An interview with Graeme Obree (Nov 2009)

17 Jul

 

Graeme Obree has been expanding his horizons since he first got on a bike aged 6. The 44 year old continues to do so today but as an author.

The former world champion cyclist has got off the saddle for good, competitively at least. Obree was famous for building bicycles himself from anything he could lay his hands on, and broke the world time trial record on a bike made from washing machine parts. Graeme believes this part of his life is behind him now after the bike he built for a time trial this year was not suitable for his trial;

“I was lucky enough to make a career from a hobby. We all get to the point in our lives where we put these things behind us and go do grown up things”

Not only did Graeme make a career out of a hobby, it made him into a celebrity in some regards. The press were tripping over each other to write about the eccentric Scot building his bicycles from washing machines. Obree is grateful for the fuss the media made over him as surprisingly it earned him a lot of respect within the community. He was thrown into the public eye unexpectedly but very soon was being seen as an innovator and not an eccentric. However, like much of Graeme’s life the ups always bring their downs;

“The more media attention I got the harder it became to find sponsorship. Nobody wanted to be associated with a media figure, because cycling was so rife with substance abuse.”

Despite it being commonplace in the sport at the time, Obree says with great pride that he never used any performance enhancing drugs. A fact which he says makes his achievements even sweeter.

In recent years, since his time in the sport ended his life has been detailed in his autobiography, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ which was also made into a critically successful film. In the autobiography Obree said he had to be as candid and open as possible, and he undeniably was. He writes in great detail about the depression he struggled with for many years and his suicide attempts. Graeme believes this was his greatest achievement to date;

“My film has become almost a mental health awareness film of sorts now and the book too, I hear from so many people who writing to me and approach me at charity events saying “Thanks for being so honest”. I get guys coming to me and telling me about their struggles with depression, anxiety whatever before their wives, husbands or anyone else. The fact that I’m able to help people through my experiences is as big a thrill, if not bigger, than anything I ever got from cycling.”

Graeme speaks very passionately about this, as it is clearly a subject close to his heart. Having been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder in 1991, and struggling with depression and suicide attempts, he believes he is at the other end now and as a result of the feedback on his autobiography is now writing full time.

“I intend to use the little bit of fame I have for a positive good. I’m working on a book at the moment called “A Survivors Guide” it’s about working hard and the day to day struggle people with depression will face, guarding their equilibrium.”

Writing is his new passion and Graeme believes it is one of the reasons he is coping so well with his past issues now.

“I find myself getting up in the morning and going for a pint of milk and all I think of is what’s going in the next chapter, what’s going to be the next paragraph. Whereas I used to get up in the morning and decide whether it was worth even getting out my bed.”

Clearly writing has been beneficial for Graeme, and hopefully other people can benefit from this too. Despite his troubled past, Obree has not lost his sense of humour;

“My life has just been totally ironic. I went to school and hated P.E, Metal work and English. Christ, I used to spend whole days building bikes and training for my cycling and now I spend nearly every hour of the day writing my book. “

Graeme Obree was revolutionary in the world of cycling at the time, and he deserves to have as much luck as an author. He says he only has on regret in his career. “I never did a bloody washing machine ad!”

 

 

 

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A movie a week for a year

17 Jan

So, I’m TERRIBLE for not having seen movies that it feels like everyone has. When people reference films in my company I meet them with blank stares and vacant expressions. Sick of hearing “You’ve never seen….?!” I’m attempting to watch a movie a week, films that I really should have seen at the age of 22 or films that are generally considered as being ‘classics’ or iconic. Here’s my list; leave me your thoughts and suggestions!

