Thursday, 29 March 2018

Walking football

It was my first game for Ayr United, Walking Football 2nd team. Tournament, East Ayrshire Walking Football. Venue Stewarton. 
The excitement is not in the selection, no it is donning an official Ayr United, The Honest Men's strip.
The draw saw us in a 4 team group, winner to play in the Final, no semi, winner takes all.
A warm up on a cold Ayrshire afternoon was a jog around the astro turf arena. 3 pitches, stretching across, bloody enormous. There had been a discussion on the 3 touch rule as the pitches were 'bloody enormous', however Walking fitba rules clearly state '3 touches'. So be it.
The Hearts from Edinburgh fielded 3 teams, they were and are serious players in Scottish Walking Fitba.
I stopped to watch one game. Serious, you bet. Shouting and swearing, of course. Jostling, you bet.
One guy demonstrates to the ref, ' You better do something about him ref '. Not a question but a plea. The ref turns away and the complainant gets a boot on his leg, mind you he doesn't bat an eyelid.
Our first game; we win 1-0 and I come on as a sub. five minutes later and I am attempting to replace my arm in it's socket, the pain not helped by the freezing wind. We win 1-0 and the next game is against a Hearts team.
They do indeed take it serious, one guy especially. At this point can I point out that the lower age limit is 60. This one particular guy is well over 60 and as a physical specimen he is less than fit, more beer belly than 6 pack belly. Moan and shout at the ref, he then  scores and politely accepts the applause of the 20,000 Jam Tarts he believes in his mind are watching from the terracing.
The Hearts win 1-0 deservedly, they do take Walking Fitba seriously and they eventually reach the final, we win the next game 2-0 but need the other Ayr United team to win 2-0 against the Hearts when they haven't even scored a single goal.
Anyway, it turns out the moaning Jam Tart is on an official last warning from no less a person than the saintly Anne Budge, Hearts owner who has had him in for a good telling off, in perso.
I was a reluctant conscript to Walking Fitba, now  I love it. Next tournament, bring on the Hearts.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Rangers part 2

There was a time when Rangers were world class, big time. A history that included trophies, cups, championships, a stadium with a truly great main stand, however.
There are blips in their past, a tradition that excluded a section of society, more than occasional fan violence and the eventual and sadly inevitable decline into bankruptcy. These things do happen to football clubs all over the world, that old lady of Italy Juventus was relegated due to dodgy irregularities.
So this week The Rangers face the rejection of one of their own, a cut that goes the deepest. According to today's Herald the anointed manager had gone as far as picking Saturday's team to face Ross County. McInnes, a Rangers fan had turned down the job of his childhood dreams at the 11th hour, perhaps into injury time.

The chance to join the greats. Bill Struth, Scott Symon, Waddell, Souness and Walter Smith was scorned, and The Rangers are furious, they issued a nonsensical press statement so petty that the best it produced was a brilliant Aberdeen fan banner and the embarrassment of their own fans.

Surely McInnes turned down the job because The Rangers took so long to make him the number one choice and because they are no longer the number one club in Scotland nor even the number two, and because they no longer have class.
The past few years have seen millions squandered, a queue has formed to asset strip both the club and the fans. A clueless football strategy, a set of directors with little or no football knowledge, nor class.

Aberdeen were a well run club and they themselves paid the price for a forlorn attempt to match the Old Firm in the 90's, a task so onerous they could not afford a new toaster. They are again a model of financial propriety and as it stands guilty of a rickety old stadium and no proper training facilities, yet a club that is a more attractive proposition than The Rangers.

Where does it leave McInnes? Sunderland were quite rightly declined, there will come another approach, probably from England. There will a financial gain and whichever club comes a calling they will make a speedy and genuine offer and Derek will be gone, with the best wishes of most fans.


Thursday, 7 December 2017


With a proud tradition of supplying Scottish football internationals, managers, the venue for games the recent history has been shambolic at best. The decline and bankruptcy of the club should have led to the development of a modern Scottish Rangers, building from scratch, developing youngsters both local and from afar. Proper coaching, a Rangers style, a modern style.
Thus instead of a Scottish 'Ajax' a mini 'Barca' we, both Rangers and Scotland fans have had a new era of asset stripping, easy money to be made or grabbed, from the fans.
And to top it all the non pursuit of a manager or managers leaving ridicule and for many hilarious laughter.
Who next? What next? Where next?
I would contact Kris Boyd as he seems to know, or does he? If I were him I would stick to playing for Kilmarnock, a current player has no business being a media pundit as he either compromises himself or other fellow professionals. Shame on him.
Anyway, as a Scotland fan I desperately await a decent new Scotland player from Ibrox, there have been countless, from George Young to John Grieg to Alan Morton to David Meikeljohn.
Here's hoping.


Monday, 4 December 2017

He put the English out (out out out)

There is a regular T-Shirt designed and sold by a Tartan Army with Scotland's Player of the Year, a list of scorers who just happen to have put the English out , (out out out). Add in a few of England's penalty misses and the score is settled.
Edward Hammer of the Scots will be turning in his grave at the mention of the 1970 West Germany World Cup Quarter Final 3-2 victory courtesy of Franz Beckenbauer, Uwe Seeler and Gerd Muller. Special mention should be made of goalie Peter Bonetti and the substitution of Bobby Charlton by Sir Alf Ramsey.
The USA 1950 World Cup victory perchance?
Chris Waddle 1990 World Cup semi-final penalty miss?
Gareth Southgate Euro '96 semi-final penalty miss , another Scottish hero, and of course there are more, and there will be many more unfortunates.
To top it all, the ultimate hero , the world's greatest fitba drug taker, step forward Diego Maradona, he of the hand of god. 'He put the English out, out,out,out'.
What do they all have in common? The English exit was long after we were sent home to think again.
Spare me the feeling of shadenfreude, the gleefull expectation that our neighbours will lose next year in a tournament that we have not qualified for, have not visited for 19 years and, worse of all the realisation that we the Tartan Army are not missed'
' No Scotland, we still can have a party', the world sings.
Let's concentrate on finding a set of players that will qualify and a manager, from any part of the world that can lead us to the finals.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A new start

