Category Archives: Scottish Cup

From Podcast to Promised Land? Could Open Goal Replicate Its Studio Success on the Pitch and Progress through Scotland’s Footballing Pyramid?

“Scottish football has never been in short supply of intrigue or unpredictability. Counter to claims south of the border, the game in Scotland is alive and well and arguably far more blockbuster than its English cousin. Many outsiders harness their views on Scottish football exclusively through the exploits of its two famous Glasgow clubs, who have indeed historically cast a dominant shadow over the country. True, the almost soap-style drama of Celtic and Rangers’ ferocious rivalry certainly contributes heavily to Scotland’s footballing dynamic and, by extension, embeds itself into the very fabric of native society. However, those invested in the narrative of the Scottish game would swiftly point to a myriad of other tasty plotlines. …”
Football Paradise

Celtic thrash Rangers in Old Firm game to extend lead at the top

“The most galling thing for Rangers is a five-point and 17-goal advantage held over them by Celtic in the Scottish Premiership does not look at all inappropriate. Ange Postecoglou’s team mauled their city rivals in the season’s first Old Firm game. No wonder, then, that the Australian offered a post-match battle cry in respect of Tuesday’s Champions League visit of Real Madrid to Glasgow. ‘Let’s go down swinging’ said Postecoglou. Celtic, so high on confidence, will not alter approach against illustrious opposition.  …”
Guardian

Nine-man Rangers pay for red cards as late Hibs leveller ends 100% start

“Josh Campbell scored a stunning stoppage-time equaliser as Hibernian denied nine-man Rangers victory in a dramatic Premiership showdown at Easter Road. The visitors looked on course to maintain a perfect start to their league campaign as they led 2-1 through goals from James Tavernier and Tom Lawrence. But red cards for both John Lundstram and substitute Alfredo Morelos left Rangers up against it in the closing 15 minutes and Hibs’ pressure eventually paid off at the death as they secured a 2-2 draw. …”
Guardian
BBC: Hibs 2 – 2 Rangers

Rating the best and worst of Europe’s 2022-23 kits: From stunners to zany stripes

“We’ve rated the Premier League home kits. We’ve rated the Premier League away kits. So now it’s time to go Euro. It’s a big ask to review the design choices of an entire continent, but The Athletic has broad shoulders and is very happy to take on the job. Someone has to — you may think that this is not something that is absolutely vital for the smooth continuation of public discourse, but unfortunately, we’ve checked, and actually, it is. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Scottish Premiership 2021-22 Stats


“The 2021-22 Scottish Premiership season has come to an end. Rangers were the defending champions after stopping rivals Celtic winning a record tenth title in a row the previous year. However Celtic claimed the league trophy back after a 1–1 draw with Dundee United in May. It was still a successful season for Rangers however, with The Gers reaching the Europa League final and winning the Scottish Cup. At the wrong end of the table, St Johnstone maintained their top-flight status by winning the Premiership play-off final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Dundee were automatically relegated to the Scottish Championship. …”
The Analyst

VAR in Scottish Premiership: What will it solve? What won’t it fix? Who will foot bill? When will it come into force?


“VAR has arrived in Scottish football. On Tuesday, the SPFL’s member clubs passed the motion to introduce video assistant referees to the Premiership from midway through next season — after the winter break for the World Cup finals in November and December. While VAR is, and almost certainly will continue to be, a divisive topic among supporters, all 12 of Scotland’s top-flight clubs enthusiastically supported its implementation in the league. Here is what has happened so far, and what comes next. …”
The Athletic

Four Days To Define A Season: Van Bronckhorst’s Rangers Face Monumental 72 Hours


Giovanni van Bronckhorst
“Rangers are about to embark on two monumental games in four days that will define their season. The Ibrox club will attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Sporting Braga in the last eight of the Europa League before challenging Celtic for a place in the Scottish Cup final just 72 hours later. The hangover from the Old Firm defeat lingered for days – and the Scottish champions were lacklustre against a sprightly Braga side last week. The Glasgow giants were unnerved defensively, outworked in midfield and insipid in attack. …”
The Sportsman

Scotland: 2021-22 Premiership Scotland


“2021-22 Premiership – Location-map, with: Seasons-in-1st-Division for the current 12 clubs, Scottish titles list, and 25 largest Metro-areas and Localities in Scotland listed. The map shows the locations of the 12 Scottish football clubs which are currently in the Premiership [2021-22]. The map itself is a topographical map with built-up areas shown (shown in a pale-pink colour). Included on the map are the locations of the two recently-relegated sides (Hamilton Academical & Kilmarnock), and the two recently-promoted sides (Dundee FC & Heart of Midlothian). The 25 largest metro-areas and localities in Scotland are shown on the map, and populations are listed (see Part C, below). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021–22 Scottish Premiership
BBC: Scottish Football