  1. The Godfather
  2. Inglorious Basterds
  3. Fight Club
  4. The Godfather 2
  5. Rambo
  6. Rocky
  7. Taxi Driver
  8. Raging Bull
  9. The Royal Tennenbaums
  10. Apocalypse Now
  11. Rainman
  12. North by Northwest
  13. American Beauty
  14. Once upon a time in America
  15. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  16. Star Wars
  17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  18. Oldboy
  19. The Usual Suspects
  20. This Is Spinal Tap
  21. Psycho
  22. The Big Lebowski
  23. Heat
  24. Terminator 2
  25. Alien
  26. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
  27. Citizen Kane
  28. Kramer vs Kramer
  29. Bladerunner
  30. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  31. Midnight Express
  32. Point Break
  33. It’s a Wonderful Life
  34. Ghostbusters
  35. Dirty Harry
  36. Tootsie
  37. The Bridge on the River Kwai
  38. Unforgiven
  39. Badlands
  40. Pan’s Labyrinth
  41. Lost In Translation
  42. The Last of the Mohicans
  43. The Italian Job
  44. Withnail and I
  45. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
  46. All The Presidents Men
  47. The Untouchables
  48. Mad Max
  49. Carlito’s Way
  50. Layer Cake
  51. Sin City
  52. Downfall

Additions:

Some more movies that have been recommended to me or given to me as part of my education. Will be watched in due course.

The Last Waltz
The Prestige
Zulu
The Deer Hunter
Seabiscuit
Swingers

James Fowler – a testimonial, an appreciation

8 Aug

James Fowler (centre left, captains armband) lifts the League Cup. Source: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images Europe

There’s a very elite club in Ayrshire with only a handful of members, the members of this club are the men who have captained Kilmarnock FC to capturing silverware. The latest inductee to this, exclusive club is James Fowler. For on March 18th 2012 he lifted the League Cup for Kilmarnock and found himself joining this assembly – he was the latest man to captain Scotland’s oldest professional club to a major trophy. Tonight, at Rugby Park the place James Fowler has plied his trade for 15 years, he will be honoured with a testimonial match against Sheffield Wednesday.

In the modern era of astronomical wages and gross transfer fees, many football supporters will be ethically opposed to holding testimonial matches for these ‘overpaid’ footballers. And, it must be said who can blame them? As the football fan struggles from week to week why should they fork out to give a player who no doubt earns a more comfortable wage than most a cushy retirement? I don’t disagree with this sentiment on the whole – although, on this occasion I certainly do.

We have a generation of footballers now, who will be classed as fantastic servants to their clubs if they manage to hack it for 4 or 5 seasons. James Fowler has been grafting for Kilmarnock for 15 years, through highs and lows. He’s been played in almost every position imaginable – it was even said amongst the support that nobody knew what his best position actually was although in recent seasons it has become clear that Fowler excels in the teams engine room, underpinning everything that the midfield does.

Having surpassed 300 games – ensuring membership to another select group of players – it’s fair to say that in the blue and white of Kilmarnock, Fowler has experienced it all. UEFA Cup football in the 2000/01 season with trips to Glenavon and Viking Stavanger; heart-breaking cup exits at the hands of lower league opponents; the devastating League Cup final demolition at the hands of Hibernian; flirting with relegation on the final day of the season. And of course, most recently winning a major trophy.

Fowler is now working under his 5th manager at Kilmarnock and is arguably producing the best performances of his career. Earlier in his career he was linked with a potential move to Celtic, in spite of this Fowler remained at Rugby Park in the face of relentless and often ruthless budget cuts as the club struggled with mountains of debt and despite the uncertainty, James Fowler’s loyalty has never faltered. A fantastic role model for the young players at the club and indeed young players across the game at all levels, a more deserving candidate of a testimonial there will rarely be.

So, tonight, at Rugby Park Kilmarnock players and fans alike will gather to show their respect and appreciation for this rarest breed of footballer.

 

Find me and my various projects, here

EURO 2012 – Betting Preview

14 May

By Robert McCracken

The football season – for the most part – is over. So then is the season of the ridiculous accumulator and crazy scorecast. But fear not bookie bashers! Euro 2012 is on the horizon and it brings with it some tasty little bets, here’s an early look at some of the best ones out there.

©uefa.com 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

WHO IS GOING TO WIN?

Let’s look at the obvious ones first.

Spain:

The Spanish will be looking to defend their title. A feat which no nation has ever achieved, but the Spanish are probably set up better than most to manage it. A squad full of winners at club and international level – they have the mentality. The question is, can the Barca contingent shake the fatigue of a long season for one last push?

SPAIN 5/2 TO WIN

Germany:

So many people are tipping the Germans for this one, and it’s no wonder. Their top division continues to go from strength to strength and is continually producing some of the brightest talents in Europe. It has been a long while since Germany lifted a trophy, possibly too long for a team who perform so well in the big competitions.  Is this their year?

