International week is upon us for the 17th time this season and isn’t it brilliant?! Some of us get to do the things we have been meaning to do around the house and some of us end up watching Roma women’s team play Chievo women’s team on YouTube because fuck international football in its fucking face.
Bully Boys of the Press
Just when I thought things would quiet down for the kiddy-on-fitba break, scenes erupted on Twitter when three of Scotland’s most high profile football journalists decided to round on a 19-year-old student.
Good luck with the career Calum. I strongly suspect you're going to need it.
— keith jackson (@tedermeatballs) November 12, 2018
It all kicked off when Calum Brown called out Keith Jackson for denigrating Livingston. Brown called Jackson ‘a complete and utter fanny’ and Jackson responded by wishing Calum good luck in his career before adding a mildly threatening ‘I strongly suspect you’re going to need it.’
While Jackson was entitled to have a pop back (although trying not to sound like the most passive-aggressive HR manager ever might have been better) the resulting piling on from Neil Cameron and Ewan Murray was wild and uncalled for.
It’s “people like him” who have broken stories in Scottish football for (?!) decades. If I were you, I’d be asking for a beer and a lesson. Show some respect.
— Ewan Murray (@mrewanmurray) November 12, 2018
Hi Calum. Like your passion. Nowt wrong with that. A wee tip. Don't slaughter any senior journalist, never mind Keith, on Twitter. Makes you look like a cock. And doesn't go down well in interviews.
— Neil Cameron (@NeilCameron5) November 12, 2018
‘It’s people like him who have broken stories in Scotland for…decades. If I were you, I’d be asking for a beer and a lesson. Show some respect,’ tweeted Murray, before adding that Brown sounded like a ‘silly little boy.’
‘… A wee tip. Don’t slaughter any senior journalist, never mind Keith, on Twitter. Makes you look like a cock. And doesn’t go down well in interviews,‘ suggested Cameron.
My first problem with this is that Ewan Murray seems to equate good journalism with breaking stories. That Keith Jackson is some kind of untouchable Scottish football god because of his cosy relationships with sources. Never mind if he can actually write well or if he has had a single original thought about football in years, what really matter is who he knows and who thinks he can be relied on to leak a story for them.
Cameron’s reaction backs up this preposterous notion and adds another one: we are not allowed to ‘slaughter’ any senior journalists?
Because they are…senior?
Because the profession is an old boys club?
Because they are infallible?
Scottish football is just getting over the Rangers fiasco, a crisis that percolated away while Scottish football journalists were too busy being star-struck by David Murray. A story that broke not because of the mainstream football press in the country, but despite it.
There are good people in the Scottish football media but as a collective they have done nowhere near enough to win our unconditional trust.
Calum went about it the wrong way, but the idea that he has no right to fire a broadside at Keith Jackson, or any senior journalist, is preposterous. The reaction from Murray (Scottish football writer for a national broadsheet) and Cameron (football editor for The Herald and Evening Times), was defensive, saddening and pretty embarrassing.
This had nothing to do with them. That they thought it was appropriate to jump in with patronising name-calling and thinly veiled threats about the future career of a young student just starting out in the industry spoke volumes about their sense of entitlement and showcased a pathetic ‘know your place’ attitude.
Show some respect, my arse. The watchers also need to be watched.
The whole debacle at least gave us a great line from Ewan Murray: ‘the pitch is shite. You hardly need an astronaut to work that out.’
Ah NASA… that famous home of fitba pitch study. Respect that science.
Scotland the Meh
Richard ‘Richie‘ Foster was not a happy man this week. At 33 years of age and with a small run of not-catastrophic-performances, he was inexplicably not included in his second ever Scotland squad. The St. Johnstone defender was last involved in the Scotland set up in 2012 when he was uncapped in a friendly against Slovenia.
But he now feels that he has finally peaked as a player and deserves a call-up:
‘I’m playing probably the best football of my career, the most consistent football of my career’ (from utter dung to mildly shite). ‘I came off the pitch on Saturday and thought that maybe there was a chance,’
His wife, and Poundland K T Tunstall, Amy Macdonald, backed him up by claiming that Foster is ‘consistently in the top five accurate crossers into the box.’ This is factually correct and might have been the most well-researched sentence about football uttered in the Daily Record this season, but I was too distracted by the fact that they twice called Macdonald a ‘hitmaker’ as if she is some kind of peely-wally Brian Wilson.
