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September 2004
Cascarino Talks Cack










Dwight Yorke rejected a move to Celtic in favour of Birmingham City and writing in 'The Times,' Tony Cascarino says it's the right decision. As evidence, Cascarino cites “trips to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Dundee and little else” and “a deficient league and trips to Kilmarnock.”

Cascarino never actually played against any of these teams, let alone visited the towns, during his spell in Scotland and clearly hasn't been in touch with our game for some time if he reckons Celtic have it easy against ICT, but so what? The big guy must be respected, having made his name playing in the ultra-glamorous surroundings of Gillingham and Millwall. After Priestfields and the Den (and we're talking the old Den here, the one the fans tore down before the demolition crews could get to it) it must have been downhill all the way.

He reminisces about his own time at Celtic, saying “I missed playing against top players every week.”

Sure you did, Tony, sure you did. Your record at the top speaks for itself. But just in case you're too modest to mention it, we'll do it for you.

After six seasons ploughing away in the old Third Division with Gillingham you finally got that big move to join the rest of 'Los galacticos' in Bermondsey.

You hit the big time with Millwall, winning promotion to the top flight in England when it was at its weakest ever. It could only provide around half the England team - the top players having scarpered to Spain, Italy, France and, er, Ibrox.

Even then they lost every match at the 1988 European Championships. But that wouldn't necessarily have upset a good 'Irishman' like yourself, albeit one born and brought up in Orpington.

Didn't Ireland beat England in the Euros that year, Tony? Course they did. You didn't play that day though, did you? No, it was a Scotsman, Ray Houghton, who scored the goal that beat England.

Never mind, you got your chance against the top players in the next two matches. Well, sort of. You got a run out for nine minutes as a replacement for Frank Stapleton in the second game and that was so successful, Jack Charlton gave you another seven minutes in the final match.

Still, not to mind, you were with the big boys now. Pity Watford and Oxford both got relegated that year but it can't be glamour every week, can it? There were plenty of great matches ahead. Big challenges against great sides that had finished in the top half of the table. Teams like QPR, Wimbledon, Luton and Coventry.

Exciting times, eh?

And of course there was Europe to look forward to as well. No, wait a minute, there wasn't. English clubs were still barred from UEFA competitions. Must have been pretty frustrating the year before, watching rubbish jocks like Dundee United get to the UEFA Cup Final at the same time as you were losing in the play-offs to the mighty Swindon Town.

88-89 was a good year for you. Tenth place and 13 goals. Can't argue with that. Think how many more it would have been in a Mickey Mouse league like Scotland. You'd show them if you ever ended up there, wouldn't you?

Not quite so good the next year though. You jumped ship towards the end of the season once it was clear Millwall were going down. Off to Villa where you couldn't possibly claim that the two goals you scored in ten games there had anything to do with them finishing runners-up. What was it they said of you in 'The Essential History of Aston Villa?' "Unable to help his new team-mates sustain their title challenge."

Ungrateful sods!

But there was the next season to look forward to. Pity Villa finished it fourth from bottom. Pity too that you ended up in Jockoland with Celtic. Still, you left Birmingham with the praise of your ever-adoring public ringing in your ears. Or, as the 'Essential History' puts it: "Cascarino had suffered another miserable season with nine league goals hardly justifying his price tag." We suppose it was some compensation that you arrived at Parkhead as a million-pound player. Time to sort the natives out and start banging in the goals, eh Tone?

What was it you said in your article on Yorke? “Had he gone on to score 30 goals in Scotland, his critics would have said “but it's only Scotland”, whereas should he score fifteen goals for Birmingham, he would be considered to have had a good season.”

You tell 'em, Tone. Voice of experience. You sure rattled the goals in back in 91-92. Four times in all. That's right, from a miserable 29 first team appearances for Celtic, you banged the back of the net a fantastic four times. On average a goal in nearly every seven games.

It was SO much easier up there, wasn't it? Not surprising really that you should chuck it for something harder. We were just honoured to be graced by your presence for a whole six months.

Oh, how the supporters wailed that day in February 1992 when you left for Chelsea, never to enlighten our Stygian mirk with your flair and skill again.

You kept banging them in though. Eight whole goals with Chelsea, one in every five games. Better than your other top league stats, one in three with Millwall, one in four at Villa, but nowhere near that one in seven in the pisspoor Premier in Scotland.

Yes, we know how you became a star with Marseilles in your mid-thirties and how you finally ended up as a Nancy boy. It's all in your book, you know, the one that's earned you a reputation as a tell-it-like-it-is, straight-from-the-shoulder and-a-whole-lot-of-other-hyphenated-words-kind-of-guy.

Like when you revealed that your 'Irish granny' wasn't even Irish and that you shouldn't have won one, let alone 88, caps for Ireland.

What a hoot that was.

But not as good as your advice for Yorke, a player not unlike yourself in his spare time proclivities.

You know, Tone, there are bound to be some mean-minded, ill-spirited jockos up there who reckon you of all people have a nerve knocking their game.

Not us. We say carry on. You know what you're talking about. You spent six months in that God-forsaken hellhole and not only lived to tell the tale, you inspired a generation of Celtic supporters, so in awe of your achievements that they no longer wear their Cascarino replica shirts lest others think they are equating you with the lesser men who have tried and failed to take your place. Men like Sutton, Hartson and that Swedish bloke, wots'isname?

We know they still speak in hushed tones of that night at Broomfield in the League Cup when you, a lion, a leader of men, strove heroically for 120 goalless minutes against the full might of the awesome Airdrieonians, only to lose so tragically on penalty kicks.

And, Tony, believe us, the Parkhead faithful treasures each and every one of those four goals you scored to this day.

So, when the faint hearts cavil or the cynics sneer, remember, we are on your side. We will silence the critics by saying simply this:




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