Old Back of the Net articles here

Europe, Mike Watson, Sunday Mail, Marvin Andrews, Advocaat, Fixture Chaos and a bit more Broadfoot





Bear with me a moment for I’m going to talk about politics. No, don’t run away. Come back here now. It won’t 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 Mike Watson.

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 Parliament’s 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 Watson’s 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 game’s new popularity but a genuine supporter. You don’t follow Dundee United, as he does, if you’re 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, Watson’s 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 don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of company I would want to keep.


Livingston’s 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 can’t claim to speak for Marvin’s deity, but we are getting heartily sick of the big defender’s so-called faith.

Before Livvy’s 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 it’s just us but his attitude hardly seems particularly pious. We would have thought that if his God exists (and the jury’s 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 Advocaat’s 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 world’s finest to Ibrox.

I don’t 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 O’Neill.

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.

Advocaat’s 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 really was.

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



Celtic’s 8-1 demolition of Lithuanian minnows Suduva rightly takes pride of place this week. It’s 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 let’s 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. It’s 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 they’ll 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 next round.

Anything else will be a bonus.

Mail Disorder

Spot the difference

"They don’t 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 Division.

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, we’re right. We can only assume that the Mail have missed Kyle’s extra-time appearance at Hillsborough in the League Cup in September 2001.

But then again, they’re only a national newspaper. They can’t be expected to check their facts as thoroughly as we do on this website.

scottishleague.net. Ahead of the press...and more accurate.


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? We’d love to know but you’d have a better chance of getting in touch with Elvis than with the SPL. They don’t have an e-mail address on their official website, directing enquiries to Alex Barr of the Big Partnership.

But don’t bother trying there either. Not only would it again be easier to speak to Elvis, you’d 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.


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 Kilmarnock’s Park Suite and which Aberdeen officials could be seen scoffing there.

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 himself.

Finally, and most importantly, who gives a toss? Once again Bunter has proven himself as the master of the inconsequential. One of these days he’ll really surprise us and write a report about the football.



Back to homepage Click here to download sample pdf files BLUE-WEB INTERNET DESIGN