Exuberance – Shock and Awe

24 May

There was a time not so long ago that no matter what accusation was placed at the Doors of Ibrox the Club would remain silent.  Silence is Golden as they say.  It may of been golden but it left the Rangers Loyal adrift.  The dark days of the now defunct ‘Rangers Tax Case’ internet domination with its made up facts and defamation being given free reign to say anything and go unchallenged are thankfully gone. 

The PR operation at Rangers has gone from a shy retiring librarian cowering in the corner in the basement of Ibrox to a Professional well run machine.  The Press Office is a joy to deal with.  The Public Relations Department outsourced to a PR Company have not only tackled the tricky issues but have released competent cohesive statements. 

In the last few days since the William Hill Scottish Cup Final the public face of Rangers have not only proudly represented the Club but have provided a voice that the Rangers Fans have been able to agree fully with.  A difficult balancing act but one skillfully managed by Rangers Football Club. 

A immediate After match statement delivered by James Traynor in Collaborative tones with hint of righteous anger juxtapose favourably with the Car Crash Conference given by Rod Petrie some time later. 

Where James was succinct to the point, Petrie was rambling and borderline offensive.  Petrie could of in fact should of taken a page out of the  Rangers book of 5 years ago and said nothing. 

Rangers said their piece and also said no further statement from the club would be forthwith until at least Monday.  Then quietly left to no doubt bandage up the wounds.  A key factor is that Saturday Night was silent from Ibrox not even a Player Tweet.  Rangers shut down and shut up.  Nothing required to be added, a all points shut down in the media. 

The events were discussed at length on Radio, Television and newspapers.  Thee vast majority of Journalists agreeing on events.  Certainly all the Journalists in attendance with the exception of One agreed.  One Man who was there no Lover of Rangers found excessive fault in a small section of Rangers Fans behaviour.  This man is shunned by colleagues within the Press Pack he cuts a isolated figure sitting alone and never engaged in long conversations with others as is the Norm.  I won’t name him as he is indeed a Victim of his own press and I for one do not like to Bully sad and lonely figures.

Some appeared on Radio being petty and illinformed using hastily cut away television pictures as their guide.  Again a untrustworthy source given a platform to spout his skewed views. 

The vitriolic biased view of these two and selected others.  The lack of common decency from Hibernian Football Club to enquire about the well being of fellow members of the Football Family.  The words of the Scottish PFA stand as a damning indictment of the simple task of checking on a Man’s health. 

The lack of a Statement from Scottish Government so vocal in previous Football issues lead Rangers to feel forced to issue an additional Statement.&nbspGone are the days when you could say what you want about Rangers and go without challenge. 

The SFA are in the midst of their biggest crisis since Jock Stein died.  As Hosts, Promoters and Up keepers of the laws. Stuart Regan and co can not charge, blame or blame themselves themselves for failure to Police or Steward a game appropriately as they will learn lessons no doubt about it.  In my opinion there was amply Stewards and Police in  attendance.  Let’s face it no one at 1455 looked about and thought there is not enough fluorescent  jackets.  If anything one though maybe too many. 

The lessons learned in this regard in my view is how can you get a quick reaction to events such as the ones following the final whistle.  The sight of professional Footballer being rescued from assault by their own Clubs staff and Match Officials while the majority of Police and  Stewards awaited orders or guarded the Tunnel was a disgrace. 

Rangers have consistently Praised the majority of Rangers fans for showing restraint.  Accepting the fact some who would claim Self Defence or Provocation shamed the Govan Club with their actions. They are no excuses no justification for any fan to invade the pitch.  No colours no over exuberance no lengthy period of joylessness.  Self defence only cuts so far. Falling victim to being provoked even extreme provocation still makes you wrong it won’t stand up as a defence in Court. 

The pictures show that substantially more Green was on the pitch than Blue.  It was clearly Hibs fans damaging Goal Posts.  For any student of history would direct you to Wembley 1977 for how fragile the Goal Frame actually is. So it was hardly surprising the frame lay in ruins as David Grey lifted the Trophy.

The ramifications and punishments shall drip into Public Domain.  It seems unlikely the Cup will be ripped from Easter Road. The calls for Hibernian to be stripped of Europa League Place more than likely to only gain volume with the beneficiary not going to Rangers but to League position.  This would mean St Johnstone would play in Europe. This would have to fixed quickly as Tommy Weight surely needs time to Plan. 

