HAMPDEN is saved, hallelujah! Praise the Lord and pass the screw top Shuggie. So, what next? The £60 million question (at least).
For how much longer will Hampden look like this?
Old traditionalist that I am, and notwithstanding I have an affinity with and affection for Rugby Union, having shed blood in a few scrums in my time; I am pleased the SFA spurned the advances of the SRU, fitba at Murrayfield just didn't seem right somehow.
I am also happy the deal will allow Queen's Park to make the short move to Lesser Hampden, which I trust they will redevelop as a twenty-first century home for the club without which, there would not be international, far less Scottish football.
I only ever covered one Queen's Park game, at Hampden, more than a decade ago – Queen's Park v Gretna, at the time that shooting star from the borders were on their way up. I can honestly say, those Queen's Park members and their ladies whom I encountered in the tea room at half-time (the best half-time spread I have ever had by the way), were the nicest people I have met in football.
They deserve the chance to enjoy a spruced-up McAlpine Pavilion and a 21st century Lesser Hampden. Of course, we can never put a preservation order on the Spiders, but, I hope they continue to do their idiosyncratic thing in our game for a long, long time to come.
But, to the deal which has offered hope for Hampden. Am I alone in thinking – there was maybe a kind of: “Up yours Celtic,” about Willie Haughey's brilliant gesture in stepping-in with the wee cash boost which sealed the deal.
Willie is currently perhaps out of favour with the ruling regime at Celtic Park; and I still feel Celtic were maybe hoping to profit from the doubts over Hampden – so Willie's incursion into events was perhaps opportune. Or am I seeing conspiracy theories where none exist?
Sir Tom Hunter - forget saving Hampden Tom, the Glen and Loch Park should be your fitba priority
I am less-sure about Sir Tom Hunter's reported involvement in securing the funding. Hampden is all very well Tom, but, your first fitba priority has to remain Glenafton Athletic and Loch Park – never forget that.
We will not, of course, regardless of the hysterical: “We want to see some action now,” pieces from the usual suspects – aye you Tom English - see the Caterpillars and JCBs moving-in next week. Re-modelling Hampden into a 21st century sporting centre of excellence will be a lengthy job. Any work done between now and 2020 will be purely cosmetic, but, having seen the last refurbishment badly botched, the SFA will want to get it right this time. I fervently hope they succeed. Let's just step back and give them space.
MEANWHILE, on the park, things are looking up following our 2-0 win over Albania on Monday night. Let's hope this is the first of our two steps forward, while acknowledging, the backward step will not be too-far up the road. This is how it has always been with the national side.
I admit, I haven't quite got my head round all the regulations between the Europa Nations League and the next European Championships, but, I do know, if we win Group 1 of League C, it more or less guarantees us our seat at the big show in 2020, while it definitely gets us promoted into League B and back among the top 24 nations in Europe.
Right now, we are a Third Division side among the nations of this continent – at least getting back to the Second Division has to be the first priority. At the moment, after the first round of matches, Scotland, Finland in Group Two, Bulgaria in Group Three and Montenegro in Group Four, are the four nations in the promotion places in League C. But, while a lot can change over the other rounds of fixtures, let's hope we stay in contention. We ought to.
SOME TIME ago, I was writing a piece about the original Wembley Wizards, the 1928 vintage. This got me a couple of days trying to stay focussed while trawling through the wonderful microfiche newspaper files in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow – a marvellous national treasure trove, not least because one of my daughters earns her daily crust there.
The Daily Record of 2 April, 928, which printed the Monday morning post-match reaction yielded one nugget – of how a huge cheer rang round Ibrox when the score from Wembley was announced.
The Wembley Wizards: while they were thrashing England, it was business as usual back up the road
You see, while Alan Morton was playing his part in that great 5-1 win in London, Tom Hamilton, Dougie Gray, Davie Meiklejohn, Sandy Archibald, Andy Cunningham, Jimmy Fleming and Bob McPhail – the other stars of the Rangers team of the time were, in front of 18,000 fans, beating Clyde 3-1 in a league game.
The Wizards XI, of course, was choc-a-bloc with Anglo-Scots, but, the fact Scotland was playing in London did not mean, as happens today, a blanket shut-down of the league programme. It was business as usual for the clubs, with Dr James “Doc” Marshall filling-in for the Wee Blue Devil at outside left for Rangers against Clyde – one of just six first-team appearances: which yielded six goals, that the good doctor – then combining football with his medical studies at Glasgow University - made that season.
I must admit, I cannot get my head round this current fashion for cancelling everything for internationals, particularly when, as was the case at the weekend – the international match in question was a Friday night friendly.
If our clubs have to have their bloated squads, why should they not have to play some of the lesser lights, when the big boys are on international duty. You, ideally, want to build momentum at the start of a new season. What help in this therefore is it when, after two or three games, you shut down for a week so the top guys can go off on international duty?
In rugby, Glasgow Warriors, even with 20 players on international duty, are still expected to fulfil league fixtures, why should the same not apply to Celtic and Rangers? You have squads – utilise them and play the bread and butter games.