A wee trip to Pittodrie next week and a friendly against the once mighty Netherlands, a former world great against a 19 year old failure. Can't wait.
The vision of an Archie Gemmell 1978 wonder goal is so remote and irrelevant as would a replay of the Euro 88 Dutch victory. We can't live on past memories nor can the men in Oranje. Where to now?
If I had a pound for every time I was asked where has it gone wrong the I would have £8 in my pocket and that is just from yesterday. Who should be the new manager? Sir Alex Ferguson of course, however in the likely event of him being quite busy just now and unavailable the question is ' Who will be the new manager of Scotland?' All applicants should be aquainted with Albert Camus' book on eternal failure, or was that written by The Tartan Army?
Qualities, the ability to make the best of not bad players. Patience and impatience, oh and must be a masochist. Tactical genius and in training sessions endless routnes of late goals followed by the booting the ball out the park. The ability to grab failure from glory.
Netherlands at Pittodrie, the start of something new or more of the same? We will be wearing a new strip, better than the last one? Yes of course that was terrible.
One thing please, let Malky Mackay enjoy his one game as Manager and on Friday he can return to his day job, the really important one.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

It is with sadness that Westa announces the sad passing this morning of Janet Hopkins, original member of both Westa & The Partick International.
In her 88 years she was a mainstay of Partick Thistle & Scotland, indeed her mother washed the strips for the Jags. Bill Shankly was a house guest during the second world war. Alan Rough and the Alan Hansen family were friends. When Thistle won the League Cup beating Celtic 4-1 in 1971 she was at Firhill to meet the bus returning with the trophy only to discover nobody had the key to get into the stadium.
Janet & her late husband Sam were ever present on the busses run by Jim Brown and the late and great Tommy Madden, 3 world cups and 2 Euro Championships, younger Westa members eat you hearts out, in fact Sam & Janet's honeymoon was the 1967 Wembley 3-2 win when we very temporarily were World Champs.
For those members proud of their 10 points she was at every home international in Glasgow,London, Belfast & Cardiff from 1947 onwards, no Ryan Air or Easy Jet then. She witnessed Wembley heartache in the 1955 -7-2 defeat and even worse the 9-3 humiliation courtesy of Frank Haffey. Mind you there would be the joy of the 1962 2-0 win over the Auld Enemy at Hampden after 25 years of home defeats.
She was a member of the short lived breakaway Summerston Young Farmers Supporters Club formed to travel by bus to the Dublin 1987 Euro Qualifers where chairman Jim Brown insisted they dress up as farmers to beat the travel ban on the Irish ferry.
Janet & Sam were the winners of the Westa 2003 Trip of the Year Award for their good humour both their and back on the bus to Amsterdam for the Euro Qualifiers play-off 6-0 debacle.
She was a star guest in the audience for Tam Cowan's TV show where she took at least 10 goes at introducing the next guest.
I include a picture of Janet at the world famous Westa Burns Supper where she loyally said the Selkirk Grace.
It is always sad when we lose one of the Westa family as we have occasionally do, each a legend, each a Scotland fan.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Scotland Women's Fitba

You know it's a Scotland trip when at the airport a Scotland top is spotted, a pint of beer is nearby.
You know it's a Scotland game abroad when there is a march to the game.

You know it's Scotland in a major final when as plucky underdogs we unfortunatley read and follow the script and suffer a defeat in the first game.

However the Scotland top in the airport was one of 2, the other being my own. No kilts or tartan in sight but plenty of voices discussing the football . 

Well you non believers, it was not only fun it was brilliant. It was the Euros and a game against England, The Auld Enemy, what could go wrong?

The day itself was fitba in the truest sense. A mixture of fans, Scotland's as always more evident. There was a meeting of old tartan army friends, always a pleasure. Chatting to the proud parents of the players was a joy. Goalie, Shannon Lynn's mother and father flew in from Toronto, more family joining from far and wide. John and Gill Beattie still there although injured Jennie Beattie, Scotland star is at home and distraught at missing the finals. Caroline Weir's mum and dad so proud and a squad of Vailla Barsley's family all with the name on the back of their Scotland shirts. Wee Erin Cuthbert of Chelsea, her mum in the airport so excited before the match.

Was this the tartan army? Surely not as I spotted as many cappuccinos as biers. A fans zone littered with kids playing keepie up with no crates of biers littering the square.

You know it's a Scotland game when that excitement and nervousness pervades the day.

On leaving our hotel on route to the game we joined the end of the march to the game. Over 100 fans, Maw, Paw, Granma & Grampa on their way to the Stadium in the lovely and cultural city of Utrecht. Weans, dozens of them , all with flags and pink tops. Waving and whisling to the locals along the canals on the way to the game. A game in a major final. Haud on, just the Women's Finals. 
You know it's a Scotland game when the march back to the city centre is one of silent grief at another defeat. 

You know it's Scotland, we lost, 6-0 by the way. I was only dissapointed the next morning, I will not patronise the team as plucky losers, I have seen it all before. I will only forgive them if they win the next 2 games and qualify for the next round. 

Scotland Women's Team make us proud, even more proud.