Graeme McKay is on his well-deserved holidays and any attempt to replace his full-flow exposition on the beautifully strange and strangely beautiful universe of Scottish football media is bound to fail. As Shakespeare and Burroughs cannot be imitated, so cannot McKay. So I offer you an Evans, and warm Christmas wishes to 90 Minute Cynic readers and to all of Scottish football.
MAKE TANNADICE GREAT AGAIN
American oil and petrol baron Mark Ogren has this week purchased a majority share in Dundee United and will become its new chairman. The big chair at Tannadice has been one of those big comfy spinny ones of late; the immortal Stephen Thompson having given way just this past July to Mike Martin. But the big question for me: Why on earth would an oil and gas baron from Minnesota wish to purchase a Scottish Championship club with their best days a fading memory? (Putting aside the obvious possibility that he was trying to purchase an oil terminal, but there was a paperwork mishap at the registry office.)
Dig, if you will, the picture: It’s 2019/20. Dundee United Soccer Club, fresh off promotion the season before and flush with Yankee players and dollars (which go all the more further since the Brexit catastrophe), make a top-four finish and qualify for Europe after knocking off Rangers in a 3-2 Scottish Cup final. They take five wins from five against their Dens Park rivals that year, including in the quarterfinal of their Cup run. Dundee are relegated and Kenny Miller retires, vowing never to dye himself orange again because all he sees is Tangerine.
I especially enjoyed how Hibs defender Ryan Porteous reacted to his late yellow card against Rangers. The boy was lucky enough that Craig Thomson didn’t send him straight off for a beautifully wild challenge on Lassana Coulibaly, who went ass over teakettle, then for good measure he tried to convince Thomson that he got the ball! Then he saw off a raging Ryan Jack in the aftermatch, who came flying in only to have his chin tickled derisively by Porteous. Back to the crèche for Jack.
I also enjoyed how the challenge was too much for famous shrinking violet Neil Lennon, who called it “reckless”. Scottish football fans will of course remember how Lennon was renowned for playing as if he had a Faberge egg in his pocket.
Both BT Sport and Clyde Superscoreboard headlined their articles about Rangers’ draw with Hibs “Rangers surrender top spot again”. Such an easy headline but the rich irony never fails to amuse.
TOUGH AT THE TOP?
In the postgame interview with BT’s Eilidh Barbour after Thursday night’s match, Rangers’ James Tavernier (who put in a brutal night at the office) was asked if it was harder to be the team at the top of the table in a match. Tavernier’s reply was largely Football Cliché 101 but his comment that “every team is going to try to knock us off the top position” was taken by many in the Twitterverse as an arrogant statement that Rangers were familiar enough with the top of the league that they are seeing off challenges left and right.
The reality is that Rangers have spent a grand total of six days at the top of the league and have been found wanting both times they have had to defend their lead. Tavernier has never seemed the brightest bulb in the chandelier (although compared to Ryan Jack, his postgame interview partner, he is Nikola Tesla), but I’m sure that as team captain he is quite aware of his team’s inability to build on success. So this tempest in a Twitter teapot should probably be put to bed less than 24 hours after it happened. I’m sure that with the approaching derby, it’ll be replaced by something far juicier.
HOW MUCH TO THROW A PIE AT BOBBY MADDEN?
Rangers (there they are again) were this week fined £6,000 by the Scottish FA for comments made about referee Willie Collum in the aftermath of Daniel Candeias’ sending off at St. Mirren. Given that Candeias was sent off after his second yellow for blowing kisses at Buddies defender Anton Ferdinand (I italicized that part just so you read it twice), you’d think that the Ibrox club could have just had a quiet word with him and say, “you know, Daniel, if you’re going to blow kisses, Alfredo Morelos always needs cheering up” and leave it at that.
But Jim Traynor gets paid by the word over in Govan, so the statement machine, a wheezy, smoky contraption made out of brass and leather dating to the 1930s, was duly cranked up. Collum was roundly slated (“flawed”, “blatantly wrong”, “underlying issue which requires to be addressed [sic]”) and bemoaning his fitness to referee the upcoming massive Aberdeen-Hibs fixture. Collum laughed so hard at this he was forced to pull out of said fixture with a groin injury.
Given that apparently you can say whatever you like about referees (truth or lies) in Scottish fitba for six grand, I propose to start a collection, maybe pass a biscuit tin round your section at the next home match. “Penny for the ref?” you can ask. And then we’ll collect everyone’s grievances with referees – from “Kevin Clancy wouldn’t know a foul if it sat on his face” to “Andrew Dallas is a comically inept referee who is the single worst example of nepotism since George W. Bush”, and have them all read out via bullhorn on the steps of SFA headquarters.
IRONY AT INVERNESS
A bit of sickly comical irony occurred earlier this week when Inverness Caley Thistle players were disciplined after being recorded (first mistake) singing “fuck the Pope” (second mistake) on a bus after the club’s Christmas night out and an apparent shedload of booze. The video appeared on striker Nathan Austin’s Instagram (third mistake) and here is where the irony comes in. Having been a bit of a cause celebre in his youth after being racially abused in England, Austin apparently sees nothing wrong with abuse of a religious nature. Austin’s nickname, meanwhile, is “Fash”, as in “Fash Austin” – someone should really get the boy telt.