To be fair, calling up Foster is exactly the kind of off-the-wall nuts thing McLeish would do, so I also thought there was maybe a chance.
Alas, Richie, we will always nearly have Slovenia.
I had a feeling it would happen, and clearly it has. What with this column growing in stature week on week folk would start doing whacky things just to be recognised. And this was sure to be the case when Scotland called up John Fleck only for the home game against Israel and not the away game in Albania because it was too late to amend travel arrangements. I see you SFA. I see you seeing me. Hiya!
Peter Grant was also in on the act when he clapped back against the spate of international squad dropouts (like beauty school dropouts, but not as melodic): ‘If you don’t want to play for your national team, that’s it. You will be very, very fortunate if you get selected again.’ Ah, pointer, pointer, pointer, stop pretending that Scotland has any hand in this relationship at all. If the players want back in you’ll let them back in.
And no one will feel fortunate at all.
But here, I mock Scottish football in a loving way; I rib it like it’s my half-witted big cousin. Kevin McKenna, on the other hand, decided to post a column on the Observer website that seemed without rhyme or reason and definitely without thesis. It meanders on, suggesting that Scottish football is pre-historic and making fairly wild accusations. He suggests that tackles from behind are encouraged in the SPFL and so are ‘attempts to maim and cause life-changing injuries,’ but he offers not example of these things in recent times (nor any solid examples past or present.)
He comes across as someone that has formed their opinion on current Scottish football without having seen any of it at all, like me knowing I hate Muse without having heard any of their stuff since they covered that Nina Simone song. He appears to have based his whole column on the fact that there were so many dropouts from the national team and that three clubs in the top flight have plastic pitches: utterly bizarre reasons to pen an article dismissing the Scottish game as backward. The article is nonsense and reads like something a Burnley fan would write despite having never seen an SPFL game.
He refers to himself as someone that is ‘forced to watch Scottish football every week,’ but there is no evidence of that in his article. In fact, looking back through his contributions to the Guardian and Observer, it appears that he has not written on the subject at all this season. Could it be that Kevin just wanted to take a free hit at our game cos he couldn’t think of anything else to write?
Stevie has been great fodder for this column. I thought I would mostly be writing about Alex Rae and Gordon ‘One Cell’ Daziel, but Gerrard has slipped in to these pages every week. And, of course, this week is no exception. In a saccharine puff piece, Gerrard spoke about how he liked to give his team-talks: ‘the only experience I have had is myself, as Liverpool captain, doing it off the cuff. I’ve never had any advice because I always wanted to be authentic and real.’
I’m the same, Stevie. I don’t seek no advice from nobody about nothing. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t even have a driving license. I want my driving to be authentic and real, can’t have any experts influencing me. We’re all sick of experts round these parts.
The puff piece also discusses how Gerrard spends his time: ‘His day starts at 8am and finishes about 6pm, when he heads home to spend the evening with his laptop, preparing.’
We all like to get our laptop out to ‘prepare’ in the evening, Stevie, but ‘preparing’ only takes at most three mins, plus the time to shower afterwards and have a wee cry, you are only talking ten past six… what does he do after that?
At least Gerrard shows up for his puff pieces. When serious investigative journalists turn up intent on asking actual questions there seem to be more empty chairs at Ibrox than at the end of Glasgow derbies…
Steven Gerrard just pulled out of #C4News interview.
Told by personal staffer- not Rangers- we couldn’t ask certain questions including about Neil Lennon and sectarianism. Then she disappeared.
Been waiting for him here for hours. Nobody even told us in person it was off. pic.twitter.com/RYsbNjFxXE
— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) November 6, 2018
Do sheep dream of world domination?
‘Why can’t Aberdeen be America’s Scottish football team?’ asked Aberdeen director Dave Cormack this week.
‘Cos they are shite,’ answered the world.
