Socrates MacSporran

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

Monday, 29 January 2018

Great Scot Of Awe Buddie To Pick As Keeper Of The Poisoned Chalice

JINGS, crivvens, help ma Boab, Scot Gemmill is the new favourite to take possession of the poisoned chalice, as the next Scotland team manager/head coach.

 Scot Gemmill - new favourite for the poisoned chalice

Nothing against Scot – Ah kent his faither, and the boay is a guid Paisley Buddie, albeit he has spent most of his life and career in England. I do not think his lack of club managerial experience is a bad thing: he has not, therefore, been tainted with club ways, managing an international team is an entirely different ball game.

Scot has enjoyed some comparative success with our age group teams, he knows his way along the Hampden Corridor of Power, so, presumably, he is well-aware, he is dealing with some exceptionally untalented people in the Hampden suits, and the club officials who supposedly make the decisions.

Given, the SFA and Scottish football is not fir for purpose, I suppose, and I don't want this to sound like damned with faint praise – Scot will be as good a manager as any one.

I HAD a quick swatch at the weekend's Scottish Junior Cup results. OK, there are still a few Fourth Round ties to be settled, and, yes, cup-holders Glenafton are already out, having chosen to put on their worst display of the season in losing narrowly to Rob Roy in Round Three, but, aside from the mighty Afton, there are some seriously-good sides still in the competition.

A familiar picture - Talbot's Tucker Sloan with the Junior Cup and, they're in the last 16 again

In fact, if most of the uncompleted ties go with known form, we might end-up with the best last-16 field for some time. It goes without saying, Auchinleck Talbot are still involved. They thrashed Cumnock 5-1 on the Townhead Park artificial surface on Saturday to go through. OK, the 2017-18 squad has shown some very unTalbot frailties this season, but, the Scottish is approaching the sharp end, they have just thrashed their nearest-neighbours and will probably be installed as favourites now.

But, there are other clubs with serious Scottish Cup pedigrees still involved. In the closest thing the East Region perhaps has to the Cumnock-Talbot rivalry, Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic beat Newtongrange Star 5-2 on Saturday. The Rose has threatened to bloom again in the Scottish over the last couple of seasons, might this be the year when they go all the way?

Irvine Meadow, aiming to re-establish themselves under big Brian McGinty, put six goals on Dunbar United, a team you never under-estimate in the Scottish on Saturday, to cruise into the last 16, while there were big wins too for Linlithgow Rose and Rob Roy.

Pollok are through, while some other big names, such as 2016 winners Beith involved in as yet unplayed games, the later stages will surely see some epic clashes.

I HAVE never been big on conspiracy theories, not even about guys on grassy knolls and did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone, but, here's a wee one I would like to throw into the mix.

On Thursday, the Axis of Evil which is the combined Scottish arms of the British Conservative and Unionist and Labour Parties, aided by the Greens and the Liberal-Democratics, forced through the Holyrood Parliament, a motion which should see OBFA, the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, wiped from the statute book.

I repeat here, again, my caveats:

  • Offensive behaviour at football is largely, but not entirely a problem caused by the followers of two Glasgow football clubs.
  • There is a considerable sectarian/religious bigotry element in the problems these cubs' followers cause.
  • Religious intolerance and bigotry is not altogether learned at football matches, but, in the home and at school.
  • Bogotry and sectarianism, as seen at and around football matches is unacceptable.
  • The two clubs mainly involved have not done enough to stamp out the trouble
  • The SFA is strangely unwilling to bring these clubs to heel.
  • OBFA was bad law, hurriedly introduced, not properly thought through, but, it was necessary.
  • The passing of James Kelly MSP's motion on Thursday had a little to do with the issue, but, was mainly about the minor parties trying to give the SNP a bloody nose.
  • The Opposition might have forced through the defeat of the Scottish Government, they have singularly or collectively failed to come up with alternatives to OBFA.
  • James Kelly's objections to OBFA were more about Celtic anthems being caught in the legislation, when he thought OBFA was all about banning Rangers' hymn sheet.

For my part, banning I not all offensive behaviour at football, but, at least “Scotland's secret shame” of football-related bigotry and sectarianism is easy – just make clubs responsible for the behaviour of their fans, by adoring UEFA's “zero tolerance” approach.

If Rangers were docked three points for every match in which their support rejoiced in being: “Up to our knees in Fenian blood”, and Celtic were similarly penalised for every hymn of praise to the IRA, well, within a season bigotry and sectarianism would be a thing of the past in Scottish football.

There would still be sectarianism in Scotland, but, not inside football grounds.

Of course, the SFA will NEVER bring in any bye-law which might hurt the untouchable Bigot Brothers. No, no, no, no, that would never do. They must be free to keep fighting Irish political history in the football grounds of Scotland.

Well, I offer this wee idea to Nicola Sturgeon and her Government.

The "Nippy Sweetie" with the Scottish Women's team - might she do a deal with the "suits"

I believe, the SFA would rather like to remain at Hampden post-2020, but, the old lady needs a near-total and very-expensive rebuild. However, we do need a neutral venue for Scottish football, and, great stadium though Murrayfield is, if the option was there, most Scottish football fans would prefer a rebuilt, fit-for-purpose, 21st century-class Hampden as the home of Scottish Football.

So, the Scottish Government tells the SFA: “OK, we will pay for the modernising of Hampden into a say 75,000 capacity, state of the art football stadium, fit for the 21st century. But, here are the conditions:

  • Queen's Park are decanted to a rebuilt Lesser Hampden as their home to keep the main stadium free for big games, concerts etc.
  • Before we start, the SFA brings in “zero tolerance” of sectarianism and bigotry, the clubs are held responsible for their fans' misbehaviour – no deal on this, no deal on rebuilding Hampden.

If the suits cannot be persuaded otherwise, what is wrong with holding a gun to their thick heads?

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