Socrates MacSporran

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

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear - Disaster For Rangers

SINCE I find the 2019-20 vintage in Scottish football undrinkable, I have deliberately avoided blogging for some time. However, after watching last night's BT Sport broadcast of Kilmarnock v Rangers, I have been moved to return to my keyboard.

It wasn't a bad game; ok, it reaffirmed my belief that the skill level in our game is woefully low and reinforced my belief that the bulk of the current Rangers' squad are most definitely, as my late Father would say – NRC: Not Rangers Class.

Faither was born when King Edward VII was on the throne, and he got into Rangers when Bill Struth was just starting off as Manager. All future Rangers players, to the Old Man, were judged against Davie Meiklejohn and Alan Morton, while Jimmy Fleming, the great centre forward of the 1920s and 1930s, was a distant relative.

The Old Man was an unreconstructed Hun, who would be horrified at some of the things going on around Ibrox today.

The level of class player absent from today's Rangers squad

Me, while I believe Jim Baxter was the greatest Scottish footballer, I avoided Hundom, Kilmarnock has my heart, so, I was very happy with last night's result – I think we showed, in the second half, a greater desire to win, and got our just reward.

But, what really bugged me was the utter undisguised bias of the BT pundits. In the post-match summing-up, it was almost a case of: “How did that happen, little Kilmarnock have no right to beat the mighty Rangers.” Their comments were boak-inducing.

Even Chris Sutton could barely hide his disgust, that Rangers had lost, while their puerile arguments around the lead-up to the first Killie goal had me pondering the question – did James Traynor write that bit of the script?

We don't have VAR in Scotland. In fact, we will only have it, when UEFA and FIFA order the high heid yins at Hampden to introduce it. I reckon VAR will very-quickly demonstrate just how many “honest mistakes” our referees make in a season – particularly in games involving a certain two Glasgow clubs.

VAR is, as I understand it, supposed to clear-up decisions, where there is: “A clear and obvious error by the on-field officiating team.”

Now, I am willing to conceded the ball may have hit Roddy McKenzie on the arm, in the build-up to Stephen O'Donnell's goal. Personally, I have my doubts (but I would). If it did hit his arm, it merely brushed against it, however, even after several replays – there was no clear and obvious arm to ball contact. Therefore, the goal stands.

The “experts” were also convinced Rangers were denied a penalty. Maybe so, but, to me, the first use of the arm was by Morelos, and, in any case, having been earlier booked for “simulation,” I am still trying to work out why he wasn't given a second yellow and sent off, for a later, equally blatant, dive.

Just about the only person on the night who showed genuine “Rangers Class” was Steven Gerrard, post-match. He accepted responsibility for the loss, he would not entertain any “hand ball” claims and he showed, to me, that he has the makings of a top manager.

This Old Firm bias has been at coronavirus levels in the Scottish media for years, and, to my mind, as the papers shed readers faster than leaves in autumn, the bias has got worse. It's as if, in the minds of the guys at the top in the various media outlets, only the Old Firm fan base can read, listen to radio or watch TV. So, everything they produce has to be skewed to sate this market.

I was so pleased to see Alex Dyer sending his side out for the second half at Rugby Park last night, with clear instructions to have a go at Rangers. I wish more Scottish managers would be as gung-ho.

As I have said, this is a poor Rangers team. The Celtic squad is better, but, to me, it is still a poor Celtic one. If, by some miracle, the current lot could be matched against the Lisbon Lions of 1967 – I fancy Big Billy & Co would win with goals to spare.

Scottish fitba really is going to the dogs – on and off the field.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Once again, the Scottish Football Hall of Fame Induction Committee is guilty of sins of omission

THIS POST is turning into a hardy annual – I really must save myself some work and copy it, in readiness for re-posting, with new pictures, in 12 months' time. Because, not for the first time, I must take issue with the Induction Committee's choice of which past greats they induct into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.

