked for their views, 2923 fans replied, and only 15% - approximately 438 fans wanted to remain at Hampden. But, among the 85% or 2485 respondents who were anti-Hampden, opinion was split between the alternatives:

  • Rotate the games around between Ibrox, Celtic Park and lesser football grounds
  • Use Murrayfield

So, it can be seen, there are grounds for debate, alternatives to be discussed, however, it may well be that, after 114 years of a terrific history, the days of the third Hampden Park as our national stadium could be ending.

At the end of the day, it will all come down to money. And, when that happens, you can guarantee, the poor bloody fan will end up paying more for his football fix.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A Rare Memorable Quote From Archie Macpherson

NOTHING against the man, but, I have never been an Archie Macpherson fan – I was, and still am, an Arthur Montford man. Having endured a lot of teacher bullying at my approved school, Cumnock Academy, I have a wee mistrust of the pedagogue, and, Archie to me, should always have appeared clad in mortar board and goonie, like the teacher he was.

 Archie Macpherson - a cracking quote on Off the Ball

But, fair's fair, the bold Archie produced the crack of the weekend for me, when, appearing on the wonderful 'Off the Ball' on Saturday, Stuart Cosgrove asked him his opinion on that cringe-worthy Rangers' statement on Derek McInnes, and, in particular, who he thought had written it.

Big Erchie's response was wonderfully measured: “Well – concomitant is a very Glasgow Herald word,” was all he said. Thereby pointing directly at the man “The Donegal Blogger” likes to label: “A Level 5 inter-galactic PR guru,” Mr James Traynor.

I don't know – I might expect John Traynor, James's more-talented elder brother, to come away with that one, John is, after all, an intellectual, it seems a wee-bit over the top for “Jabba the Hun” to me.

But, I can see “Jabba's” finger prints all over a piece by-lined Chris Jack, in Monday's Herald. Young Chris may have the by-line, but, to me the whole piece was dictated to him by the younger Traynor; as it sets-out to undo the damage last week's wee rant has done to that soccer ship named Dignity.

The whole McInnes saga has seriously damaged Rangers, with “Real Rainjurrz Men” turning on each other in their anger and disgust. The club is in a hole, perhaps they ought to stop digging. This saga, however, will run and run.

It is eerily reminiscent of the last days of the Four Families – except, there isn't a quiet, wee, inoffensive-looking accountant, who wears a bunnet and has an inner core of steel, waiting to come to the rescue of a Chairman and a board whose principal objective just now seems to be self-preservation.



JUST in time to take some of the heat off Rangers, the msm has once more, decided to write about Hampden, and the chance the SFA might be about to pull the plug on the Old Lady and take their big games elsewhere.

Hampden Park - no longer cuts it, according to a huge majority of the Tartan Army

It goes without saying, there are two member clubs, with stadiums which hold upwards of 50,000 fans. These clubs, let's call them the Corleonis and the Sopranos are both convinced, they get a raw deal in Scottish football, and, for a small consideration, each would be willing to take the stresses and strains of organising and hosting major cup semi-finals and finals, and international matches, off the governing body.

Add to this the interest of the “suits” who run the Ruffians' Game Played By Gentlemen”, from their well-appointed, ultra-modern 67,500 capacity stadium in Edinburgh, in taking over the show-piece games in the Gentlemen's Game Played by Ruffians, and, you have a whole different agenda.

Mark Dodson and Dominic McKay, as respectively Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, the main men in driving the SRU's interest in hosting big football matches, are two of the smartest cookies in their field in Scottish sport. They will offer the SFA a good deal, but, it will be a deal which will suit the SRU.

Against this, there is – history, and what a history the third Hampden Park, even in its current diminished state has. There is that staple of Scottish sport: Aye Beenism – major football has aye been played at Hampden, and, the Scots, being a conservative nation (note the deliberate small c) will be loath to take the big games elsewhere.

BT Murrayfield is emerging as a definite alternative

Also, between their administrative offices, on the sixth floor, and the Hampden Museum and Sports Clinic, there is a lot of national infrastructure located down Somervill Drive, moving would be a major decision, not to say major job.

But, the truth cannot be evaded. Hampden is far from ideal. The sight lines are poor, the re-design from the old 135,000-capacity stadium was to today's 52,000-capacity all-seated stadium was a botched job. It was under-funded, it was done peace-meal, it was a compromise in too-many ways. Hampden is almost-certainly not fit for purpose.

This view has this week been endorsed by the fans, who, in response to a survey on the National Stadium, voted by an overwhelming margin,that the current stadium does not cut it.

