Berwick Rangers: England’s forgotten football club

August 12, 2018

“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

January 30, 2018


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

January 4, 2018

“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

January 3, 2018


“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

December 29, 2017

“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’

December 21, 2017


“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

November 30, 2017

“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

October 27, 2017

“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

October 1, 2017


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

October 1, 2017

“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

January 4, 2017

“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


Scottish football: five things we learned at the weekend

October 31, 2016

“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

October 23, 2016

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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


NutMeg

September 15, 2016

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“It’s not a book, it’s not a magazine. It’s somewhere inbetween, and something completely new in Scotland: a quarterly subscription-only long-form publication filled with top-quality writers, great articles and fascinating stories. And it’s all about Scottish football.” NutMeg, Facebook, twitter


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

August 23, 2016

“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

April 17, 2016

“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

April 17, 2016

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“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?

March 6, 2016

“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

February 17, 2016

“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

January 10, 2016

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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

November 30, 2015

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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

September 20, 2015

“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

September 14, 2015

“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

September 3, 2015

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“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

September 1, 2015

“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

August 19, 2015

“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

August 14, 2015

“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

August 3, 2015

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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

July 20, 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

July 2, 2015

“‘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

June 24, 2015

“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

June 18, 2015

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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


Premier League and Football League: Ups and downs

April 27, 2015

“The top three teams qualify for the Champions League group stage, with the fourth-placed team entering the preceding play-off round. English clubs have three places in the Europa League – for the FA Cup winners, Capital One Cup winners and fifth-placed Premier League side.” BBC


The title race that could have been

April 24, 2015

“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


Scotland’s newest player has never been to Scotland

March 19, 2015

“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

February 3, 2015

“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

December 26, 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


Rangers will miss Ally McCoist’s spirit not management

December 16, 2014

“Rangers’ losing performance at Queen of the South, live on BT Sport on Friday, was typical of Ally McCoist’s managerial reign. But in pre- and post-match interviews he wore the demeanour of someone calling a more important bluff. Only this morning have Rangers confirmed he’d handed in his notice hours before kick-off in Dumfries. McCoist, in the post since June 2011, bizarrely stated and restated “I am the Rangers manager”. His default chirpy setting was more sad than inappropriate but epitomised the club since 2012’s liquidation: a hollow impersonation of power.” WSC


Scotland’s Tartan Army can be patriotic without politics

October 8, 2014

“When Georgia arrive in Glasgow this Saturday, the fallout from September’s independence referendum will mean more to many Scotland fans than Euro 2016 qualifying points. The Scotland support could never match the recent emoting of politicians but has long been regarded as the voice of raw Scottish nationalism. The encouragingly narrow defeat for the Yes campaign may therefore have echoed the national team’s 2-1 loss at World Champions Germany last month. But the Scottish Football Association is not the SNP.” WSC


The sporadic Scottish football round-up: First installment

September 24, 2014

“Hello and welcome to the first of a semi-regular review of the Scottish football season so far by your friend in pie Meat Filled Pastries (@MFPTasty). So what’s been happening up north, well apart from the whole referendum business in many respects it’s business as usual, well almost. Let’s review. European competition is something that starts in July and finishes in August north of the border, St. Johnstone repeated last years feat of beating a team that some people of heard of only to be knocked out by a team only yours truly and anyone looking for Slovakian bargains in Football Manger will have heard of while Motherwell went one better and didn’t even bother winning a game against a team nobody had ever heard of. Aberdeen fared better comfortably beating Daugava Riga, who one assumes were part of Latvia’s attempts to integrate rugby into their national sporting curriculum, before perhaps getting the best Scottish result in Europe so far this season by beating Groningen over two legs.” The Football Pink


Soccer Fans Supply Strong Voice in Scottish Independence Debate

September 15, 2014

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“In this city defined by the rivalry between its two biggest soccer clubs — Celtic and Rangers — there were no team colors on display Sunday night as fans filtered into a gloomy pub to watch Scotland play Germany in its first qualifying game for the 2016 European Championship. There is, however, more than soccer to talk about at the moment. Scotland is wound tight, waiting to uncoil next week, when the country will vote on whether it should be independent from Britain. The debate has generated the kind of tension and engagement usually reserved for soccer rivalries in Scotland, and in fact the country’s stadiums have become key battlegrounds for the yes and no campaigns.” NY Times