Colin Stein being inducted last night

With last night's induction of Patsy Gallacher, Joe Harper, Tommy McLean, John Robertson of Hearts, Colin Stein and Paul Sturrock, the number of Inductees, since the HoF was established in 2004, has risen to 122.

I am not going to try to argue that any of this august band should NOT be there, although I might argue, perhaps the protocols of the various North American sporting Halls of Fame (the Hall of Fame is a North American construct) might have been observed – principally, that nobody may be inducted into their sport's HoF until they have been retired for five years.

If that was the case at Hampden, then Alex Ferguson for one, would have had to wait a wee while before he earned his deserved place.

No, I have three major complaints about the induction procedure for the HoF:

  1. Some of the football writers on the induction committee make their Old Firm bias all-too-obvious when it comes to who gets in.
  2. The scandalously small recognition for old-time players, from the days when Scottish football genuinely was great.
  3. The concentration on players and managers, to the detriment of what North American Halls of Fame recognise as “Games Builders.”

I do not write books on the subject, I do not go on about it, but, I have a keen interest in the history of Scottish football, and I have a list of past greats whose absence from the ranks of the inductees is a serious indictment of the lack of historical knowledge of the guys picking who gets in.

Modesty prevents me putting my own name forward for a place on the committee, but, if they ever ask me – I will not say no. Another guy who should certainly be on-board is former SFA Director of Communications, Andy Mitchell, who, to me, is Mr Scottish Football History.

Andy and I could tell them the names of several legends whose absence from the inductees list are major examples of the induction committee's lack of knowledge.

For instance:

  • The Lisbon Lions (some of whom were already there as individuals) were inducted as a team in 2017. Why not similar treatment – a team induction – for the otherwise un-inducted Barcelona Bears and Gothenburg Greats?
  • The 1928 and 1967 Wembley Wizards are the gold standard for Scottish international teams – again, a team induction would mark their status.
  • On that 1928 team, four members: Jack Harkness, Hughie Gallacher, Alex James and Alan Morton are rightly in as individuals. In which case the absence of skipper Jimmy McMullan, one of Scotland's greatest captains, and Alex Jackson – who only scored three of the five goals – is a continuing disgrace.
The 1928 Wembley Wizards deserve a team induction
  • The great Charles Campbell and the pioneering Andrew Watson are just about the only inductees from the Victorian era, when Scotland was the best team in the world. Where is the name of Robert Gardner, the very first Scotland cap and the man who organised the Scottish end of getting the first official international played. Gardner and Charles Allcock of the FA started international football – yet that feat has yet to be recognised by Gardner's induction into the Hall of Fame.
  • Several Scotland team managers have been inducted, but, strangely, not Andy Roxburgh, a man whose coaching expertise has been recognised world-wide, but, not apparently in Scotland.
  • Apart from the two deserving ladies – Rose Reilly and Julie Fleeting, every inductee comes from senior football. This perhaps reflects that the inductions committee members don't know and don't care about the other branches of the football tree. Where is the name of Willie Knox from the juniors? Or that of the likes of wee Alex McMenemy, one of many teachers who have given great service to schools football over the years.
  • I mentioned how trans-Atlantic and other world-wide Halls of Fame specifically induct “Games Builders,” officials who perhaps never played, but have helped expand the game. What about Thomas Donohoe, the man who introduced football to Brazil, for instance?
  • Then there are our own great club officials. He may be a divisive figure to some of today's Celtic Family, but, as much for his work for the Scottish League and the SFA as for his club, surely Sir Robert Kelly deserves his place. And what about Hugh Shaw of Hibs, the man who took Scottish football into Europe?
  • And what about Sir George Graham – whose long service as SFA Secretary earned him his knighthood?
  • A personal bug bear of mine, the lack of recognition of that great Victorian, Dr John Smith from Mauchline. Ten caps, ten goals, including a hat-trick against England. He then played rugby and was one of the original British Lions, before, as a referee, taking charge of the 1892 Scotland v England game.
  • But, Smith wasn't the only goals machine we had back in the Victorian era, what about George Ker of Queen's Park? Five caps between 1880 and 1882, 12 goals, including four on his debut, against England. Or the Dalglish and Law of that period, Vale of Leven's John McDougall and Queen's Park's Willie McKinnon. Their records speak for themselves, they should be in the HoF.