Prize money would indeed should be withheld for no other reason than the Branded pictures with Sponsors William Hill appearing in newspapers and television simply don’t exist.  Additional financial payments should be levied because of Damage to pitch this should be reflected in costs incurred.  Remember William Hill were deprived of several Money Shots, Rangers were robbed of public awarding of Runners Up medals, Match Officials were not rewarded publicly for their excellent handling of the game. They did not collect their Accolades in as the Trophy gleamed in the May Sun. The absolute minimum of what happens after a final was ruined, stolen in over exuberance. After being jostled, Assaulted and spat on its only natural for Referees and Rangers Staff alike to immediately think of getting Home safe. The Referees Report should be in Hampden now. Would love for it to be made Public too. You could as we have all done now redact the Match element and just concentrate on the Post Match incidents.

The most immediate lesson for all is don’t be like Rod Petrie SFA official as well as Hibernian Chairman make sure your breifed before opening your mouth. Don’t be like The Scottish Government and Govan MSP Nicola Sturgeon who as first Minister Tweeted her pleasure for Hibernians achievements. This is a Government who had high level Crisis Meetings following a Old Firm debacle bringing in new Laws, condemning a solo lunatic trying to attack Neil Lennon. All old firm fans want is equality, anything less is looked on as anti Old Firm and in law you can’t use laws specifically like that. In government you represent all people not just the ones you like. The Rangers and Celtic do not want special treatment they want equal treatment. Rangers specifically don’t want universal Love, the Club and its Fans know they are roundly hated but all Rangers Staff And fans deserve to have their Safety being a Priority and expect to be treated fairly.

The SFA immediate statement from Stuart Regan as good and well informed as was clearly possible to be hit a tone.  Maybe the crisis meeting agreed no further statements should be issued.  One would imagine SFA officials burned midnight oil and maybe wanted a Sunday of reflection and realisation, allowing the events to be filed in a order without the fog of shock and awe.

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Showpiece Shame

21 May

Like the Parade lap of a Grand Prix what should of been remembered was forgotten.
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A Club so long without a trophy won it.  A game that had been equally fought, well Refereed and narrowly won was cast aside. Gone was the Glory of the first Goal as was the Screamer from the Local Boy.  The Captain’s winning header washed away by the tears of the Young children hurried away from the Stadium moments after Full Time.

The fault lies solely and Completely in Leith.  The moment of Joy of victory soured by over three thousand of their own invading the pitch.  The late winner from Captain David Grey and more importantly his running into the Legions of Leith breaking the most important defensive boundary on a football pitch.  The invisible wall that keeps the Spectators in the Stands and the players safe on the pitch.  A crime he got Booked for by Referee and no doubt should be Questioned by Police Scotland.

It was a day of crossing the line for Hibernian.  After One Hundred and Fourteen Years Alan Stubbs Men finally reunited Easter Road with the Scottish Cup.  As the final whistle sounded the lines so clearly marked became blurred in the euphoria for the Hibees.  Let’s look calmly at the events.
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Thousands clad in the Colours of Hibernian streamed over a Wall, they then ran forty metres, vaulted advertising holdings and continued onto the playing surface.  Continued towards the half way line spitting and punching Rangers players.  Once they got to the Halfway line other Members of Ibrox Staff became Targets for Violence.

Let’s not pretend it was a joyous celebration or “Over Exuberance” this was Public Disorder. Let’s not forget in 1980 the last time Police Horses graced Hampden’s turf Football Stadia (Scotland) Act was hastening brought into law. In the year finally Football Fans were declared Innocent of wrongdoing and Contributing to Hillsbourgh. Edinburgh Hibernian gave the David Duckenfield’s of this world a reason to justify their belief that ALL football fans are Animals to be treated with contempt.

Contempt is exactly what Hibernians immediate reaction could be described as. For Alan Stubbs and Rod Petrie to claim to be unaware of the Alleged Assaults on Rangers Staff and seek to belittle the Criminal Actions of what looked the vast majority in Green and White as merely a couple of Gadgys having a laugh is beyond any form of explanation. The Rangers Statement (http://rangers.co.uk/news/headlines/rangers-statement-2/) was given a clear 30 mins before anyone from Hibernian spoke indeed Stuart Regan had given a Official SFA statement before Petrie spoke. In fact Stuart Regan was attending a Crisis Meeting with Police while the Hibs Chairman was speaking. Ignorance is not an excuse. Who was informing the Hibernian Chairman and Manager? Helen Keller! Petrie’s position in the Board of The SFA is untenable after his stunning post match comments. ( http://stv.tv/sport/football/1354888-see-hibs-chairman-rod-petrie-respond-to-cup-final-crowd-disorder/ )

Any assault by Hibernian Fans on any Rangers Staff will no doubt have to be treated as Sectarian Aggravated Assault by Police Scotland some even Racist.