GERMANY 3/1 TO WIN

Holland:

World Cup finalists and a team of undoubted skill. A left back problem beckons for the Dutch – leaving a weakness in an already questionable defence. However a front line with Robin van Persie, Klass Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robben involved in the mix looks dangerous. If Sneijder can re-capture his form from their last tournament then Oranje could be in the mix.

HOLLAND 7/1 TO WIN

The outsiders:

Italy:

The Italians love going into a tournament as underdogs. Look at the 2006 World Cup. Their defence leaked 2 goals in 10 qualifying games and Cesare Prandelli has balanced the experience in the side with young players like SuperMario. Pirlo has performed majestically all season as Juventus claimed the Scudetto, he’s in his his best form for many a season, can he carry it over to the Euro’s and make this his swan song? Italy need goals however and therein lies the rub, no Rossi, Casanno still struggling, can Balotelli provide goals?

ITALY TO WIN 14/1

France:

It’s been a while since we saw France as a force, but they are getting back to that status under Laurent Blanc. Like Italy, they are striking a nice balance between youth and experience. A plethora of attacking talent in Benzema, Ribery, Gourcuff, Remy and Valbuena could help fire France all the way. France struggle for leadership on the pitch and squeezed into the finals through a play-off but don’t write them off.

FRANCE TO WIN 12/1

GROUP WINNERS:

GROUP A:  Poland, Russia, Greece, Czech Republic.

The Poles will be buoyed by playing in front of their home crowd and have some real quality up front.

Russia are settling in well with a fantastic defensive spine to the squad. They weren’t prolific in qualifying but look strong.

Greece are the side we recognise from 2004. Defensive, ugly and impossible to pronounce.

Czech Republic. Who? Should be Scotland that are there. (I’m not bitter)

WINNERS: RUSSIA (11/8)

RUNNERS UP: POLAND (5/6)

GROUP B:  Holland, Germany, Portugal, Denmark

The Dutch will be in the mix for the latter stages, they ooze ablity.

Germany are so heavily fancied. Strength in every department and fluid, Jochim Low has the Germans going from strength to strength.

Portugal are forever the bridesmaid, never the bride. Their best chance was in 2004, and despite some real quality in the side this is a tough group for them.

The Danes qualified well, pipping Portugal to win group h, but this is such a strong group I think they’ll struggle.

WINNERS: GERMANY (11/10)

RUNNERS UP: HOLLAND (1/2)

GROUP C: Spain, Italy, Croatia, Ireland

Spain arrive in Poland and Ukraine to defend their title and have a raft or creative, quick thinking players. They need no introduction.  Qualified at a canter and will qualify as winners from this group too.

Italy will be written off by many but performed well in qualifying  and will get through this group – possibly a step below Spain in quality though.

Croatia have plenty of players Premier League fans will be familiar with and they have plenty of talent too. Look no further than Luka Modric. And with Eduardo, Jelavic, Olic and Klasnic making up their strikers – there’s goals there. Outside package for this group at 7/4 to qualify.

Ireland have galvanised well under Trapattoni who will have them marshalled well for this, their first Euro’s appearance since 1988. They lack the quality of Spain/Italy but this tournament loves an underdog.

WINNERS: SPAIN (8/15)

RUNNERS UP: ITALY (8/13)

GROUP D: Ukraine, England, France, Sweden

Co-hosts Ukraine will look to be spurred on by the home crowd. They still have Schevchenko in the squad, and to me that points at a lack of options.

England have a new manager and new ideas, depending on how they settle together this could be an interesting tournament. Potential last roll of the dice for some players. They are 6/4 to drop out in the group stages. England are 1/2 to qualify and 13/8 to win their group.

France are striking a balance in the squad and Laurant Blanc is forming them into the nation they once were not so long ago. Favourable group for them.

Sweden, a bogey team for England somewhat and they look quite creative. Zlatan goes into this group in good form too.

WINNERS: FRANCE (13/8)

RUNNERS UP: SWEDEN (no, not England) (7/4)

Group Winners Accumulator: 19.07/1

Group Forecast Accumulator: 605.37/1

GOLDEN BOOT:

An absolute smorgasbord of quality goal scoring talent awaits at this tournament. Robin van Persie, Klass Jan Huntelaar, Karim Benzema, Ibrahimovic all arrive in hot form for their clubs.  But as Milan Baros showed in 2004 sometimes the unexpected players can pop up too.

