Thursday, 23 March 2017

The price of failure

A 1-1 draw against Canada not however against the run of play. £15.00 & a decent seat in Easter Road, I initially thought not a bad for a meaningless friendly, however I was to buy the ticket, thought at first I was going to get paid for watching Scotland. I had prepared an invoice and if necessary had a purchase order prepared.
However, talk of a boycott against Gordon Strachan, really? Am I right that a Scotland fan boycotting a Scotland  game is really somebody just not bothering to turn up? A legitimate act of defiance or a part-time fan who is more interested in the party when abroad? Just asking.
Dissapointment, poor play, hopeless, these  are  not  modern phenomenon. We may just  not be winning at a lower level, our passionate indifference, it may be terminal.
If I had a £1 for every time I was asked what has gone wrong with Scottish football I would have £23, not bad for a days lack of an answer.
Contrary to the radio report this morning there was no mass booing of Scotland at the end of 90 minutes of boredom, worse there was the rustle of despair.
Where do we go now? Will a victory on Sunday, kick off 7.45pm by the way, will this victory rescue our campaign? Unlikely & probably irrelevant as we are likley to stagger, huff puff and wander into the England game where we will face an enormous gulf in class as well as height.
The Under 17s have qualified for the finals & there is at last a wee peek at a positive future. I for one do not hold my breath. Shame on me.
My social media is full of clips of the good old days, I am more guilty than any at searching the past for heroes with hobnailed Hotspur boots, but even I weary at clips of Faddy in Paris.
I herbey declare that all clips of Archie in Argentina be banned herewith. Baxter & Law ripping England be banished from our screens.
We as fans must face up to our player's inadequacies, demand more from our clubs, coaches & poor poor players. Football is more than success, more than the money & talent dripping from England's leagues, there should however be a glimmer of  hope.
I am a Scotland fan, I have no hope. if anybody finds my  hope let me know.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Westa in Edinburgh

Top seed, surely not? Westa's first ever home trip was to Edinburgh for the Euro Qualifier 10th October 1998 and we were top seed in a group that included The Czech Republic, 1996 Euro Champions.
Westa had successfully negotiated their first foreign trip to Lithuania and a 0-0 draw with the only casualties being member's livers. A month later we were to meet in an Edinburgh brewery adjacent to Tynecastle with the prospect of an easy home win against Estonia.
The Ayr branch of Westa took an early train and were soon mixing with the Tartan Army in the capital. Following the France World Cup there was the emergence of the various organised TA group’s and this gathering was a chance to mingle with fellow foot soldiers and share stories and drinks.
I have a memory of a pal not going to the game as he had been left in charge of a dog in a pub, Shambles perhaps, must ask him one day.
The game itself was a stramash, emotion and more. 1-0 down at half-time sub Billy Dodds equalized and then trailing 2-1 with 15 minutes to go the group’s prospects were, and not for the first time looking glum. An own goal and a late Dodd’s goal had Tynecastle rocking. 3-2.
‘Gets the ball and scores a goal, Billy Billy  Dodds’ was the refrain, he was to be for a period a Scotland goal scorer , nearly of note.  The next game was The Faroes at Pittodrie.
Westa Members headed to the poshest hotel in town, The Roxburghe at Charlotte Square. Owned by Sir David Murray there was a rumour that he had personally invited us. I am not convinced as I would have kept the ticket and if he did he did not stand his round. A raucous night was had by all, kilts aplenty and we were graced by the presence of Marjory Nimmo, honourary patron in chief of the TA.
She was doing her royal tour, acquainted with all we paid our respects, there was however a crisis when her bag was nicked. A near riot ensued and the subsequent whip round raised enough money to send her on an all expense trip around the globe.
Missing the Westa bus the Ayr branch were on John Grigor’s bus arriving at 2 or 3am to the St Andrew’s pub where we were welcomed to a lock-in for a deaf club. One brief drink and a taxi home.
My wife was accurate in her explanation; prior to my introduction to Westa I drove to Hampden for home games arriving back barely 2 hours after the final whistle.
That all changed thereafter, home games became an adventure and like a Scotland game, a stramash.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Westa Player of The Year

Tales of The West of Scotland Tartan Army. POTY

During the darkest hours of Bertie’s reign we were faced, not once but twice with the classic dilemma. As a democratic body the choice of Player of The Year was devoid, not of a winner but nominations.
The list of past winners included Christian Dailly and Don Hutchison. Christian was nominated and chosen because, well because he was, and is Christian Dailly. Don Hutchison, scorer of the winner at Wembley, a cracker against Germany and a truly all round good guy. We somehow got the trophy to Christian at West Ham and The Don courtesy of Westa member Andrew Gibson who hand delivered it to a presumably bemused Don at  Leeds Utd training ground.
The following year BBC TV were, I kid you not, filming the Westa Player of The Year award ceremony. The nation awaited our announcement, however we had no nominations, none. The various defeats and humiliations Scotland had suffered left us bereft of hope never mind a hero.
Our best score of the season had been a fortuitous 2-2 draw with Spain in Valencia with an 80th minute floodlight failure ensuring a draw & a wet lap of honour for the Tartan Army
Lights, camera & action. The Chair stood and addressed the members and a million viewers. No name was inscribed on the trophy, no actual winner was chosen.  We assured the BBC the winner was a closely guarded secret. The hapless, most say hopeless Chair stood and announced; ‘The winner is………………………………………’
 ‘The Spanish electrician’ shouted a Westa Wag. Problem solved, the winner however to this day awaits the prized trophy.
A year later & we were facing the same dilemma, or were we? The Women’s team were becoming an attraction for some of us, and the committee chose a Woman. The choice was narrowed down to the one that worked in Greaves Sports, we could nip down & invite her personally.
Scottish Football’s most prestigious night, our Player of The Year. The wonderful Vera Pauw, Team Manager & our chosen player attended as honoured guests, Mhairi who to be honest looked bemused as well as honoured. They were roundly cheered and as Mhairi left the Iron Horse she looked even more bemused.
I humbly suggest that following the success of Scotland’s Women’s Team they be honoured as Scottish Fitba’s team of the Year. They are off to the Euro’s in Holland & so am I.