Let’s face it on Saturday Morning Hibernian as a Club did not know how to Win the Scottish Cup, by the time the Dregs of Society left Hampden it was crystal clear NO ONE of a Hibs persuasion knew HOW TO CELEBRATE winning the William Hill Scottish Cup. Hibernian Football Club lost all Dignity and Credibility Hampden.

The simple truth is the Party stopped at the white lines of the pitch. If it was a party why did Hibs Hoards cross the halfway line. The trophy gets presented immediately above the Halfway line. Why if it’s EXUBERANCE where fans running goading the quickly emptying West Stand and the Western Half of The North and South Stands where Rangers fans sat. If you’re party mode involves spitting, punching and Kicking out at others then whatever party is being held in Easter Road tonight I do not think many members of Humanity want an invite.
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Stuart Regan was as damning as he could be. He could not issue punishments as that needs reflection and time to gather facts. I am sure the decision to present the oldest Trophy in Football to David Grey was only upon Police orders made on the hoof (possibly even on horseback on the damaged pitch) to avoid a further out break of Exuberance leading to full scale Riot. Hibernian should of been handed the Cup and medals in the Away Dressing Room with no ceremony. A as yet unnamed SFA official handed a box containing the Runners up medals to Rangers Young player Ryan Hardie who delivered the box to a Rangers dressing room that resembled a Accident and Emergency Triage station as several Players were assessed for injuries received from as yet unknown Violent Thugs from Edinburgh. It had been judged not Safe, let me just repeat that. IT HAD BEEN JUDGED NOT SAFE for Rangers Players and Staff to collect their Runners Up medals therefore surely it was not Safe for Edinburgh Hibernian to collect their Accolades in front of violent thugs dressed in Green and White.

The recriminations have just started but Punishment must be given to Hibernian. It seems obvious a few hours after this Showpiece Shame that the diluted slap in the wrists given to Motherwell after last year’s Over Exuberance in the Second Leg of the Play Off Final was not enough for Fans to think running the length of a Football Pitch to goad Rangers Fans into engaging in violence. It is important to remember Titles and Cups can be withheld at Grace of SFA. No Cup was awarded in 1909 due to a riot on the pitch. It’s not inconceivable that the longest No win streak in Football history could easily go the same way as Lance Armstrong seven Tour De France victories. Imagine the Over Exuberance of Hibs then. Just as several should expect a Knock on the door for their actions following the Match, Rod Petrie, Leanne Dempster, Alan Stubbs and Co should expect a knock on the Door of Easter Road asking for the Trophy and Medals to be Returned.

The options for Punishment from the SFA are limited given they were hosting the Game having clearly taken advice from Police. This game was Category C(IR), the highest possible Alert Category C with Increased Risk tagged on for good measure. That’s how seriously Police Scotland treated this Game. The Punishment options available to the SFA are incredibly limited. FINES did not create a culture of restraint following the near Riot at Fir Park Motherwell last year, so a monetary punishment alone has been proven to provide underwhelming results.

Hibs could be banned from defending their Trophy indeed banned from Scottish Cup for a number of years the precedent for this was set By UEFA banning ALL English Clubs from European Competitions and Liverpool Football Club for an addition couple of years. This would not negatively affect a Club that hadn’t won the Cup for over a century, indeed it would turn out to be a positive cutting out fixture congestion in a busy Championship Season. It is a with regret that I am minded to think the only punishment available to SFA that has any teeth is in fact Hampden withholding the Trophy with fines and even a tournament Ban. The only way to stub out the returning Spector of Football violence within Stadia is to hit the Club hard. The weakness of previous Punishments came back to haunt the Hampden hierarchy there could be no ambiguities Hibernians Crimes happened right in front of them on their own pitch at an event they staged. Even Arsene Wenger would of seen it!

Rangers fans and Staff are already feeling targeted, two Seasons in a row Rangers Fans have been subject to rival fans running the length of a football pitch to attempt to attack them. Don’t get this wrong Rangers fans and Staff do not demand to be universally loved and warmly welcomed to every ground in Scotland by every Club and its fans. Rangers fans do demand to expect to attend a Football game without having Morons charging at them demanding a “Square go”! Add in the basic Working Conditions of Rangers Players and Staff who would consider not being assaulted at work as the kind of request that should go unsaid by everyone of working age. Society has clear Zero tolerance rules in every workplace currently apart from Scottish football.

