THIS POST is turning into a hardy annual – I really must save myself some work and copy it, in readiness for re-posting, with new pictures, in 12 months' time. Because, not for the first time, I must take issue with the Induction Committee's choice of which past greats they induct into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.
Colin Stein being inducted last night
With last night's induction of Patsy Gallacher, Joe Harper, Tommy McLean, John Robertson of Hearts, Colin Stein and Paul Sturrock, the number of Inductees, since the HoF was established in 2004, has risen to 122.
I am not going to try to argue that any of this august band should NOT be there, although I might argue, perhaps the protocols of the various North American sporting Halls of Fame (the Hall of Fame is a North American construct) might have been observed – principally, that nobody may be inducted into their sport's HoF until they have been retired for five years.
If that was the case at Hampden, then Alex Ferguson for one, would have had to wait a wee while before he earned his deserved place.
No, I have three major complaints about the induction procedure for the HoF:
- Some of the football writers on the induction committee make their Old Firm bias all-too-obvious when it comes to who gets in.
- The scandalously small recognition for old-time players, from the days when Scottish football genuinely was great.
- The concentration on players and managers, to the detriment of what North American Halls of Fame recognise as “Games Builders.”
I do not write books on the subject, I do not go on about it, but, I have a keen interest in the history of Scottish football, and I have a list of past greats whose absence from the ranks of the inductees is a serious indictment of the lack of historical knowledge of the guys picking who gets in.
Modesty prevents me putting my own name forward for a place on the committee, but, if they ever ask me – I will not say no. Another guy who should certainly be on-board is former SFA Director of Communications, Andy Mitchell, who, to me, is Mr Scottish Football History.
Andy and I could tell them the names of several legends whose absence from the inductees list are major examples of the induction committee's lack of knowledge.
- The Lisbon Lions (some of whom were already there as individuals) were inducted as a team in 2017. Why not similar treatment – a team induction – for the otherwise un-inducted Barcelona Bears and Gothenburg Greats?
- The 1928 and 1967 Wembley Wizards are the gold standard for Scottish international teams – again, a team induction would mark their status.
- On that 1928 team, four members: Jack Harkness, Hughie Gallacher, Alex James and Alan Morton are rightly in as individuals. In which case the absence of skipper Jimmy McMullan, one of Scotland's greatest captains, and Alex Jackson – who only scored three of the five goals – is a continuing disgrace.
The 1928 Wembley Wizards deserve a team induction
- The great Charles Campbell and the pioneering Andrew Watson are just about the only inductees from the Victorian era, when Scotland was the best team in the world. Where is the name of Robert Gardner, the very first Scotland cap and the man who organised the Scottish end of getting the first official international played. Gardner and Charles Allcock of the FA started international football – yet that feat has yet to be recognised by Gardner's induction into the Hall of Fame.
- Several Scotland team managers have been inducted, but, strangely, not Andy Roxburgh, a man whose coaching expertise has been recognised world-wide, but, not apparently in Scotland.
- Apart from the two deserving ladies – Rose Reilly and Julie Fleeting, every inductee comes from senior football. This perhaps reflects that the inductions committee members don't know and don't care about the other branches of the football tree. Where is the name of Willie Knox from the juniors? Or that of the likes of wee Alex McMenemy, one of many teachers who have given great service to schools football over the years.
- I mentioned how trans-Atlantic and other world-wide Halls of Fame specifically induct “Games Builders,” officials who perhaps never played, but have helped expand the game. What about Thomas Donohoe, the man who introduced football to Brazil, for instance?
- Then there are our own great club officials. He may be a divisive figure to some of today's Celtic Family, but, as much for his work for the Scottish League and the SFA as for his club, surely Sir Robert Kelly deserves his place. And what about Hugh Shaw of Hibs, the man who took Scottish football into Europe?
- And what about Sir George Graham – whose long service as SFA Secretary earned him his knighthood?
- A personal bug bear of mine, the lack of recognition of that great Victorian, Dr John Smith from Mauchline. Ten caps, ten goals, including a hat-trick against England. He then played rugby and was one of the original British Lions, before, as a referee, taking charge of the 1892 Scotland v England game.
- But, Smith wasn't the only goals machine we had back in the Victorian era, what about George Ker of Queen's Park? Five caps between 1880 and 1882, 12 goals, including four on his debut, against England. Or the Dalglish and Law of that period, Vale of Leven's John McDougall and Queen's Park's Willie McKinnon. Their records speak for themselves, they should be in the HoF.
As I have said, I have nothing against the 122 who are already in there, all are deserving cases, but, a tiny appreciation of our stellar football history, and some recognition of the greats of the true golden eras before World War II is, I feel called for.
And finally – Archie Macpherson is in, but, no Arthur Montford – come on Hall of Fame, you're having a laugh.