Ode to Scottish Football

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Sat31March1928
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Ode to Scottish Football

Post by Sat31March1928 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 12:23 pm

Melbourne Jambo posted this 'Sunday Post' style ode on Kickback.


The Rangers and the Celtic
Are both the very same.
A focal point for hatred,
And a blight upon the game.

Celtic’s Phlastic Phaddies
Sing endless soldiers songs.
They dream of being Oirish
With big guns for righting wrongs.

The Bears they wave the Union Flag
And sing praise of QE2.
Their love of all things English
Is enough to make you spew.

The owners love the hatred
For the money that it brings.
From the knuckle dragging weegies
Wearing Brut and sovvy rings.

The establishment’s addicted
To this bigoted charade.
The rules get bent the old firms way
Each time a game gets played.

Our teams make up the numbers,
But they simply have no chance.
Only the bigot brothers
are invited to the dance.

Arm in arm they stomp all over
All the other teams.
Cheating fans of fairness
And shattering their dreams.

The media are puppets of
The Old Firm stranglehold.
They perpetrate the myths they’re fed
To get their paper’s sold.

Scottish football’s ruined,
It is rotten to the core.
The dream it has been sacrificed
And it’s now a f***ing bore.

It's time to launch the Old Firm
and create a brand new game.
Where teams get every chance
to play their way to fame.

Let's tie their scarves together
tie a Paddy to a Hun
And let them tear each other
limb from limb, it will be fun.
Jackson; James; Jackson; James; Jackson

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Post by lbb » Thu Mar 27, 2008 12:49 pm

Generally, when other supporters complain about the Old Firm, it's because they imagine an OF-less scenario where their own club - usually Hearts, Hibs or Aberdeen, in my experience - will dominate the game instead. I don't think even Melbourne Jambo is anticipating a fair and equal game where the likes of Albion Rovers will come to Tynecastle and win. He/she would be fair outraged if that happened. So what they want to do is substitute one hegemony for another but one that's more preferable to them.

This might be one for the SFAQ's but is Scotland quite unique in Western Europe for having the dominant clubs outside the nation's capital? In most other countries, at least one of the capital clubs constitute the biggest clubs in that particular country.

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Post by Sat31March1928 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:20 pm

There are two issues here

1 the OF have become too big and dominant within the context of Scottish football. David points that out in the 'Roar of The Crowd' by looking at the crowds which for the OF home games at historic highs. Only by getting into a ridiculous level of debt can a club outwith the OF attempt to compete.

The reversion to a 'Buy Scottish' policy at both clubs also means that they are buying up their rivals besty players and in a few cases said players are nothing more than 'bench warmers' . The gap since 1985 since a non OF team won the title is the longest ever and doesn't seem likely to end soon.

2 The Domestic revenue gained by the OF is too low for them to compete at the very highest levels in Europe. There has been the odd exceptional year (Rangers may make the UEFA final this year given the draw).

Credible media authorites have been replaced by celebratory punditry and OF sycophants that make genuine discussion of this barely possible. Oh for someone like Bob Crampsie to be around now.

Holland springs to mind for provincal club dominance.
Jackson; James; Jackson; James; Jackson

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:58 pm

Sat31March1928 wrote: Holland springs to mind for provincal club dominance.
Sprang to my mind too but apparently Amsterdam is officially the capital. I've had this argument on another site. I thought it was The Hague but apparently that's only the site of the seat of government, not the capital.

One might also until relatively recently have thrown England in as another suggestion since first Liverpool and then Manchester United dominated for the best part of two decades. I suppose Arsenal's occasional competitiveness plus the recent advent of Russian Chelsea would rule it out now though.

