The Absolute Game Remembered – 15

March 29, 2011


2nd Half – 15

I told you the numbering process was obscure.

Mad Mac inveighs editorially against the football authorities, whose cardinal sin is said to be that they completely ignore anything and everything football supporters want.

tagclipThe Redcar Lunatic re-appears to examine the fraught and sometimes dangerous world of referees (‘I’m The Bastard In The Black‘) (the article entitled thus because the Loony himself  was a qualified Class 3 ref). But first he has a quick swipe at his beloved Berwick (‘more boring than postal chess‘) and then it’s on to imagining how we would feel doing our own jobs whilst constantly surrounded by a baying mob of disbelievers – “imagine a checkout girl in Willie Lows “That’ll be £15.62, please” – “Fifteenpounds sixty bastard two?? Open your fucking eyes you silly fat cow….” etc.  And here, he’s just talking about abuse from the players – we’re not even on to the spectators yet.

The Count of Monte Christie Park (not real name) regales us with more delights of Highland league football – “I recall some years ago mentioning a Highland League Cup Final result to a drunken Celtic supporter :

ME – I see Keith won the Highland League Cup today against Ross County – that’s the third year in a row they’ve won it

DRUNK TIM – Fuck yer shinty

The Count examines in some detail the myth that Highland League football is played by hairy-arsed, bearded, claymore-swinging bears, all called Lachie, on converted local turnip patches – though concedes that the description may variously fit Rothes and Huntly.

Mad Mac, as a St Johnstone fan, gives the new purpose-built, all-seated, all-covered McDiarmid Park a cautious welcome. It would be nice to report that McDiarmid Park was named after the poet, but in fact it takes its name from the farmer on whose land the ground was built.

Amidst descriptions like ‘pretty impressive’, ‘compact’, ‘neat and tidy’ Mac tells us that a pleasant surprise was that the PA system was perfectly audible, a facility somewhat undermined on opening day by the tannoy man playing a full side of the ‘Carpenters Greatest Hits‘ in the run up to kick-off. Mac also counsels us , “do not interpret ‘all-seated’ and ‘all-covered’ to mean complete shelter from the elements. Those of us sitting in the front rows were given a facial wash and rinse periodically throughout the match as a (moderately) strong wind swept the rain into the stands…

Compare and contrast that new football Mecca in Perth with the slightly older one in Larbert – Ochilview, home of Stenhousemuir – Stenny (aka the Warriors) get the in-depth treatment “…in 1928 the stand at Ochilview burnt down, and the replacement was completed before it was noticed that there was no access to the seats…“.

Staircases had to be added later.

Perhaps that wasn’t such a disaster for a club who’ve been going since 1884 and whose club history describes their ‘golden years’ as being 1893-1903.  At the time when this edition of TAG appeared, Stenhousemuir had NEVER been promoted (ie they joined the league in the lowest division in 1921 and stayed there…until the formation of the current third division in 1993-94 at which time they were ‘promoted’ administratively to the second division. They were relegated in 1998, which of course was then trumpeted by the club as ‘the only time’ they’d ever been relegated. The following season they were actually promoted, but they were relegated again in 2004).

The demise of the Scottish Cup is bemoaned by Mac – to keep sponsors Tennent’s happy, there will henceforth be no replay if the final epohknds in a draw – straight to penalties – indeed in the earlier rounds only one replay will henceforth be allowed before penalties kick in. Indeed the trophy itself has been re-named as ‘the Tennent’s Scottish Cup’, which Mad M calls ‘a complete disgrace’.

Cowdenbeath are back in the spotlight.  Their pre-season friendly draws this withering comment, “Only a 2-2 draw could be mustered against Whitley Bay – the visitors arrived an hour late which meant that they could only play 35 minutes each way since Central Park’s floodlights were being replaced and the new ones weren’t wired up. There we have it : a crap result; a typically shambolic game; and a joke stadium.

Things had got so bad for the Blue Brazil that their supporters had taken to humming the theme from the ‘Twilight Zone’  as their team ran out onto the park. Ya hoor, sor.

Although many fans continued to feel utterly disenfranchised so far as affecting the conduct of their club, many others had recently shown that ‘fan power’ could have an effect at boardroom level and the article ‘Protest and Surmise’ is really a primer on how fans can organise themselves as effective lobbyists.

Now, are ball-boys the last of the unsung heroes or a bunch of spikey-heided masochists? That’s the question in an article entitled ‘Gie Us The Baw Mister‘. Or at least it’s one of the questions. Another is ‘How many ball  boys have died from hypothermia in the course of duty?’ Never praised for doing his job properly, the only advice the ball-boy is likely to hear is “the baw’s ower there ya wee prick”.

There’s more on Australia’s World Cup campaign (deceased at the hands of Israel), the first appearance of Harry Angel (real name) rounding up what’s going on in Junior football, reviews galore and an insight into football in Switzerland.

The letter writers are on form – “Dear TAG, – A helpful suggestion I have is that if a new national stadium is to be built, a place could be found for Ernie Walker in one of the concrete supports…….” and “Why do the caterers at Hampden Park only heat up a dozen pies at half time for a crowd of 50,000?


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