Old Firm


“The Old Firm is the collective name for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, which are both based in Glasgow. The two clubs are by far the most successful and popular in Scotland, and the rivalry between them has become deeply embedded in Scottish culture. It has reflected, and contributed to, political, social, and religious division and sectarianism in Scotland. As a result, the fixture has had an enduring appeal around the world. Between them the two clubs have won 106 Scottish League championships (Rangers with 55 and Celtic with 51), 73 Scottish Cups (Celtic with 40 and Rangers with 33), and 47 Scottish League Cups (Rangers with 27 and Celtic with 20). Interruptions to their ascendancy have occurred rarely, most recently with the challenge of the New Firm of Aberdeen and Dundee United in the first half of the 1980s. …”
Wikipedia
NY Times: Old Rivals, New Ideas and Why Some Clubs Are Reluctant to Try (Jan. 2021)
Soccer Politics – The Old Firm: Scotland’s Claim to Football Fame (Dec. 2011)
The Old Firm – April 2019) (Video)
The Old Firm Derby: A Tale of Politics, Religion and Scottish Sectarianism (Oct. 2019

Celtic and Rangers players observe a moment of silence before their match on December 29, 2018

Reo Hatate hits double to help rampant Celtic replace Rangers at top of table


“Nine months on from the conclusion of a season which saw Celtic finish an embarrassing 25 points behind Rangers, the sense of a pendulum swing is impossible to ignore. The finest 90 minutes of Ange Postecoglou’s reign saw Celtic maul Rangers, with the added benefit of moving past their city rivals at the summit of the Scottish Premiership. Incredibly, given the earlier gulf between the teams, Celtic now have to be the favourites to win the league. …”
Guardian

Scotland v England and the peculiarly divergent stance on football crowds


“At is not the case that followers of Scottish football gaze enviously at the Premier League. Camera phones capturing goal celebrations and public investment funds bearing gifts mean Scots revel in their own authenticity. It may be thud and blunder but it is our thud and blunder. In recent days, though, there have been wistful glances across the border. After Nicola Sturgeon, the Scotland first minister, implemented a limit of 500 people at outdoor sporting events the Scottish Professional Football League’s board took the unusually smart decision to expedite its top-flight winter break. At what traditionally is a hectic, joyous time it was deemed better to close the gates. …”
Guardian

Nutmeg Magazine – The Scottish Football Periodical


Central Park, home of Cowdenbeath FC. It is one hour before kick off and the turnstiles have just opened for the new season.
“Published every three months, it is a high-class home for quality articles about Scottish football’s past, present and future. It offers opinion, reflection, interviews, insight, illustration, photography and poetry. It is a unique blend between 196 uniquely elegant pages. …”
Nutmeg Magazine

Aberdeen 4 – 1 St Mirren


Christian Ramirez scored Aberdeen’s second within the opening ten minutes
“Aberdeen recorded back-to-back wins for only the second time this term and edged into the Scottish Premiership’s top six after ‘doing the simple things better’ in overwhelming St Mirren. Marley Watkins and Christian Ramirez both scored twice – once each in the opening nine minutes, before Watkins completed a first-half brace and Ramirez rounded off the thumping win. Scott Tanser did reply for St Mirren to make it 2-1, only for Watkins’ second to immediately snuff out the Paisley’s side’s hopes. And, when asked if momentum is building around his side, Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass said that ‘it feels like it’….”
BBC

What it’s like to play for Steven Gerrard: Intense, obsessive winner and creates a ‘no excuses’ culture


Steven Gerrard has swapped the marble staircase of Ibrox for the concrete one that leads into Villa Park. They are two stadiums whose brick facades possess an enduring character and whose designs were concocted by the same architect, Scotsman Archibald Leitch. When it comes to talk of building things that last, though, they now have another common denominator in Gerrard, who arrives at Villa looking to make them into a force again, just as he did over his three and a half seasons in charge at Rangers. He is a manager seeking one final destination in Liverpool but who is plotting a path by restoring similarly grand clubs — particularly, those giants who are sleeping. ..”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic – Gerrard’s Aston Villa in-tray: Solve defensive issues, get more out of Buendia and Bailey, invest in youth (Video)
W – Steven Gerrard

Celtic and Dundee United close on Scottish lead as Hearts deny Rangers


Celtic’s David Turnbull is congratulated after scoring on his return to Motherwell.
“A last-gasp goal from Craig Halkett gave Hearts a 1-1 draw with leaders Rangers at Ibrox. John Lundstram’s wonderful first-half strike from 30 yards had given the home side a deserved interval lead but they could not add to it as the game went on. And after Jambos boss Robbie Neilson was sent off by referee Don Robertson with three minutes remaining, a mistake by home keeper Allan McGregor from a corner allowed Halkett to nod in at the back post to keep the visitors unbeaten in the league and still a point behind the champions. …”
Guardian