Scotland – when politics and football clash
“The Scotland independence referendum centers mainly on political and social issues, but as is often the case, the implications run far below the surface. One such area is the beautiful game itself. While many follow football in an attempt to forget about the problems of the world, the current climate in Scotland makes it impossible to ignore the reality of the impending referendum – from aggressive chants to verbal attacks on Scottish players, Scotland’s football takes first stage on the referendum.” backpagefootball


Celtic manager Ronny Deila urges authorities to look at Scandinavian model when scheduling league calendar

August 24, 2014

“As Ronny Deila prepares his Celtic side for Tuesday’s crucial return leg of the Champions League play-off against Maribor – at stake is a place in the group stage for the third successive season – the Parkhead manager called for Scottish football to give itself a better chance of European success by moving the domestic season into line with the Scandinavian leagues. Deila has made plain his concern about Celtic’s pre-season commitments – he claimed that they contributed to player fatigue in the 6-1 qualifying defeat against Legia Warsaw, which was overturned because the Poles fielded an ineligible player – and he expanded the theme when musing upon the implications of success against Maribor.” Telegraph


Scottish football: Who will win what in season 2014-15?

August 9, 2014

“The new Scottish football season is just hours away and there have been some major changes since this time last year. No Neil Lennon in the Celtic dugout after leading the Parkhead men to three successive titles. A top-flight without Hearts and Hibernian after both suffered relegation last term. The promotion of Dundee at the end of last season does, however, mean they will face city rivals Dundee United in highly-anticipated derby matches in the Premiership. And the top flight’s loss is the Championship’s gain in terms of the Edinburgh derby, with the two capital clubs joining Rangers in what should be a hotly-contested battle for promotion. So, how will the new campaign pan out? Here, BBC Scotland reporters and pundits offer their opinions on who will take the four league titles and the two major cups.” BBC


New characters introduced to familiar Premiership story

August 7, 2014

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“Unpredictability remains the most elusive quality in the Scottish Premiership. Nobody supposes that Celtic will fail to win the title for the fourth consecutive season, even if there is a new manager in place who will have to adapt to working in a different country as well as at a new club. The presence of Ronny Deila at Celtic Park does, though, add diversity to the intrigue that the top flight is capable of. The Norwegian suffered a major setback as Celtic were eliminated from the Champions League at the third qualifying round stage on Wednesday against Legia Warsaw. He must now hope that the effects of that disappointment do not linger.” BBC


World War One: Sporting stories of bravery recalled 100 years on

August 5, 2014

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Heart of Midlothian started the 1914-1915 season with a 2-0 victory over Celtic after giving their all.
“They were the sporting stars of yesteryear. Captains, team-mates, local heroes. Many of them went from the playing field to the battlefields of World War One, never to return. Monday marks the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. It was at 23:00 on 4 August 1914 that Britain entered into one of the costliest conflicts in history, and the fighting continued until 11 November 1918. Here, BBC Sport recalls some notable stories – from whole teams who joined the armed forces to a modern-day international inspired by his ancestors’ wartime deeds.” BBC

Hearts, the team that went to war for Britain
“On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Eleven days later a full house at Tynecastle cheered Heart of Midlothian to victory over Celtic, the defending champions beaten by the young pretenders of the Scottish game. War seemed a long way off on that summer’s afternoon; somewhere for a foreign field, not the football field.” Independent


Scottish Premiership ins and outs – summer 2014

July 21, 2014

“The World Cup has not even ended and yet the new season is already looming large for Scotland’s top club sides. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes in particular has had little time to sit back and enjoy the action from Brazil, never mind the summer sunshine, with his charges first into action on Thursday 3 July, when they hosted Daugava Riga in the first round of Europa League qualifying. McInnes moved early to secure goalkeeper Scott Brown from Cheltenham Town and defender Ash Taylor from Tranmere Rovers while turning Shaleum Logan’s loan from Brentford into a permanent move.” BBC


