Andy’s Sting In The Tale (26/04/24) “Pyramidical Poppycock”

Date: 26th April 2024


It’s play-off time again North of the Wall, and on Friday Buckie Thistle were meant to be heading south in their Bluebird Coach on a 400 plus miles round trip to Kilby as proud Highland League Champions for the Saturday first leg of the wee guys cup final.
It’s a huge game and should have had real status.
It should have been live on telly.
It should have a shiny sponsored trophy.
It should be the big deal it really is.

But none of that happens or ever will.
Our 6th floor just don’t get it.
Fans who write to me think the SFA/SPFL don’t spend enough time outside their central silos where all they do is look after their most powerful pals.




Last night we were told the Kilby v Buckie game isn’t happening because of newly introduced ‘licencing technicalities’.

And it’s all Buckie’s fault according to the SPFL press release.
No discussion.
No pragmatism.

Buckie are toast because of ‘technicalities’ that could have been addressed and sorted out with any aspirant member in a few phone calls, maybe a site visit and an agreed fast-track development programme.

Buckie Thistle reveal shock SFA letter as they vow to fight on against decision to block them from promotion play-offs | The Scottish SunBut they don’t think that way on the 6th floor.
What makes it worse is after unceremoniously bouncing Buckie they didn’t even then invite fully-licenced Brechin as runners up.
And this was all done AFTER the season.
Smells like a stitch up to Andy.
Everything that is wrong in Scottish football in a lower-league nutshell.
No secret 5 way deals to save the fisherman team in Celtic strips

The establishment don’t value these wee guys.

And they never have.

Looking back, this year’s Lowland League was an impressive procession for The Kilby who will be a stern test for Clyde, Stranraer or Bonnyrigg, but in a tight Highland League finish Buckie had overcome the season-long lead by the relatively mighty Brechin and squeaked in as worthy champions.

I had often smiled after watching the last few weeks from afar when they somehow won through after what seemed to be 3, all or nothing, games a week. My old team mate, the late Iain Clark, aka Pinkie, had long been a proud sponsor and Vice chairman of The Jags and not a bad sweeper too in his day. He’d be a righteously angry man today.

So here’s an Idea or Two For the 6th Floor
The bottom place in the SPFL should be an automatic relegation to the winner of the new shiny bright ‘Craig Brown Cup’ played for in a televised Hampden final with revenues paying for any required upgrades by aspirant members.
It should be a rule that all clubs who make it this far should have a window and full financial support to more than meet any mandated licencing criteria.

The runners up from the Hampden final would then play the second bottom SPFL team in a two leg, also televised pairing with revenues also ringfenced  for upgrades if required.

AI generated Meerkat posing with soccer ball. Generate ai 38170099 Stock Photo at VecteezySimples.

This ‘Sting’ intro was also originally simply going to ask a question to the 5 SPFL chairmen.
Those who in 2013 voted had unanimously as part of a group united against Regan’s then proposed idea.
It started as a properly open pyramid base for entry and exit into the leagues.
Would they now vote differently having seen how the blockage blocks?

It’s still a fair question and brings insight into self interest.
So here we go.
If you had the chance to do so again would you, East Stirling, Berwick Rangers, Brechin City, Cowdenbeath and Albion Rovers chairmen change your vote?
Of course you would, unanimously and 100%.

And as a follow on would Edinburgh City, Cove Rangers, Kelty Hearts, Bonnyrigg, and Spartans chairmen now vote differently now you are in the big league?
Of course you would, and again probably unanimously, 100%.

Like a turkey voting for Christmas | Every Word CountsThe cancer of self-interest is so predictable that it makes any such vote unfair to all sides and this was always the case.
The whole pyramid needs a full reset from very bottom to the top and not a review done by the clubs for the very same clubs.
Why would any turkey ever vote for xmas?

Today’s heading, ‘Pyramid Poppycock’ sums it up more aptly than you might think
Why I hear you thinking?

Poppycock is just the word we need to sum up the situation Buckie have had foisted on them by an out of touch 6th floor establishment.
But it’s also a word constructed straight from two fine Dutch words that Scots have long stolen and well used as their own over the centuries.

The Dutch Words are ‘Pap’ and ‘Kak’

Put together as ‘Papekak’ they literally mean ‘soft dung’.