The ideal would, as I have long maintained, a purpose-built, truly national stadium, on a green-field site, with good road and rail connections, built somewhere in the central belt outside Glasgow and Edinburgh.

But, as I have again said, frequently. That will not happen until Scotland is independent, and, even then, only after other more-urgent priorities, have been dealt with. So, like the Rangers Saga – the Hampden Story will run and run.





Sunday, 10 December 2017

We In Scotland Need To Get Inside Players' Heads More

I REMEMBER watching the 1954 World Cup, even after Scotland's dismal and early dismissal. I was, like so-many young Scots, mesmerised by the Magical Magyars, as the Puskas-led Hungarians were dubbed. Their goalkeeper, the wonderful Gyula Grosics: "the Black Panther," had a profound effect on me, as I set-out as a 'keeper.

Gyula Grosics - a wonderful goalkeeper

However, by the time of the 1958 World Cup, I was 11, and playing regularly in our school team, so, I was a lot more interested in what was going-on. It was around that time, I decided I wanted to be, if I wasn't good enough to play the game professionally, a football writer.

I read everything about that tournament in Sweden, which, naturally, included another massively-disappointing Scottish performance – just how did we manage to get it so wrong against the Paraguayans? Well, the usual selectorial incompetence, that's how. But, I digress.

Pele in his World Cup debut against Wales in 1958

One of the things I enjoyed about that tournament, as it unfolded, was the coverage of the Brazilian effort. Even before they revealed the 17-year-old Pele against Wales in the quarter-finals, we were aware, they did things differently down Rio and Sao Paolo way. There was the iconic “trainer," Mario Americo, balding, with the accoutrements of his trade worn round his waist, and, amazingly, their back-room team included a psychologist – the first time we had heard of a football team trying to improve the most important six inches of a footballer – the space inside his head and between his ears.

Brazil trainer Mario Americo

The Brazilians had imploded three times in Europe, in 193, again in 1938, and yet again in 1954; this time, they would get it right, and had realised mental strength would be required to compliment their skills. Well, they won, so, having a psychologist on-board worked, and the Brazilians, have, even though there have been subsequent malfunctions, continued to appoint what we now know as a Sports Psychologist.

Such scientists have never been trusted in Scottish football, and, I have long felt, by ignoring the mental side of the game, we have let ourselves down badly. But, this is nothing new – in the land of Aye Beenism, it has aye been that sports psychologists are not to be trusted.

I accept, it might take an almighty leap of faith, but, just perhaps, if one of the “diddy” clubs could appoint a sports psychologist, and make the appointment work – we would see a far-more level “playing field” in Scotland, i.e., it would not be a case of the same two clubs always in command.

There is a case too, for the other clubs working harder. I feel, if our footballers put-in half the effort our professional rugby players do, Scotland's football clubs would do as well as Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh are doing.

Let's be clear here: Rangers are a total mess, a pale imitation of what a Rangers' team is expected to be. They are vulnerable every time they step onto the park. Celtic, unbeaten in 68 domestic games, appear to be out on their own, but, in all honesty, I this a great Celtic team? Let's put it this way – how many of the current team would get close to the all-time Greatest Celtic XI?

In my view, and I've been watching Celtic since the days of Bertie Peacock, Bobby Collins and Willie Fernie, none of the present lot would get anywhere near the Celtic Dream Team, yes not even Kieran Tierney.

This is not a good Celtic team, and, the pressure of extending that magnificent 68-game run is, I believe,beginning to show. I can even see Rangers beating them on 30 December, yes, even at Celtic Park. I also, honestly believe, if the other clubs had the cojones to have a go at them, somebody may beat them before then. Maybe a sports psychologist could fix this for one of the clubs.



I AM into my seventh decade of following Kilmarnock. The first Killie team I saw in the flesh: Jimmy Brown; Jim Richmond and Matt Watson; Frank Beattie, Willie Toner, Bobby Kennedy; Vernon Wentzel, Jackie McInally, Andy Kerr, Bertie Black and Billy Muir.

 Andy Kerr - a better goal-scorer than Boydie

Now, for me, that was a better team than the Immortals who won the League in 1965, and, to this day, they are the players against whom I measure all subsequent Killie men. That team, in 1960, finished second in the league to Hearts, lost to Rangers in the Scottish Cup final, then lost in the final of the New York International Tournament. They established Kilmarnock as the second-best team in Scotland in the half decade before Jock Stein returned to Celtic and changed everything.

