from paris to lennoxtown

A footballer’s life is never dull and can lead them to strange places that they didn’t know that existed. Take Odsonne Eduardo. One day your training in the heat and beauty of Paris, the next you’re in a rain swept Lennoxtown, unable to communicate with any of your team-mates.

 

You then make your debut on a plastic pitch that has seen better days, in a stadium that has a temporary stand down one side where you’re introduced to the industrial nature of the Scottish game. You take a while to get into the game but eventually find your speed, which defenders find difficult to stop. Couple this with skill, rawness plus an unmistakeable Frenchness then you have an interesting season watching how much game time the player will get.

 

He’s shown enough to suggest it will be enjoyable and absorbing.  

this was printed in the scotsman fanzone wednesday 13th september 2017  

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the letter box of fate

Strange and as unlikely as it seems, Scotland are now peering through the letterbox of a possible playoff spot hoping that someone will let them in. It’s testament to Strachan’s sheer stubbornness that he has lead us to this position.

 

Most would have walked after the first half of this campaign but he is now the longest serving manager since Craig Brown and we have just won back to back games in qualifying for the first time in ten years.

 

Most successful or semi decent international teams are made up of a core from one or two clubs and are extremely organised. Six Celtic players started both games aided by the impressive Andrew Robertson, first Liverpool player to score Scotland since Kenny Dalglish,and Matt Phillips. Strachan is the man for the job and he must remain so after October.  

published in the scotsman fanzone on 6th September 2017 

the foundation of rock bottom

The most solid foundation you can have is rock bottom. While it’s wrong to suggest that when Rodgers took over the club was at rock bottom it certainly didn’t look to have a solid foundation.

 

We played a usually tension fraught Champions League Play Off last week but by 70 mins, were looking towards the Champions League. But we have no sea legs and our lead looked slender after the opening of the second half.   

 

Overall though we dominated a tough tie for the majority of the two games, scored eight goals and only looked ropey when we downed tools and the momentum switched but, importantly, was regained.

 

Since Rodgers arrived he has transformed the thinking of the club from one that hoped to qualify for the Champions League to one that expects too. Raised expectations built on solid foundations.

Printed in The Scotsman 23rd August 2017. This was re-written after the final whistle of the play off game after a phone call from the paper. i was on a treadmill at the time…..

the belfast child(s)

Football is littered with pantomime villains but it’s also full of those, who have an extended interest in the game, believing – in their own fickle minds – that players are actual villains. Villains who deserve to be abused for 90 minutes.

 

Last week, Kyle Lafferty took centre stage at Celtic Park last week, charging around failing to get sent off and he reacted to the crowd when being substituted. This week Neil Lennon spoke the unwritten truth then over celebrated a Hibs goal at Ibrox. Fans called for the death penalty for both men. The only thing in common is some fans abusing these players think Scotland 2017 is actually Belfast in the early eighties.  

 

We have been told to move on over the summer but the only thing that needs to move on in the game are these fans.

 

Printed in the Scotsman Fanzone Wednesday 16th August. i’m beginning to sound like pat nevin. 

the sand and the century

A new season. The pitches are pristine green, the goal mouths beg to be dived in but if you look closely you can see the base of sand that will appear in the winter gloom. Scottish Football is also built on a base of sand that will soon be exposed.  When exposed there will be no winners or losers just more questions, accusations and regrets.

 

The game on the pitch is the easiest part not to question. Not dark just light. Leigh Griffiths, after his heroics at Hampden, has lifted his game to a level that most didn’t think possible. He is a testament to listening to coaches, hard work and making the best of your talent.

 

He’s talismanic already in this early season but will be a welcome addition to the Celtic Centenary Club before it is out.

Printed in The Scotsman Fanzone, Wednesday 9th August 2017

Scotsman Fanzone: 3rd January 2017

No matter the gap, Derby games are always fraught with danger. In the nineties I remember us running a financially charged rival close on a few occasions and even beating them. It was like being annoyed by a fly but once the window was open, the annoyance flew away. It made no difference long term.  

 

Saturday was like that. A partisan home support and a half hour where it looked like our unbeaten run was going to come to an end. After we scored the game swung, the score line in the end flattered but we could have rued our numerous missed chances.
A season that started with a defeat overlooking a runway in Gibraltar has seen us reach the halfway point undefeated domestically and competed in the Champions League. After the last few seasons we’re allowed our raucous celebrations.  

Scotsman Fanzone: 27th December 2016

It’s the season for love and understanding, unless you’re attending a game where Wullie Collum officiates like a chef who has drunk the cooking sherry. I’ve said numerous times; how he is still a top flight referee should be subject to judicial review.

 

Luckily for us, his decision to send off Calum McGregor saw us turn in our best performance for a number of games with ten men looking more comfortable than eleven. Stuart Armstrong continues to be reborn and his strike was as a christmas cracker.    

 

A Glasgow Derby will be played in an already alcohol soaked time. I won’t be there as there is no way that anyone can justify me paying £49 for a game of football in Scotland. While the press will focus on anti-social behaviour it should be calling out the clubs for this robbery.