The Absolute Game Remembered – 9

January 20, 2011


9 Past Haffey

This edition of TAG came to me through the post direct from Mad Mac, and I was beside myself with excitement to find that my finely-wrought, oft-revised, long slaved-over article about Dumbarton FC had metamorphosed from a few sheets of untidily-typed and multi-tippexed A4 into a page and a half of a published item in the best football fanzine around.

I was quite disproportionately proud of this achievement, and I still am. Seeing it in print completely repaid the long hours hunched over the manual typewriter, writing and re-writing.

I remember when I pulled the final, final, final edition from the typewriter saying to Ann, “That’s it. Finished. I’m never going to write another thing ever again

And I was serious about that, because I was fairly convinced that I had exhausted my entire store of invention and inspiration in that one article, and I couldn’t imagine that I could repeat the trick.

Anyway, you can find my first-ever TAG contribution here –

Elsewhere, there’s a quite terrific article about Queen’s Park (the Spiders), a club then attracting crowds of about 500 to a stadium with a capacity of 75,000 (see photo).


Jim McLean (‘vindictive‘), Jan Bartram (‘effeminate’), ex-referee Alan Ferguson (‘faced with a lynch mob‘), and Billy Stark’s hairstyle through the ages (gained by ‘applying Baby Bio to his scalp with a watering can‘) are all featured.

There are reviews of books about David Francey (“tame and extremely short…“) and Jock Stein (“I don’t usually get in too much of a state about knighthoods, but how he was overlooked is a national scandal“). Also reviewed is an academic study of ‘The Roots of Football Hooliganism

Mad Mac co-authors an analysis of the current state of the national team – the heading ‘Scotland the Bores‘ rather gives the game away (“The revisionist view on Scotland up to Argentina ’78 is that most games consisted of a cavalry charge, with Big Joe or some other badly stitched up Frankenstein lookalike at the front, which lasted for about an hour and was followed by the fatal goalkeeping slip“).

The revival of AC Milan merits a full-scale article. How do these sentences from 1988 grab you ?- “And then, in 1986, in the darkest hour of onfield mediocrity and off-field bankruptcy, came the messiah. Silvio Berlusconi, millionaire television magnate and lifelong Milan fan, bought out the ailing club and refloated it with himself as Chairman“.

And there is a timely look at the arcane world of Junior Football (not, as some think, football played by children, but instead it’s football played at a lower level than ‘senior’ professional, and is very much ‘adult entertainment’). “Clubs are to be found battling it out for a variety of esoterically named silverware, such as ‘The Cream of the Barley Cup’ (the trophy is rumoured to be a replica of a combine harvester)…..

Mad Mac plumbs new depths soars to new heights of obscurity by recounting the arcane events surrounding Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland. Here the talk is of dark deeds and Glenmalure Park, Tolka Park, Dalymount Park, Home Farm, Bohemians, Keep Rovers at Milltown (KRAM), Paddy Kilcoyne, Dermot Keeley, Brian Murphy and John McNamara.

People are still writing letters about Willie Johnston.

And no ‘forgotten one’.



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