Socrates MacSporran

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

Monday, 22 October 2018

Once Again, Old Firm Bias Keeps Some Good People Out Of The Scottish Football Hall of Fame

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.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Another Doing From Diddies - Disaster For Scotland

WHERE does losing to Israel leave Scottish football? I mean, everyone from Andy Roxburgh and Craig Brown has been telling us for over 30-years: “There are no easy games in international football any more,” but, we still go into extreme David Francey mode: “Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear! Disaster for Scotland,” when we lose to the team ranked 94th in the world.

Maybe some day we will believe Craig Brown's dictum - there are no easy games in international football

Let's be a bit more realistic here. The FIFA world rankings are a bit of a lottery. I far prefer to look at the FIFA confederation rankings. OK, Scotland are ranked 34th inthe World, but, we are ranked 25th in Europe. Israel are ranked 94th in the World, but are 42nd in the UEFA rankings. Put that into Scottish domestic terms: Scotland (25) are the international equivalent of East Fife, Israel (42) equate to Albion Rovers.

Now, try to tell me, the wee Rovers will not fancy their chances of beating the Fifers at Cliftonhill. In any case, we don't exactly have a great record in away matches with nations we view as “diddy teams.”

I think perhaps, the problem Scotland had last night – even allowing for it having been a bad night at the office – is this: our press corps don't like Alex McLeish. I don't think this will worry the Big Man over much. I mean, he's in a long line of managers the press corps has not liked:

  • They didn't like Andy Roxburgh, but, he got us to finals, so, they tolerated him, until he fell-out with Richard Gough; whereupon the Lap Top Loyal turned on him

  • They didn't like Berti Vogts, because he was German and struggling

  • They didn't like George Burley

  • They didn't like Craig Levein

  • They didn't like Gordon Strachan

So, who have they liked? Craig Brown – ex-Rangers; Walter Smith – ex-Rangers manager; Alex McLeish (first time round) – ex-Rangers manager. I think you can see a pattern emerging.

There are two jobs within UK football which nobody with an ounce of sense should consider taking: the first is Manager of England, the second is Manager of Scotland. These are poisoned chalices, where expectations cannot be realised given the flawed system of self-interested clubs dominating the game.

Until we change the system, we will always struggle. Look at how well our Women's team are doing, mainly because, they work within a system whereby – the national team comes first, and the clubs are quite happy to play second fiddle to that national team.

I can never see the day when this will apply to our Men's team. Particularly while our football media is so deeply in thrall to the whims of the Lap Top Loyal and the Celtic Minded cliques within the Scottish Football Writers Association, and the clubs themselves work to the well-tried Ayrshire Juniors system of sending the village idiot as their representative to the SFA.

This rant is over; but, that said, you would think, at 71, I would be a bit sanguine about Scotland losing to a “diddy” team – I've had more than enough experience of this.



SO, GAZZA will not be joining the ranks of the Great and the Good inside the SFA's Hall of Fame. As I have said, no qualms about his footballing ability, and he certainly lit-up the game here during his short spell with Rangers. But, really, now is not the time, as someone repeatedly said.

You might, however, think, an organisation whose constituent parts – and the Scottish Football Hall of Fame is part of the SFA – keep fucking-up as spectacularly as the guys on the Hampden sixth floor corridor do, might have become a bit self-aware by now, and started cutting out the embarrassing bloopers. We live in hope.


I FEEL I should contact my old mucker Tam Shields this week, to check if he still has one of his legendary “Nae Luck” prizes, which he used to give-out when he ran the wonderful Herald Diary. No use asking Ken Smith, the current care-taker, since his budget has been cut to zero, but, Tam might have one hanging about.

Tam Shields - hopefully he's got a prize left for

In which case, I would send it to Darren Henderson and the boys at Blair Park, home of Hurlford United. Not that long ago, United celebrated if they won a corner; then they got sponsorship from a local fan who had done well in business, Darren arrived as boss and Hurlford took off.

