The Absolute Game Remembered – 7

January 12, 2011

tag7
THE MAGNIFICENT NEVIN

Mad Mac’s editorial takes it cue from the recent signing of Mark Walters by Rangers, and the ensuing grotesque scenes of racism at Tynecastle and Celtic Park. As Mac puts it “There have for some time been growing suspicions that the absence of racism at Scottish football matches was only due to the absence of players from ethnic minorities“. I, for one, was not at all surprised by the banana-throwing and monkey-chanting that greeted Walters at these venues. On the day that Rangers signed Walters I happened to be in the midst of Rangers supporters in the heart of Lanarkshire, and one remarked without demur from the others, “I hear we’ve signed a monkey“.

Perhaps piously, one hopes that the intervening years have all but eradicated the mind-set that produced such sentiments. The football fanzines, including TAG, were in the van of the fight against racism at football grounds, and my experience over the years is that, generally speaking, the decent majority will now simply not tolerate the bestial racist behaviour of the minority. It is quite a long time since I have heard ‘you black bastard’ or similar inside a football ground.

Moving on from there, we come to another of my favourite article headings, viz – STRANRAER : MUDDY WATERS SINKS THE BLUES. (“….the desperately poor quality of the playing surface at Stair Park..makes any form of tactical planning for a match (apart from the big punt) a virtual impossibility. Come late November and the beginning of Scotland’s monsoon season, a bowl of runny porridge would give you a truer bounce“).

As if football in Stranraer wasn’t arcane enough, the next article (by The Horley Wideboy) concerns itself with the obscurities of English non-league football, in particular the exploits of Crawley Town in the Southern Premier League (aka the Beazer Homes League).

tpuMad Mac is full of pessimism at Scotland’s draw for the qualifying phase of the 1990 World Cup (“The draw for the 1990 World Cup was a disaster for Scotland. Just terrible. It’s a very tough section, and our chances of qualifying are slim“).

(pedantic note – We did in fact qualify for the 1990 World Cup, finishing behind Yugoslavia but above France, Norway and Cyprus – a tremendous achievement, but one almost immediately thrown away when we proceeded to lose 1-0 to Costa Rica in the first World Cup tie in Italy)

The then recently retired from playing, but now the players ‘union rep’, Tony Higgins, is profiled. Mad Mac explains the various processes in the making of a substitution (“…..usually effected by a tubby man holding aloft a couple of tin plates with numbers on them – not to be confused with the half-time draw ticket salesman, although instances of their being one and the same person are not without precedent“), and Ewan Davidson continues with part 2 of his ‘serious article on Highland League Football’.

There’s an article looking at the SPL and the nature of the football played there (‘dour and deadly’), illustrated by a photo of Fir Park, Motherwell captioned ‘Calvinism Meets Football‘. This is followed, appropriately, by a lengthy, fascinating article on football in Northern Ireland, beginning with the account of a Coleraine goal in an Ulster Cup tie against Linfield, awarded by the referee ‘despite the ball having clearly passed over the visitors’ crossbar. Mr Ritchie (the referee) was of the opinion that it had proceeded via a hole in the net……..the offending hole remained undiscovered….

D’ye remember Derek Rae? You do. “Up and coming, smooth, smarmy, totally soulless, zero personality“. Remind yourself of the horror, the horror with the article by Alex Horsburgh.

In the letters, a West Brom fan writes to protest at Willie Johnston being described as a forgotten one – “……he was only sent off four times with Albion, an exemplary record which averaged out at less than once a year. Most were for fighting or retaliation, though one was for kicking the referee up the arse – quite justifiably I might add…..

No ‘Forgotten One’ this time. Forgotten.

tvm

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