As I have said, I have nothing against the 122 who are already in there, all are deserving cases, but, a tiny appreciation of our stellar football history, and some recognition of the greats of the true golden eras before World War II is, I feel called for.

And finally – Archie Macpherson is in, but, no Arthur Montford – come on Hall of Fame, you're having a laugh.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Enough Is Enough

I AM but one of several voices, crying in the wilderness, but, surely, after our abject half hour of surrender in Moscow last night, the cry MUST come up from the majority within the body of the Scottish Fitba Kirk: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”

Stephen Clarke is a good manager – he surely proved that at Kilmarnock. But, as I have been saying for years, even the best managers would struggle to operate within the flawed system which is Scottish Football.

Steve Clarke - not the first Scotland boss to be undermind
by the flawed system that is Scottish Football

I never differentiate between The World Cup and The European Championships, when it comes to the qualifying rounds, we face the a selection from the same 53 potential opponents regardless – we only face fresh challenges if we actually get through to the World Cup Finals.

The fact is, in my lifetime (I was three when we first entered the World Cup) I have seen us go from international Premiership-class contenders, to League One strugglers. We are, if you like, the Clyde of international football.

Back in 1950, after we failed, by one goal, to qualify for the World Cup Finals, FIFA then offered us a “wild card' entry – which, in their wisdom, the SFA rejected. This was the inglorious start to an inglorious series of SFA fuck-ups where big international tournaments were concerned:

  • 1954 World Cup – Carry On Up The Alps, as the SFA drops a whole host of experienced caps after a pre-tournament spanking from England; order the wrong strips; then see the part-time manager resign midway through the tournament.
  • 1958 World Cup – They send Tommy Docherty and Archie Robertson to scout the Paraguayans, then ignore their report.
  • 1962 World Cup – Baxter and Crerand fall-out over a water bottle between full-time and extra time in a play-off in Brussels, we lose to the eventual runners-up and fail to qualify.
  • 1964 European Championships – The SFA decides: “We're no playin',” and does not enter. Then Scotland goes to Madrid and beats eventual champions Spain 6-2, A bad case of what might have been.
  • 1966 World Cup – Scottish managers in England refuse to rest key players, and we have to send a below-strength team to the crucial final game in Italy. Mind you, conceding two goals to Poland in the last five minutes of a game at Hampden might go down as something of an “own goal.”
  • 1968 European Champions – We beat World Champions England to go top of the table, then lose to a one-man show from George Best in Belfast, and fail to qualify.

You see a pattern beginning to develop. It's almost as if the SFA Council sat down at the start of each qualifying campaign and asked: “Right lads, how can we mess it up this time?”

In the 1970s and 1980s we became serial World Cup qualifiers, going to five straight final tournaments. However, squads, including as players or managers, 45 of the current 116 inductees into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, failed to qualify for the five European Championship tournaments in the same period.

If a squad containing the likes of Bremner, Dalglish, Souness, Jordan, Miller and McLeish, and managed by Jock Stein, could fail dismally to qualify for the European Championships, what's the use in getting annoyed at the present-day squad?

But, enough history – where do we go from here?

Clearly, the present governance model for Scottish football is not working. Now, the Scottish Rugby Union gets a bad press about their management of that game, but, to be fair to the guys running things at BT Murrayfield, they are not afraid to try things.

Right now, former Scotland winger, billionaire oil man Sir Bill Gammell is conducting a review of the SRU's governance (the way the game is run). Can you honestly see the SFA allowing a billionaire former player (assuming they could find one) to conduct an exercise in their game? No, me neither – the butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers who mis-manage our clubs don't need to hear from an outsider, how badly they are doing – fine they ken.