There have already been calls to the Club to Ban ALL AWAY fans from Ibrox next year. It’s not a bad call when you see Parents hearding their children out of a Stadium because of the return of the bad olde days then you know the book needs thrown at Hibs. The Family freindly image hard won in years since Football Casuals created the deadly cages of Hillsbourgh Hibernian Football Club have dragged Scottish Football back into the the Dark Ages.

The excuse of they are not Hibs fans fails when you check the receipts all the tickets sold to Thugs was sold via Hibernian Football Club. The question stands why did Hibernian with a average home attendance of TEN Thousand receive a ticket allocation of TWENTY ONE THOUSAND. Hibernian received and SOLD 210% of their normal home ticket sales. Inherent in condition of sale is taking the name of all who occupy a seat. So Hibernian should know who they sold the tickets too and if they want to distance themselves as a Club from the Thugs then it is a paper thing excuse.
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Congratulations Hibernian for ending a long history of Police Horses Free Hampden.

Rangers Looking Forward

6 Apr

It’s a massive summer in the One Hundred and forty three year history of Rangers Football Club.  The journey back to the top Division of Scottish Football has been a long and arduous one.  Casualties have been taken a Rangers Legend has had his Reputation Tarnished and the Club lost a Legend to the evils of Liver Cancer.  Let’s not forget the fortitude of Ally McCoist and Sandy Jardine, when Rangers had no voice these Legends stood up.  When others ran for the hills Ally and Sandy went the took the path least travelled and stood firm.  Only one other Man has faced a dilemma of finding a squad similar to Ally that day the Journey began, Founding Father Moses McNeil. Let no one disagree that history may not reflect Ally’s managerial record in a a good light but in terms of the building a squad only Ally and Moses faced the same challenge.

Bill Stewth, Greame Souness, Willie Waddel and Walter Smith all built successful squads but they all at least could field a team at any given time. These guys may well of picked teams with players they considered not up to standard but not one looked at a player rosta that could fit into a Hackney taxi and would be struggle to fulfill a Tennents Sixes game.

Mark Warburton faces a Summer of challenges and given his track record the Ibrox Loyal are confident that the Londoner has the smarts to make the right decisions and bring in fresh players to bolster the Clubs push to their fifty fifth title.

The return of the Old Firm in the Scottish Cup Semi Final on April 17 give everyone concerned a chance to review and compare the Glasgow Giants. No matter the result its a win-win situation for Warburton. A victory and he knows his squad can take on Celtic and win. He also finds out where he would like to strengthen. A loss and he can identify the weaknesses and set about eradicating them. Either way The Rangers Gaffer will make a list of signing targets and provide recent evidence to aid Dave King and Company to open up their purse string and spend.

Make no bones about it if Leicester can win the English Premiership this year then Rangers can win the Scottish Premiership next year. More likely season 2016-17 season for Rangers is a top three place and possibly a Cup victory. That fits on the curve better than instant gratification. No matter what the Fans expectations have been raised by Team W (Warburton and Weir) the wizardry of a Magic hat and his Apprentice has brought Pride back to Ibrox.

Everyone has their views on what Rangers Need for my two pence Rangers need a snarling hod carrier in midfield someone like John Brown or Terry Hurlock or Harold Davis. A trusted tackler who is a master of the 20 yard pass to the play makers. If this player can also put his laces through a shot from 30 yards all the better. There is for all the skill no shock and awe in the line up presently. No Patrick Viera or Roy Keene type no one to fear physically. The squads weakness arw there to see but there is no psychological fear factor. No moment of realisation for Opponents in the Tunnel.

I am personally not convinced of the defence Rangers. On paper its full of good players well capable of defending in practice it seems to lack solidity and cohesion. Too many silly. Goals have been lost in the backwaters of the Innodrill and Tony Macaroni Stadiums. For every daft goal lost in the Championship it would be two in the Premiership.

Attacking wise Rangers are in OK shape maybe cover for Miller and Waghorn. No one is sure when Kenny will lose it all but under Warburton he shuttles back in the formation for every yard of pace he loses, no one could not predict Miller playing in front of the back four this time next year. When Talisman Striker Waghorn got injured his Midas touch was missed. He will have to return to plastic pitches at possibly Hamilton, Kilmarnock and even Falkirk next year so the chances of similar injuries are there so the squad has to be deepened in strength.