Rangers 1-0 Celtic: Filip Helander header settles pulsating derby


“Filip Helander’s thumping header settled a pulsating Old Firm derby as a depleted Rangers inflicted Celtic’s second Scottish Premiership defeat of the season at a packed Ibrox. The home side, with manager Steven Gerrard and several players absent after a Covid outbreak, made it seven derbies in a row without defeat, with victory in six of them. Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard somehow squirted wide from close range with the game goalless, before Helander’s header claimed the points for the champions. The victory moves Rangers to within a point of Hibernian and Hearts at the summit, with Celtic in sixth place after two defeats in four matches. …”
BBC
Guardian: Filip Helander heads winner for Covid-19 depleted Rangers against Celtic

Scottish Soccer’s Brexit Problem: No Way In, and No Way Out


Scotland’s two biggest teams, Celtic and Rangers, have the means to support some of their ambitions. Most of their Scottish rivals do not.
“Juhani Ojala knew he would have to wait. Travel restrictions were still in place in Scotland when, in the middle of July, the Finnish defender agreed to join Motherwell, a club of modest means and sober ambitions in the country’s top division. Upon landing, Ojala knew, he would have to spend 10 days isolating in a hotel before joining his new teammates. … All of that changed in January, when — four and a half years after the Brexit referendum — Britain formally, and finally, left the European Union. As of that moment, clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland no longer had the untrammeled access to players from its 26 member states (a different set of rules apply to Ireland) they had enjoyed since the 1990s. …”
NY Times

2021–22 Scottish Premiership


“The 2021–22 Scottish Premiership (known as the cinch Premiership for sponsorship reasons) will be the ninth season of the Scottish Premiership, the highest division of Scottish football. Rangers are the defending champions. Twelve teams will contest the league: Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee, Dundee United, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Livingston, Motherwell, Rangers, Ross County, St Johnstone and St Mirren. The season begins on 31 July 2021. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Scottish Premiership 2021-22 Stadiums

“Nine in a row”


Those were the days – Celtic seal their nine-in-a-row, 1974
“‘Nine in a row’ is a topic which has dominated football in Scotland at club level since the 1970s. The term refers to one club winning the national league championship nine times in a row, a mark which was first set by Celtic between the 1965–66 and 1973–74 seasons, during which they also became European champions in 1967. Their run was eventually stopped by Old Firm rivals Rangers, who later received significant financial investment and matched the achievement between 1988–89 and 1996–97 – Celtic were the team to win the next title and prevent their record being broken. …”
Wikipedia

Old Rivals, New Ideas and Why Some Clubs Are Reluctant to Try


Is it possible Rangers and Celtic are too tangled up in their rivalry for their own good?
Nobody wants to say it is over. Steven Gerrard, the Rangers manager, will not tempt fate. He will only believe the title is won, he has said, when the math says so. Neil Lennon, his counterpart at Celtic, similarly cannot concede defeat. His team, he has said, will keep going, keep fighting, while there is still some small glimmer of hope. But both must surely know that it is over, and has been for some time. It was over long before this last, toxic month, when Celtic staged a winter training break in Dubai in the middle of a pandemic and flew back into a coronavirus-infected storm.It was over before two Celtic players duly tested positive, before pretty much the whole first-team squad had to go into isolation, before criticism rained down on the club from the Scottish government and even its own fans. …”
NY Times, In Brazil, Risk and Reward, Side by Joyous Side

Berwick Rangers: England’s forgotten football club

“There are football clubs around the world who are defined by a single incredible result or one remarkable season. Once Caldas winning the 2004 Copa Libertadores. Alcorcón beating Real Madrid 4-0 in the Copa del Rey in 2009. Hereford United knocking Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1973. Decades pass and what was once the physical – stretched muscles, crunching challenges, tireless chasing – metamorphoses into a folklore that will never be forgotten or topped.” The Set Pieces

Transfer window: Scottish-based players catching the eyes of other clubs


Celtic striker Moussa Dembele’s future remains unclear
“The January transfer window will soon be closed, to the relief of many managers given that a number of Scottish-based players are attracting admiring glances. It’s a case of now or, well, the summer for clubs looking to strengthen for the season run-in or those looking to profit with players’ contracts running down. In Scotland, the days of high-profile deadline-day transfers are now few and far between. Yet in this window there remains interest in a number of players at leading clubs. Here’s a run down of the individuals likely to be in the news over the coming days…” BBC

