Bear with me a moment for Im going to talk
about politics. No, dont run away. Come back here
now. It wont take long and it IS important.
Thanks. This week has seen a concerted campaign by opposition
parties in Scotland aimed at the removal of Sports Minister
Now it seems to me, as an outside observer, that Watson was stuck
between a rock and a hard place. Not to attend a local meeting
meeting with MSPs from the other parties in attendance and he
would have been accused of not caring about his constituents.
Attend, as he did, and he stands charged of not fully supporting
the Executive of which he is a member.
Such has been the furore that Watson must feel like one of the
foxes he has done so much to protect.
Let me add at this point that despite a common political background,
I have, to the best of my knowledge, only ever been in the same
room as Mike Watson once. I have never met or spoken to the man.
I also understand fully just why Watson is such a tempting target
for the opposition parties. In a week when the SNP have
ditched their long-standing commitment to using the Scottish Parliaments
tax-raising powers, they need to focus attention away from internal
anger at their leader John Swinney.
And the Scottish Tories would be delighted to claim Watsons
scalp. As the man responsible for the bill banning fox-hunting
in Scotland, his political demise would be met with great rejoicing
on the grouse moors and country estates.
But what these parties have failed to do is to demonstrate
how removing Watson would be in the interests of Scottish sport.
For a start Watson would simply be replaced by another Labour
MSP and I can say with sincerity that whoever took over could
not possibly be better qualified to do the job.
For Mike Watson is not a professional politician.
He is neither a technocrat nor a careerist. He is not Sports Minister
because it represents a rung on the ladder but because it is a
job he wants to do.
Watson is also a football fan. Not one of the fakes who have tried
to latch on to the games new popularity but a genuine supporter.
You dont follow Dundee United, as he does, if youre
just using the game as a career move.
Several years ago Mike Watson wrote the history of Dundee United.
Having done the same for Kilmarnock, I can vouch for the fact
that such books are not the gateway to fame or to fortune but
are the product of devotion such as only the true fan can understand.
As a supporter of the Tannadice outfit, Watsons impartiality
credentials are absolutely impeccable where the Old Firm are concerned.
He is beholden to neither of them.
In the entire ranks of the 129-strong Scottish Parliament, there
is only one member with a greater knowledge and experience of
the game than Mike Watson. And Henry McLeish has already
been shown the red card.
Is this really what the opposition parties want? When the Euro
2008 bid is in great jeopardy, what signal does it send to
UEFA if Watson loses his post? How does it benefit Scottish
football if it loses its most powerful and eloquent voice at the
highest level of government?
When they can adequately answer these questions, the opposition
should pursue their aim. Until then, they may want to consider
that the only people in Scotland with real cause to celebrate
Watson's downfall would be the foxhunters.
I dont know about you, but thats not the kind of
company I would want to keep.
Livingstons Marvin Andrews is a religious
man. We know this because he mentions his faith in God
at every available opportunity. Here, on this agnostic website,
we cant claim to speak for Marvins deity, but we are
getting heartily sick of the big defenders so-called faith.
Before Livvys UEFA Cup game against Sturm Graz,
Andrews was sounding off again about how he was praying to God
for a good result in the tie.
Maybe its just us but his attitude hardly seems particularly
pious. We would have thought that if his God exists (and the
jurys been out on that one for a long time), then He/She
would surely spend a bit more time listening to the prayers
of the faithful asking Him/Her to do something about hunger,
poverty, disease, oppression, cruelty etc than on helping
out during a football match.
Time, we think, for Marvin to stop relying on the supernatural
for results and try a bit of self-belief instead.
The announcement that Dick Advocaat will
be severing all ties with Rangers in a few weeks time will
have surprised absolutely no one except those members of the Rangers
Supporters Club (Blinkered Loyal) who earn their corn
in the media.
Nine months ago we were all expected to follow the party line
which said that Advocaats appointment as Director
of Football was a revolutionary step which gave the
Dutchman time and scope to roam all over the globe scouting for
Rangers. It was even suggested that he had only taken on the
job of Dutch manager so that he could lure the worlds finest
I dont know if any of the hacks who wrote such bilge actually
believed any of it but it was clear to all but the most rabid
Sons of William that Advocaat had been kicked upstairs as a consequence
of his abject failure to come to terms with a Celtic resurgent
under Martin ONeill.
Advocaat spent more money than any other Rangers manager and a
lot of it was wasted. It was Advocaat who demanded the wholesale
removal of Scots from Rangers starting eleven which has helped
to drag our game down to the pitiful level we are at today.
Advocaats arrogance and bullying will not be missed. The
so-called Little General was nothing more than
an overbearing sergeant-major. Still, he has managed to get by
on an estimated twenty grand a week since last December. Not bad
for a part-timer.
Interesting to note that when Advocaat goes, there will be no
replacement. That says it all about just how important his role
Still, bad news for all the chocolate fireguards hoping to
take over from him!
For the Scottish Cup 1873-1939 click here
For the Scottish Cup Post-1945 click here
For the League Cup from 1946 click here
Celtics 8-1 demolition of Lithuanian
minnows Suduva rightly takes pride of place this week. Its
been a long time since a Scottish side recorded such an emphatic
victory. And for Henrik Larsson it was a personal triumph.