Monday, 1 August 2016

1966 and all that

Just imagine if we won the world cup, jings Scotland beat England a year later 3-2 and we live eternally on a such a futile victory.
I am slightly dissapointed on behalf of my English chums that there has been no street parties, an achievement so magnificent a national holiday should have been granted. The remaining players, plus Jimmy Greaves honoured in David Cameron's last honours list, an act of sheer gratitude on behalf of the nation of England.
A Scottish peek at the few documentaries this past week would have revealed a bunch of relatively ordinary lads who conquered the world, with the added advantage of playing at home and at Wembley Stadium to boot. England deserved to win, the 3rd goal may have been not quite over the line, however the Germans have punished England ever since and seemingly a major part of their masterplan was to include penalty taking compulsory in Schools ever since. Alan Ball it turns out was a great guy, Bobby Moore a likely lad. As for Sir Bobby Charlton hero the world over, Scotland included.
I was 8 in 1966 and like most of Scotland at the time supported England. This changed a year later when we won 3-2, played keepie-up and to this day honoured and remembered as our greatest victory over any world champions. The game was in fact a Euro qualifier, we drew later with Wales, lost to Northern Ireland and went out with a creditable 1-1 draw in the return 1968 England game.
We complain that our English friends go on too much about 1966, why shouldn't they?


Monday, 25 July 2016

A bright future

I feel that at 58 I have the right  through 50 years of watching Scotland to fell depressed. Downright depressed. Non qualification since 1998 and our clubs success in Europe is judged when 2 teams reach August, 2 teams defeated, one in Denmark and one at home to Malta. Jings, defeats in Luxemburg & Gibraltar just rubs salt in our Brexit wounds.
Brian McClair leaves a post that he seems to be ill-suited to, Performance Director......we are suffering from an overdose of Lack of Performance.
The world cup qualifiers are around the corner and the team we fear is Malta. The fans are booked for Wembley, Slovenia and Lithuania, I fear we may not need to get some rubles.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

20 years ago

Jings time flies in when you have not qualified, 18 years since we were not very good in france & even worse 20 years since we missed that penalty courtesy of David Seaman's elbow, or was it Uri Geller's spoon bending spell that made the ball move off the spot? A wee shift in the time space universe that put Gary off. I was front row when he took it and 2 minutes later was in the Wembley loo listening to England fans celebrating Gazza's wonder goal. I saw the ball move!
A week earlier we held the Dutch to a goaless draw at Villa Park with the Scotland fans in the Holt End physically blowing the ball away from Andy Goram.
Days later we were one up on the hapless Swiss, oor pals 100 miles south were skooshing Holland 4-0. We were through, assistant manager Alex Miller was sent to the touchline to calm the players. We were through until oor nemesis said David Seaman was nutmegged & we were out.
Looking back there were few kilts & we were flying 'We hate Jimmy Hill' flags replacing the 'Remember Bannockburn' of former Wembley weekend trips. What must the locals have thought of us?
My brother marched up Wembley Way avec kilt, carrying a tray of grass up the steps handing the returning turf to it's owner. The Commisionaire at the main door was perplexed, he either had a short memory & or was obviously not one of the estimated 300 England fans in Wembley June 4th 1977.
20 long years since we again did not reach the 2nd round. 18 years since we last flopped in the finals.
When will we see our likes again?


Tuesday, 31 March 2015


A six one victory & yet. The first Scotland hat-trick since Colin Stein in 1969 & yet we have not had a player score 4 in one game since Colin Stein in 1969, more than that he scored 4 in a row.
Ludicrous ticket pricing saw a poor paying crowd supplemented by an East & West Stand freebie youth section, no bad thing as the experience of a good Scotland win may entice others to join the cause.
I for one however struggled to raise a cheer for home goals as it was only Gibraltar we were playing, mind you they brought a sizeable support that fully deserved their goal & to be honest I clapped the equaliser in their honour. One day Steven Fletcher will score a hat-trick of back heelers, he certainly has had enough practice.
The group is as we expected developing into one of death, we have been here before, see any of our qualifying groups in the major championships. Ireland insist on scoring in injury time and although we beat them 1-0 they, or we on their behalf still hit the crossbar well into the 90th minute at Celtic Park.
We march on to Dublin in what has become for Ireland a must win game & to be honest for us a must not lose match.
Poland are leading & deservedly so, we will have to beat them at Hampden & what an atmosphere that game will provide.
So 2 massive home games lay in wait & as usual new will have to get a result against the World Champs, no change there then. A tricky, awkward trip to Georgia awaits, the type of game we have lost in the past, can't afford it again this time.
Can we do it? Of course we can.
Can't wait.