…Or, A man’s a man for a’ that
A recent Edinburgh derby match gave ample insight into why Scottish football remains in the grubber.
In the second half Hibs and Hearts players started kicking each other instead of the ball as the game descended into farce, with two red cards.
Incredibly, BBC radio pundit Michael Stewart endorsed the nonsense on the pitch. “It’s a man’s game,” he barked, to coos of approval from the studio.
It’s nearly 20 years ago since another media rent-a-gob, Craig Burley, was ordered off for a wild lunge in Scotland’s 3–0 defeat by Morocco at France ’98.
Unless Scots soccer chiefs get real and open their eyes, the male national team’s tournament history will end FOREVER on that pathetic note.
The game has changed radically since the early 90s tipping point when Dutch superstar Marco van Basten was literally booted out of football.
At Italia ’90 Ireland would lull rivals to sleep with goalkeeper Bonner’s time-wasting antics – then bludgeon them with a sudden long ball.
While Cameroon dispensed with the lulling and reached straight for the bludgeon, threshing their way to the quarter-finals.
As TV money flooded in the elites running the game thought: “we’re not having that” and rewrote the rule book in their own favour. But it seems Scotland never got the memo.
The idea of Scottish football as a game for rough, tough manly men is very old.
Irish-born Jimmy Quinn, Celtic star of the 1900s, famously played with his blood trickling down into his boots.
Dubbed The Mighty Quinn, he shrugged off spittle in his hair and sectarian epithets ringing in his ears to rattle in goal after glorious goal. He rammed it down the thugs’ throats.
Then and for many decades afterwards, Scottish sectarianism – hatred of Irish Catholics – was the dynamo powering football north of the border.
But it’s petering out. Until their demise under the Liquidation Act in 2012, Glasgow Rangers had been the poster boys of this ugly tradition.
Even today, only in Scotland could a midfielder like Celtic’s Scott Brown, a blow-hard and a card-magnet, be venerated.
He’s a necessary evil against the gurning cloggers and hammer throwers in Scotland’s one-horse league. But he’s readily found out in The Hoops’ brief Euro forays.
A sea change is called for. Whatever they’re doing now isn’t working. Scotland’s “man’s game” is a laughable relic from a bygone era.
Until Scotland finds a way to churn out some male Kim Littles and Jennifer Beatties, and fewer Scott Browns, there will be no progress and no ascent.
A man’s game indeed! Michael Stewart you utter wally.