Today, they proudly sit atop the McBookie.com West Region Premiership, the top league in Junior Football. They have won ten straight league games this season and have an 11 point advantage over second-top Clydebank.

Hurlford manager Darren Henderson

Tomorrow, Kilmarnock are idle because of the international weekend, and United were due to host Auchinleck Talbot, in a reprise of June's Junior Cup Final. Now, that game would surely have attracted a big crowd, except, it has been postponed, since Talbot will be playing Lesmahagow in the inaugural West Region Sectional League Cup Final, at Newlandsfield, on Sunday.

So, no bumper crowd for Hurlford – nae luck.

But, what of that clash of the Tabot and the 'Gow? Well, it kicks-off at 1.30pm, so, here's a suggestion to all genuine football fans, particularly the members of the Tartan Army. Why not get to Glasgow early, take-in the Talbot v 'Gow game, then make the short trip to Hampden for the Portugal game?

Mind you, perhaps not – I reckon the Newlandsfield match will be the better game, and Scotland might not compare too-well with the junior fare. In any case, with no CR7 to boo, where's then fun in going to watch the Portuguese?

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Player Welfare And International Appearances - Rugby Does It So-Much Better Than Football

HAVING played both games, albeit to a fairly low level, I well know the difference between Association Football and Rugby Union Football. Rugby is the harder game, both physically and mentally; however, against that, the skill level required to be an absolute stand-out is definitely higher in football.

There are obvious differences – handling against kicking the most-marked – but there are similarities too. Rugby calls for a greater degree of specialisation: but in both the same team ethos and group qualities are called for.
Leigh Griffiths - has opted-out of Scotland duty

This week's wee storm in a demi-taste coffee cup – over wee Leigh Griffiths' decision to opt-out of Scotland duty to get fit, brought firmly into focus, one aspect of team management, where rugby is leaving football miles behind: player rotation and care.

Even though the greater physical demands of rugby are a given, rugby players, certainly in Scotland, get better looked-after by their clubs than in football. Again, in international terms, the fact those rugby players who are in and around the full Scotland team are full-time employees of the SRU does make a difference.

However: let's look at the different approach of Celtic and Rangers, our European representatives in football, to that of Edinburgh and Glasgow, our two rugby teams who play in Europe.

Last Thursday, Celtic and Rangers both played Europa League matches against Austrian opponents. In their last SPFL games prior to these, Celtic played Aberdeen, at Celtic Park, fielding the following team: Gordon; Hendry, Boyata, Lustig, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham, Edouard, McGregor, Forrest; Griffiths – with Sinclair, Morgan and Rogic coming off the bench.

In Saltzburg in the midweek, Mulumbu came in for the injured Brown, while Ryan Christie was used off the bench instead of Rogic. These were the only changes.

Rangers travelled to Livingston on the Sunday, when they fielded: McGregor; Tavernier, Worrall, Goldson, Barisic; Ejavia, Coulibaly, Arfield; Candeias, Morelos, Lafferty; with Kent and Middleton coming off the bench.

Back at Ibrox for the midweek European match, Flanagan replaced Barisic and Kent came in for Lafferty, while Halliday came off the bench.

So, for Europe Celtic made two changes and Rangers three.

At the weekend, Edinburgh and Glasgow played their last normal league games before their European campaigns began. Against the Cheetahs, Edinburgh fielded: Sutherland, McInally and Nel; Toolis and Gilchrist; Bradbury, Watson and Vata; Pyrgos and Hickey, van der Merwe, Socini, Johnstone, Graham; Kinghorn. Their bench, all of whom got on, was: Ford, McCallum, Berghan, Ritchie, Hamilton, Kennedy, van der Walt, Dean.

