Socrates MacSporran

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

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Inviting Soccer Yobs To Tour HQ - Have You Totally Lost Your Marbles McKay?

DOMINIC McKAY, the Scottish Rugby Union's Director of Commercial Operations is the guy charged with bringing-in the money which the Murrayfield “suits” - according to my learned friend Aristotle Armstrong Scottish Rugby Philosopher: "Squander on daft schemes like Stupid 6". The overall impression in Scottish Rugby is that Dom does a good job, and he certainly cops a lot less flak than some of the other “suits” at HQ.

Dominic McKay of the SRU

Dom's latest wheeze has been to invite 100 Scottish football fans to a behind the scenes tour of BT Murrayfield, to reinforce the SRU's genuine attempt to grab the rights to host the Scottish Football Association's big games, once the Hampden hosting agreement runs out in 2020.

This is a bit of a gamble for the SRU. With the SFA in talks with Queen's Park with a view to the governing body taking over and running Hampden, my money would be on the Mount Florida ground continuing to be the home of Scottish football. Mind you, Queen's Park might well simply sell the ground for £1 – although I would perhaps charge £5, the last £1 sale in Scottish fitba hasn't gone too well!!

Any way, if and when they do, Scotland's premier club will need to be re-housed, then Hampden itself will need to be re-furbished properly. This will most-likely require government backing, which might give the Scottish government an opening to sort-out some deficiencies in the governance of our game – OBFA2 anyone?

Still, inviting the fans round was a good idea Dom, but, maybe you should have been a bit more selective. As I understand it, there are just 100 places available, I would have made sure these places went to the guys who run the various regiments of the Tartan Army, and the main Supporters Club reps from the senior clubs – that way, you got the right fans, the most-influential and your presentation was properly-targetted.

Do you think we will ever get a similar look round Hampden? Naw, me neither, who wants to see the padded cells on the sixth floor corridor, where they keep some of fitba's High Heid Yins, out of harm's way. Or is that self-harm's way?

IN TODAY'S media, there is little room, or inclination to print, “Long Reads” - a studied, erudite look at a particular subject, running to perhaps 2000 words, or more. The Guardian still occasionally prints long reads, but, elsewhere, they are like hens' teeth.

The hour-long documentary film is the TV equivalent of the long read, if anything even-rarer; and certainly in the ranks BBC Shortbread I cannot identify anyone, other than John Beattie, or Tom English, who I would trust to produce such a film. (Years ago, Chick Young was indulged to the extent of being able to do such a film – which involved him travelling to California to meet his hero – Ron Jeremy. I rest my case!!)

But, all is not lost. BT Sport has produced some cracking sports films of late and, earlier this week, browsing channels I found one such gem. It was a study on those oft-maligned creatures referees. It was wonderful stuff, and thought-provoking covering the full range, from the veteran Welsh referee coming-up on his 3000th game on the local parks, right up to an English Premier League team in action. 

Howard Webb - contributor to the excellent film Ref 

There was the 20-year-old blonde girl, very-much in-charge of two assistants who looked like her uncles, the ex-player, surely the ultimate poacher turned gamekeeper and the former top-flight official, rekindling his love of football back at the grass roots, and mentoring some younger referees along the way. There are also words of wisdom from Howard Webb.

If you have access to BT TV or BT Sport, seek it out. The film is called 'Ref' and, I believe it is available also on You Tube. Do watch it, you will not be disappointed.

IS THIS Gerrard for Rangers talk: Lap Top Loyal-driven wishful thinking, or has Stevie G lost his marbles totally?

Sure, there might be an attraction in being the guy who restored a fallen giant to rude health, but, the road to Heaven, like that to Hell, is paved with good intentions, which don't always survive.

Restoring Manchester United's fortunes was a key driver in persuading Sir Alex Ferguson south, but, he had proved himself at St Mirren and Aberdeen; he was sacked (rightly) at the first of these clubs, and he was almost sacked at United before he turned things around.

 Steven Gerrard - being tipped as the next Ragers' manager

Directors back then, 40-years ago when Fergie started would give young managers time, today, they want progress and success NOW – that time is no longer there. Then there is the gorilla in the mist around Ibrox – the Glib and Shameless Liar. Now the Rangers' Chairman is not the only absentee club owner who talks a good game, but doesn't deliver – he has loads of mates at the same game in England. But, whoever gets the Ibrox gig, if as widely expected, Graeme Murty is at the very least dismissed from the Officers' back to the Sergeants Mess at the end of the season – MUST deliver success, which means finishing above the better-funded, better-managed (in all aspects) more-talented squad-owning Celtic team across the city.

Even crossing Stanley Park to take-over from Big Sam at Everton, with all the cultural differences he would face there, would be an easier management starting point than Ibrox for Gerrard.

But, Gerrard for Ibrox is a good click-bait story, it will run.

IN REAL FITBA – the Juniors, big changes are afoot in the West Region of the SJFA, where, next season they will change to a 16-club top division, as opposed to the current 12-club Premier Division.

Kudos by the way to the West Region committee, who have decided, rather than having no relegation this season the bottom two in the top flight will play-off against the teams finishing fifth and sixth in the second tier First Division, for the right to join the top ten, plus the first four in the First Division, in the new top division next season.

Between the bad winter and some lengthy cup runs, there are still a lot of games to be played, before we know the final composition of next season's top-flight in the West. But, one thing we do know is that Petershill, after a year or two in the doldrums, will be back in there and, it is good to see one of the great names in Junior Football back where they belong.

The 1973 Scottish Junior Cup-winning Irvine Meadow squad
(picture shamelessly stolen from Pie & Bovril - thanks boys) 

Mind you, there great rivals, Irvine Meadow – and believe me, there's a great book in there about Peasies v the Medda rivalry – face a fight if they are to get back into the top division, while another of the great junior clubs Cambuslang Rangers, are also on the fringes of the battle for a top 1 place.

Interestingly, one of the teams in danger of having to go through the play-offs to preserve their top-flight status is Junior Cup finalists Hurlford United, currently propping up the Premier Division, albeit with only 13 of their scheduled 22 league games played.

There are a lot of games still to be played before it all pans out.

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