So, short of an organised grass-roots fan-led rebellion, which aint gonna happen, I think we may be stuck in this rut for a while.

Here's what I would do:

  • Cut the number of “senior” clubs; 42 is at least 22 too many.
  • Cut the number of divisions in our national league – we don't need more than two.
  • Bring back “the eight diddies” or “three foreigners” rule, to encourage the clubs to bring through home-grown talent.
  • Encourage this young talent, form an Under-23, B or Futures squad, to bridge the gap between the Under-20/21 teams and the full team.
  • Make the Old Firm understand – THE team in Scotland is the national side, not either of you. You are no more important than any other club.
  • Somehow, divest ourselves of this: “Here's tae us, wha's like us” attitude when it comes to football. We haven't been really good for at least 40 years, probably longer.

We cannot stagger on as we have been doing. Something needs to change, and quickly. However, as yet, I do not detect the willingness to accept and adopt real change being abroad yet.

Who knows, maybe if we lose to San Marino, things might change.

Naw, we couldnae, could we?

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

A Poor Product - Poorly Presented - But There Is Still The Juniors

I AM finding it increasingly difficult to blog about Scottish fitba these days; so little seems to be happening, and the game is stuck in a slough of mediocrity which is simply discouraging.

But, maybe with Celtic losing at Livingston and Rangers taking advantage to go top of the table, things will brighten up. Certainly there will be a surge in whitabootery on social media and in the radio phone-in spheres of activity.

'Tis a pity for Steven Gerrard that his side should go top of the table at this time. The Rangers Gaffer would surely prefer to kick-on from hitting the peak of the table, by going again on Saturday; thing is, they don't play again until Sunday, 20 October, when they visit Hearts. The chances are, they will go into that game back in second spot. If Celtic beat Ross County at Celtic Park on 19 October, they will go back to the top.

I am afraid, I do not get this modern fad for cancelling all matches while internationals are on. I can perhaps see the sense of a clear fixture schedule if the national team is playing at Hampden Park, in a match kicking-off at 3pm on a Saturday. Clearing the schedule that day makes sense, but, FFS, we play Russia on Thursday, then face San Marino on Sunday, so why should we not have a full fixture list on Saturday?

Celtic, the single club most relied-on by Stephen Clarke for players for his squad, have four players in the Scotland squad for the two internationals – from a 32-strong first team squad, yet they don't have to play a league game on Saturday.

Glasgow Warriors, the city's full-time professional rugby club, has 11 Scotland players, plus four players with other nations (that's a full team's worth) away at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, but, they are still having to play normal Guinness PRO14 league games. If rugby can keep the bread and butter games going, why not football?

It didn't used to be like this. I remember doing an anniversary piece about the legendary Wembley Wizards, and, while reading through back copies of the various papers up in the Mitchell Library, I was struck by a line in the Daily Record.

Their reporter at the Rangers v Clyde game at Ibrox, on that afternoon of 31 March, 1928, wrote that the biggest roar of the day had followed the announcement of the score from Wembley.

When the Second Wembley Wizards – the Baxter, Law, Bremner inspired side thrashed England 3-2 on 15 April, 1967, there was a truncated domestic programme in Scotland; Aberdeen played Stirling Albion and Hibernian played Ayr United in the First Division, while there were five Second Division matches, and both Rangers and Celtic fielded Reserve teams in matches. No need for a blanket shut down back then. So why do we shut everything down today?

ANY WAY, enough of this over-priced and over-rated senior fitba, let's get back to the real thing, and the third round draw for the Macron Scottish Junior Cup was made in Glasgow yesterday.

