Socrates MacSporran

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

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Fitba Wasn't Great, But It Was Still Compelling Viewing

THE LEVEL of the football was pretty low, much of the game was downright scrappy, but, Wednesday night's Edinburgh Derby, on BT Sport TV, was compulsive viewing.

As befits a nation whose indigenous team sport – shinty, allegedly derives from the practice of hitting the severed head of the defeated Chief around with big sticks, or camans, following a clan battle, we like our sport red in tooth and claw, and there was plenty of that on display at Tynecastle on Wednesday night.

It wis ower there Ah booted Broonie - Steven Naismith seems to be saying

Some of the challenges were “meaty” to say the least. Mind you, Stevie Naismith, who is facing a two-game rest following his assault on Scott Brown at the same venue on Sunday, did manage to rein himself in however.

(To digress slightly – that challenge on Broonie was, even at Beechwood Park, Auchinleck a red card any day of the week and Stevie dodged a bullet by only copping a two-game ban. Mind you, I did like one comment on the Kilmarnock Fans' Facebook page, calling for severe sanctions – on Broonie, for seemingly “grabbing Naisie's leg and trying to bit him!!” Poor Broonie, he takes a size eight to the goolies and gets no sympathy, that's no way to treat a former Scotland captain.)

But, back to Wednesday. What was it they called the young, gauche Kyle Lafferty, for whom the old, dying Rangers paid a King's ransom back in the day? Yes “Laugherty” was one title given the big man as he created more bad than good headlines. But, he has grown, matured and his goal on Wednesday, plus his all-round leadership of the line, spoke of a very good player at the height of his powers.

The big news, post-match, was that Neil Lennon is considering his position, after Hibs, by losing, were condemned to a fourth-place finish in the league. The wee 'Ginger Whinger' wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to football, and he reportedly feels, after two years in charge, he has maybe taken the club as far as he can and it is time somebody else had a go.

Lenny - frustrated in fourth, he shouldn't be

The suggestion was, the players had stopped listening to him – time maybe for some new material Neil. He is with a big club, fourth place is maybe as good as it can get for Hibs, but, he should reflect on this:

  • Hibs will finish the season as the top club in Edinburgh, thereby overturning what his opposite number across the city refers to as - “the natural order.”
  • It is a very tall order, and frankly all but impossible to see: however, with home advantage against a Rangers team for whom the cry is often: “no defenders”, Hibs could, by winning well on Sunday, still finish third.
  • There are, we understand, some little local difficulties surrounding Rangers passing the fit and proper test to be allowed to play in Europe next season. If they are kept out on a financial technicality, Hibs will be the club to benefit.
  • Unless he goes to one of a handful of top English clubs – which isn't going to happen, or unless he goes back to Celtic, which again isn't going to happen – any club other than Hibs will be a downwards move for Lenny.

The Wee Man, seemingly, was annoyed at some of his players slipping on the controversial Tynecastle grass on Wednesday. The suggestion is, the studs were not long enough. There might be something in the old chestnut: “it's a poor workman that blames his tools,” but, did Lenny make sure they had the right tools – I.e. the correct length of stud, in the first place? “Fail to Prepare - Prepare to Fail” and all that.

I DID part of my “national service” with the Scottish missionary corps – trying to bring Caledonian culture to unresponsive foreigners in North Wales – a place which makes my own notoriously clannish and in-bred East Ayrshire seem open and sophisticated in comparison – then in West Yorkshire.

I enjoyed Dewsbury, but, while Huddersfield was closer in mileage terms, the bright lights of Leeds was more of a draw for my family and I. Even then, in the 1970s, Huddersfield had the aura of a big town with its best days behind it. Huddersfield was perhaps at its peak in the 1920s, with the mills going flat-out, the Huddersfield Choral Society's annual performance of 'The Messiah' a hot ticket and, along Leeds Road, Wembley Wizard hat-trick hero Alex Jackson and a clutch of England internationalists driving, under manager Herbert Chapman, Huddersfield Town to back-to-back English League titles.

 Wullie Shankly watches as Denis Law signs for Huddersfield Town

Then, in the 1950s, under one great Scot, Wullie Shankly, another even greater Scot – Denis Law arrived on the scene to lighten up the dark Satanic Yorkshire mill town. At the same time, the local Rugby League club was carrying all before them. But, since then, very little has happened to enthuse the locals. So, I was delighted to see Huddersfield Town draw with Chelsea in midweek, to ensure Premiership football at their magnificent stadium next season.

AT MY age, I have seen a lot in football. The first match I ever saw on television was the 1953 'Stanley Matthews' Cup Final.' I struggle to appreciate today's “stars” having seen the likes of Jim Baxter, Denis Law, Gordon Smith, Jimmy Johnstone and Dave Mackay from Scotland; Tom Finney, Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks for England and the likes of Pele, Cruyff, Maradona, Puskas and di Stefano from overseas.

OK, I would put Messi and CR7 as worthy of joining the ranks of the above, but, most of today's stars are over-hyped to a great extent. That's maybe the fault of today's mainstream media, but,where today's hacks and hackettes in Scotland are DEFINITELY going wrong, is in their coverage of events surrounding Rangers FC.

I have seldom seen anything as boak-inducing as the msm's latest efforts to make the Glib and Shameless Liar look like a fit and proper person to run Rangers. Armageddon 2 is coming lads and lassies and by ignoring the warning signs, you are doing yourselves no good at all.

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