Europe – The Final Frontier?

Date: 26th August 2022

Our first weekly blog from our resident writer, Donald Stewart.

Europe – the Final Frontier?

The Holy Grail or the Graveside for hopes and dreams?

Perhaps it is the former and not the latter as we all hope that our teams shall manage to get into it, shine throughout it and be in any competition after Christmas. Well at least those of us supporting a team who can get into Europe…

It is not long, however, before the word coefficient is used interminably, time and again, by pundits and commentators . It is also not long before one or other of our clubs are called into question over their lack of European success.

Motherwell and Dundee United have already faced that this season. For Motherwell it led to regime change in the manager’s office.

Rangers, Hearts and Celtic remain. Ironically, due to the exploits of their greatest rivals, Celtic are reaping the benefits of Rangers getting to a European Final by getting that automatic Champions League spot in the group stages.

Isn’t it nice when we help each other out?

What is nice, is that both Hearts and Rangers have already provided pundits with enough opportunity to fill column inches to keep them employed over August. By the time you read this, the results of both their “finely poised” ties shall be known. We shall all hope that they get through – well most of us will, if we do not follow a green wearing rival team.

I do.

It’s got nothing to do with co-efficiency for me.

I don’t support a team who have really ever been in with a chance of going to Europe, so they will not be benefitted by any Scottish team’s run in any European competition.

But as a neutral, I like to see Scottish teams do well. I suppose that does not really make me much of a neutral!

I shall be hoping that Rangers do the business against PSV Eindhoven and Hearts take Zurich apart.

Their progress towards any final shall be eagerly watched and given the dominance of the top two in Scottish football I shall more keenly follow the fortunes of the boys in maroon. They could do with the support more than the other two. A run in Europe for a coach, Robbie Neilson, who on his way to winning the Championship and bringing Hearts back into the Premier League had significant doubters, could do with some luck.

It is an interesting narrative. I like interesting narratives.

The stories of European adventures are well enough documented for Rangers or Celtic and the 1980s gave us the exploits of Dundee United and Aberdeen to keep us fascinated in the competitions beyond our boundaries. Of course, the three UEFA finals with Rangers and Celtic, of more recent memory, were also of merit but the Dons and the Arabs are folklore. Their supporters did enjoy believing they had the right to win things. At the Auld Firm, that is more of a birth right.

And so, when I was handed a book to review which tells the tale of Dundee’s run at the European Cup run it was a tale of which I knew little. In the 60’s the European Cup was a premium and pure competition in its infancy and given that Dundee were Scottish champions, they were entered into it with little by way of expectation. Dundee winning a European cup? Come on…

By the semi final it was no longer as daft a thought as at first …

What struck me, in the tale being told, was the number of times that fans and players of their arch-rivals Dundee United turned up to wave them off on their travels OR made the arduous journey to go and support Dundee. For them there was no divide between the city and their fitba.  Were they more innocent times? Were we more aware of community back then? Was civic pride more of a thing for people, back in the day? Whatever the cliché, I am still going to root for the three Scottish teams over the next month and hope that they progress as far as they can – and the coefficient can take a run and jump… but in a positive direction, hopefully…

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