Scottish football’s crisis of confidence

“When Alex Ferguson was appointed Billy McNeill’s successor as Aberdeen manager in the summer of 1978, it had been thirteen years since a team outside of the Old Firm were crowned champions of Scotland and the Glasgow giants had already racked up sixty seven league titles between them: their reputation as the country’s preeminent force well established. Given the weight of historical context and the fact the 36-year-old Ferguson had recently suffered the ignominy of being sacked by St. Mirren, casual observers may have expected he would ease himself gently into his new position in the North East. Those who understood the psyche of the Govan-raised firebrand knew better. …” Football Pink

Hampden custodians Queen’s Park face anxious wait over national stadium review


“Sir Alex Ferguson and Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay – just two of the former players, and well-kent faces, who helped Scotland’s oldest football club celebrate their anniversary. But, as Queen’s Park come to the end of their 150th year, they enter 2018 needing even more influential backing as they face one of the biggest challenges to their own longevity – and that of their famous home, Hampden Park. Scottish football owes its existence to that meeting at 3 Eglinton Terrace, Glasgow, on 9 July 1867, when Queen’s Park’s first president, Mungo Ritchie, used his casting vote to choose their current name instead of The Celts. …” BBC

Tartan trousers on the terrace: Why Scottish football needs to be punk

“Football in Scotland has remained a purist’s pursuit, our hallowed grounds are filled with hardened fans. The weather isn’t attractive and neither is the football. So what keeps people going? Pure and simple – it’s the love and passion of the game. The average attendances are high and getting higher, but the quality of football just isn’t improving, if anything, it’s in a decline and the light at the end of the tunnel is farther away than ever, so what’s the problem? The Scottish Premier League exports very few players to foreign leagues. …” Foolball Pink

Celtic: Hearts deliver ‘boot up the rear’ to Rodgers’ ‘invincibles’


“Had you ventured into the Tynecastle Arms on Saturday night and asked every last Hearts fan in the place for their most optimistic scenario for the meeting with Celtic the day after, the chances are that none of their boozy dreams would have been as big and as fanciful as the trippy reality. Harry Cochrane was 10 years old the last time Hearts beat Celtic. Fellow midfielder Anthony McDonald was 11. For 20 games going back five-and-a-half years, Celtic had lorded it over them to a painful degree. Eighteen victories and two draws; 62 goals scored and nine conceded. …” BBC (Video)

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts’ unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

“Celtic can take their sequence of successive unbeaten domestic games to 67 – that iconic number for the club – against Motherwell at the weekend after coming within a few minutes of defeat in Lanarkshire, where Mikael Lustig’s own goal put the Steelmen ahead. For the second time in three days against Celtic, the Fir Park outfit were undone by a penalty kick – again involving Scott Sinclair – although this time converted by the winger after Andy Rose had been judged to have fouled Callum McGregor. …” Telegraph

It’s time to stop blaming the game – and the fans – for society’s ills

“Football can suffer from high visibility. Some ­people see far too much of it for their liking. Others cannot resist the profile it offers. ­Newspapers are always looking for ways to move it from the back pages to the front. Take the case of Douglas Ross, now Tory MP for Moray and an assistant referee (or linesman) at high levels of the sport. National outrage has supposedly been sparked by his engagement at the Nou Camp in Barcelona last week when he could have been abstaining in person at the House of Commons. …” The Scotsman

Hibernian 2 – 2 Celtic


Callum McGregor opened the scoring and later levelled with his sixth goal of the season
“Hibernian came close to ending Celtic’s now 58-game unbeaten domestic run on Neil Lennon’s return to his old club. The former Celtic boss saw his side fall behind to Callum McGregor’s sweet first-half strike. But two thumping goals from Scotland midfielder John McGinn put the visitors ahead with 13 minutes remaining. But they could only hold the lead for three minutes, McGregor tucking home an equaliser before Scott Sinclair went close to a late winner for the hosts. Celtic remain top of the Premiership, on goal difference from Aberdeen, while Hibs drop to sixth, but level on points with fifth-placed Motherwell. …” BBC

Premier League results: Man City win at Chelsea, Fellaini and Kane score twice

“The top three all won in the Premier League on Saturday as Manchester City defeated Chelsea in the late game to reclaim the top spot that had briefly been taken away from them earlier in the day. Kevin de Bruyne smashed a stunning second-half strike past fellow Belgian Thibaut Courtois as Manchester City leapfrogged Manchester United on goal difference with a slender 1-0 victory. …” BBC

Celtic’s rivals face mission impossible; Rob Maclean picks his team of the (half) year