Glasgow, against Zebre, fielded: Kebble, Turner, Nicol; Davidson, Gray, Ashe, Fusaro, M Fagerson; G Horne, Hastings, Hughes, Dunbar, H Jones, L Jones; Jackson. Their bench was: Allan, Stewart, Rae, Peterson, Smith, Tamielau; P Horne, Matawalu.
Allan Dell - the British Lion was rested from last weekend's Edinburgh game

Edinburgh rested Scottish internationalists Allan Dell, Matt Scott and Dougie Fife, all of whom seem certain to come back into the match-day squad for this weekend's European trip to Montpellier.

Glasgow left out Scottish internationalists Fraser Brown, co-captain Ryan Wilson, Ali Price, Tommy Seymour, Rob Harley and Nick Grigg, plus New Zealand-born co-captain Callum Gibbons and Canadian internationalist DTH van der Merwe, all of whom will be back for their clash with Saracens, at Scotstoun on Sunday. They will also have their new signing Petrus du Plessis in their 23-man match-day squad, filling the crucial specialist position of tight-head prop.

Adam Nicol made his first start at tight-head against the Italians, because normal first-choice Zander Fagerson and last season's number two in the position, Tongan Siua Halanukonuka are both injured. SRU protocols meant D'Arcy Rae, who had become first-choice in the position, had to be rested, but, he was on the park after 51 minutes. Rae will almost-certainly be du Plessis' back-up on Sunday. In the second-row, Glaswegian Andy Davidson, on-loan to Glasgow from Newcastle, made his first start, because Glasgow have three locks – Scotland cap Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings and Brian Alain'uese (who has now been transferred to Toulon) injured.

Last season, Glasgow used 54 players in match-day squads over their 30-match club season. But, only 23 of these players were in the squad for 15 or more games. Ruaridh Jackson was in the most match-day squads, 23, 21 starts and two appearances off the bench.
Ruaridh Jackson - Glasgow's busiest player last season, playing in 23 of 30 games

A couple of paragraphs above, I mentioned SRU rest protocols. This is a governing body-backed rule, which means, if a player starts five successive matches, he must stand down for the sixth, in an effort to avoid burn-out. Such a rule would not, I am sure, go down well in football – even if the SFA had the power to impose it. It helps that, in rugby, the SRU is the players' ultimate employer.

Another thing which rugby does differently is, everything else does not stop for internationals. This admittedly is a somewhat recent development in the round-ball game. But, it strikes me as a daft one.

Scotland are playing in Haifa tomorrow night, then at Hampden on Sunday. Why does this prevent a full SPFL programme on Saturday? Only 11 SPFL players are involved in the national squad for the two internationals: Craig Gordon, Jack Hendry, Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Calum McGregor of Celtic, Allan McGregor of Rangers, Graham Shinnie and Scott McKenna of Aberdeen, Steven Naismith and John Souttar of Hearts and Stephen O'Donnell of Kilmarnock.
 Stephen O'Donnell - Killie's sole internaitonalist, but, no game this weekend for his club

If Glasgow Warriors can play a league match minus six fit Scotland caps, plus two non-Scottish first-choices, why cannot Celtic play a league match without five internationalists, or Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Hearts or Rangers without one Scotland cap?

Not playing makes no sense. Time and again, the SFA are told by the fans: “We would prefer football at 3pm on a Saturday.”

The 12 SPFL clubs in the Premiership list on their official websites, 308 “first team” players. Celtic list 33 “first-team” players, St Johnstone list 20, these are the largest and smallest squads. As I wrote above, just 11 SPFL players are on Scotland duty this week – that is just under 4% of the listed “first-team” players.

Celtic, with five players – 15% of their squad are the worst-hit club, Aberdeen are minus two players from a 27-man squad: 7%; Hearts are also minus two players, from their 25-man squad: 8%; Kilmarnock are minus one player from their 21-man squad: 5% and Rangers are minus one man from their 25-man squad: 4%.

Calling-off an entire league programme, when so-few players are absent on national duty – is that really helping the game, providing the fans with football and meeting the SFA's stated mission, to promote the game?