So Andy’s alliterative summation of both the historic and the current shenanigans around the key pressure point in our Pyramid, and the ongoing mis-management of it and treatment of Buckie are based on a fine mediaeval Dutch word meaning ‘soft dung’ or if you prefer that wonderful old Scottish word, Shite.


Buckie have been undone and wronged by Pyramid Shite. (No graphic needed)

Andy’s Sting in the Tale

1. In Steve We Trust

2. Kid’s Stuff Where it’s About More Than First Team Football

3. Watching the Scottish Cup Semis in the New Free World

4. A ‘Side Before Self’- Fechter from the Raploch

5. Operation ‘Clean Hands’

6. Cup Final Dates and Times


1. No Bull, No Illusions, Just Better

We all got lucky the day that Steve Clarke signed his Hampden contract.
He will never win us any trophy but these words from the man reassure me that we couldn’t be in better hands wherever he takes us.

Steve Clarke: Scotland boss will have 'empathy' with players who miss out on Euros - BBC SportGood standards’.
‘Good morals’.
‘Remain Calm’.
‘We’ll play the games not the occasions’.

‘We’ll use the emotion in a positive way’.

Thanks Steve.

And one from me to you, ‘May all the rainbows be big ones’.

2. Learning from Man U

Inside the life-enriching journey at the Man Utd Academy | Manchester UnitedThe New York Times have a football section called ‘The Athletic’ and this week they’ve been given amazing access into how Man U have measured, analysed and turned around their already good youth internal pyramid and system.
Way too much for me to go into today or even in a month of Fridays, but here are some pointers for all youth delivery programmes.
(And I say that remembering that up here last year we were told the magic wand answer to all the lack of thinking,  underinvestment and lack of planning by our game was a bloody Conference League.
It was rather ironic that this was said by teams who have been forever accused of never playing their kids anyway and just dumping them when the dumping day comes).

Man U call their new process ‘creating players and people’.

That means you might not ever play for the 1st team but will leave the Man U academy process as a better person and player with better future choices.
They’ve always been good but here’s a wee story that shows then and now.

“A decade ago, one player got into United’s regular first team. He came into training one day and Ryan Giggs overheard his tales of  ‘wild weekends with friends stuff’ and asked, “How many of these mates did you know before you became a professional player here”?
The answer was none.
And the point was made to the lad.

Man U knew they had a good system, one of the best, but had to make it better.
Yes it’s big business and investment but it is now at the core of the club.
How many clubs in Scotland have developing kids at the heart of everything they do?
I can only think of 1 and they are not in the top league.

Today the Man U kids are supported, nurtured and grounded first and football and future revenues come out of that.

Manchester United on X: "🗣 #MUTV caught up with Travis Binnion and a host of our U18s following last night's #FAYouthCup success 💪 #MUFC | #MUAcademy" / XUnder 21’s coach Travis Binnion says, “Retention is bigger than recruitment”.

At Man U it is openly a numbers game but not how you think.

Here are five impressive numbers Travis quotes from his book.

1. They are now the leading English talent producer.
85. The number of years of consecutive matchday squads have featured academy graduates.(Every single game since 1937)
46. The number of graduates playing in Europe’s top leagues.

88. the number of graduates currently playing pro football.

249. The number of graduates who have played in the Man U 1st team

Every game since 1937 says everything yet they felt the need to improve.
A different world but it’s about doing the right things, not rocket science.

3. A Premier Service

Dubai - United Arab Emirates | Package Holidays Flight + Hotel | Direct flights to/from Luxembourg | LuxairToursLast Saturday I watched Hearts v Rangers in a room full of expat Scots in Dubai courtesy of a doctored Amazon device.
During the match we zoomed my son in Mexico who was in a room full of British Expats watching two matches on different tellys both with doctored Amazon sticks.
Outlaw broadcasts with no revenues accruing to the SPFL.

The world is changing and the naive revenue models are breaking.

And a new world reality is indeed a new reality.
If it’s premium priced it leaves room for alternative options and “in laissez faire economies the consumer is king”.


4. Raploch’s Finest
‘10 stone of barbed wire’

Billy Bremner CampaignPartnerships can do amazing things in football.
And here’s one that’s taken 5 years since we started the dialogue and is now starting to come together and gathering pace.

The SFSA is proud to be working in association with Leeds United Supporters Groups, Raploch Community Council, The University of Stirling, Stirling Community Enterprise, Tartan Army Magazine and Stirling Council.
Three renowned artists, David Annand, Malcom Robertson and Kenny Hunter are shortlisted to create a statue on Weir Street where he grew up.