Off the field the Big Tax Case rumbles on this time it’s the Supreme Court sitting in judgement the current aggregate of two to one in judgements makes this one too close to call. Although the last judgement (the only one to go against Rangers) was based on ‘Common Sense’! It seemed to immediately lose its validity on this clause. Common Sense is intangible you can’t measure it and it’s certainly not included in either civil law balance of probabilities tests or criminal law behind reasonable doubt. Common Sense has no value it is neither Black or White or a varied shade of Grey. Common Sense being mentioned in a judgement just opens the door for the judgement to be thrown out. Common Sense is not Common Law it is not any Law.

The Criminal Cases will for most Rangers Fans and the media be akin to the the OJ Simpson trial. The Wee Tax Case and associated allegations and criminal charges won’t just be big news it will be the only news front and back page. Scottish Elections and Euro Referendum will fall by the way. The day of the Judgements from Court come be they Government Spin Doctors will release memos saying good day to release bad news.

Rangers fans just want the machinations of Whyte, Green, Ashley and co gone. These guys time connected with the club is one of shame and accusations. The second you have a Rangers fan considering not buying club merchandise on grounds of the retailer and distributer not on style you have problems. It does not matter if they decide to buy or not the fact they stopped to consider is enough. Playing wise the Dave King’s Blue Knights have to support Mark Warburton and Commercially they have to sort out the mire of hidden paperwork. The excuse of blaming the previous board is as tired as David Cameron blaming Gordon Brown six years ago. Dave King has had a Year in the big blue chair surely enough time to audit the contracts and accounts.

Salvation of sorts could come from an unlikely source. If Newcastle United fall out the trap door of the English Premiership then Mike Ashley/MASH/Sports Direct will be faced with a choice sell a recently relegated majority shareholding English Championship Club that has just missed out on the the biggest Premiership Moneyfest of all time. Or sell a minority shareholding in a Recently Promoted Business. As Newcastle’s value decreases the Rangers value increases. The opportunity to profit on your investment is greater in Clydeside than it is in Tyneside. Ashley will be forced to sell something simply by incredible strict and clear Football League rules. He will also be forced to sell quickly or face points deductions and sanctions. Ask yourself what has more likelihood of a quick sale, 9% of a business that the majority of your fellow shareholders want to buy off you or a whole football club in the slide?

This summer could easily define the next five years and edit the previous decade. Petrofac Cup and William Hill Scottish Cup runs aside this summer is the biggest in living memory for Rangers Fans. Thirty years on from the Sounds Revolution the Summer of 2016 is the Warburton Revolution.

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Manager Report Cards March 2016

13 Mar

When you examine the season so far only really one thing stands out.  The performance of Managers.  With only a few stand out players and a couple of memorable games what you are left with is how well the Coaching staff have done. So in view of  this I have complied a Top Twenty Managers.
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Community Camouflage

16 Oct

I have a few strings to my bow.  I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I am proficient at most I would say modestly.

As you know I am a keen observer of life and events and recently I have became very concerned with the Public Persona of a Football Club.

It’s hard to describe as anything more than arrogance personally I put it in the venn diagram of where stupid meets arrogance meets conceit. 

Firstly cast your mind back to Aberdeen Versus Celtic at Pittodrie.  Aberdeen won two one the referee was Craig Thompson and he made a couple of possible errors.  In fairness Craig got 98% of the game correct and 2% open to debate.  Post match the gathering of press in the media room deep within the bowels of corner of the main stand and Richard Donald Stand waited for the usual one player and the Manager from both sides to provide reaction and the run of the mill cliches we all devour from football officials. 