Here’s a run-down of some of the best:

Klass Jan Huntelaar: top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals and a poacher of the highest quality. If the Dutch do well, he should too. (16/1)

Karim Benzema: An excellent season at Madrid, should be interesting to see how he fares in this one. France love to have a shot and Benzema will be in the mix for the French. (16/1)

Robin van Persie: Astonishing form for Arsenal in what has been RVP’s best season for a while. His role for the Dutch is somewhat different but if he plays out wide instead of Kuyt there’s no reason he can’t be in with a shout. (8/1)

Mario Gomez: The talismanic Bayern man is one of Europe’s hottest strikers and will be a huge player for the Germans this year. (8/1)

Miroslav Klose: Low is a big fan of Klose and he’s had a good season with Lazio. Some excellent supply in the German team, the old man might just do it yet. (14/1)

OUTSIDERS:

Nikica Jelavic: A superb few months for Everton will no doubt have caught Slaven Bilic’s eye. They’ve got a tough group but they do have quality – if they can sneak through then Jelavic might just be worth a look. (50/1)

Sebastian Giovinco: The Parma man has had a good season and has shone in a league amongst stars like Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic. Italy need a striker and if Prandelli decides to give Giovinco a shot, then who knows? (66/1)

Fernando Torres: I feel his odds are probably a bit short. Though he is a confidence player and right now he seems to have plenty. (16/1)

ALL ODDS ARE FROM BET365 AND WERE CORRECT AT TIME OF PUBLISHING

Robert McCracken -robertmccracken91@gmail.com – Twitter: @rmccracken91

From the pedal to the pen

30 Nov

Graeme Obree goes from record breaking cyclist, to mental-health author

BY Robert McCracken

Graeme Obree has been opening new horizons since he first got on a bike aged 6. The 44 year old continues to do so today but as an author.

The former world champion cyclist has got off the saddle for good, competitively at least. Obree was famous for building bicycles himself from anything he could lay his hands on, and broke the world time trial record on a bike made from washing machine parts. Graeme believes this part of his life is behind him now after the bike he built for a time trial this year was not suitable for his trial;

“I was lucky enough to make a career from a hobby. We all get to the point in our lives where we put these things behind us and go do grown up things”

Not only did Graeme make a career out of a hobby, it made him into a celebrity in some regards. The press were tripping over each other to write about the eccentric Scot building his bicycles from washing machines. Obree is grateful for the fuss the media made over him as surprisingly it earned him a lot of respect within the community. He was thrown into the public eye unexpectedly but very soon was being seen as an innovator and not an eccentric. However, like much of Graeme’s life the ups always bring their downs;

“The more media attention I got the harder it became to find sponsorship. Nobody wanted to be associated with a media figure, because cycling was so rife with substance abuse.”

Despite it being commonplace in the sport at the time, Obree says with great pride that he never used any performance enhancing drugs. A fact which he says makes his achievements even sweeter.

In recent years, since his time in the sport ended his life has been detailed in his autobiography, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ which was also made into a critically successful film. In the autobiography Obree said he had to be as candid and open as possible, and he undeniably was. He writes in great detail about the depression he struggled with for many years and his suicide attempts. Graeme believes this was his greatest achievement to date;

“My film has become almost a mental health awareness film of sorts now and the book too, I hear from so many people who writing to me and approach me at charity events saying “Thanks for being so honest”. I get guys coming to me and telling me about their struggles with depression, anxiety whatever before their wives, husbands or anyone else. The fact that I’m able to help people through my experiences is as big a thrill, if not bigger, than anything I ever got from cycling.”

Graeme speaks very passionately about this, as it is clearly a subject close to his heart. Having been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder in 1991, and struggling with depression and suicide attempts, he believes he is at the other end now and as a result of the feedback on his autobiography is now writing full time.

“I intend to use the little bit of fame I have for a positive good. I’m working on a book at the moment called “A Survivors Guide” it’s about working hard and the day to day struggle people with depression will face, guarding their equilibrium.”