An unusual picture of the Scottish Junior Cup - 
the ribbons are not black and gold

The ties are to be played on: Saturday, 26 October, and the draw is:

Aberdeen East End v Scone Thistle
Ashfield v Lugar Boswell Thistle
Auchinleck Talbot v Forfar West End
Banchory St Ternan v Larkhall Thistle
Bathgate Thistle v Irvine Meadow XI
Beith v Whitletts Victoria
Benburb v Deveronside or Dyce
Brechin Victoria v Neilston
Bridge of Don v Ardrossan Winton Rovers
Broughty Athletic v St Anthony's
Buckie Rovers v Blantyre Victoria
Burghead Thistle v Kirkintilloch Rob Roy
Cambuslang Rangers v Dundee East Craigie
Culter or Wishaw v Rossvale
Dalry Thistle v Dundee North End
Dufftown v Johnstone Burgh
Dundee Downfield v Tayport

Gartcairn v Kilbirnie Ladeside
Glenafton Athletic v Thorniewood United or Banks o'Dee
Islavale v Rutherglen Glencairn
Kirkcaldy & Dysart v Darvel
Lesmahagow v St Rochs
Linlithgow Rose v Pollok
Lochee United v Hermes

Longside v Stoneywood
Maud or Kirriemuir v Largs
Petershill v Clydebank
Shettleston v Kello Rovers
Shotts Bon Accord v Hurlford United
Stonehaven v Bo'ness United or Ellon United
Thornton Hibs v Fauldhouse United
Troon v Kilsyth Rangers


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Disaster For Scotland - But, That's Nothing New

THERE HAS BEEN an interesting little thread developing on Facebook these past couple of days; the conversation starter posted by someone, who wondered how come the SRU could attract considerably more fans to BT Murrayfield for a meaningless World Cup warm-up game, than the SFA could persuade to traipse along to Hampden for crucial European Championship qualifiers.

Myself and my fellow Scottish sports philosopher – Aristotle Armstrong – Scottish Rugby Philosopher were discussing this very issue over a pleasant Merlot, in the staff common room last night (philosiphising over Scottish sport is a 24/7 commitment), and old Ari had a few salient points to make.

Now if the man he refers to as TCD, Scottish Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer Mark Dodson, had his way, old Armstrong would be exiled on an even-more barren and airless rock, floating in deep space than his fellow member of the Armstrong clan – yon American named Neil Armstrong – ever visited. Ari is no friend of what many folk in Scottish Rugby refer to as: The Ruling Junta inside EH12.

But, he believes, and I agree, the SFA could learn a thing or two about marketing the game from the guys at BT Murrayfield. Not least among these possible lessons would be a look at the SRU's #ASONE marketing, asserting everyone from the lowest fan to national captain Stuart McInally and national coach Gregor Townsend is singing from the same hymn sheet.

This may be true at Scotland level, but in the club game, Ari assures me, you will find rivalries and divisions as deep as those between the Old Firm and the likes of Auchinleck Talbot and Cumnock. After all, it is bred into we Scots, if you are not fighting with the English, you fight with the folk in the next village. However, one stand-out difference between the two codes of football is - in rugby, the main team is: Scotland. 

Sure we have big teams in Scotland - not as big as our football teams, but still, within the game, we have our giants. However, none of these clubs is ever thought of, by even their most-committed fans, as being more-important than the national side. Also, the SRU are not held ransom by the clubs when it comes to getting access to the players for big matches or tournaments.

No less than 24 of the 32 players who left for Japan on Monday morning are directly employed by the SRU. Twelve of them play for Edinburgh, the other 12 for Glasgow Warriors, so, the SRU, which owns both clubs, says where and when they play - they don’t have to negotiate with the clubs to have these players released for internationals.

That certainly helps cultivate the feeling, that the fans have a genuine stake in the national team and how it performs, a feeling expressed by the #ASONE motto.

Then, there is the SRU’s management model - which is based on a successful national team, selling-out BT Murrayfield, with the profits from this fed back into growing the game. Not everyone is happy, Ari tells me, but, when it comes to a tug of war between the governing body and the clubs, the governing body tends to come out on top.

