I HAVE been saying for years, and will go on saying it I reckon for a few years yet, but, for as long as the induction committee of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame continues to pack its numbers with members of the Lap Top Loyal and the Celtic Apologists Association, then the membership of the SFHOF will be overloaded with Old Firm placemen.
Ian McMillan - a worthy inductee to the Hall of Fame
Now, I have no quibble with Julie Fleeting being admitted,I am absolutely delighted to see the first gentleman of Scottish Football, Ian McMillan, “the wee Prime Minister” being inducted, and again, given his remarkable record as a player, there is no way Roy Aitken can be denied his place.
But, Archie Knox, come on. There is a reason why the book was called 'Don Quixote', it was about the nobleman – not about Sancho Panza, his squire. By the same reasoning, nothing against Sir Alex Ferguson, or Walter Smith or Craig Brown getting in, but, come on – when you induct the organ grinder, you don't have to also include his organ grinder.
If they have to induct a manager/trainer/assistant manager, I could name about ten who should be ahead of Archie in the pecking order. You don't believe me?
OK, how about: Andy Roxburgh, Andy Beattie – the first Scotland team manager, Walter Macrae, Dawson Walker, Hugh Allan, Jerry Kerr, Bob Shankly, Davie Shaw, Hugh Shaw or Willie Knox, all managers or assistants, with, I would suggest a better case for induction that Archie.
Bob Shankly, right, ought to be alongside brother Willie in the Hall of Fame
Then, of course, there are the guys from the “diddy” teams who rarely get mentioned. It was great to see McMillan inducted, a thoroughly-deserved honour for one of Airdrie's greatest. But, would be have been selected had he not had that Indian Summer at Ibrox, when he and Baxter were arguably the most-skilful midfield axis in post-war Scottish football?
Scottish football is more than two teams. Willie Bauld is in, but no Alfie Conn and Jimmy Wardhaugh, the other two-thirds of the “Terrible Trio.” No Charlie Thomson, Andy Anderson or Alex Massie, another three Harts' icons. And, while Dave Mackay is rightly in there, why no place for John Cumming or Alex Young?
Indeed, I could go through most provincial teams and name at least one overlooked local hero. Just off the top of my head – Ayr United's Peter Price or John Murphy; St Mirren's Willie Telfer, or from a later era Tony Fitzpatrick; Motherwell's George Stevenson, Bob Ferrier, or Andy Paton; Graham Leggat or Bobby Clark from Aberdeen are surely worth a mention, for their work beyond the boundaries of Scotland.
Dundee can claim Gillie and Billy Steel already in there, but, what of Alex Hamilton, or Doug Cowie, or Ian Ure? I mentioned Walter Macrae above, what about Frank Beattie, skipper of Killie's 1965 League winners, where is his place?
Let's be controversial here. The Tartan Army is legendary, and the feeling is, the Scots' football fans are the best in the world – well, why not induct a fan? What about the legend that was “Fergie” of Hamilton Academical?
SAF in front of the portrait of Douglas Smith, founder of Drumchapel Amateurs
What about the guys who toil, unpaid, at the grass-roots? The men who give of their time to produce the next big thing for the senior game deserve recognition. Where is the nomination for, for example: Douglas Smith, the founder of Drumchapel Amateurs. I know Douglas's portrait hangs in the Scottish Football Museum, but, should be not be inside the SFHOF, rubbing shoulders with so-many of his former players, such as Kenny Dalglish, Alex Ferguson or Archie Gemmill?
But, my biggest bugbear with the Hall of Fame is, while its members are choc-a-bloc with the great and the good of recent years, the numbers of true giants of the past are scant. I will continue to push the case for an en masse induction of the as-yet uninducted Wembley Wizards of 1928. I now, Hughie Gallacher, Alex James and Alan Morton are in, but, what of the other seven, in particular skipper Jimmy McMullan – one of the greatest Scotland captains – Jack Harkness, a man who as player and journalist contributed much to the game up here and Alex Jackson, the man who scored three of the five goals in that great game.
Jimmy McMullan leads out the Wembley Wizards
There are other giants from the Golden Age, who are perhaps more-worthy of induction than some of the more-modern players who are already in there. I have a particular liking for Dr John Smith, of Mauchline, Queen's Park and Edinburgh University. He scored a couple of hat-tricks against England back in Victorian times, and also went on the first British Lions rugby tour to New Zealand and Australia.
Then there is the continuing absence from the ranks of Bob Gardner, Scotland's first ever internationalist and captain – the man who handled the Glasgow end of arranging the world's first football international, in 1872. How can you have a Hall of Fame that doesn't include the Founding Father?
There are none of the great Vale of Leven men (both club and area) who were at the top when the Vale was the cradle of Scottish football, and when the village of Renton could claim to be World Champions. And, while we are pushing the case for greats of the past – what about some sort of recognition for the exploits of the Glenbuck Cherrypickers? I mean, if Willie Shankly got in on the basis of one game for the Cherries – some of their other greats, such as Sandy Brown, are surely due a wee mention.
For me, their absence demeans the Hall of Fame. And, while I am at it: all the Lisbon Lions are in, let's get all the Wizards in, all the Barcelona Bears and all the Gothenburg Greats. If a Scottish team is good enough to win a European trophy – they should go in as a team.
As I said earlier, I am delighted to see Julie Fleeting inducted, doubling the number of women inductees. But, there is a strong case also for inducting Anna Signeul, and surely Gemma Fay's 200-plus caps are worthy of entry.
I know, with an induction committee, opinions vary, and personal bias comes into play, but, really, the SFHOF induction committee could, and should, do much better.