Just a couple of final thoughts from rugby:

  • In 2015, during the Rugby World Cup, Glasgow Warriors had no less than 21 players on international duty, with Scotland, Canada, Fiji, Tonga and the USA – they continued to play PRO12 league games during this period
  • If Celtic, Scotland and the player himself, really want to get Leigh Griffiths fit – maybe Brendan Rodgers should send him along to train with Glasgow Warriors for a week. Excuse him the contact work, but, let him do the rest, and I bet he will come back the fittest player at the club – or be dead.


Friday, 5 October 2018

Inducting Gazza - For Me It's A Scam To Sell Tickets

CYNIC that I am, I reckon tickets for next month's Scottish Football Hall of Fame induction dinner must be slow to sell. That's the only explanation I can come up with for two “leaks” of information as to who will be getting inducted this year.

 Paul Gascoigne - inducted before some more-worthy Scots


I have no complaints as regards Julie Fleeting getting in – this is a thoroughly-deserved honour for a wonderful footballer, and a nice lassie into the bargain. I have no qualms about Paul Gascoigne being inducted as well – on footballing grounds.

Yes, Gazza probably, more than most, merits that old put-down about players wearing their IQ on their back, and yes, he has had his many and varied off-field problems. However, I firmly believe, Gazza is more to be pitied than scorned, I believe the only place he has ever been truly happy is on the park, playing, and, certainly, if we were gong to induct incomers such as Terry Butcher, Brian Laudrup and Henrik Larssen, then why not Gazza?

Of course, as soon as his inauguration was announced, the ranks of the unco guid rose-up in condemnation. Ach! They've been holding Scotland back since Rabbie Burns was a ploughman and part-time poet, what's new?

I do have a complaint, however, with some of the omissions. For instance, since the HoF was inaugurated in 2004, I have been saying Bob Gardner should be in there. Who he? I hear you ask. Well he is number one in the, to date, 1183-name long list of men who have played in a full international for Scotland. There is a direct line from Gardner, goalkeeper in the world's first international football match, and Hearts' John Souttar, the latest player to join the list.

 Robert Gardner - Scotland's first captain

But, there's more. When that inaugural international was arranged, back in 1872, Gardner was secretary of Queen's Park; he was the Scottish end of the correspondence with the Football Association's Charles W Allcock which got the game played, and, he captained the side. For Scotland cap #1 to still not be in the HoF, 14 years after it was started, is a disgrace.

Fourth-fifths of Hibs' Famous Five, arguably the best club forward line in the history of Scottish football: Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly and Eddie Turnbull are in, the fifth member, Willie Ormond isn't. Yet Ormond who was awarded the OBE for his services to football, was a successful Scotland team manager, leading the side to an unbeaten run and ninth place – our highest finish, at the 1974 World Cup.

Less-successful Scotland bosses are in the HoF, what grievous sin has Ormond committed.

Willie Ormond - why has he been overlooked?

I have long been arguing: football is a team game, you win as a team, you lose as one. “The Lisbon Lions,” the Celtic team which won the European Cup in 1967 are all in there, both collectively as the Lions, and individually. But, while the likes of Hughie Gallacher and Alan Morton are in as individuals, the bulk of the Scotland team known as the Wembley Wizards, the side which crushed England 5-1 back in 1928, and against which every subsequent Scotland team is measured, are not in.

Amazingly, Alex Jackson, who scored a hat-trick that day is not in.

As I said, the Lisbon Lions are in, and, while the likes of Leighton, Miller, McLeish and Strachan from the Aberdeen team which won the Cup-Winner's Cup in Gothenburg in 1983 are in there – would they have won it without Rougvie, Cooper, Black, Weir and Hewitt and the rest.