“The big problem for Rangers and Aberdeen in trying to play Scottish Premiership catch-up is that runaway leaders Celtic are no sitting target. Manager Brendan Rodgers had some chilling words for the chasing pack after Celtic ended 2016 with their third Old Firm win of the season so far. If they beat St Johnstone in their first game after the winter break, they’ll be 22 points clear at the top after 21 matches. Rodgers says his team, already far too good for any domestic challenge, will be even better on the back of the January shutdown. Celtic will aim to get the title won at what could be a ridiculously early stage, take their first steps towards completing a treble and further strengthen the squad for another crack at the Champions League next season.” BBC

How a Scottish manager working in Wales ended up in charge of Juventus

“Matt Busby, Ally McCoist, Alex Neil and Lee McCulloch are just a few of the famous (and not so famous) footballers who have emerged from the small Scottish town of Bellshill. Sitting just 16km from the centre of Glasgow, Bellshill has produced more than its fair share of top level footballers given its modest population of just over 20,000. The town also gave us a football manager who went to Italy for one season and came home with a rather unfortunate record in the Turin derby.” Guardian

Scottish football: five things we learned at the weekend

“There promises to be one almighty scrap for runners-up spot in the Scottish Premiership. You might say it’s a bit sad if we’re getting excited about the fight for second place but Celtic are in a league of their own and next best does bring with it a place in Europe and a decent chunk of prize money. I would expect Aberdeen and Rangers to battle it out for that consolation prize but wouldn’t be shocked if Hearts or St Johnstone are contenders as well.” BBC

Rangers 0 Celtic 1

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“Celtic will play Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final after Moussa Dembele secured a late victory over Rangers in the Old Firm semi-final. Brendan Rodgers’ side had the better of the Hampden match with Scott Sinclair, Tom Rogic, Dembele and Stuart Armstrong drawing saves from Matt Gilks. Erik Sviatchenko had a goal disallowed for Celtic and Sinclair’s free-kick was touched on to the bar by Gilks.” BBC

Rangers 0-1 Celtic: Player ratings from Billy Dodds and Pat Bonner
“Moussa Dembele’s late goal was enough for Celtic to beat Rangers 1-0 in the Old Firm Betfred League Cup semi-final at Hampden. Brendan Rodgers’ side will face Aberdeen in the final on 27 November. Former Rangers striker Billy Dodds and ex-Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner were at Hampden and gave their verdict on the teams.” BBC

Celtic vs. Rangers – more than just a game
“The Scottish League Cup semi-final will be the latest instalment in the Old Firm rivalry, which has cemented itself as one of the fiercest games in world football. That’s because for so many people it’s more than just football, with politics, sectarianism and football making for a lethal mix. Originally, Rangers were formed in 1872, and it wasn’t until 1888 when Celtic were founded by the Irish community who had moved to Glasgow to escape conditions back in their homeland. That ensured Celtic would be the team for Irish and Catholic families, whilst Rangers had a staunch Protestant following.” Football Pink

Driving A Different Route: From Hearts, To Houston ang Holland

“It was during a recent run-of-the-mill conversation with a mate that our minds revisited one of the most glorious days in the 142-year history of Scottish club, Heart of Midlothian, which, consequently, was also among the most bitter and painful occasions for their Edinburgh rivals, Hibernian. We were, of course, recalling the 2012 Scottish Cup final when the Jambos put the Hibees to the sword in the Hampden Park sun, to record a heavy 5-1 win. Now, given that neither my friend nor I have an affiliation to either Edinburgh team, it was a somewhat peculiar topic to enter our rambling.” Football Pink

Scottish Cup semi-final: Rangers v Celtic Player ratings

“Rangers are through to their second cup final of the season after beating Celtic 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time. So how did the individual players on each side fare? Former Rangers and Scotland midfielder Stuart McCall assesses the performances of the Ibrox side, while former Celtic and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Pat Bonner rates Ronny Deila’s players.” BBC

Former Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere and Scotland star Pat Nevin speaks to The Football Pink

pat-nevin
“Former Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere and Scotland star Pat Nevin speaks to Mark Godfrey of The Football Pink. He talks openly about his upbringing in Glasgow, playing for the infamous Ken Bates at Chelsea, his time on Merseyside with Everton and Tranmere, representing his country 28 times and his current life as a TV pundit and analyser. He also discusses in great length his love of music and his involvement in various political issues.” Football Pink (Video)

Drastic changes are needed at Celtic but will the board listen?

