By Jim Thornton:
Watt on a Charge?
I had a pop at Celtic the other week after their dour display in Barcelona, so it’s only fair to give them a pat on the back for the result at Parkhead in the return match. As a neutral, though, I still have to say that neither game was much of a spectacle, but if you’re a Celtic fan you don’t really care about how much possession you may not have had, do you? It’s about how many you stick in the other side’s pokey. Enjoy!
As a supporter of a wee diddy team, I was particularly pleased to see young Tony Watt – signed from Airdrie – turn in such an accomplished display against the Spaniards. Yes, there are some hammer throwers in the lower leagues (Ian Black immediately springs to mind), but there are also some very decent players in the SFL who could do a turn in the top division given half a chance. None of them are at Broadwood, sadly.
And if you believe what you read in the papers - which I always do - young Watt is an all-round good guy - modest, polite, and kind to animals and old folk. If he doesn’t watch himself, he’ll be up before the SFA on a charge of bringing the game into repute.
Nights to Remember
Gordon Waddell, clearly still on a high after Celtic’s fine win, wrote in the Sunday Mail that it was ‘… arguably the greatest result on Scottish soil …’. (You’ll note he uses the word ‘result’ rather than ‘performance’, by the way.)
Assuming that we’re just talking about Scottish sides – even the most fervent Celtic fan would be hard-pushed to say that the Parkhead team’s result last week was better than Real Madrid’s 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden – there are a few other contenders for the title.
In 1961, Hibs beat Barcelona 3-2 at Easter Road, and the following season Dunfermline gubbed Valencia 6-2 at East End Park. Dundee United, of course, famously beat Barcelona (home and away) in both 1966 and 1987. Maybe that’s where the ‘Bring on Spaniards by the score!’ song started.
Rangers beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at Ibrox in 1972, and Celtic themselves dumped English champions Leeds United 2-1 at Hampden in the 1970 European Cup. Happy days, indeed.
But for me, the top two results have to be Dundee thrashing reigning German champions Cologne 8-1 at Dens Park in the 1962 European Cup, and Kilmarnock - 3-0 down after the first game against Eintracht Frankfurt in 1964, and having conceded a fourth goal in the second minute of the return leg at Rugby Park - coming back to win 5-1 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate. The old town had seen nothing like it since Johnnie Walker had his first stab at making whisky.
If the Cap Fits
It’s like waiting for a bus in the rain. You hang about for ages waiting for one football club chief to say something sensible, and the next minute another one comes along and does exactly the same.
St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown has called for a salary cap in the SPL. He cites the folly of clubs spending money they don’t have to sign players they can’t afford in an attempt to stave off relegation, where the cost of going down would outweigh the additional wages involved in trying to stay up. In the short term it might make some sort of sense, but in the longer run, especially if relegation isn’t avoided, it’s the economics of the madhouse. Ask Dunfermline.
And Charles Green, in a break from blaming the SPL for everything from EBTs to the price of a loaf, says Rangers will in future restrict wages to just one third of turnover. A challenging, if praiseworthy, target. And only a cynic would ask where the other two-thirds of the money will go.
Players’ wages are by far the biggest expense at any full-time side, but they’re a controllable cost if clubs bite the bullet and decide to live within their means. What are players going to do if every team sticks to paying only what they can actually afford? Would they really move from, say, Kilmarnock to Inverness if the wages on offer were broadly the same? A few might move to England, but only a few – for the most part those players who English sides want are already down there.
Ask yourself what you would prefer. A couple of new players and your club going bust? Or sticking with the dumplings you know and love and still having a team to moan about? Clyde missed out on promotion to the SPL on the last day of the 2003-04 season after building a competitive squad with money we didn’t have. Since then, we’ve gone through a CVA and successive relegations to the bottom of the Third Division as the club set about repaying its debts. We might be rubbish, but we’re still there. So, if you’re a Jambo, do you really want to be pushing a trolley around a new Tesco in Gorgie on a Saturday when you could be watching Darren Barr instead? Mind you, the Clubcard points would come in handy.
Sadly, it looks like John Terry is going to miss the forthcoming League Cup tie between Leeds and Chelsea following his injury against Liverpool at the weekend. And I was so looking forward to him lining up against El Hadji Diouf. I’m sure they would have had a lot to talk about.
Spoiled for Choice
Let’s hope the SFA don’t drag their heels in picking the new Scotland manager. After all, how can Steven Fletcher - one international goal in ten games before he called off from the match against Luxembourg - decide if he’s going to be fit for the next game if he doesn’t know which manager it is he might not want to play for?
Bandits at Three O’Clock
I see RAF Lossiemouth got pumped 19-1 by Maud a couple of weeks ago. Did Biggles defy the swastika for this?
Should Have Gone to Specsavers
Roy Barry, the former Hearts, Hibs, and Dunfermline (amongst others) stopper, was asked by Backpass magazine for his tips for promotion from the English Championship. He went for Blackburn, Blackpool, and Bolton, citing the managerial experience of Steve Kean, Ian Holloway, and Owen Coyle as being big factors in his picks.
Wonder if he’s got any tips for the dogs at Shawfield?
Reflections of a Football Manager
Talking of Ian Holloway, he once described the then Chelsea manager Avram Grant thus: ‘If we’re talking lookalikes, he’s Toad of Toad Hall, isn’t he?’
Have you had a look in the mirror lately, Ian?
Did you see William Hill’s newspaper advert for the game between Liverpool and Newcastle United the week before last. They were offering 8-1 for Demba Ba to score at any time, and Manchester United to win. Only Kevin Twaddle would’ve had a punt on that one.