In fact, that Aberdeen team went on to beat Hamburg, the European Cup winners, to lift the European Super Cup, surely there should be a full-team induction there. The same argument could and should be made for the Rangers team which won the Cup-Winners Cup. If Barcelona Bears such as Greig, Jardine and Johnstone are in – why not the rest?

Wullie Shankly is in – but not his brother Bob, who was also an excellent manager, not least than when guiding Dundee to the European Cup semi-final in 1963. Speaking of Dundee, Billy Steel and Alan Gilzean are in, as is Bill Brown, but, what of Doug Cowie, or Alex Hamilton, Ian Ure or Bobby Cox?

Junior football is a major part of the game here. But, while we now have two women inducted, with Julie Fleeting joining Rose Reilly, where is the place for the legend that is Willie Knox – arguably Scotland's “winningest” (to use an Americanism) manager when with Auchinleck Talbot? What about some recognition for the great Cambuslang Rangers team of the late 1960s and early 1970s?

The great Willie Knox - when will be be recognised?

It is an uncomfortable fact of life, one largely ignored, but, the “Golden Age” of Scottish football was not during the 20th century, but in the 19th, when we really were the best team in the world.

Aye, inducting Charles Campbell, RS McColl, Bobby Walker and Andrew Watson paid lip service to those great pre-WWI days, but, no recognition for Dr John Smith, James Kelly of Renton and Celtic, or Tom Vallance of Rangers' “Gallant Pioneers,” or Dr John Smith, or Alec Raisbeck or Charlie Thomson – or any one of many great Queen's Park players.

Scant recognition there is in the part the Vale of Leven played in developing Scottish football, and when I remember, where is the name of Sir George Graham, the man who ran Scottish football for three decades and more as secretary of the SFA?

Jack Mowat supervises the pre-match pleasantries before Real Madrid v Eintracht in 1960

Tiny Wharton is the sole referee inducted – where are the names of Jack Mowat, or Peter Craigmyle? Archie McPherson is in, but not Arthur Montford. Hughie McIlvanney, but not Dan Archer, or Alex Cameron.

I appreciate, who gets in is a committee decision, and I also accept, reluctantly, it's the induction committee's decision which counts. But, I do feel, some of the guys doing the choosing, even if they are Celtic supporters with lap tops, don't know their football history.

Because I can think of a lot of players and managers who ought to be in there before some who already are. However, that's football opinion for you.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Leap From Junior To Senior Isn't That Great

LAST SEASON saw a major stooshie in the junior game, with a whole raft of East Region sides, including such giants as Bo'ness United, Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, Hill o' Beath Hawthorn, Linlithgow Rose and Newtongrange Star jumping ship to the East of Scotland League, which reformed to integrate the newcomers.

I appreciate, league campaigns are marathons, rather than sprints, but, a look at the latest tables shows the former junior sides are setting the pace at the top of the three League Conferences.

And, with Kelty Hearts, the team which ignited the departures from the junior game to the non-league senior, chasing Spartans at the top of the Lowland League, reality is at last biting in Scottish football – the juniors are on the rise.

There not being a West-Central Scotland equivalent of the East of Scotland League – the South of Scotland League is barely on-par with the lowest West Regional junior league, we are unlikely to see the likes of Talbot, Glenafton, Pollok or Beith taking the leap into “senior” football any time soon. Indeed, Henry Dumigan, the esteemed Talbot secretary has specifically ruled-out such a move for the Real Madrid of the junior game.

Mind you, should Talbot account for Cove Rangers in their upcoming Scottish Cup tie, Cove's own Alan Macrae, the President of the SFA, will have food for thought. And I would not rule out the chances of Tucker Sloan's Beechwood Battlers doing for Cove.

Of course, in the real world, where results trump hypothesis, Talbot and the other West teams are still adapting to their own new set-up, where the former Central and Ayrshire Leagues have been integrated into a new all-region four divisions.

Hurlford United are setting the pace in the Premier Division, but Talbot, like the league leaders, are unbeaten, while having three games-in-hand.