Writing is his new passion and Graeme believes it is one of the reasons he is coping so well with his past issues now.

“I find myself getting up in the morning and going for a pint of milk and all I think of is what’s going in the next chapter, what’s going to be the next paragraph. Whereas I used to waken up in the morning and decide whether it was worth even getting out my bed.”

Clearly writing has been beneficial for Graeme, and hopefully other people can benefit from this too. Despite his troubled past, Obree has not lost his sense of humour;

“My life has just been totally ironic. I went to school and hated P.E, Metal work and English. Christ, I used to spend whole days building bikes and training for my cycling and now I spend nearly every hour of the day writing my book. “

Graeme Obree was revolutionary in the world of cycling at the time, and he deserves to have as much luck as an author. He says he only has on regret in his career. “I never did a bloody washing machine ad!”

Kilmarnock FC Season 11/12 Preview

20 Jul

After last season it’s hard to see how Killie could improve on their performance. A team who avoided relegation on the last day of the previous season went into the 10/11 season with the guts of the same squad from the previous year, a manager who had fared poorly in the SPL previously, plus a few additions. No addition was more prominent than Alexei Eremenko; the Finn stamped his quality all over the SPL and was intrinsic to the unique brand of ‘sexy’ football they bought to the SPL. The attractive, pass and move attacking play with the fullbacks overlapping a tight midfield feeding a revitalised Conor Sammon in attack saw Killie get results and do so with style.

January saw 15+ goals Sammon poached by Wigan and soon after Mixu was homeward bound to manage his national team. Even with the talismanic Player of the Year nominee Eremenko pulling the strings beside the ever improving Bryson, Killie could not quite match their early season form. Kenny Shiels led the side to a top half finish – their first since 2007.

Who’s in and who’s out?

IN:                                                                    OUT:

Patrick Ada – Crewe Alexandria____________Momo Sissoko – Udinese (Loan expired)

Danny Buijs – ADO Den Haag______________Craig Bryson – Derby County

Gary Harkins – Dundee FC________________Jamie Hamill – Hearts

Zdeněk Kroča – Luton Town_______________Rui Miguel –

Paul Heffernan – Sheffield Wed_____________Mehdi Taouil – Hearts

Rory McKeown – Ipswich Town_____________Alexei Eremenko – Metalist (loan expired)

Danny Raachi – York City_________________Benjamin Laurent – Released

_____________________________________Willy Aubemayang – Released

_____________________________________Frazer Wright – St Johnstone

The talismanic midfielder has left a void in the Killie squad

Who’s who in 11/12?

Kenny Shiels brought in his countryman, the experienced Jimmy Nichol, as his assistant for the season ahead. With SEVEN first team players, including the team captain Craig Bryson,  vacating the club the Northern Irish duo had the majority of a team to reconstruct if they had any hope of kicking off from where they left off last season.

With many fans questioning the ability of Shiels as a manager and a talent scout following the success of Mixu last season, Kenny has worked hard to dispel these qualms with a few eye catching signings.

Gary 'Zizou' Harkins

Gary Harkins, bagged on a free from Dundee has immediately caught the eye with his pre-season performances. A well taken goal against Linfield followed by a belter against Ross County has captured the imagination. The man, who’s been christened ‘Zizou’ after Zinedine Zidane by his teammates, on no small part due to his bald spot, has big shoes to fill in the midfield. Although the general consensus in the First Division is that Dundee will be a much weakened side without him and the rest of the clubs are glad to see the back of him. Harkins clearly has pedigree and it is surprising he’s not bagged a move to the SPL sooner. If he fills his potential he could prove the bargain of the season.

Killie fans have high hopes for the Dutchman

Another exciting capture is Danny Buijs. A product of the famed Ajax academy, the birthplace of ‘Total Football’ with 250 Dutch Eredivisie performances between Feyenoord and ADO Den Haag the pedigree of the Dutchman is clear. An aggressive fullback/defensive midfielder with a sweet set piece he has been signed to fill in the gap left by Bryson according to the Gaffer. Buijs has put pen to paper on a one year deal at Rugby Park and clearly is putting himself in the shop window for bigger sides. As long as he gives 100% in the stripes, the Rugby Park faithful will be pleased with his contribution whether it’s a 1 year deal or a 10 year deal.

