A weekend of massive games. Oh and a cup final.

Well, there’s some BIG games in Scotland this week. It all starts with Motherwell Vs. Hibs tonight in the SPL. Considering the form of Well’s Michael Higdon (Boo! His goal got us relegated.), Hibs’ Leigh Griffiths and the fact the last ten games between these two sides has resulted in 45 goals, an entertaining game is in order. Mind you, now that I’ve said that, it’ll be 0-0. I’m wanting anything but a Motherwell win tonight, only because we’re competing with them!

Then tomorrow we have possibly the biggest Highland derby (“El Kessocko” still doesn’t sound right to me and I shudder at “Cold Firm”) of ALL TIME with both teams fighting to cement a top 6 place and make a charge for European football! If you’d told me that at the start of the season I wouldn’t have believed you but both teams have been absolutely fantastic. Being a loyal ICT fan of course, I’ll be there, cheering on Terry and the boys. I’ll be doing a post on the atmosphere and game tomorrow, so watch this space. Especially if you’ve never experienced it. It promises to be an absolute belter.

In fact if you are able to go, GO! Scottish football needs your support!

Celtic host Aberdeen on Saturday in the other SPL game. There are some rumours going about that this could possibly be Craig Brown’s final game in charge, if Aberdeen are able to find a new manager soon, since he decided that he will be retiring at the end of the season. I personally can’t see that being the case and I reckon Brown will stay on for the remaining games of the season, due to the fact there’s not that many left.

Then on Sunday there’s a Dundee Derby at Tannadice. I’d imagine United to be the strong favourites, but some are saying that Dundee are having a mini revival.
It seems that the Dark Blues will be replacing Rab Douglas in goals with new signing Steve Simonsen, the former Stoke goalkeeper. There’s stories going around that new Dundee manager John Brown told Douglas to pack up and get out. If this is the case, it’s a pretty disgraceful way to treat a loyal servant of the club, regardless of his sub-par performances this season. The official line is that Douglas is carrying an injury and is being given time off to recover. Only time will tell as to what the truth is.

There is another game on Sunday. Just the small matter of the League Cup final. St. Mirren take on Hearts for the first trophy of the season at Hampden. St. Mirren will be attempting to win this trophy for the first time in their history, whilst Hearts are after their 5th. Given both teams form, I’d say the men from Paisley might be slight favourites, but the Caley Jags were favourites to beat Hearts in the semi-final and we were knocked out. I’d have to say I’d prefer a Saints win, if only because the Jambos knocked us out and the fact my great grandfather played for St. Mirren in the 1940’s.

It promises to be a good weekend of football in Scotland, so if you can GET TO A GAME!

The latest flight of fancy

So what was it I was saying yesterday? Oh yes, I left on league reconstruction. After the news yesterday (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21763900) it seems that yet again Scottish Football is being led down the road of pandering to the Old Firm.

It seems the SFL are entertaining the idea of allowing two extra spaces in the league structure to accommodate a Celtic B and a Rangers B team. I’m sorry but in my opinion this is quite possibly one of the more insane ideas I’ve ever heard on how to fix our game. The Old Firm can start collecting two gates some weeks, and of course they need the money! Nevermind the fact that this proposal has been dreamt up because David Longmuir is scared that the Old Firm are going to leave us.
Here’s what he had to say –
“If both clubs were to leave without the legacy of a colt team and an annual financial settlement, then Scottish football as an industry would face significant drops in commercial, marketing and media investment.
“Our games may be more competitive with more clubs evenly matched, but that would come with a potential reduction in quality and resources.
“The legacy of a colt team would allow Scottish football to profit from the global success of the parent club or team, but also provide a level of domestic football which would be competitive, interesting and attractive to fans, sponsors and media alike.
“It would operate more along the lines of a community club.
“Only when the parent clubs moved out of Scotland, would the colt team then have the freedom to progress through the leagues unhindered, and based on their sporting success.”

From that statement, I’d like to highlight this sentence –
“Our games may be more competitive with more clubs evenly matched, but that would come with a potential reduction in quality and resources.”
So Mr Longmuir, rather than creating a competitive league, which would be entertaining and therefore more marketable (over time), you would rather we continue making sure that our league is one of the most uncompetitive in the world, whilst also allowing the Old Firm to have teams in another league, keeping their pockets lined, while Scottish football is left with the “reserves”?
The arrogance and utter contempt for our game by the men at the top seems to know no bounds. Non Old Firm clubs are regularly informed that we are holding the Old Firm back, as if our clubs mean nothing. This attitude is what’s holding our game back. Do they forget that Aberdeen once beat Real Madrid to a European trophy? That Dundee United reached a UEFA cup final? These are clubs with a proud history, but now seem to be treated simply as “Diddy clubs”. I understand that back then, our game was stronger, but as we found out recently, Rangers were so dominant because they weren’t playing on the same financial playfield as everyone else. The “Holier than thou” (HAH!) attitude of the Old Firm and the protection afforded to them has allowed our game to get to this state. Every non Old Firm fans know that both Celtic and Rangers ideal league is not in England, but a league in which they play each other 18 times a season.
That’s all they want.

