Date: 30th October 2020
But for Now, Football on the Verge of a Northern Fandom Breakout
£100 Reward for a copy of Ernie Walker’s Think-tank report.
We all know that money talks in football.
I have £100 real pound notes for anyone who can find the 1995 Think-tank report commissioned by the same SFA whose people run our game today.
Murray one of our computer geniuses ran up the poster you can see below and as I write its going up on cacti, in Sherriff’s offices and on lamp posts all over Scotland.
Having been generously commissioned to undertake the report Mr. Walker had spared nothing and recruited a crack team including Rinus Michels the genius Dutch coach, our own Tony Higgins and others.
It has however vanished and bizarrely is not findable on-line or in any of the SFA filing cabinets.
It might be in the famous Hampden long grass cultivated to hide an array of stuff but nobody knows.
All we have found so far is a few press mentions of what it was going to say but so far no confirmation it ever actually said it.
Ian Maxwell, SFA CEO confirmed to me a couple of weeks ago in a polite email response that after extensively looking through the records the SFA organisation that commissioned and paid for it can’t find a copy.
Why all the interest in an old report?
Despite these dark times we know Covid won’t last forever and now is a good time to think about shaping our game for a positive post pandemic future.
Getting Rinus Michels was a coup and there is a chance that some of what was in Ernie’s missing “Think-tank” can still help.
That is why so much money was spent on it 25 short years ago.
Sadly my instinct and bet is none of you will find it for us.
But £100 for the football charity of your choice is one bet nobody would regret. (Thanks to our sponsors Gamble Aware as always)
Countdown to Rajko Mitic
Only 13 Days till Slovenian Showdown
There are still no fans allowed to games in Slovenia but Billy our resident Tartan Army pal in Belgrade tells me there is currently heavy lobbying to allow some fans because its a huge game for them.
For the record, if you did somehow want to go, there are currently no entry restrictions or quarantine requirements for us on arrival to Serbia if you are travelling direct from the UK.
But if you’re thinking of being there, the advice to us from The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is DINNAE!
Dougie’s Secret 5 Way Voting Agreement
Last week’s wee piece about our 5 Scots Tories flagging tae the richt wi wee Dougie and voting down soccer upstart Marcus Rashford’s attempt to get our UK government to feed hungry English bairns during holiday times hit a few raw nerves.
For the record Douglas Ross, pictured above, abstained.
Tommy from Invergordon emailed to shed some light on why Dougie’s victorious Scots 5 a side heroes, aka, Andrew Bowie, David Duguid, Alister Jack, John Lamont, and David Mundell didn’t want those poor English (mostly) kids to be fed.
“Andy its because voting against their government would have meant they had to resign from any ministerial posts they might currently hold. That would affect their salaries and pension rights.
Why would they?
Its like Michael Jackson famously said to Paul MacCartney when he’d usurped his music rights to the Beatles songs he had written with John Lennon right from under his nose “Its business Paul”.
“But Douglas abstaining after his September tweet is just cynical”.
Be assured Tommy this whole thing hasn’t gone away.
It will come back to kick our blue 5 a siders up their bums.
A U turn would be welcome guys.
To finish, a wee, cryptic note for S. Mc. on this and more.
Thanks and very interesting S. if indeed it is a breach its way, way above my pay grade.
We have enough issues to cover but there are official channels and if you feel strongly enough you’ll find them online.
If it all happens I’ll write about it here.
Tier 1 Return Discussions Underway
With areas of Scotland currently all being classified in 4 tiers the good news is that considerations are being finalised to allow some fans back.
The biggest impact and benefit in the short term will be for Ross County, Inverness, Elgin and the Highland league and north junior clubs outside Aberdeenshire.
As of today Friday all those in Tier 1 can do is speculate what the actual protocols for return might be.
“We need enough paying fans to make it all worthwhile after the extra costs that will inevitably be incurred”, sums up the hope but also the uncertainty from a northern chairman.
“These are really difficult times because we had budgeted for a return of fans and the revenues from late October.
Without fans returning or financial assistance clubs like us will be out of business”.
Clubs desperately need fans and their revenues back.
Roy MacGregor, well known Ross County Chairman was also on the radio sharing that he hopes his plans for 750-1000 fans will be green lighted.
We too hope green lights break out all over Scotland soon.
A Glimmer of Hope?
No more but in the zig-zag Covid world lockdown looms just like in France and Germany who got hit this week.
Nevertheless the Tier 1 plans and planning process are good news for us all and we’ve been told Monday will see an announcement.
St Mirren In Covid Trouble But Fans Ask for Consistency
We were all press-released earlier this week that St Mirren are now formally accused by the SPFL for breaching the current SPFL Covid 19 regulations in the build up to playing Motherwell and Hamilton.
Our administrators have also justified impartiality by saying that an independent legally qualified chairperson will oversee the process.
Fair enough I hear you think.
But not all fans are happy and there are questions bubbling up.
Steve my old pal from Uni, a lifetime ago, emailed and said “Andy can you ask if Saints will now be treated the same as one of the big Glasgow pair were earlier in the season when they failed to do what they were told?
“We know they were let off with the wee-est of warnings and asked nicely not to do it again.
It’s the old one rule for them and different rules for the rest of us reoccurring.