I remember red-haired Billy and saw him play live many times mostly for Scotland although once for his beloved Leeds.

His famous altercation pic with fellow Scot, Dave Mackay comes immediately to mind and makes me smile for them both.

I remember just how good he was in Germany ’74 and for Leeds and think Scotland should celebrate our heroes while they are alive more.

I’ll update you on how it can all be funded over the next few weeks so you can join the party.

As well a joining the party, I hope you join the SFA too:

5. Money, Money, Money

Do you think any Scottish football clubs are fronts for money laundering?
Is your club one of them?

People with more knowledge than me think it is inevitable that clubs up here are involved – “There is money laundering in football at all levels but now in Europe (EU) the clock is ticking”.  For avoidance of doubt the SFSA is not saying that we have any specific evidence of this in Scotland.

I have Richard to thank for sending me an article from the Guardian (Criminals and oligarchs in EU’s sights with new bill targeting football fraud | Finances | The Guardian) where after some bad stuff was uncovered in Belgium that identified 60 agents, administrations, refs, coaches and more.
Football is such a soft target that in 2018 the EU have created a programme called, ‘Operation Clean Hands’.

Football has now been added to the EU’s watchlist of money laundering risks and ownership is published transparently.
Transparency registers for owners of 15% or more and transaction monitoring to identify suspicious transactions.

Our SFA/SPFL doesn’t do this kind of thing.
They are too busy box-ticking ingenious exercises to keep the likes of Buckie Thistle in their place, and marking their own homework across any contentious issues.

6. Maybe a Wee Phone Call or email?

England have an FA Cup, the oldest in the world.
Scotland also have an FA cup, the second oldest in the world.

Scottish FA confirms traditional 3pm kick-off time for Scottish Cup Final | OneFootballThe finals don’t have to be held on the same day and are usually set well in advance.

I like to watch both.

Last year the SFA treated ICT fans like those pesky Buckie fans up somewhere in the North East, and contrived to blame the BBC for a late kick off at Hampden ‘to avoid a clash’ on the national channel.
This year they wouldn’t dare because it’s a derby between their two biggest influencers.
If it had been Buckie in the final or ICT or anyone else the game would have been moved back and once again the BBC blamed.

It doesn’t have to be like that.
Why not research with fans then the clubs to find out what they want.
Is 3pm on a Saturday at Hampden a must, must, must.
Then publicise the outcome and liaise well in advance with the FA and agree mutually convenient dates.


Sometimes I wonder how anything ever gets done when the 6th floor get involved.


That’s it from me for this week.

Stop Press 
Buckie said yesterday, “After further discussions with the SFA this morning we are now looking into the possibility of taking this to arbitration as per Article 99 of the SFA handbook”
Good luck guys from every football fan.


If you are not an SFSA member, please join.


Join over 80,000 Scottish football fans and let’s #reclaimthegame – Scottish Football Supporters Association – SFSA (

Andy’s Album of the Week

Through ‘Buckie and Beyond’

Tutti Frutti – Horizon – tape 239 | VHiStoryI wanted to keep the Buckie connection and could have chosen the John Byrne inspired,  ‘Tutti Frutti’ album after they spent episode 4 in Buckie’s  Marine Hotel with Postman Pat in gaelic on the box being watched by a Geordie actor putting on a Scots accent.

But I don’t have that album and probably wouldn’t play it if I had.

I also thought of Isla St Clair who I know was a pupil at Buckie High School and I remember my sister  went out to buy Isla’s first  folk album, ‘Traditional Scottish Songs ‘ after seeing her play and wow the Market Bar in Inverness.

And I also think Bothy ballads have a place but it’s not in my music library.
Sorry Geordie and your byre that needs some mucking out.

Hit the Highway - WikipediaSo keeping Buckie links I’ve settled on The Proclaimers ‘Hit the Highway’, because that is what should have happened to the Bluebird bus this weekend.
And I want to make the point that Craig and Charlie supported Buckie back in the day.
It was the in a tour subsidised under the wonderful old ‘Tennents’ Live’ programme that took bands to real places and real fans in the days before T in the Park stole the marketing dollars.

Track 3 is apocryphal today if you’re a Buckie Jags fan, ‘What makes you cry’.

I’d say the 6th floor bullying the wee guys for a start.

Welcome to Scottish football.


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