Scottish Premiership: Play-off contenders drawn into final battle

May 1, 2014

“Two points separate the five teams fighting to avoid finishing second bottom in the Scottish Premiership and the relegation play-off position. With three games remaining – and bottom-placed Hearts already relegated – time is running out for St Mirren, Hibernian, Ross County, Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock to win the points that will bring relief from the fear and anxiety of an end-of-season contest with a Championship side. BBC Scotland examines the strengths and weaknesses of each team, the joker in their squad that could prove pivotal, and their chances of avoiding the play-off position.” BBC


‘Hardest Bastards in Football.’ Neil Lennon

March 12, 2014

“Born in Lurgan, Northern Ireland in 1971, Neil Lennon is a true Celtic fan. From his youth he set his heart on one leading his beloved Glasgow club to the top spot in Scotland. Well, it now seems certain that Lennon will be doing that again this season, seemingly for the umpteenth time and after years of turning out solid performances as a player and then subsequently as manager. It has though, not been the safest of jobs over recent years and it is for this reason that Neil Lennon is being inducted.” The Illustrated Game


The art of the goalkeeper well and truly mastered in Scotland

February 27, 2014

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Craig Gordon
“The keeper: the last line of defence. With a hapless player between the sticks conceding goals comes easily, winning games does not. In Scotland something seems to be working its magic on the training pitch, with a succession of keepers receiving great plaudits and having much success. Jim Leighton; Andy Goram; Craig Gordon. All names which send the Tartan Army dizzy with delight. But why, with the recent failings of the national side as a whole, can the goalkeeper always be relied on with a sense of pride? It is a fact that has been overlooked by the big national media corporations; when the English bemoan the errors from Joe Hart, Scotland’s keepers continue to provide standout performances.” Backpage Football


Football Manager meets Moneyball – season 1 with Rangers

February 25, 2014

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“The new release of the latest installment of the Football Manager franchise has seen a commensurate flurry of pieces about this, to me, hugely gripping and enjoyable game. Now I am not going to turn this blog into one devoted to the game: for one, I think it’s quite dull to blog purely on one aspect of football culture, and I wouldn’t want to risk alienating people who do not enjoy playing it. The pleasure of Football Manager is, for me, largely private, especially given how little interest my girlfriend has in football full stop, let alone a simulation of it, but it did occur to me that it might be interesting to merge an idea that I have enjoyed thinking about with a game I love playing.” Put Niels In Goal – Season 1, season 2 (1st half), season 2 (2nd half), Season 3 (first half)


The Far Post: In Glasgow, a Rival’s Lament

December 12, 2013

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“Last year the sad, mad, brutal and beautiful series known as Celtic versus Rangers came to an end after an unbroken 125-year run. Proud Rangers—one of the oldest, grandest, richest clubs in world football—simply ran out of money. The reasons why this happened would not be unfamiliar to sports-watchers anywhere on earth: greed, envy, and overspending all played a role. There were unique local wrinkles—the Scottish media all but ignored the calamity at the same time as it was being masterfully reported and dissected by anonymous bloggers, especially the unnamed author of a suspiciously well-informed blog called Rangers Tax Case. But the demise of the august club, which was sent to the lowest league in Scotland last year, raises more universal questions for those of us who, like the RTC blogger and me, wear Celtic’s green colours. Should we gloat? Should we grieve? What does it mean to support a team whose greatest and only rival is gone?” ROADS & KINGDOMS


Tommy Burns: the man who bridged the Old Firm divide

November 17, 2013

“The more-than-a-century old rivalry between Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers is well established in the minds of football fans the world over. The colourful, boisterous, sometimes violent, scenes when the two sides meet are Scottish footballs biggest export, beamed to millions of people in hundreds of places from New York to New Caledonia and beyond.” World Soccer


Anthony Stokes inspires a fine 3-1 away victory for Celtic at Hearts

September 14, 2013

“Even with Hearts in their current, diminished state, Celtic would never hand-pick a trip to Tynecastle immediately before a Champions League tie. What that in mind, Neil Lennon can consider this as a job well done in Edinburgh. The Celtic manager watched his players claim a victory they deserved over a Hearts side who, in fairness, offered more resistance than could have been expected. Gary Locke, the Hearts manager, is worthy of continued credit for his guidance of the administration-hit club as those off the field edge towards a deal which should return local ownership to these parts by Christmas.” Guardian