“Top of the league with ten games to go and still in with a chance to win the Scottish Cup, you would expect supporters of such a club to be happy with their lot, but this is Celtic we are talking about and expectations are not being met. Booing has replaced cheers at Celtic Park, as the stadium once dubbed Paradise is turning into a Hieronymous Bosch scene. Performances under manager Ronny Deila have been woeful, the players struggling to do even the basics of what is expected of a professional football player and above all else – there is a lack of entertainment.” Scotzine

James McCarthy: The Irish Hero who is a controversial figure in Scotland

“If you ever visit the Irish National Team’s website, you’ll notice one peculiar element to the FAI’s online shop. One entire section of the store is dedicated to Everton FC shirts and gear. Despite being an English club, Irish football fans follow Everton closely and have a fondness towards the club. This is because of the Irish players at Everton now and in the past, and Ireland’s connection to the city of Liverpool. Seamus Coleman, Darron Gibson, and formerly Aidan McGeady are some of the notable Irish stars who have played for Everton. But the most notorious Irishman at the Merseyside club is none other than rising star James McCarthy. This is because of the fact that he wasn’t born in Ireland, but their next door neighbors Scotland.” Outside of the Boot

Book review: Fully Programmed – The lost world of football programmes

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“Derek Hammond and Gary Silke have already achieved critical praise and impressive sale figures for their excellent ‘Got Not Got’ and ‘The Lost World of’ series of books on footballing nostalgia. Their regular articles are also featured in BackPass magazine. This book represents another worthy addition to their collection. To some people, programme collecting as a hobby is on a par with train spotting. It is considered to be the preserve of males still living at home with their mothers and is a peculiarly British tradition. Nothing could be further from the truth- programme collecting has always been cool.” Football Pink, amazon, [PDF] Fully Programmed: The Lost World of Football Programmes

The Outsiders, Part 1: Berwick Rangers

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“As you approach from the south, staring wistfully out at the slate grey North Sea reflecting the equally slate grey sky over the sand dunes of Cheswick and Goswick, the quaint walled-town of Berwick-upon-Tweed – perched neatly atop the sloping banks of the famous River Tweed – slowly and neatly begins to frame this picturesque view of northernmost Northumberland. As the train lurches across the Robert Stephenson-designed Royal Border Bridge, leaving the villages of Tweedmouth and East Ord in its slipstream, one could easily be fooled into thinking you were entering another country. The shimmering, twinkling surface of the Tweed – that most renowned of salmon grounds – gives one a sense of a natural dividing line between England and Scotland. Indeed, throughout the centuries and the turbulent history between the two neighbours, it often has. However, since 1482, at the height of the Anglo-Scottish wars, Berwick has remained firmly under English control.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 2: FC Büsingen
“Surrounded by the Swiss: not something you hear very often, is it? In this case, we’re not referring to a rare military skirmish (those multi-functional Army knives can be very threatening under certain circumstances), rather the tiny German enclave of Büsingen am Hochrhein which is, as inferred, totally contained within the conventional borders of Switzerland. The town has been separated from the Motherland (or should that be Fatherland?) since 1805 and the time of the Napoleonic Wars when it switched from Austrian control to that of Württemberg, which itself became a part of the German Empire a year later before eventually becoming part of the modern Bundesrepublik Land of Badem-Württemberg we see today. The ties to Germany remain unbroken despite the result of a referendum in the town after the First World War, in which the inhabitants voted to become part of Switzerland, was ignored due mainly to the Swiss being unable to offer anything substantial in return.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 3: Derry City
“Derry, of all places in Britain and Ireland, seems ready made for the language of football, with a history that’s very much composed of two halves. You’ve those who see themselves as Irish on one side of the pitch, and those who see themselves as British on the other. Out of this strange, enforced marriage comes a place that’s cut from different cloth to anywhere else on both sides of the Irish Sea. Home of shirt factories and receptacle of the shared history between two islands, this is a city that has suffered, as described in Phil Coulter’s famous song ‘The Town I Love So Well.’ But, as in the poems of Seamus Heaney and the upbeat rhythms of The Undertones, the character of Derry is based on triumph over suffering, and in finding a voice and a position unique to itself.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 4: FC Vaduz
“William Cook, writing in the weekly conservative magazine The Spectator, describes Liechtenstein as ‘utterly ridiculous’. It is a tax haven that has more registered companies than people, In August 2009, the British government department HM Revenue & Customs agreed with Liechtenstein to start exchanging information. It is believed that up to 5,000 British investors have roughly £3billion deposited in accounts and trusts in the country. To put the size of the country into a British context, its population is similar to Milton Keynes. You’ll find something familiar with their national anthem, it is sung to the same tune as ‘God Save The Queen’. The capital of Liechtenstein is the sleepy town of Vaduz – the home of FC Vaduz.” Football Pink