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Post by StAndrewsHMFC » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:33 pm

lbb wrote:This might be one for the SFAQ's but is Scotland quite unique in Western Europe for having the dominant clubs outside the nation's capital? In most other countries, at least one of the capital clubs constitute the biggest clubs in that particular country.
This may be a bit to obvious, but how about Italy, Germany and Switzerland with the Milans & Juve, Bayern Munich, and Basle/Zurich teams respectively. Although there is no obvious dominant team in France with a total number of titles that can be counted on one hand Paris doesn't feature highly there. Historically the London teams haven't generally dominated the game in England (liverpool and man u doing it more effectively) and Sweden tends to be dominated by the Gothenburg clubs. Finally Rosenborg have dominated the norwegan game recently until 2/3 years ago

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Post by lbb » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:34 pm

The Old Firm, either or both, have always been dominant in Scottish football. That's not a recent phenomenon. What you're arguing is unprecedented is the attendances and the time lapsed since a non-OF team won the title.

There's no arguing with the attendances. There is more money than ever before going through their turnstiles. That's a fact. What I would say is that complaints about the financial power of the Old Firm are as old as the nickname itself. It's also worth noting how often the Old Firm, even in recent years, have been humbled in European football by not-very-rich European teams. This would suggest that there can be more than just finance at work.

It's widely accepted, even by Hearts fans, that if it weren't for the Hearts chairman shooting the club in the foot then Hearts could have won the title in 2005-06. Of course, it might be argued that this is an exception rather than the rule and what's required is for both OF teams to have exceptionally bad seasons and one non-OF team to have an exceptionally good season. However, that it can happen is at least true and is as likely or unlikely as Tottenham winning the Premiership. I suspect it's the lot for most leagues in Europe.

With the exception of the boom years of the 1960's when every Scottish team seemed to have outstanding talent - I can't remember the English manager that was quoted as saying 'if you needed a winger, you went to Scotland and got one' - the Old Firm have never competed at the very highest levels in Europe on a regular basis. Their successes of the last couple of seasons owe mainly to them adopting largely negative tactics and, in my view, a general decline in the middle European standard - more emphasis on setups, discipline than creativity and flair which would leave the OF unstuck.

The decline of outstanding talent in Scotland is the biggest issue, imo, not whether the Old Firm are here or not. It seems to me that the clubs were content to do little to develop young players for a long time as they arrived naturally. When societal conditions changed and extra-curricular work in schools declined or vanished, the clubs did not adapt and take up the work of developing their own talent to the previous standard. Instead, they sat around and complained that society wasn't producing the footballers it once did.

It's astonishing that Rangers did not have indoor training facilities, or any kind of extensive youth development with proper facilities, in place until 2001. Even up until 2 years ago, Celtic were havering that Barrowfield met all their needs. I was astonished to see on Setanta, Stewart Milne of Aberdeen claiming that AFC may have their own training ground 'in 2011'. And that's only for the professionals!

We neglected to develop our own players, we play the game the wrong way, we fail to provide a network of suitable sporting academies for training and development, we give jobs to the same cycle of failed coaches and managers and then sit around and wonder why our league is of a relatively poor quality. And, of course, up pops the solution - let's get rid of the Old Firm. The fundamental problems in Scottish football won't go away with the Old Firm. In any case, where are the Old Firm meant to go? The Old Firm are stuck with Scottish football and Scottish football is stuck with them. The best solution is for everyone to work together to improve the game but that will require radical, sometimes painful, decisions that may go against a particular club's interest. That means it probably won't happen.

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Post by lbb » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:46 pm

StAndrewsHMFC wrote: This may be a bit to obvious, but how about Italy, Germany and Switzerland with the Milans & Juve, Bayern Munich, and Basle/Zurich teams respectively. Although there is no obvious dominant team in France with a total number of titles that can be counted on one hand Paris doesn't feature highly there. Historically the London teams haven't generally dominated the game in England (liverpool and man u doing it more effectively) and Sweden tends to be dominated by the Gothenburg clubs. Finally Rosenborg have dominated the norwegan game recently until 2/3 years ago
Italy - Roma and Lazio have both won Serie A this decade.
Germany - I think the small matter of the Berlin Wall might have hindered development of a reasonably strong force from this city.
Switzerland - the legendary, er, Young Boys of Bern.
England - Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea have all been, at various times, successful in English football.
Sweden - no-one wants to play AIK Stockholm in Europe.