The impression is, in rugby, all clubs are equal. Of course, as in football, this is not true - rugby also has its establishment clubs, just like football. However, the SRU| does not have two giant clubs, who dwarf everyone else. This season, they are introducing a new “performance league” - Super-6, with the idea of, within the next five years, “hot-housing” the best young Scottish talent, to better prepare them for top-flight rugby. Some of the oldest and most-distinguished clubs have not been able to satisfy the SRU” as to their ability to work within this new league, and have been omitted.

Imagine if the SFA decided: we are going to have a development league, for the best young players in Scotland, and one of the Old Firm clubs didn’t get in. Mind you, I doubt if either would deserve to. I recently did a spot on research on the Scotland Under-21 team, and discovered about three teams of Old Firm players who had more Scotland Under-21 caps than first team appearances for their club, and, as one former Scotland great, who strangely-enough had a wee spell as a Hampden blazer memorably remarked: “A Scotland Under-21 cap - you get one of those for knowing the ball is round.”

It also helps that the SRU puts on a better show than the SFA. The match-day experience at Murrayfield is far-superior to that at Hampden. The sight lines at the rugby ground are superior to the inadequately-re-modelled Hampden. You can even have a drink inside the stadium. Sure, ideally, we would have a purpose-built truly National Stadium, with terrific road and rail transport links, built on a green field site, somewhere central in Scotland - but, that will not happen in my life time. Even if we got Independence tomorrow, any incoming Scottish government would first have to sort-out the legacy of 300-years plus of Unionism and England being put first, before they got around to using some of Scotland’s wealth to build that stadium.

Maybe, by then the SFA would be fit for purpose, but, Ah hae ma doots on that.

It used to be said, when I was growing-up in the 1950s, after a “Disaster For Scotland,” such as the 7-0 doing from Uruguay, at the 1954 World Cup Finals, by the SFA insiders, as they were castigated in the sports pages of day: “Aye, the fans will forget all about this when we beat England.”

The trouble with that management plan was, we hadn’t beaten England since 1951 and we would not beat them again until 1962. Mind you, back then we had the odd diversionary run in Europe for our club sides - we haven’t had this for some years past this century.

The fact which, being Scottish, we are ill-disposed to face is - When it comes to football we are shite. And we have been shite for years.

The current campaign is our 14th qualifying attempt for the European Championships. We have qualified just twice in the previous 13 - a 15% qualifying rate.

Only TWICE in the previous 13 attempts, have we won more than 50% of our qualifying games, while on a further four qualifying efforts, we have broken even, by winning 50% of the games.

Over the 13 completed campaigns, we have actually only won 45.7% of the games. We do not have a God-given right to win European Championship qualifiers - we are simply not that good.

But, before we implement the necessary changes, we need our football leaders to lift their heads out of the sand, accept the realities of life and that we are poor at the game we all but invented. Only after this fact is faced can we move forward.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Ignore The Hype, Today's Old Firm Teams Are Not Very Good

DOWN HERE, in Hole In The Wall, East Ayrshire, I cannot in any honesty say we don't have many members of the Celtic Family in residence. Yes, we have one or two, but (to use Jimmy Reid's great phrase) - “Like a Protestant in Croy – they walk alone.”

So, as we chatted, while waiting in the local Chinese carry-out earlier this week, I realised, the chap with whom I was conversing was of the Celtic persuasion. We were discussing the fall-out from Sunday's opening seasonal meeting of the Scottish Irish Historical Society, at Ibrox.

This chap was vainly trying to persuade me that this current squad at Celtic part is: “A Great Team,” an opinion he had perhaps gleaned from his perusal of that august journal, known to all Scots fitba fans as: “The Hun.”

This, in my view merely demonstrates that my old mucker Roger Hannah and the Sun Sport team in Queen Street are proving old Abe Lincoln correct, and fooling some of the people all of the time. Because, my opinion, based on 60 years of watching Celtic is, this current lot are not very good.