The room bustled with Print and broadcast Press chattering and confirming facts.  For anyone who has been in this area it was the usual atmosphere.  There was a buzz of Aberdeen stretching a lead and setting a record as well as a few incidents discussed.  A door on the far side opened and the atmosphere changed in walked a player.  Seething full of anger and retribution the atmosphere changed very quickly.  In walked a moody, unrepentant Lee Griffiths he sat on his seat and began with little prompting to buy himself a SFA punishment. Fresh from being in Court over singing Offensive songs specifically about a fellow Professional Griffiths let rip.
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No mention of the Celtic strikers glaring failure to score a equaliser into a empty net in the final moments. No conceding that ten man Aberdeen actually showed more desire to defend and counter than the Hoops. Simply put it was a assassination of SFA Referee Craig Thompson’s professional standards. Now to be honest Thompson is not the beat whistler ever but he is even handed on his dealing with all teams. He is equally bad to all.
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On this occasion he (Craig Thompson) did not deserve the public roasting the Scotland striker gave him. And a glance at the Celtic PR led me to believe that Griffiths was speaking with full club approval. No shaking head no “Shhh”, No intervention, no shame! And I say shame because out of the fourteen players Ronny Delia used that day any of the other thirteen would of came in said nothing much and got out without any fuss. Celtic Public Relations put the worse possible Player into the couldron that day. Griffiths would of been better taking his seat on the Parks Of Hamilton Bus and quietly getting out of town. Surely the Celtic PR’s first job is to protect the image of both players and club even if it’s from self inflicted wounds. At best surely the job of Public Relations at Celtic Park is to prevent where possible any of the club’s players being punished (possibly suspended) for talking out of turn at Press Conferences. Strikes me that is priority number one of the PR Department at a football club. I know that at Aberdeen the players are well drilled by a excellent Media Department in the way to conduct a interview. I know that at other clubs this is a major part of the education of players and key in their development.

A couple of days later a Letter appears on the Daily Mirror concerning a Corrwspondamce sent out to a Celtic fans personal hygiene. Once again I will admit I seen a photo of this letter weeks before and assumed it was a PhotoShop joke. Now this photo emerges onto a deal at the daily mirror and a journalist decides to phone into the PR Dept at Celtic to ask if the latter is genuine. To be fair Celtic PR were totally honest and confirmed the letter was genuine.
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How no one on this department thought for a second hang on Headlines of Smelly Celtic Fans is not going to be a positive on the club’s image I do not know. They are a million ways to deflect the letter from simply refusing to comment on what is a private and confidential correspondance between Club and a Patron(s). This was not a sign screwed onto a wall within the confines of Celtic Park after all. If like doctors the hypocratic oath affects Public Relations Officers then first do no harm suddenly seems to be erased from Public Relations at Celtic Park.

You have to wonder who is protecting the image of the Club Gerald Ratner!
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The increasingly standard defence from Kerrydale Street is that is a conspiracy against the Club. Where from within!

Recently I had to engage in a email marathon with lots of football clubs. As I said I have many strings to my bow so sometimes there is a cross over. I was representing a Community Media outlet who were trying to gain some small non rights holder access to press areas at games etc. Of the many emails I sent put only one Club sent back a condescending denial.
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Yes the Club that was built on Community Values now does not allow Community programs a seat at it’s Table. I thought how Brother Walfrid must be spinning in his grave. How far removed has the great Club of Celtic became from it’s founding values. How arrogant how conceited and how divorced from the values of it’s fans.
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To put this into context the only club out of the top 20 in Scotland to flat refuse any interaction was Celtic even the much derided SPFL welcomed the request. Glasgow City Woman’s team, Braehead Clan, to name a few all agreed to simple no real time spent requests. Even the other half of the Old Firm Rangers a club apparently short staffed and in turmoil welcomed the interest and gave a positive response.

If there is a conspiracy to devalue Celtic then it’s became obvious in last few months that it’s coming from withing the ivory towers of Celtic Park.

Something Stinks at Celtic Park and it is not just elements of the customer base.

Regans Aldi Experiment

12 Oct

Scotland’s whimpering exit from the European Chamionships has and will lead to a significant amount of navel gazing and given that we are talking about the SFA its bound to lead to no action.

Let me state this Gordon Strachan, Mark McGee and Stuart McCall should be safe.  Everyone could have picked a different team included other Players and with perfect 20 20 hindsight won games collected points and qualified.  Personally I find it almost inconceivable that more Aberdeen Players were not included in the squad as I do a late inclusion of Ranger’s Lee Wallace.  Form over loyalty every time for me.
Loyalty seems to be the main problem with Scotland for me.  The Players it seems can only trust the Coaching Staff to do whats right by them not the Big Wigs and Blazers sitting up the front of the Plane with extra leg room.  Clubs and Players alike must wonder if indeed the Players have decent Insurance when on Scotland duty given the cost cutting travel arrangements.  How Club Managers must have been concerned and how Clubs must have sought assurances regards the Loan of their Club’s prized assets.  This is what Gordon Strachan had to fight against in addition to Playing against three proficient Nations all of whom threw Money at their National teams Players not like Scotland looked to cut corners.  The Republic Of Ireland especially given that they had still to spend their FIFA hush money  did not scrimp or save they did not even gamble they simple treated their Players in a similar way and to same standards as Manchester United or Chelsea .  Stuart Regan treated the Scotland National Team worse than a Highland League Team on a long distance Cup Tie.  So is it no wonder that the team performed so badly ?  Blame Pitch Invaders, Bad Refereeing or indeed Dodgy Playing Surfaces all you want but if a Skilled Highly Paid pampered Player suddenly realises he is being treated badly then National Pride is not enough to keep you motivated.  The Travelling Army of Fans might bleat about being Scottish, berate Players all you want but if there is a culture of cost cutting and you are the main victim of this then maybe you wont be as determined to spend next summer being hotelled at the whim of Stuart “Ebenezer Scrooge” Regan.