I must have mis-read something once. I'm sure I read that Scotland was quite unique for having the 2 biggest clubs in Glasgow and its two capital clubs so off the pace in comparison. There must be something in that, Shirley?

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Post by Scottish » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:03 pm

The three biggest clubs in Italy are all from outside the capital.

Personally I think the OF situation is one of can't live with them, can't live without them. I've long argued that the only circumstances in which they would be welcome in England would be if the financial ba' burst.

As long as English clubs are filling their stadia and raking in TV cash they don't need the OF. If the game went tits up, no TV money and declining gates then the OF might be welcome - if only for their ability to fill the grounds. But in that scenario there's no gain for the OF.

In European terms they are Championship, not Premiership and the advent of a proper European League might actually militate against the OF as they would be lumped in with clubs of a similar size, all vying for promotion to the elite. So the opposition they have faced in recent times like Man Utd, Barcelona, Milan etc might not actually be available to them in such a set-up.

However if they ever did leave Scottish football I don't think much would change domestically as far as attendances and media coverage are concerned. OF supporters wouldn't start watching other clubs. There was an instance a few years ago during bad weather when there were three games on in Glasgow over the weekend. There were about 3,500 in total at Firhill and Hampden and 30,000+ for an OF over-35's match! Sorry, I don't have the details to hand.

I did a piece on life without the Old Firm which looks at how our game might have been had the OF not existed.

Yes, there would be periods when other clubs dominated but there wouldn't be the same stranglehold on the game and nor would the religious aspect be present.

The last is the saddest thing of all. The OF's control of Scottish football is so strong, so absolute and so deeply entrenched that there isn't even any NEED for bigotry to keep them at the top - and there hasn't been for almost two decades. Put bluntly, if Rangers were taken over by Richard Dawkins tomorrow and Celtic came under the sway of flying spaghetti monster worshippers it would make absolutely no difference to their support or their position in the game (though I find the concept of the 'spaghetti hoops' alluring).

Just as Man Utd, Real Madrid, Juventus etc don't need extraneous factors like religion to continue their growth worldwide, the OF would continue to rule Scottish football in the absence of any religious factor.

The Scottish game as a whole of course would be much better for it.

The Mo Johnston affair showed just how little power the bigots actually possessed. All the threats of season tickets being returned, all the nutjobs burning their scarves - and for what? No impact whatsoever on gates at Ibrox or on the club's commerce.

To summarise: the wee boys and girls from all over Scotland would grow up to support the OF will do so in exactly the same way as their counterparts will attach themselves to Man Utd or Arsenal - because they're the biggest and usually the best.

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Post by StAndrewsHMFC » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:20 pm

lbb wrote:Italy - Roma and Lazio have both won Serie A this decade.
To claim there 3rd and 2nd titles respectively, even Hearts can beat that
lbb wrote:Germany - I think the small matter of the Berlin Wall might have hindered development of a reasonably strong force from this city.
I could argue the small matter of Glasgow being considerably larger then Edinburgh helps the old firm... But ok I'll let you have Bonn as well as Berlin
lbb wrote:Switzerland - the legendary, er, Young Boys of Bern.
Young Boys have only won 1 title since 1960, since then it has been pretty much the Basle/Zurich/Grasshoppers show.
lbb wrote:England - Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea have all been, at various times, successful in English football.
Hearts and Hibs have been, at various times, successful in scottish football. But I take the point on Arsenal, however Chelsea and Tottenham have been as successful as Roma and Lazio.
lbb wrote:Sweden - no-one wants to play AIK Stockholm in Europe.
Djurgartens from Stockholm have won 7, but Malmo Gothenburg and Norrkopping has more successful clubs. AIK feared in europe or not have 4.

Do you accept France then?