But, in that 1959-60 season, they only posted one five-goal win, thrashing Partick Thistle 5-1 at Rugby Park. Indeed, scoring five goals is not a very Kilmarnock habit. So, will the rest of you please forgive us, if we here in God's County, go slightly over the top at yesterday's win over poor old Partick Thistle – we don't get many such chances.

I think Kilmarnock won a watch when they persuaded Stevie Clarke to come back home. His might only be a temporary stop at Rugby Park, but, we believe, it might prove to be an enjoyable one.

 Stevie Clarke - Killie won a watch when they recruited him



THERE are some classic (i.e. old) jokes around Junior Football – and I am not referring here to some reinstated ex-seniors. I refer to such chestnuts as Chic Young's one-liner: “The Junior close season this year is on a Tuesday.”

Another hardy annual is the assertion, that Junior Football does have a winter shut-down, the problem is, nobody is ever sure, until the first snow falls, when it will be. I am suggesting, real fitba is in mid-season recess right now, as the cold snap hits home.

There were but a handful of games played on Saturday and all 17 still-unplayed third round Scottish Junior Cup ties were called off. Why, even Cumnock were unable to play Arthurlie, on the all-weather pitch at Townhead Park, which could not cope with the sprinkling of the white stuff we had here in Hole in the Wall.

But, hopefully, some will get played this coming Saturday. For instance, the thrice-postponed Kirkintilloch Rob Roy v Glenafton Athletic match, has been re-scheduled for this coming Saturday, on the all-weather pitch at Petershill Park. That should be worth seeing.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Socrates EXCLUSIVELY Reveals Who Will Be The New Rangers' Manager

EXCLUSIVE



TODAY, I can EXCLUSIVELY reveal the name of the man whom the Rangers Board want as their new manager. My insider Blue Room contact has told me, the man who will be unveiled this week as the long-anticipated successor to Pedro the Portuguese is none other than that blast from Rangers' past – JINGSAM FUKTIFANO.

Ian Archer - the first Scot to become aware of Fuktifano

Romanian holding midfielder Fuktifano first came onto Rangers supporters' consciousness during a UEFA Cup tie in Bucharest in the early 1980s, when he surprised David Francey and Ian "Dan" Archer by scoring a shock first-minute goal to wipe-out Rangers' advantage from the first leg. That goal inspired the Romanians to knock the Glasgow club out of the competition and was perhaps the highlight of a fairly low-key career.

Little is known of Fuktimano's coaching career since his retirement, but, there are rumours he was very successful as defence coach with Derry City, masterminding their defensive set-up known as Derry's Wall, while his work with the young players in the city of Londonderry, the Apprentice Boys, has made him an attractive target for Rangers.

Derry's Walls - the defensive system favoured by Fuktifano 

In one of his few interviews, Fuktifano admitted he was a firm believer in the fitness regime first mooted by legendary Rangers boss Bill Struth: “I like my players to walk each day, particularly during the close season – I call this the Marching Season, and want my players to get out onto the highway and walk regularly, to be fitter for the rigours of the season.

Fuktifano has spent a lot of time in Scotland, working in the grass roots of the game in such Rangers heartlands as Larkhall, Kilwinning and Drongan. This has endorsed his credentials as the sort of “Reel Ranjerz Man” the club is looking for to restore the glory days.

We understand a Level 5, intergalactic PR genius is concomitant with the Rangers board in arranging a gala revealing of Fuktifano as the new boss - an early Christmas present.



MEANWHILE, in the real world, it was business as usual for Derek McInnes and Aberdeen, as they beat Dundee 1-0 at Dens on Friday night to leap frog Rangers back into Best of the Rest place in the one-horse league that is the SPFL Premiership.

WHEN the weather outside is chilly, as it is just now; and while the populace is being bombarded with reminders that the fat bloke with the red suit, the long white beard and the flying reindeer will soon be here – I sometimes wonder why we bother with football.

Of course, while we know, at some point between November and March, it will become pointless to try to play football in Scotland – we never know exactly when that point will come along.

Every now and again, someone will suggest we move the season, and play in the summer. But, “It has Aye Been” being the motto of Scottish football – and rugby, and the game being run by a bunch of big fearties, we still wait for that sensible change to be implemented.

My old pal Iain King, former RWM of the Lap Top Loyal, Sports Editor of the Sun, CEO of Airdrie and a qualified coach – having actually paid (some £20,000 we understand) to gain his UEFA badge – is now coaching in Toronto.

Iain King - coaches his Candian kids in better conditions than he would have in Scotland

Kingie keeps his considerable sports-writing gift ticking-over with the occasional blog, and, in one recent posting, he told of how, with the Canadian snow arriving, his club's coaching would, for the next three or four months, be conducted under an inflatable dome. This facility means the kids Kingie coaches are getting their weekly football fix under cover, in the dry.