If Money is tight at the SFA then cut the fat in an intelligent way.  I am not for inhumane treatment but how about a Blazer Cull.  Kill off some of the nonsensical committees and Positions.  Regan Must simply go like Sir Stephen House he has been consistently shown to be a failure.  Neil Doncaster must follow this two are not the Morecambe and Wise of Scottish Football more the Barry and Paul Chuckle!  The Tartan Army screams at clubs week in week out “SACK THE BOARD” at their Clubs yet seem to accept “Glorious Failure” at National Level.  Here is a thought Georgia Away and Poland at Home are not Glorious Failures more “indignatious Defeats”   Willie Miller said that following the Six Nil victory against Gibraltar it felt like celebrating failure and that is exactly correct and why I suggest that Willie be approached to take over from the Destroyer of Yorkshire Cricket Regan and as an additional idea why not invite Gordon Smith to replace Doncaster.  Both have Business experience both have opinions that in truth are shared by most Scots and both  would do a better job than the two incumbents.  Also the main Professional Game Board [Chairman: Rod Petrie (Scottish FA)
Members: Alan McRae (Scottish FA), Stewart Regan (Scottish FA), Ralph Topping (SPFL), Peter Lawell (SPFL), Neil Doncaster (SPFL), Duncan Fraser (SPFL), Mike Mulraney (SPFL), Sandy Stables (SHFL) and Andrew Waddell (SLFL)] should be radically changed they sanctioned the cost cutting they approved the stragigy they should be forced out of Position and new more forward thinking Office Bearers should be installed.

As the only Home Nation not to progress a complete clear out of the National Association is the only way forward.  The reasons why I am not demanding Strachan and Co to go is simple Who do you get to replace them there simply is not Prince Of Wales waiting in the Wings.  Greame Souness is probably the only candidate.  Souness has not managed in anger for a number of years and given the Bad Blood between him and the SFA I would doubt he will ever be installed as Head Coach.  If Strachan and Team do not continue then who is there Is Stuart Baxter still doing the rounds?  He was the phantom candidate for every managerial position in the Nineties surely he could return to coach the National team.

It’s a mess on the whole who ever is the Head Coach then given an aging Squad I feel that some players should frame their shirts from Gibraltar because they wont get another one.  Allan Hutton, Scott Brown Shaun Maloney and other over thirties are they really going to be fit to carry the jersey in Russia 2018 let alone to take the Nation to the next Euros in 2020.  With some great Players with Scottish Accents plying their Trade in Scotland (low travel costs) then why has the Scotland Squad been filled by Mockney Cockney Scots from the ENGLISH CHAMPIONSHIP.  Kenny McLean, Barry McKay, Lee Wallace, Mark Renyolds, Greame Shinnie, James Forrest and James McArthur.  All younger and leaner and not jaded by the Scottish Costcutter Association.

As a flippant note it’s time we ditched the uninspiring unofficial Anthem of “Flower Of Scotland” and returned to the true National Anthem of “Scotland The Brave”.  Fair enough no one knows the words but history shows when we Scots stuck to the Official Anthem of history instead of the cod folk song cobbled together on the back of a beer mat the national team actually qualitfied for World Cups before we all became Mathematic Professors figuring out permuntations on how to qualify not road sweepers two games from the end of the Qualifying Leagues cleaning up the debries of a national shame.

Scotland used to look at Belgium as an example but unlike Netherlands Scotland are down and show no signs of getting up.  Weighed down by Bulky Blazers and self-interest abusing the Tartan Army and hurting the National Pride year in year out.  The Next SFA Chef must look to Asda not Aldi the nation might never be Waitrose or Marks and Spencers but the nation deserves better than the discount bulk buy its being force-fed.

