The Absolute Game Revisited – Part 27

June 14, 2010


Dumbarton 2 Rangers 4 – 29 December 1984

As befits the fact that this match took place in the dying days of George Orwell’s famous year, it was something of a room 101 experience for Sons fans. Despite the fact that Rangers were in one of their “we can lose to anybody” phases, they still proved to be too powerful for my wee team, thanks mainly to a virtuoso performance by Davie Cooper.

At the beginning of that season I had purchased a season ticket for the stand at Boghead, mainly to ensure that I would have no problem getting in to the “big games” . Much to my chagrin I soon found that my seat was situated in the midst of what was laughingly referred to as “the press area”. For most games the press were represented by the local rag’s fleet scribbler, and Willie Hunter from the Glasgow Herald. Willie used his Boghead match reports to indulge his secret ambitions to be a philosopher in the Wittgenstein mould. They usually started off along the lines, “As the ball was lumped out of the park for the twentieth time and bounced joyfully down Boghead Road, I wonder what it was thinking. Was it perhaps musing on the utter futility and total meaninglessness of life etc etc“.

Of course, on the day that Rangers were in town, every other newspaper reptile in the West of Scotland turned up. As I swanned into the ground past the hordes of ticketless bears, I was just congratulating myself on being smart enough to have the season ticket, when to my horror I found that my seat was occupied by none other than Ian Archer. In common with his fellow journalists Ian was busy sharpening his pencil and dreaming of inventive headlines about Santa coming late to Boghead.

The traditional altercation which arises in these situations ensued. Archer declined to move, playing the “do you know who I am?” card. I was able to trump this by moving into my “get out of my fucking seat ya bastard” mode. Eventually the great man made way, with considerable ill-grace, but not before I had treated him to the classic complaint of the “wee diddy team” supporter, ie “You ‘re only here because Rangers are playing. I have to suffer this crap every fortnight”.

Having gained my seat I noticed that apart from journalists I was surrounded by several celebrity Rangers players, who for one reason or another had not made the team that day. Ah, when I think of the veritable constellation of stars who were within touching distance. Ally Dawson, Ian Redford, Eric Ferguson, to say nothing of Craig Paterson who was seated right next to me. Swoon. How much would that little lot be worth in today’s transfer market, eh ? A pretty penny, I can tell you.

I resisted the immediate temptation to ask Craig for his autograph “for my nephew”. In fact, I affected not to know who he was and engaged him in banter along the lines of “By Christ, Rangers are shite this season, eh?”. To his credit., he agreed wholeheartedly (well, he was the club captain at the time, so he was in a good position to know).

At half-time there was the usual mass exodus for pies, bovril and other unmentionable activities, but Craig and I stayed where we were, for fear that Ian Archer might launch a surprise counter-attack. I had my tranny clamped to my ear and was keeping Paterson up to date with happenings elsewhere, when all of a sudden a Rab C Nesbitt prototype hove into view, precariously balancing three mince pies and a bovril. When Rab caught sight of Paterson he bellowed, “Haw, Craigie, Craigie, it’s yersel. Howzitgaun big man“.

The half-time fare was deposited summarily into the lap of an unsuspecting spectator (here, haud these a minute, pal), while Rab favoured Craigie with a bear-hug.
Remember me, Craigie“, enthused Rab.
Paterson looked blank. “Eh, no really“.
The bear was not easily put off. “Aye ye dae, big man. Mind efter the league cup final. Ah wiz oan the pitch an’ ah shook yer haun’. An’ whit did ah say ? Whit did ah say tae ye big man ?”
(Paterson was still impressively nonplussed at this).
Ah said ‘fucking magic’, ‘fucking magic big man’ “, that’s whit ah said. Fucking magic. Pit it there Craigie“.

So saying, Rab seized hold of one of Craig’s hands in his paw, practically wrenching his arm from its socket in the process. Not content with this Rab had a sudden brainwave. “Haw Craigie, c’mon ower an’ meet big Peter an’ wee Hughie an ‘ the-rest o’ the boys“. Paterson demurred politely. “Oh, c’mon Craigie. Big Peter’ll be ower the fucking moon tae meet ye, big man. ‘Mon ower“. Turning away momentarily he roared across the stand, “Haw, Peter…hey big man…Peter…here’s Craig Paterson by the way…he’s wanting tae meet ye big man“. Rab’s silver-tongued approach was eventually successful in luring a reluctant Craig Paterson away for a pleasant rendezvous with big Peter, wee Hughie and the boys. The next time I saw him he was playing for Motherwell.

Ted McMinn accidentally scored a goal direct from a corner kick and celebrated with a spontaneously bizarre dance round the comer flag which was later copied in the discotheques of New York at the height of the hip-hop explosion. Apart from that I can’t remember very much about this match to remember. Ian Archer’s report on the game started “There really are a bunch of cheeky wee shites at Dumbarton “, while Willie Hunter’s report began, “As the ball bounced down Boghead Road for the twentieth time, I wonder... “.

First published in TAG 25 – October 1991


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