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
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,
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."
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
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,
Like when you revealed that your 'Irish granny' wasn't
even Irish and that you shouldn't have won one, let alone 88, caps
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
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:
TONY CASCARINO. A MAN WHOSE RECORD SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.