The Absolute Game Remembered – 12

February 8, 2011


TAG celebrates Scotland’s World Cup victory in Cyprus by lavishing praise on our man-of-the-match, Siegfried Kirschen. A conspicuously non-Scottish name and a name you may have now forgotten, Herr Kirschen was the referee who somehow found about twenty minutes added-on time to enable us to overcome Cyprus 3-2, Richard Gough getting the winner in the 109th minute. I don’t think he was being deliberately biased in our favour – I think his watch just stopped. Note that this precipitated rioting by spectators which was sufficiently serious to result in Cyprus being punished by UEFA  and having to play their next ‘home’ game in Athens.

pueaAnd talking of Athens , there’s a 2 page spread on Greek football under the heading ‘Amazing Greece’ (headline writer sacked). At that time (1989) we might have thought that Greek football was a bit of a joke, but who’s laughing now? In the interim, Greece have been European champions and a much safer bet for qualification for finals than our own brave boys.

Jovial Jim McLean is under the spotlight again and there’s even a cartoon strip detailing his life story – when he’s born, his father asks anxiously ‘is it a boy or a girl?‘ only to be told ‘neither – it’s a miserable wee potato‘.

Mad Mac investigates the apparent increasing numbers of over-30s still playing – cue Hamish McAlpine and Jim Gallacher (in the latter’s case ‘there is a great temptation to run onto the pitch, throw a travelling rug over his shoulders, and offer the old bugger a sip of tea to ward off a chill‘).

The Australian national team (inevitably nick-named ‘the Socceroos’) is profiled in the wake of their near failure to qualify for the World Cup finals. All they had to do was beat Fiji (population 800,000 of which 9 play football). To their considerable embarrassment they lost the first leg 1-0, but salvaged the tie in the return game much to the relief of manager Frank ‘Mad Dog’ Arok.


Dundee were looking for a manager. See the various newspaperclippings. TAG gives an exhaustive list of the candidates, including The Hon Man, Hen Broon, Fraser Elder, Yasser Arafat, George Galloway and Soapy Soutar.

There are articles on crowd attendances at SPL matches and TV coverage of Scottish football (conclusion – most people watch/want to watch Rangers and Celtic) and a terrific in-depth piece on Queen of the South (entitled ‘We Call It Rubbish’) (“Davy Wilson proved that he might have a career ahead of him as a music hall comic when he announced during last year’s mid-season crisis that he was introducing a sweeper system. In reality it transpired that this was a euphemism for playing with seven or eight back in defence, and a frenetic cavalry charge every time the ball was hoofed up towards the other end“).

There’s a message to all Hearts fans from Wallace Mercer – “I have offered Alex MacDonald some tactical advice on a take it or leave it basis. He either takes it or he leaves the club.

And Mad Mac dons his pith helmet again to explore ‘The Mysteries of the East’, the orient in question being the mysterious East of Scotland League (though at that time Annan Athletic were in the EOSL even though they are a bit westwards). “As with all non-league football in Scotland, matches are characterised by the ‘heid doon, arse up’ approach with flailing legs – and sometimes fists – popular optional extras“.


The letter writers are becoming more and more bolshie (I digress for a moment to note that in a recent police report I read, it was said that a particular person’s behaviour was becoming increasingly bolshoi). Several readers complain that the editor of ‘Follow Follow’ was let off far too lightly in the previous TAG, and there are legitimate complaints about the tasteless casual racism in the most recent edition of the Dundee fanzine, Derry Rumba. Derek Rae continues to be panned by all and sundry – but sundry doesn’t apparently include the writer of the letter to the Daily Record depicted here.


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