Celtic 6 – Dundee 0

“Celtic delivered a timely reminder of their commanding nature with an impressive sweeping aside of Dundee. The visitors could not suppress Celtic’s cutting edge or endeavour, and were quickly two goals behind thanks to Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths. Emilio Izaguirre took over the scoring after the break, striking twice and also missing a penalty. That was a rare moment of relief for a subdued Dundee, who conceded further goals to Scott Brown and Nadir Ciftci. Soon after this game kicked off, Aberdeen scored to lead 3-0 at Tynecastle. The Celtic players would have been unaware of that fact – although plenty of the home fans were following events on the other side of the country – but they are alert enough to the pressure being applied by Derek McInnes’s side.” BBC

The spirit of ’96 – When Tommy Burns’ heroes revived Celtic

“If Celtic’s great teams are measured in terms of trophies won, the 1995-96 side should have quickly become a distant memory. It is difficult to imagine parents and grandparents regaling children with tales from the season when Tommy Burns’ Celtic lost just one league game but still failed to win the league or any, in fact, any other trophy. Jock Stein’s 1967 Lisbon Lions, Billy McNeil’s 1988 Centenary double winners and Martin O’Neill’s 2001 treble winners feature more often when looking back at the great Celtic sides of the past 50 years.” backpagefootball

Celtic and the Decline of Scottish Football

Scott-Brown-Celtic-2015
“But it looks like the decision to send the club to the bottom tier of the Scottish football pyramid may just be finally hitting home that it has been a hindrance for the overall domestic picture in a country that is worlds away from its big-spending British neighbours. If you look at the game in Scotland logically and sensibly, there is very little quality throughout the four divisions, especially in the top-flight, where it is essentially a race to finish second best behind the worst Celtic side in a long, long time.” Outside of the Boot

Euro 2016: How two wins in four days could make history for Wales

“Fever-pitch excitement surrounds Gareth Bale and the rest as Wales are on the brink of appearing at their first major tournament finals since 1958. But, in the week of Euro 2016 qualifying matches away against Cyprus on Thursday, 3 September and Israel at home on Sunday, 6 September, the big question appears to be – will it take four days or four games?” BBC

Graft, grit and Northern beauty

“Sir Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish, Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, Bob Paisley, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough, Howard Kendall, Don Revie, Sir Bobby Robson: it’s a long and impressive list, but far from an exhaustive one. The common thread that links them to one another? Yes, they are all British, but more specifically, they’re all from either the North East of England or Scotland. So what, I hear you mutter. … It’s my assertion that, as they did not inherit, at birth, the specific qualities and traits needed to stand out in the cutthroat world of football but must possess them in order to break into that sphere in the first place, then it must be their upbringing and the environment of their formative years that defined them. So, it is to the North East of England and Scotland that we must look for those ingredients that shaped the young men who would eventually become legends.” Foofball Pink

Henrik Larsson: Humble and hungry for success as a manager

“He walks into the room overlooking the pitch at Helsingborg’s Olympia stadium, sticks out his hand and apologises for being late – about two minutes late. To most of us, it’s nothing but, then, Henrik Larsson has never been like most of us. To a footballer whose greatness was built, in part, on the back of impeccable timing, two minutes is two minutes too long. He hasn’t changed, not much at any rate. He’s 43 but still looks fit enough to waltz on to the pitch at Celtic Park and light the place up one more time. Football is now something he plays for fun with his mates once a week in an over-35s league. But his new life as a manager? That’s a different story. That’s the thing that envelops him now.” BBC

Broken Hearts looking to consolidate on their unexpected quick return

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“It’s been a rollercoaster few years for Heart of Midlothian Football Club, but after financial rescue and a surprise runaway success in the Scottish Championship last season, what are the Jambos’ realistic aims for 2015/16. MATT LESLIE looks at the campaign ahead. The new Scottish Premier League season gets under way this weekend and Hearts fans will be delighted at the return of top-flight football following a year’s absence.” Football Pink

Scottish Premiership ins and outs – Summer 2015

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“With Celtic, Aberdeen, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Johnstone all involved in European competition qualifying, several Scottish Premiership managers have a particularly short close season during which to reshape their squads. Champions Celtic are the only club with the financial muscle to splash significant amounts of cash in the transfer market and started their summer recruitment by paying £1.5m to Manchester City for central defender Dedryck Boyata. However, it is Dundee who have had the most significant turnover of playing staff so far.” BBC

From pitch to page – a brief account of the history of football fiction

“‘The author of the best books written about English culture since the War’… reads the blurb on the cover of John King’s landmark 1996 novel ‘The Football Factory’, a rampaging yarn about a gang of miscreant Chelsea supporters strutting their stuff around a succession of English cities and football stadiums and offering an uncompromising portrayal of the dark motivation of the archetypal English ‘hoolifan’. It’s a bold assessment of a bold novel, offered by King’s contemporary and fellow Jonathan Cape stablemate, Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh. The ‘Trainspotting’ author has himself occasionally wondered onto the football fiction turf, most notably in ‘Maribou Stork Nightmares’, when protagonist Roy Strang is assessed for his ‘casual’ credentials by a group of fellow Hibs supporters on a train to Motherwell.” backpagefootball