I think the point might be that no other western league has been dominated to the same extent by just two teams for so long. However it should be remembered that the game has been a more popular sport for longer than most western european countries, and being one of the smaller countries we're more succeptible to domination by a small number of teams (small pond arguement)

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Post by lbb » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:51 pm

Lazio and Roma have made a significant contribution to Italian and European football, though. We're not talking decades since either of them reached the pinnacle of Italian football, even if only for a short while. I guess what I was trying to say was that Hearts and Hibs, more than most being based in the capital, have generally underachieved and their frustration at having done so is taken out on the Old Firm.

I know the point you're trying to make about an 'alternative honours list' but it's not very scientific. At least, though, it establishes the fact that three clubs - Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen - would have the most to gain from the Old Firm leaving Scottish football. I'm sure that's not their motivation, though. In any case, a team winning the title can be spurred onto even more success rather than falling away if they finish 2nd or 3rd. If Aberdeen, for example, in 1993 and 1994 had won the league rather than finish behind Rangers then they might not have crumpled as they did, or sacked Willie Miller as they did. There's a lot of variables, basically, as I'm sure you know. Winning titles would have attracted more supporters, would have consolidated their positions at the top and a new hierarchy would have developed instead. With all respect, for teams like Kilmarnock, Falkirk, St. Mirren, I don't imagine the OF going would make the slightest bit of difference.

The English league is a non-starter for the Old Firm. Will never happen. A European league is already here in all but name and any expansion of it will be at the very top end rather than involving the Old Firm.

It's an interesting point about Mo Johnston. I had a conversation with a colleague this morning and made the point that certainly Waddell, and maybe Greig and Wallace, were frightened to make such a signing because they overestimated the power base of these lunatics. As the author Sandy Jamieson noted - 'the bigots needed Rangers more than Rangers needed the bigots'. Even after the Johnston signing, where else were they going to go? Clyde?

I'm not sure what can be done about the general bigotry problem. It's ironic, for me, that as both clubs have done more than they've ever done with respect to anti-bigotry statements, there is more animosity between both supports than I can ever recall. A general breakdown in mutual respect. I blame the Internet and phone-ins. Who knows where it will go. As a political point, I think an independent Scotland might even make things worse - inciting extreme positions on both sides. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

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Post by lbb » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:59 pm

StAndrewsHMFC wrote: To claim there 3rd and 2nd titles respectively, even Hearts can beat that
The Italian clubs have been successful in Europe, though.
StAndrewsHMFC wrote:I could argue the small matter of Glasgow being considerably larger then Edinburgh helps the old firm... But ok I'll let you have Bonn as well as Berlin
Edinburgh is much richer than Glasgow, though.

I'm constructing a brilliant argument here, I see.
StAndrewsHMFC wrote:I think the point might be that no other western league has been dominated to the same extent by just two teams for so long. However it should be remembered that the game has been a more popular sport for longer than most western european countries, and being one of the smaller countries we're more succeptible to domination by a small number of teams (small pond arguement)
True. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if the OF are dominating to such a degree, is it really enough for the other clubs to just hold their hands up and say it's nothing to do with them. It's the kind of defeatist attitude that annoys. It's like Aberdeen in the 1970's - 2nd three times and 3rd once before Alex Ferguson arrived. Then they win the league in 2 years. Maybe the talent was always there and he just changed the way they went about it.

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Post by Scottish » Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:42 pm

