My mind is on football this month, with Euro 2012 dominating the TV schedules and sending many of my Facebook friends into a frenzy because their favourite soap has been moved/postponed/haditstimechanged. Of course this is frustrating, but this is what we footie fans wait for every few years; a summer break from our club game, filled not with emptiness, forum-addiction to fill the void, and transfer speculation, but with actual, real, live, football. And sometimes the best of it as well. I can’t say I’ve seen much that is so brilliant so far, but we’re only a few days in.
Of course, we’re all (well, most of us) watching this on the TV. We get some games on ITV, and others on the good old BBC. Thankfully Mr GK has managed to add ITV1HD to our TV channels. STV HD isn’t available to us here, and watching football on non-HD TV now is like watching it wearing my mum’s glasses. (sorry mum). The commentators and pundits add that extra little bit of, er, excitement to the occasion, and of course, in these early stages, reassure us that England are indeed, very good, and could actually, maybe, probably, possibly win this.
From what I saw in their first game – a credible 1-1 draw against France, they’re pretty defensive, and if they want to win the tournament, or even the later stages matches, they might have to attack a bit more. I was delighted when France and Sweden came out in England’s Group. Having both French and Swedish family, it made my non-English supporting stance a bit more valid. But I’m Scottish. I don’t need any more excuses really do I? I’m watching the Czech Republic hump the Greeks so far as I write this. Between shouting cheats at them ever so often. One day Scotland will make a tournament again. Won’t they?
Back to the TV, and although he is not the anchor this afternoon, I am assuming Adrian Chiles will be back in the chair later? He’s no Gary Lineker, is he?I’m not a fan of his grumpy, slouchy, laid back Brummie style. Give me smooth-taking Gary any day, with his shiny suits, shiny face, and all round shiny-ness. He’s a bit of a t*****, but he’s got nothing on fellow BBC man Alan Shearer. God, he’s dull. How I wish it was Sky that had the coverage if only for Michel Salgado. And how I wish it was the World Cup, and Leonardo was back in the studio. Who cares what they both say!
Elsewhere in the world of football today, the news is all about Rangers FC once again. HMRC have intimated they will reject the stricken Scottish club’s CVA proposal at a meeting on Thursday, and the mighty Rangers will go bust. Liquidated. Gone. Until a Newco is formed, and Rangers come back in some form or another. I can’t imagine how I would feel if it was Hearts, and as my parents are both season ticket holders at Ibrox, and debentures owners, and ergo, creditors who have now lost their investment, I’m not going to mock. Of course, when they reform, they can still lay claim to the glories of the past, as they will still, essentially be the same club. But perhaps some of those glories will be stripped from them, as the investigations as to what really went on at the club in the glory years digs deeper. Liquidation means nothing can be swept under the carpet. Past directors of the club might star worrying now, and David Murray and Craig Whyte must be made to pay in some way for their part in the downfall of this footballing institution.
I was a junior football reported back in the early 1990s. This is me with Celtic captain Paul McStay and the Scottish Cup the team won in 1995, a year after Fergus McCann saved Celtic from the brink. (I worked at Celtic Park for four years, from just before McCann’s takeover, to just after the 1998 League Championship win, which ended Rangers hopes of achieveing 10 in a row.)
This was just one trophy however, in a time dominated by the other half of the Old Firm. When they visited Celtic Park on matchdays, there was a swagger about them. All the office girls would come down to the foyer to watch them arrive – Brian Laudrup, Paul Gascoigne and the like. You could almost smell the money.
And when you visited Ibrox and walked through the front doors, up the marble staircase, and into the beautiful old trophy room, you could feel the history. Rangers swept everyone aside and Sir David Murray was lauded a hero. Fergus McCann, in a Celtic Park which had been rebuilt and butchered over the years by the Kelly + Co families, went about his business, quietly at times, not so quietly at others, and made sure that everything was going exactly as he had planned it when he bought the club in 1994. He created a brilliant stadium, and set Celtic off on the right track. But even a Fergus McCann couldn’t have saved Rangers from the mess they are in now, it seems.
And as well as the questions about how this all happened, Scottish football fans are tonight asking questions about the ‘Rangers Newco’ and the future of the game in Scotland. Will the SPL allow them straight back into the top flight in Scottish Football? If this becomes an option the other clubs have to vote on, will they make the right move? Or should Rangers Newco play in the third Division, with a European football ban in place anyway, would that not be a better option, allowing them to rebuild from the bottom up?
It’s interesting to read the views of the Rangers fans in all of this. Some want into the SPL, but others, too arrogant and too stupid perhaps to even see why other teams in Scotland can’t stand them, have claimed on fan’s forums that they won’t go into an SPL and be at the behest of all the ‘diddy’ clubs. If this is what they think, hell mend them, I say.
Others, perhaps with more than a pea-sized brain, believe the best thing all round would be to accept their punishment, head off to the Third Division and enjoy visiting grounds they’ve never set foot in before.
Whatever happens, this is a defining moment in Scottish football.