Scottish fitbaw season review – Play offs, punches and plenty of Petrofac

“It’s just a few days after Sean Maloney put a full stop on the 2014/15 Scottish football season with an equaliser against Ireland that kept the Tartan Army’s dream of red wine and camembert very much alive. While my body has just about recovered from my jaunt to the Emerald Isle, my mind is still customising itself to the rigours of everyday life once again, so please bear with me as I give you a final blow by blow account of the Scottish Football Season that was.” Football Pink

Celtic – Everything’s Gone Green

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“So Celtic duly won their fourth consecutive Scottish League title in May in their first season under young Norwegian manager Ronny Deila, who had replaced the very successful Neil Lennon the previous summer. Despite this fine achievement, there was also disappointment, as the famous Glasgow club failed to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, even though they had two bites at the cherry, having been reprieved after Legia Warsaw fielded an ineligible player, only to crash out against Slovenian champions Maribor. This was in stark contrast to previous great nights in Europe. As recently as November 2012, Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1 in front of a packed Celtic Park, as they made their way to the last 16 of the Champions League. Many believed that this would be the platform for greater things, but the club has not progressed since then, as they did not make the best use of the European cash windfall. Instead, they sold three key players at the end of that season (Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Kelvin Wilson) and failed to adequately replace them.” The Swiss Ramble

The title race that could have been

“Although most Aberdeen fans would agree that the thought of the Premiership trophy being held aloft at Pittodrie this year was far-fetched, I’m sure there will still be some wondering if this year was really their chance to do something a bit special. Aberdeen have had another fantastic season this year. While last year’s rampant revival under Derek McInnes brought them the League Cup and their highest league finish in seven years, this season the team and the club have gone a step further in taking second spot in the league. They have been consistent and ruthless in dispatching teams in the Premiership, racking up an unbelievable 19 clean sheets so far as well. This is definitely title-winning form but Celtic sit eight points ahead of the Dons with only five games to go. While nothing can be ruled out, it does appear that Aberdeen will need to settle for second place.” Scotzine

From Prom Prog To Postcard: Scotland and the Shock Of Punk

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“When the popular story of punk is normally told, it can be a little London-centric. All too often the vibrancy of provincial music scenes and the sheer volume of bands that emerged are overlooked; their role only really appreciated by those who take the time to delve deeper into the scene’s history. Perhaps because of this trend and also its strength musically during the post-punk years, Scotland’s experience of punk barely gets a mention. Which is odd, because during the late-seventies Scotland was a bubbling cauldron of musical creativity; producing not just major punk bands, including the Skids and The Rezillos but also a plethora of well-regarded also-rans, such as Fire Exit, The Zips and The Freeze. Like other parts of Britain, the music scene in Scotland during this period also underwent a seismic shift, one that changed it permanently.” In Bed With Maradona

Scotland’s newest player has never been to Scotland

“Standard practice when being called up to a play for a country other than your birth is to stress your heritage, your love of your adopted land and how its blood courses through your veins and its culture through your mind, despite the terrible luck that saw you exit the womb elsewhere. Such a stance is a little tenuous from Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie, though, as Scotland’s latest call-up has admitted that he has never actually been to Scotland.” Fusion

We Went There: The Return of the Old Firm Derby

“There was a certain halfheartedness to the way Celtic manager Ronny Deila celebrated his club’s victory over Rangers after the full-time whistle, performing his now customary fist-pump routine in front of his own fans. Bragging rights don’t mean so much against such helpless opposition. The blue half of Hampden Park — the age-old, neutral battleground between Glasgow’s two bitter rivals — had emptied long before, leaving behind nothing more than the lingering air of factionalism and toxic bile that comes with every Old Firm derby. Police arrested 12 fans for alleged sectarian breach of the peace, with scuffles between supporters running into the night across the city.” Grantland

BBC Sport Scotland’s Scottish football review 2014

“The year in Scottish football saw corporate as well as competitive drama and upheaval, certainly, but also the usual doses of joy and sorrow. Individual stories abound, but there were prominent themes, too, not least some clubs shedding debt and others finding youth development and prudence to be worthwhile pursuits. Subjectivity applies to any review, but events can be judged on their own merits. Every club will, for instance, have seen significant moments, but those that linger tend to have generated a wider impact. There were familiar travails at Ibrox, both on and off the field, but also the growing success of the women’s game, as reflected in the progress of the Scottish national team and Glasgow City’s European exploits.” BBC