Also, why is Mr. Longmuir scared that the Old Firm will be off anyway? England doesn’t want them. Even if they did, they would have to begin at the bottom. Which isn’t League 2. It also isn’t the Conference North. It’s about 5 levels below that.
I can’t see them accepting that, because then they really would be playing against pub teams.
To be honest, I think there’s a growing feeling that we don’t even want them in Scotland. Rather than trying to improve our game as a whole, they’d rather improve themselves, which by their reckoning is improving our game as a whole. It can’t continue like this.

I’m going to be blunt, but I think the Old Firm are the cancer of Scottish Football. We need to cut them out before we lose the whole thing. Sure, our league would be weaker financially for a while, many clubs would struggle and we wouldn’t be as competitive in Europe (seeing that’s only really ever the Old Firm anyway) but over time, competition will allow our game to blossom once more, and fans will start to come back, when they realise the game is no longer rigged against them and their clubs. I would rather see this, than the continuation of the status quo.

Which is why I wanted to highlight that sentence. Mr Longmuir and his pals are so out of touch with the game and the fans that they are willing to risk the long term survival of our game for the short term financial benefits for a couple of select clubs.

It’s good to see that a few SFL clubs, like Raith Rovers and Falkirk have said that these proposals are irresponsible. It’s just going to distract from the bigger picture of our whole game.
St. Mirren’s Stewart Gilmour has said “If there’s to be colt teams, fine, but for everybody and there’s a colt league, it’s as simple as that. We’ve no desire for some clubs to have colt teams and others not.”. Which is a fair point. It also reminds me that we have no reserve league in Scotland. I understand it was stopped for financial reasons, but we NEED a reserve league. It’s one of those things which is fundamental for developing our game I believe.

We need to make sure that when the inevitable league reconstruction happens, it’s for the benefit of all clubs in the long term, not just the few to protect their privileges.

OK, on a more lighthearted note I absolutely loved this video

C’mon boys! Listen to Terry! Let’s get out there and beat them!

Kicking off

Look at that title.  LOOK AT IT.  It’s possibly gone way over everyone’s head.

Yes, it took me all of 2 seconds to equate my first post proper, with kicking off.

You’re still here?  Great.

I’ll begin (kick off? – I’ll stop) with where I suppose would be a natural starting point.  Last weekend’s action.  The big talking points would be Ross County’s defeat of Celtic and Leigh Griffith’s phantom goal in the Edinburgh derby.  Now, regarding the first game, I have to say I’m disappointed that the overall media position has been to discuss how poor Celtic were, rather than giving Ross County the rightful credit for coming back to win after being 2-0 down.  This has always been the case though in Scotland, that very rarely is a team given credit for defeating the Old Firm, it’s nearly always that the Old Firm didn’t turn up.  So I’ll say well done to County.  However they have no chance on Saturday, when ICT are gonna smash them in the derby.

On to the Edinburgh derby and Hibs.  Let’s face it, it wasn’t the most exciting of games yesterday, barring the non allowance of an absolute beaster of a free kick from Leigh Griffiths.  A good bit over the line, but one of the assistant refs couldn’t guarantee it was over.  Can’t say it’s the first time I’ve seen terrible officiating in the SPL.  Credit to Leigh Griffiths too, he didn’t lose his head.  He’s without doubt been one of the best players this year and he’s definitely a character.  It’d be good to see him stay in the SPL, but if Wolves continue to be as bad as they are, they might need his goals next season in League 1.

Also credit to another Hibs player, Kevin Thomson.  It’s been revealed he’s signed for his former club until the end of the season, without pay.  It’s fantastic to see.  He said he understands the current financial climate so has decided to help put the club first.  It’s great for him also because he can get games, stay fit and put himself in the shop window.

It makes you wonder why we haven’t seen something similar from Craig Gordon, the last I heard he was on the coaching staff at Dumbarton.  Are his wage demands too high?  I  can’t believe no one seems willing to take a risk on him.

Well that’s my first post done.  Thanks for reading.

 

Welcome to the Paul Paps football blog

Welcome.  Wilkommen.  Bienvenue.

To anyone reading this, thanks for visiting.  What exactly are you visiting though?

Well, the purpose of this blog is to give my individual perspective on Scottish football (with a liberal sprinkling of Inverness Caledonian Thistle bias) as well as some thoughts about the global game in general.

Our game’s not the most technical.  It’s not always the prettiest.  It is bloody entertaining though.

I hope this blog will be too.