Contrast this with the situation in Scotland, where Boys Clubs (and Girls Clubs now) are either, working in school gyms and sports halls that are too-small, and have the wrong surfaces, or, outside in the rain, wind and cauld of a dreich Scottish winter.

We've been talking about proper indoor facilities in Scotland for as long as we have been talking about summer football. Sure, we now have Oriam, Toryglen and Ravenscraig, and maybe a couple more I have forgotten about, but, we simply do not have enough covered or indoor pitches.

Oriam - a smashing facility, but, we need more of these

Senior clubs will happily pay silly money to recruit third and fourth-rate foreign or English, Irish and Welsh players up to our diddy league, but, they will not invest in the purpose-built indoor facilities which would do far more to take Scottish football forward. And the SFA – which is, of course, driven by these same clubs – does nothing to alter this unsatisfactory system or make things better.

There again, the clubs are not exactly falling over themselves to provide better facilities and to make football more-appealing, to the guys who really matter – the fans.

Nae wonder Scotland is slipping further and further off the pace at the top of the game.



Friday, 8 December 2017

A Stramash In The Jobs Market And Disaster For Rangers

WERE that my old mate David Francey was alive today. If ever a case was crying out for David's trademark: “Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear! Disaster for Rangers;” it was Rangers' ultimately futile pursuit of Derek McInnes; whose decision to remain at Aberdeen is for the Glasgow club – a disaster.

David Francey - A Rangers' Fan Who Would Rightly Have Called the McInnes Case As A Disaster

Rangers' search for a new manager is turning into a richt boorach, a mess, a stramash, as Francey might have said, and, not getting McInnes has made things worse. Because, whoever they go for now will be all too-aware, he's the second choice, only approached because their Number One Target, turned them down.

Also, anyone who is made aware of Rangers' interest in having him as their new gaffer will also know, he only has to lift the telephone and make a discreet call to Derek McInnes, or his agent, and he will find-out exactly what was wrong with the offer McInnes could turn down.

McInnes has been “hot property” for some time now. Earlier this season, Sunderland tried to lure him south. Tellingly, they were given permission to speak to him by Aberdeen, Rangers were not. I have seen other football writers, who are “out of the loop”, of churnalists and stenographers, such as the Lap Top Loyal, who are fed nice pro-Rangers stories, which they duly reprint, suggesting the reason Aberdeen allowed their manager to speak to Sunderland, but not to Rangers, was because, the Dons' board knew, if McInnes went to Sunderland, they (Aberdeen), would receive appropriate compensation, in-full, and on-time.

Derek McInnes - What He Has Has More Appeal Than Rangers

The suggestion is that the same certainty does not apply around Rangers.

I repeat, Rangers is a loss-making club, without a credit line to a bank, reliant for its survival on the largesse of “soft” loans from directors and rich fans. Their stadium requires considerable work on it. They have a bloated, under-achieving squad, and it has been made clear – new recruits have to be hired on a one-out, one-in basis. Unwanted players must be moved-on, before they can be replaced.

And, at the head of things, there sits a Club Chairman, who was famously dubbed: “A glib and shameless liar”, by a leading South African judge; who is involved in a legal case with the Take-Over Panel; who is, at the same time, telling the Take-Over Panel he is skint, while telling the club's share holders he will provide the funds they need. But, he is, apparently: “A Real Ranjerz Man,” whatever that means.

A Real Ranjerz Man

Nobody with a modicum of common sense would go anywhere near this club – it is another disaster waiting to happen.

The Glasgow club's statement, belatedly released on Thursday night, was a snide, pitiful, spiteful example of a poorly-worded press release; the club's sense of entitlement oozed out of the weasel words – there was not a shred of dignity about it. That statement was yet another example of how out of their depth the current club hierarchy is. The club may be named Rangers, they may still play in royal blue, at Ibrox, but, this current lot are a pale shadow of what Rangers ought to be.

What happens now? Well Graeme Murty will carry on, attempting to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear of a squad he has to work with. He will give it everything, but, the team will most-likely stumble through to January, when, perhaps, the board will unearth a manager they think can challenge what Anderlecht showed on Tuesday night is a fairly-average Celtic squad. Meanwhile, Scottish football will continue to stagnate.

What a mess.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

If Every Glasgow Lawyer Isn't A Rangers Fan, Then They Should Be.