‘There is the appetite to bring kids to Aberdeen in the summer – 200 kids, two-week stints – where they get an experience of training in a professional environment, and we let them see the sights and sounds of the north east.’
Christ, Cormack… the sights and sounds of the north east?! You want to terrify the wee chaps?!
Kriss Kross Corner
This week it was the Tweedle Dee to Kris Boyd’s Tweedle Dum that was up for making an arse of himself. Commons took the opportunity to slate Robert Snodgrass in his weekly Daily Mail column:
‘Snodgrass has asked not to be picked due to an apparent ankle knock. But he’s fit enough to have played 15 times for West Ham this season. How does that work?’
How indeed, Kris, how indeed?
‘I find it strange with Snodgrass. He’s a hugely popular member in the camp. He obviously just doesn’t fancy turning up and maybe not playing every game.’
Aye Kris, that’s obvious. There could be no other possible explanation. It’s obvious, you have nailed it… *record scratch* *freeze frame*… but wait!
Just want to clarify my column on Monday.
I was wrong about Robert Snodgrass regarding international pull outs.
— Kris Commons (@kcommons15) November 15, 2018
‘Just want to clarify my column on Monday. I was wrong about Robert Snodgrass regarding international pull outs,’ he later said in a tweet that at the time of writing had 1 retweet and 109 replies (Ratio, as yer da says).
But that’s not how ‘clarifying’ works, Kris. To clarify something is to make it clearer, make it more understandable, like if I was to say ‘Kris the fat mess’, I would need to add either ‘Boyd’ or ‘Commons’ if I wanted to clarify it.
I wouldn’t be changing the precise meaning of what I said to something totally diffe.rent. I would just be rewording it to make it more comprehensible. So if we clarify your shitty take in your shitty column in your abhorrent newspaper, we would make it something like this:
‘I’m a fat mess and I’m spouting a lot of shite.’ There ye go, Kris. Clarified.
Not often you get to hear such unqualified people spend a good half hour discussing biomechanics, but the BBC Sportsound podcast gave us that opportunity this week. And it seemed to break everyone’s brains a little.
Scott McDonald was the first to crack: ‘so you can now smother the ball to stop a goal bound shot?’ the Aussie shouted after Michael Stewart revealed that the rules state that handball must be deliberate. ‘You’re just saying that cos it says it in the rules,’ Skippy concluded.
As the scene began to calm down and the voices quieten The Man Who Almost Conquered Slovenia, Richard Foster, piped in with something reminiscent of the ‘I love lamp’ moment from Anchorman: ‘what if he was miraculously doing a handstand (one of Jesus’ lesser miracles) in the box, making himself taller, but the shot was lower and it hit his arm, but it was on the ground?’
This question from Richie lead to something you don’t hear on radio very often: silence.
The Daily Record published an article where Jamie Mclaren talked about having coins lobbed at him in Ibrox, with the sub-heading: the Easter Road striker reignites the coin debate. Where is the debate? Who is the pro-people being scudded (thanks, Alex) by coins?
The Daily Record compared David Bates’ journey from playing the odd game with Rangers to playing the odd game with a second division German team to Andy Robertson’s rise at Liverpool (where he played in a Champions League final this year).
On the Hotline:
Alan from Brookfield: “Watching BBC Sportscene. Absolute dire. It’s like eavesdropping on a dentist waiting room and just as painful. They have got to scrap it. It’s amateurish and the worst thing is I’m paying for this crap.” No, the worst thing is that Alan appears to have his dental work done in the waiting room.
James from Dennistoun: “Celtic should play Scott Brown at right full-back when he is fit to return to the first team. I can see Broony reinventing himself as a full back as I don’t want to see the balance in midfield disrupted just yet.” Can ye, aye?
Things to check out: Charlie Adam using the word abbreviate.
Simon Ferry’s interview with Josh Windass? I watched the whole hour long interview with the assumption that it would provide me with great material for this, but like Donald Trump, Windass is far too moronic to parody.
This week’s final word goes to Roger Hannah on Clyde SSB: ‘I’ve got a friend who said ‘I’m not having that Ulrik Laursen, he’s got women’s shoulders.’’