So please find out for us all.
Will the name of this chairperson and the process undertaken be put on the public record shared with us?
And by the way why do they think by saying that any chair is independent and legally qualified holds any water with anyone if it’s all kept secret like usual.
“Lawyers and Judges disagree, argue and contest stuff all the time and there is no finer profession at splitting hairs and still getting it all wrong”.
(For what its worth Steve is a recently retired lawyer and Steve is not his real name).
Steve’s questions are on the money.
Fans want more consistency and openness.
Please Publish and Be Praised Neil.
Pixie Lott Obsessed By SFA’s Long John Baldy
Its reported that 1600 Streamers watched the fanless 1-1 draw between Inverness and Ayr last Saturday at The Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
They all had a braw and lengthy view of now famous, assistant referee John McCrossan’s shiny pate aka Long John Baldy.
The talk in the last remaining laundry in Inverness was “The roboatack caamra wassunt wurkeen rightennuff“.
(For those of you reading in Edinburgh in BBC English that would be “The remote controlled filming and management system unfortunately misfunctioned and caused visibility issues on the delivery platform“.
We’ve since been told on good authority that staff members at The Inverness Courier and The Highland News were immediately inundated with Invernessians and Honest Men fans alike castigating both pop star/actress Pixie Lott and the company Pixellot who somehow had contrived to steal her name.
John McCrossan, the star of the show with the Connery type pate has meantime signed up with an agent and Hollywood beckons.
Hearts v Celtic
Free on Council Streaming, Saturday 11am
In a week that saw our women’s team just fall short of an 8th undefeated match in an unlucky and unwarranted defeat in Finland women’s football sees promoted Hearts take on Celtic live on BBC Sports website at 11 tomorrow.
Weather forecast not great but hope it’s a cracker girls.
Edinburgh Derby Freebie
An empty Hampden Stadium plays host to this seasons only scheduled Edinburgh Derby. But its live and free on the BBC Scotland Channel (and Premier Sports on subscription).
Hibs with more games under their belts this season are favourites.
Hearts recently saw their normally supportive opponents help to vote them out of the top league in our summer pantomime.
So there might be even more edge to this game than usual.
It is however strange having semi finals the season after many of the players who got their clubs there in the first place have left.
Stranger too the case of Jonny Hayes with his unique chance (and a sure fire future quiz question) to have been cup tied for both semi finalists in the same cup match in the same competition.
Underpinning it all is the cold reality is that had the Scottish Cup been called in exactly the same way as our leagues then Hearts would have already won it on goal difference with Celtic close runners-up.
Aberdeen v Celtic
Not a Derby and Certainly Not Free
Another empty Hampden will see Aberdeen play Celtic on the Premier Sports channel that I and many others don’t have.
(At least no fans will have the lousy views that Hampden offers us all outside the Prawn Sandwich seats.)
But many other fans, will miss out on seeing what promises to be an interesting tie.
Is this now a Covid spreading risk with people meeting in homes to watch the match?
I’ve heard and get the financial stuff they tell us to justify all this but in the short term we can surely take Special Pandemic Measures to stop own goals like this.
BUT Listen Up
Adding hugely to the occasion on Sunday will be Douglas Ross the self same leader behind the aforementioned “Dougies Secret 5 Way Voting Agreement” and the destruction of Marcus Rashford’s suggestion that feeding hungry kids might be the right thing to do.
Douglas is listed as AR1 in case you didn’t know.
I think that means Assistant Referee 1 but maybe you guys can suggest a more meaningful origin of this particular mnemonic.
Still Lonely on the Trail of the Secret JRG
Apologies but the news is not good.
Joe Fitzpatrick, our Grand Sporting Fromage at Holyrood ’s Scottish Government machine is still failing all us Scottish fans and voters.
We asked about the Joint Response Group on September 16 and so far the response Joe has not been up to expectations or promises.
Its been bugger all to use a technical term.
Our reference number is 202000088184.
However it all means I get to share another clip for you all featuring our Laurel and Hardy aspirant tribute act Maxie and Neilcaster.
Maxie’s Groundhog Day
No answers to the four questions you asked me to ask Ian Maxwell months or maybe years ago.
None expected Ian.
How sad is that?
A simple response to honestly close the book on why the pyramid 2019 – 2020 was aborted without following due process by one of the partners would be a revelation.
For new readers in fan parlance, its why the SPFL basically told Mr. Maxwell’ and his members to “Getae”.
And worryingly what Maxie accepted that on their behalves and peddled to the greater world thence.
The polite response we got from Ian merely espoused a short on facts scenario that that wanted fans and us at SFSA to move on.
Not a bad excuse though to keep sharing scenes from one of my favourite films.
We’ll soon have seen the whole movie.
Nobby Stiles, Hero
I have two pictures in my head hearing the sad news today of Nobby Stiles passing.
The first is his idiotic dance in 1966 when after playing in every single match he was dancing like a demented dervish with the Jules Rimet trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other.
The second was two years later when he again played a blinder in the European Cup final against the magnificent Eusebio.
The kind of guy that everyone respected, even if grudgingly because he was a winner.
RIP Nobby – A giant of a man.
As always feel free to contact me about anything or ask me to share something with the 70,000 plus who receive The Sting every week.