SOMETHING like 500 posts ago, I opined that the Fall and Rise of The Rangers FC would be a soap opera which would run and run, and the people who would benefit most from its lengthy run would be those solicitors lucky enough to have their snouts in the trough. I draw a picture of children, then in kindergarten, whose education at one or other of Scotland's top public schools would be paid-for from the proceeds of Pater trying to sort-out the Rangers mess.

 Some say: "Never go back," but, apparently Derek McInnes is thinking of doing just that

Nothing in the intervening period has caused me to change that original 2012 opinion, and, the signs this week are, the run will be on-going. In a typical Rangers manoeuvre, one we have seen over the years with various player targets, Rangers seem determined to so upset Derek McInnes and his relationship with current employers Aberdeen, in the hope he resigns and is then free to join “his boyhood heroes.”

Of course, if that happens, the Dons will most-likely seek the compensation, believed to be in the region of £1 million, they feel they are due from losing their manager – and m'learned friends will cash-in.

The churnalists and stenographers of the Lap Top Loyal and its associated lodges are happy to stir the pot on this one – just think of all those “Life and Times of Derek McInnes” and “McInnes – the pathway to his destiny” features they have ready to roll.

Mind you, there are a couple of potential impediments to the move, not least the belief, McInnes will want to bring right-hand man Tony Docherty with him. There is no easy way to put this, Mr Docherty is, apparently, of the Romanist faith, and, as such, is unacceptable to a section of Ra Peepul. Yes, they would, reluctantly and grudgingly tolerate a Roman Catholic manager such as Paul Le Guen, or poor old Pedro, but, they were foreign Roman Catholics, from Roman Catholic countries. Docherty is, as several Rangers-leaning keyboard warriors have been only too keen to stress - “Taig”, or “A Tarrier”. No nearly 20-years on from signing Mo Johnson, some of Ra Peepul will still not tolerate this.

You ought to pity them, but, what does this say about 21st century Scotland, and Scottish football. Using that type of thinking, Messrs Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, had they been born in Scotland, would not have been acceptable to some/many of Ra Peepul. (Of course, Messi would have been discarded with a condescending: “Sorry son, but you're too wee,” long before he was ever signed).

Tommy Donnelly (back extreme left) - Simon's Dad, with Tommy Burley - Craig's Dad, (fourth from left, back row), in this Cumnock Academy team, was told he had joined the wrong team when he signed for Rangers

Back in the early 1960s, Tommy Donnelly, Simon's Dad, signed for Rangers from Cumnock Academy. He signed in manager Scot Symon's office, and then Rangers' captain Bobby Shearer was summoned to take Tommy down to the dressing room to meet the rest of the squad. On being introduced to: “Tommy Donnelly”, Shearer told the new boy - “With that name, you're at the wrong club.” Nearly 60 years on, that attitude is still hanging like a bad smell around Rangers – why?

Maybe, instead of trying to prise Derek McInnes from Pittodrie to Ibrox, the churnalists and stenographers should be using their crowbars to demolish the latent sectarianism and bigotry from around Rangers, and Celtic – for the good of Scottish football.

Mind you, from his apparent eagerness to be installed as Rangers' new boss, I have to question McInnes's sanity. Here is a club, without a credit line at a bank, and making regular losses, owning a stadium which, by their Chairman's own admission, requires considerable money spent on upgrading.

That same Chairman, is currently engaged in a costly and long-running legal dispute with the Take-Over panel. He is tainted by a South African judge's description of him as: “A glib and shameless liar”, and his fellow directors are becoming a wee-bit concerned at having to repeatedly make loans to the club, while the Chairman makes promises, which he fails to follow through on.

I would say, if McInnes does jump ship from Aberdeen to Glasgow, it will in time be seen as a classic case of hope over experience.



HOW minging was that Celtic game on Tuesday night? A shockingly-bad display from the Hoops, who simply never got started. Indeed, had, as they should have, Anderlecht scored with that early chance which Craig Gordon saved, well, it could have all been a lot worse for the home team.

 Craig Gordon - his early save was probably crucial on Tuesday night

But, they are now through to the last 32 of the Europa League, which, given the current low level of the domestic game in Scotland, is probably as good as it will get for our Champions. But, Celtic are unseeded in Monday's draw, and might well find themselves with a “draw from Hell” against a bigger, better-funded, better-coached team of better players. They will have to improve greatly from the abject display they put on against a not-very-good Belgian side.

I decided to watch the Liverpool game last night, but, bailed-out at half-time, by which time, with the Reds 3-0 up, it was already game over. Just one thing, what does Andrew Robertson have to do to get a regular start in that team? On his Scotland form he is, for me, better than anything else they have at full-back.