The Swede had faced criticism recently but responded with a hat-trick
to bring him level with Ally McCoist on 21 European
goals - the record for Scots-based players.
But lets not get carried away. The last time Celtic competed
in Europe beyond Christmas Bobby Lennox was in the side!
There will be tougher challenges to overcome but Celts will enjoy
being seeded again in the next round.
They may well be our only survivors. Aberdeen also performed
well in drawing 0-0 at home with Hertha Berlin. The
Germans will still be favourites to go through but the Dons at least
go into the second leg with a chance.
In their three UEFA ties to date, Aberdeen have yet to concede a
goal. That defence will be tested in Berlin. Its a surprising
fact but a fact nonetheless that Aberdeen haven't lost in six away
ties in Europe since Torino beat them 3-2 in 1993-94.
Rangers performance in Prague, where they lost 2-0
to Viktoria Zizkov, was truly abysmal. It's going too far
to claim - as some did - that it was their worst ever. There have
been too many rotten Rangers results away in the past for that claim
to be true. But it was certainly the worst since a 3-0 hammering
in Gothenburg five years ago.
The Gers can still qualify but theyll need to be on top
form in the return.
Rangers were rank rotten in Prague
Poor Livingston were taught a lesson in
Austria. Just 1-0 down at half-time, they collapsed early in
the second half, conceding four goals in fifteen minutes. But just
when all seemed lost, Livvy scored twice late on to give them a
glimmer of hope in the return.
At 5-2 behind Livingston might look doomed but the same result
as Rangers need - 3-0 - would take them through. At least
all our teams go into the second leg with a chance of qualification
but realistically only Celtic appear likely be in the draw for the
Anything else will be a bonus.
Spot the difference
"They dont see a player who has scored
only two goals in competitive football - back in November and December
2000 during a loan spell at Darlington. One was against non-league
Sudbury in the FA Cup, the other against Mansfield in the Third
Kyle has started just twelve games in his career, only one of these
was for Sunderland and he was taken off after an hour. He has made
an additional 19 appearances as a substitute."
scottishleague.net on Kevin Kyle. September 12th 2002
In his career he has started 12 games and has come on as
a sub in 18.... his goals tally is a grand total of TWO. ...against
mighty Mansfield in Division Three and in the FA Cup against.....Sudbury
Gordon Waddell, Sunday Mail. September 15th 2002.
As the tabloids love to say, you read it here first.
By the way, concerning that discrepancy over the number of substitute
appearances, were right. We can only assume that the Mail
have missed Kyles extra-time appearance at Hillsborough
in the League Cup in September 2001.
But then again, theyre only a national newspaper. They
cant be expected to check their facts as thoroughly as we
do on this website.
scottishleague.net. Ahead of the press...and more accurate.
IN A FIX
The stupidity involved in compiling the SPL fixture
list is truly amazing. Take Kilmarnock for example. Killie
went nearly four weeks without a home game, then they had
two Rugby Park games within four days. Now they
will have just one home match in their next five fixtures.
After that they face a midweek trip to Aberdeen in December
and must travel to Dunfermline on Boxing Day followed by
Tannadice for the New Year midweek match.
This kind of scheduling does no favours to any club. Crowds this
season are dropping badly enough. It seems the SPL are intent
on driving them down still further with this crazy calendar.
What does Roger Mitchell have to say about it? Wed
love to know but youd have a better chance of getting in touch
with Elvis than with the SPL. They dont have
an e-mail address on their official website, directing enquiries
to Alex Barr of the
But dont bother trying there either. Not only would it again
be easier to speak to Elvis, youd get better odds on
the dead singer turning up at your local karaoke evening with Lord
Lucan and Osama Bin Laden on backing vocals than you
would on getting a reply from Mr Barr.
Still, the SPL does offer copies of its press and publicity policy
on their website. Which is nice. It would be nicer still if they
made the link active and you could actually download a copy.
WHO ATE ALL THE
One of the bonuses of the extended sports coverage
which newspaper supplements brought to us in the 1990s was longer
match reports. Instead of a brief summary with the times and names
of goalscorers and a quote from the managers, we could sit back
and enjoy proper reporting.
The Scotsman, for instance, devoted 1,000 words to
the recent Kilmarnock v Aberdeen game. But even though he
was restricted to 750 words for rival broadsheet The Herald,
it is still asking too much of our favourite hack, Darryl Bunter
Broadfoot, to use his allotment to actually write about football.
Bunter spent the first 150 words of his report
telling us what was on the pre-match menu in Kilmarnocks
Park Suite and which Aberdeen officials could be seen scoffing
There are three points to make here. Firstly, while Bunter may think
it odd that the Dons officials were busy filling their faces, most
of us would think that they were entitled to a bite to eat after
at least four hours on the road and a journey of over 170
miles. Secondly, if he knew which officials were eating what,
it suggests that Bunter must have been indulging in a bout of prawn-munching
Finally, and most importantly, who gives a toss? Once again Bunter
has proven himself as the master of the inconsequential. One of
these days hell really surprise us and write a report about