THE second round of the Macron Scottish Junior Cup was played on Saturday. Can I say here, well done to SFA Supremo Tom Johnston, who has finally bowed to my approaches and listed the games in alphabetical order.

There were the usual number of mis-matches: Hurlford stuck ten goals on Dufftown, without response, while Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, Largs Thistle and Pollok each scored nine goals. Rutherglen Glencairn scored eight, while Harthill Royal and Thornton Hibs each hit seven goals.

Talbot, needless to say, went through to round three, after beating Forfar West End 4-2 at Beechwood, while in perhaps the tie of the round, The Buffs – Kilwinning Rangers, beat 2016 winners Beith 3-1.

My first team – Lugar Boswell Thistle, is, unfortunately – out, beaten 5-3 at Royal Albert, but, my home village team: Glenafton Athletic, is still involved, after winning 2-1 at Cumbernauld.


LAST week, the Celtic family lost an honoured member, with the death, following a lengthy battle against Dementia, of Jim Brogan. Jim was the epitome of that rare and honoured breed: “the fan on the park.”

Jim Brogan - a fan on the park

Every club benefits from such players, but, in Scottish football history, the Old Firm has probably benefited more than most. A majority of The Lisbon Lions were fans living the dream, Brogan was such a player in the 1970 European Cup Final. Roy Aitken, Paul McStay, Tommy Burns – such players were common-place last century. But, since the millennium, as Celtic has broadened the club's recruitment area, such players have become fewer.

Sure, “incomers” such as Henrik Larssen, Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths have “bought-in” to the notion, but of today's squad, perhaps only Kieran Tierney comes into the category: “A Fan on the Park.” While, the Boss, Brendan Rogers is “A Fan in the Dug Out.”

Across the city, perhaps only Allan McGregor and Kyle Lafferty fit the label. But, while Steven Gerrard isn't “A Real Rangers Man,” he does know what it takes to be top dogs in a two-team city, and that includes a fan on the park.

But, I digress, while Jim Brogan was: “A Fan on the Park,” he was also a very good defender. He was one of the last of those players who endured a lengthy apprenticeship in the reserves, before making his mark in the first team – another type of player we have lost with today's demand for instant results. Not every player steps-up ready-made, some have to be moulded by a club, and that can take time.

By the way, while writing a Jim Brogan obituary, I discovered something, he is the answer to a tricky pub sports quiz question. That question is: Who succeeded Billy McNeill as Celtic Captain?

The unlikely answer is Brogan, who was handed the captaincy for his final Celtic game, in the Glasgow Cup Final – a week after McNeill's retirement following the 1975 Scottish Cup Final.


I QUITE like the look of the squad big Alex McLeish has named for the Europa Nations League clash with Israel and the following friendly against Portugal. He is, to my mind, trying to get a “club” ethos around the national side, refusing to try experiments and sticking to guys he has worked with before.

I feat Jordan Archer might be the latest recruit to the lengthy list of Scottish “one-cap wonders”, having lost his place as third goalkeeper behind Allan McGregor and Craig Gordon to Sunderland's Jon McLaughlin.

I still feel, however, if he could get a regular run in the Celtic team, Scott Bain could be the next undisputed Number One. However, to do that, he has to get past Craig Gordon, which is no easy task.


FINALLY, what a pleasure to see Julie Fleeting about to be inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, joining fellow Ayrshire lassie Rose Reilly in the esteemed gathering of the great and good.

Julie Fleeting - a Hall of Fame inductee

What Scotland would have given for a male striker able to match Julie's international record – 116 goals in 121 internationals. That works out as 0.96 goals per game. That's better than our best post-war strikers – Denis Law and Lawrie Reilly.

Ah kent her faither, and all I can say is: Julie's mother must have been a fantastic player!!

I stole that line from Craig Brown by the way. Father Jim was not a bad defender, and an even better coach and SFA administrator.