Socrates MacSporran

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

Friday, 20 April 2018

Some Comebacks Take Longer And Are Harder Than Others

I AM old enough to remember Accrington Stanley dropping out of the Football League in 1962. I was pleased when the reformed club got back, and am absolutely delighted to see them seal promotion from League Two the first time in both the club's incarnation that Accrington Stanley has got out of the lowest tier of English league football.

Sir Michael Parkinson - a wonderful sports writer and "father" of Stanley Accrington

When the “old” Stanley folded, Michael Parkinson took their name and turned it around, with “Stanley Accrington” becoming his all-purpose name for the journeyman English League footballer. It is great to see the name now restored with pride to its correct order.

The fall, rebirth and rise of Stanley is not unique in football. In England quite a few clubs have hit financial trouble, gone to the wall and been reformed, with the minimum of fuss. Up here, one club went down this route in 2012 and the consequences are still reverberating around the game.

For instance, the present-day Stanley, although only formed in 1970, and not even a Football League club until 2006 is, in the football reference “bible”, the Sky Sports (formerly Rothman's) Football Yearbook, credited with the successes of the old, pre-1962 club. No shouts of “You're deid,” from fans of nearby local clubs such as Blackburn Rovers or Burnley – both of whom of course, being bigger and more successful.

They built slowly over their 46-year banishment from the big team; having failed once, they have built slowly and methodically and cut their cloth accordingly. I cannot help feeling, if the Scottish club that went out of business in 2012 had been a bit more humble like Stanley, and done things sensibly – well, maybe they wouldn't be second in the Premiership today, but they would probably be in a much-better place financially.

I said back in 2012, the reborn club should have been made to start again at the bottom – there was an uneven number of clubs in the Central Second Division of the West of Scotland Junior Superleague they'd have been a shoo-in for that place – then perhaps a lot of unpleasantness would have been avoided. If they had had to start from the bottom, assuming promotion every season they would, this season, have been celebrating winning League Two.

Lee Wallace the only survivor of the 2012 team

But, instead being too-big to ignore, our Scottish club began their recovery from League Two in 2012-13. Interestingly, again courtesy of the Sky Sports Football Yearbook, I can reveal, only one player from that 2012-13 League Two squad is still with the club, that is currently-suspended Club Captain Lee Wallace. Maybe, had they mended their profligate ways and allowed some of the young players blooded in that campaign in the bottom tier to mature and learn the game as they rose through the levels, the club would not be the financial basket case it currently is.

What's that old chestnut about people and institutions repeating the same mistakes in the hope of a different outcome, being a sure sign of madness. Of course, a sensible, planned progression of small steps, via a mainly youthful squad, with a small central core of experienced players, well, that doesn't grab the attention of the cheer leaders in the mainstream media. There is no click bait or big exclusive stories in being sensible.

SPEAKING of sensible. Last night, with nothing better to watch, I took-in the BBC2 Premier League Show, fronted by Gabby Logan. Now, Gabby I can just about take in small doses, but, I have to say, this is one excellent football programme. It looks at the game intelligently and finds different items to broadcast.

Gabby Logan - fronts a very good programme

Last night there was a thoughtful piece on West Ham, with some great input from David Moyes, who has surely began to rebuild his reputation over his very good six months in-charge of the Hammers. Gary Lineker asked some probing questions, well answered by Moyes.

We then had an interesting piece on the soon-to-retire Michael Carrick, all in all, a very good programme I shall watch again. I just wonder if Scottish football will ever be grown-up enough for us to have a similar type of magazine programme on oor ain wee haun'-knitted league. I won't hold my breath waiting, even though, in the excellent Tom English, BBC Shortbread has the perfect man to run it.

A serious programme on Scottish fitba – naw it would never catch-on.

THE GUARDIAN is currently running a series on memorable World Cup moments. Today's piece featured the great Austrian “Wunderteam” of the early 1930s, and a great read it is too.

The great Matthias Sindelar scoring for the Austrian Wunderteam

The article put the team's all-too-brief period as arguably the best team in the world as starting with their 5-0 Vienna victory over Scotland. There was an interesting sub-text to this, in that it identified an early influence on Austrian football as a Rangers' team which had toured that country in 1904. The Rangers party played six games in Austria and Czechoslovakia, winning them all and scoring goals for fun in the process.

Such was their effect on Austrian football, the locals began to play the Scottish-style of passing and moving which Rangers had taught them, and, by 1931, were able to show Scotland how to play it better than the originators.

Mind you, Scotland and Austria have been involved in one or two “kicking matches” since then, and I cannot help but feel – perhaps the Rangers influence on Austrian football has something to do with the way Celtic v Rapid Vienna games seem always to descend into violence. Just saying like.

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