lbb wrote:Lazio and Roma have made a significant contribution to Italian and European football, though. We're not talking decades since either of them reached the pinnacle of Italian football, even if only for a short while. I guess what I was trying to say was that Hearts and Hibs, more than most being based in the capital, have generally underachieved and their frustration at having done so is taken out on the Old Firm.
Yes but football power in Italy resides in Milan and Turin and has done so for decades. Though it's fair to say Hearts & Hibs have been under-achievers. Particularly during the inter-war period when more of a challenge could have been expected from them - and from Aberdeen.
lbb wrote:I know the point you're trying to make about an 'alternative honours list' but it's not very scientific.
No, it's not and I don't pretend it is - particularly in regard to the cup competitions. But the most valid aspects are the league comparisons and the crowd figures. These are all real results and figures with the Old Firm subtracted and AFAIK is the only long-term 'guide' based on actual results as opposed to pure speculation.
lbb wrote:With all respect, for teams like Kilmarnock, Falkirk, St. Mirren, I don't imagine the OF going would make the slightest bit of difference.
It would make them poorer. Kilmarnock, Motherwell and St Mirren - because of their proximity to Glasgow and the large number of OF fans in their own localities - would suffer far more proportionately from a loss of OF revenue than the East Coast clubs
lbb wrote:It's an interesting point about Mo Johnston. I had a conversation with a colleague this morning and made the point that certainly Waddell, and maybe Greig and Wallace, were frightened to make such a signing because they overestimated the power base of these lunatics. As the author Sandy Jamieson noted - 'the bigots needed Rangers more than Rangers needed the bigots'. Even after the Johnston signing, where else were they going to go? Clyde?
I'm not aware of that quote but I'd endorse it 100%.
lbb wrote:I'm not sure what can be done about the general bigotry problem. It's ironic, for me, that as both clubs have done more than they've ever done with respect to anti-bigotry statements, there is more animosity between both supports than I can ever recall. A general breakdown in mutual respect. I blame the Internet and phone-ins. Who knows where it will go.
You're right about the clubs. Whether it's self-interest, fear of European sanction or the pure fruit of an enlightened spirit is immaterial. They ARE doing more than ever before - if starting from a low base. I think there's an argument in suggesting that as the institutions and causes behind the bigotry lose their influence in society as a whole then people cling to the one outlet remaining to them with an even greater intensity. For example it must be difficult for either side to get genuinely worked up about events across the water when Messrs Paisley & McGuiness have offices next door to each other. Much easier to express their prejudices at football.
lbb wrote:As a political point, I think an independent Scotland might even make things worse - inciting extreme positions on both sides. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
I don't think it would make a blind bit of difference. If a combined effect of nuclear holocaust, global warming and alien invasion reduced humanity to one Orange Adam and one Provo Eve I wouldn't hold out much hope for the planet's re-population.

But in any case let's not go there. I really don't want this site overrun by the green ink insomniacs who infest the newspaper forums.

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Post by Scottish » Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:30 pm

Sat31March1928 wrote: Oh for someone like Bob Crampsie to be around now.
Bob Crampsey IS still around. But I fear that even if a younger Bob were to appear on the horizon the chance of his voice being heard would be next to zero. It's evolution in reverse - Crampsey>Spiers>Broadfoot.

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Post by Scottish » Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:50 pm

On alleged capital city domination:

The biggest prize in club football is the European Cup. Yet only five capital cities - Madrid, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Belgrade & Bucharest - have ever seen a club triumph in 52 seasons. On average one in three European Cups is won by a side from a capital - 17/52. Yet even that figure masks the truth. Real Madrid have won nine times and the first seven European Cups were won by capital clubs - Madrid five and Benfica twice. Take that out of the equation and the performance of capital clubs is poor indeed - with the exceptions of Madrid & Amsterdam.

Eleven Italian triumphs - none from Rome. Ten English wins - none from London and until 2006 not even a finalist. Six German winners - none from Berlin. Think about that. London, Paris, Berlin & Rome - traditionally the most powerful cities in Europe this side of Moscow and not a single European Cup between them.

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Post by Sat31March1928 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:52 pm

scottish wrote:
Sat31March1928 wrote: Oh for someone like Bob Crampsie to be around now.
Bob Crampsey IS still around. But I fear that even if a younger Bob were to appear on the horizon the chance of his voice being heard would be next to zero. It's evolution in reverse - Crampsey>Spiers>Broadfoot.
I knew he was still alive, in fact a met him about 3 years ago when he was talking about the Hearts team of the Great War. As well as fitba he has a great love of cricket and was most pleased to hear that I had a photo of Andy Black (one of his favourite Hearts players) in cricket whites. As he put it he was the link between the carrier pigeon (which is what some newspapers used to send their Saturday reports in for the Saturday night 'pinks' n 'greens') and the internet.
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