The new Scottish Premiership season – the fans’ view

August 2, 2013

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Virgil van Dijk
“At the start of the new season, the first of the Scottish Professional Football League, how are the fans viewing their teams’ chances? We spoke to supporters of all 12 clubs in the top flight – rebranded as the Scottish Premiership – to find out how they thought the season would go.” BBC


Celtic’s Saturday Afternoon At Brentford

July 29, 2013

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“Apparently, last Saturday, I and hundreds of others went on a hooligan rampage and “destroyed” the West London suburb of Brentford, while attending a pre-season ‘friendly’ between weakened sides from Brentford’s League One club and current Scottish champions, Celtic. That last event was actually how I spent my Saturday afternoon; which I why I was very surprised to discover my role in the first. Let’s get some things straight straightaway. The behaviour of the 6,000+ Celtic fans at Brentford was raucous and loud both outside and inside their Griffin Park ground. Some of it was, frankly, wrong; fireworks and drunks on the pitch during the game, for example. However, I would be hard pushed to describe it as worse than the behaviour of many of the football crowds I have observed in, ulp, 40 years watching the game at various levels. In fact, in some aspects it was fabulous. And I would certainly not describe it in the emotive terms used by others of a, shall we say, non-Celtic persuasion – many of whom were nowhere near London, let alone Brentford, last Saturday.” twohundredpercent


Top 10 Young Football Managers

July 22, 2013

“Football, over the last couple of seasons, has been witnessing a ‘change of guard’. Players who we adored in their prime have retired, managers that headed some of the greatest sides in history have resigned. All this has given rise to the next generation of football personnel ranging from talented young footballers to talented young tacticians. In this piece we will be focusing on the Top 10 Young Football Managers, that could be at the helm of some of the biggest clubs in World Football, in the not-so-distant future.” Outside of the Boot – Part 1, Outside of the Boot – Part 2


The Second Coming Of Third Lanark

February 10, 2013


“Heard the story about the Glasgow based football club who ran into financial calamity and went bust? Of course you have, but this tale of woe isn’t about the collapse of Rangers, but a club whose name is woven into the fabric of Scottish football’s early days – Third Lanark. The club who were based in the city’s south side were founded in 1872 by the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers after the soldiers were inspired to create their own team by the first ever international match between Scotland and England at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow.” In Bed With Maradona


Could the Old Firm ever compete across the border?

January 19, 2013

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“The way forward for Scottish football is still somewhat blurred. League reconstruction talks have stalled while the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Premier League tear themselves apart from the inside. All parties agree change is needed, but that remains the only thing they can agree on. So considering the state of the Scottish game, is it time that Scotland’s two biggest and most supported clubs, Celtic and Rangers (known as the Old Firm), took care of themselves? Could a move to the Premier League finally come to pass? Ultimately, the chasm between the Old Firm and the rest of Scottish football is now unbridgeable.” ESPN


A good blend of youth and experience is the key to success

January 17, 2013

“The Frank Lampard affair which seems all too likely to spill over into the John Terry and Ashley Cole contretemps brings into focus again the whole complex matter of age. Who is too old and who too young for success in a football team? It is that once elegant centre back for Scotland and Liverpool Alan Hansen who has told us on television ‘You’ll win nothing with kids’.” World Soccer – Brian Glanville


For the Sake Of Playing

December 29, 2012

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“On Saturday, December 29th 2012, two football clubs from Glasgow will take to the pitch at Hampden Park to play the unlikeliest of matches. Glasgow derbies attended by tens, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of spectators around the time of New Year have been a tradition in Scottish football for well over a century, and yet this fixture will not feature a certain world-famous team in green and white hoops. It will be an older, more historic fixture, all but forgotten prior to the extraordinary 2012-13 Division Three season, and shall provide a strange and fascinating insight into how Scottish football might have developed in a parallel universe, where Queen’s Park FC had not held on in the face of changing times and priorities to its cherished amateur status, and had cleaved to its place as the country’s pre-eminent and most innovative football club.” In Bed With Maradona