Aberdeen Celtic Match Report

14 Sep

Aberdeen stormed two points clear at top of Premiership with a two one victory over Celtic.
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The early kick off saw both teams field attacking set ups. The first half was a battle of wills as much as skills as Celtic tried to bully and dominate a defiant Dons. The fans in the paddock may of sung stand free but the Reds on the pitch stood firm. Neither keeper was really troubled by anything other than goal kicks. Although Leigh Griffiths deflected free kick hitting the crossbar could of changed the face of the game had it deflected lower.  A penalty converted by Leigh Griffiths following a foul by Andy Considine on the Celtic number Nine.  Griffiths assertion that Considine should of been sent off as He (Griffiths) would of scored belies his own confidence but is also a tad disrespectful to Danny Ward who has saved Aberdeen more times than not this season. The Celtic strikers post match remarks will no doubt be subject to a review by the SFA compliance officers this week. 

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Halftime score flattered Celtic neither team deserved a lead at the interval. Some would say the game got bogged down in midfield but I personally loved the battles in the middle. The second half started in much the same manner although Derek McInnes halftime chat must of reminded his Dons they were playing in their house.  They looked more purposful in attack and probed into dangerous areas.

A massive Penalty shout for the Dandy Dons was turned away as Officials deemed the ball striking former Don Charlie Mulgrew’s arm accidental. This may of been playing on the officials mind Celtic’s Boyata clashed legs with Greame Shinnie in the area for a foul tackle that in all probability did not need to be made. Craig Thompson pointed to the spot to the delight of the hone support.  Adam Rooney equalised and eleven minutes in the game was all square. Both Penalties were correct if not soft and how the Mulgrew Handball was not given living by the standards set by the four SFA appointees is a point of debate. The bookings were strange and the red card that followed for Jonny Hayes was perplexing from my angle of looked nothing to report indeed twenty years ago it would of been a run of the mill tackle.   Personally speaking I think Craig Thompson will regret being hasty when he reviews the incident.  He may also want a second chance at his decision to not punish Aberdeen’s Kenny McLean for a impatient kick that caught ball and a prone Lustig in front of both dougouts and fourth official.

In spite of the red card Celtic then concietitly expected victory to just come without really exposing Aberdeens one man deficit. The lack of imagination and flare showed Celtic to be one paced and predictable. Scotland Skipper Scott Brown snarled and looked to inspire even though it looked more like a man trying to do everything. Aberdeen on the other hand boosted by a full house went even more attacking after the Red Card.  Urged on by Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty the Dons doggidly defended and probed the increasingly desperate hoops. The winning goal exposed Celtics defence everyone including Paul Quinn himself was surprised the looping cross fell right at him. Quinn took the chance beautifully leaving Scotland Goalie Craig Gordon rueing his decision not to come and claim. Celtic Captain Brown lost his man (Quinn) this just increased the thought that Brown was nothing more than a headless chicken.

Andy Considine redemed his penalty foul in first half by clearing almost off the line in the dying minutes as a stung Celtic chased a equaliser in vain. At times Celtic looked like they were chasing shadows of their own imagination. Even three minutes of torcurous additional time could not defy the Dons a historic start to the season.My man of match Ryan Jack the Aberdeen Skipper was inspirational in just keeping everyone on track while doing everything in his brief perfectly. Not a showy performance but one that shows Aberdeen are more real deal title contenders than the nearly there at Easter of last season.

Ronny Delia takes his Celtic team to Amsterdam on Thursday where Ajax await uncomfortable in the knowledge that if Aberdeen beat Hamilton on Tuesday by the next time the hoops kick a league ball in anger the Dons could be five points in front at the top of the league.  

It says more that at the final Whistle the Reds squad to a man went to the crowd and thanked them for their support while Celtic either slipped up the tunnel or surrounded Craig Thompson for reasons it is difficult to fathom.  The two thousand far travelled fans got no recognition from their heroes. As Aberdeen made history of six straight victories in the start of league campaign it became obvious that only one team could sing ‘here we go for ten in a row’ and it was not the team from Glasgow.  With the biggest scalp out of the way Aberdeen could easily set a 10 victory league start.  Where as Celtic with a diversion of Europa League could find themselves watching the league title leave Glasgow for first time in thirty years from the prime seat of second behind the Rampant Red Roar of Aberdeen.