Bertie Peacock - captained the first Celtic team I ever saw

The first Celtic team I ever saw in the flesh, was at Rugby Park, on Boxing Day, 1959. They lost 2-1 to Kilmarnock, and the Celtic line-up was: Frank Haffey; Dunky Mackay, Jim Kennedy, Billy McNeill, Bobby Evans, Bertie Peacock; Bertie Auld, Eric Smith, John Colrain, Neil Mochan and Alex Byrne. Nine of that team were, or would become full internationalists, the two “failures” which is perhaps unfair to both men, Colrain and Byrne, nevertheless went on to play between them over 150 first-team games for the club.

Now, I would suggest, out of that XI, two: Billy McNeill and Bertie Auld, not least as Lisbon Lions, would get into any Greatest-ever Celtic team, while a further two, Bobby Evans and Bertie Peacock, would get into the extended squad. Looking at the current squad, I don't see any of them being contenders in the short or medium term.

That 1959-60 Celtic squad finished Eighth in the First Division, behind Hearts, Kilmarnock, Rangers, Dundee, Motherwell, Clyde, Hibernian and Ayr United. Perhaps the highlight of their season was taking eventual winners Rangers to a Scottish Cup semi-final replay – where they lost 4-1. They even finished third, behind Raith Rovers and Airdrie, in their League Cup section.

There were no mass fan demonstrations that season; the Daily Record of the time didn't have a cracked club crest graphic ready to slot onto a page at a moment's notice; we didn't have talking heads (more akin to talking shite actually) radio programmes or phone-ins, and we didn't have social media.

Times and life were simpler, and that is maybe no bad thing. However, I reckon, if you could put that team out against the current lot – the 1959-60 one would win, because they were better players.

Now, I turn to the other lot, and here, not being a Rangers supporter, I will mention my dear-departed Auld Hun of my Faither. The Old Man died in 1986, so he never saw the nine-in-a-row days. His benchmark Rangers XI was: Jerry Dawson; George Young, Tiger Shaw, Davie Meiklejohn, Willie Woodburn, Jim Baxter; Willie Waddell, Willie Thornton, Jimmy Fleming, Bob McPhail and Alan Morton.

My own All-Time Rangers XI, of players I have seen in the flesh, is: Andy Goram; Sandy Jardine, Eric Caldow, Graeme Souness, Terry Butcher, Baxter; Brian Laudrup, Paul Gascoigne, Ally McCoist, Ralph Brand and Davie Wilson. Some might question including the home-grown talents of Brand and Wilson ahead of some later stars, but, for my money, that left-side of Caldow, Baxter, Brand and Wilson was as good a left-side unit as there has been in Scottish football.

Ralph Brand - out-scored both McCoist and Morelos

Incidentally, while McCoist is Rangers' leading goal-scorer, with 355 goals from his 581 appearances, Brand has a superior goals per game record; he scored for Rangers at the rate of 0.65 goals per game, against McCoist's 0.61 gpg. In comparison, Rangers' current top scorer, Alfredo Morelos' scoring rate is 0.57 goals per game.

Look at either of those all-time teams, then try to tell me any one of the current Rangers squad would get a game. The Old Man had this expression NRC – which stands for Not Rangers Class a measurement which refers to nearly all of the current squad.

I include in my opinion as to which players of the recent past might get into either of the all-time squads named, the current Manager and Assistant Manager; good players though they were, they wouldn't get near either team.

The stark fact is, if we ignore all the hype from the stenographers and churnalists employed in Scotland today, to write about fitba, Scottish football in 2019 isn't very good.

How I wish our administrators would grasp the nettle, bring in legislation, similar to that introduced by England's Rugby Football Union and insist, at the top level, each match-day squad has a minimum of 70% of the named players “Scotland-qualified.” Then the clubs would be forced to use Scottish players, and to up the ante in terms of coaching and technical ability.

Never forget, Scotland's three European trophy wins were all accomplished by all-Scottish Xis. Don't tell me these days are past and will never return, because I do not believe this.

More Scots and fewer mercenaries from elsewhere, and I believe our game would be in a better place.