New centre halves Patrick Ada and Zdeněk Kroča add to Kenny’s team of all nations as they hail from Cameroon and the Czech Republic respectively. Both players came from lower leagues in England and fans of both sides were sad to see them go. With the first choice central defence of Sissoko and Wright left for pastures new the new signings will form a reshaped defence. Kroča has met Killie before….scoring for Luton against the Ayrshire men last pre-season. Both Ada and Kroča seem to fit into the Killie mentality well- ball playing defenders who can spot a pass with confidence.

The hardest boots of all to fill will be those of Conor Sammon. Goals are vital, and a top half side needs a stiker bagging himself 15 goals a season to compete. Rui Miguel and William Gros tried to fill the void last season to varying degrees of success. With Miguel back in his native Portugal this left Killie with a striker shortage. Paul Heffernan was officially Shiels’ first signing of the new season and the Irishman came from Sheffield Wednesday with decent reports from the Owls fans. Whether or not he’ll bag the goals remains to be seen. Ben Hutchison has signed a short term deal after his release from Celtic. The Englishman showed much promise with Middlesbrough and a keen goal scoring ability with Celtic reserves. He never replicated this whilst on loan at Lincoln City or Dundee and found first team chances thin on the ground at Parkhead. Shiels brought him to Rugby Park and the Killie faithful are going to need some convincing with this signing. Clearly though, the lad has shown potential and if Shiels was part of the magic that turned Sammon into a goal machine maybe he can get the best out of Hutchinson too.

Another Northern Irishman came to Kilmarnock in the shape of young full back Rory McKeown. The left back comes in to a position that proves a problem for Killie. Garry Hay made the position his own after years of loyal service. He was displaced last year by Chelsea loanee Ben Gordon who shone brightly in a squad full of unexpected stars. After he went back down south in January, ‘Hooky’ struggled to fit into the new Kilmarnock system. McKeown comes in to the season on the back of some impressive pre-season performances. Whether he’ll be first choice at left back remains to be seen as Shiels still seems keen to strengthen that position further having had Mitchell Pique on trial and now Austrian Tomas Piersmayer.

Dayton could be like a new signing

Another major boost to the side is the returning James Dayton.

He showed some delightful ability before a horrendous cruciate injury saw him miss basically the whole season. The right winger has showed the form that he started with last year in pre-season and the right winger could be vital to any success Killie hope to have. He converted a wonderful goal against Preston in pre-season scoring straight from the kick off after very team member had a touch. If he can replicate that for real then defences will have a handful. Despite having played only a handful of games he’s already becoming a fans favourite and will hopefully stay injury free. Dayton is a direct wide man with no fear to run at defences and cause full backs a headache. Killie have lacked any real penetration on the wings in recent seasons and the return of Dayton will take some pressure off the full backs who were doing most of the supply for the front men last year.

With high profile midfielders, Bryson and Eremenko in the side last year and Harkins and Buijs being brought in this year, one man is fast becoming an unsung hero. The work rate provided in the middle of the park from Liam Kelly was vital to the side last year and will be more important this year. Kelly has come on leaps and bounds and has the potential to be even better than Bryson. As a tackler, passer and goal scorer Kelly shows great ability at all three and his work is often overshadowed by the more flamboyant players. He often picked passes that showed intelligence above and beyond his years last season that could only be rivalled by those of the Finn he played alongside.  Kelly takes the number 8 shirt this year but he has already sealed his place in the first team. It’ll be a big season for the midfielder as he has the chance to step into his own now beside Gary Harkins in the midfield engine room.

 Where now for Killie?

At the start of last season every Killie fan would have been happy if they steered clear of relegation. After flirting with European places and a top six spot I have the feeling scraping clear of the bottom won’t be enough for the Killie support this year.

In fact some would still be disappointed if they don’t better last year’s performance.

Breaching the top four does not seem likely for Killie – although with Dundee United having lost some key players and having an early start to the season they may not be guaranteed to be up there either. Hearts have made some interesting signings, although Hamill and Taouil worked with Jefferies at Rugby Park and now join him in Gorgie, despite Jefferies playing them both significantly out of position so whether he’ll get the best out of them remains to be seen. Hibernian and Aberdeen have made some interesting additions to their sides and will be keen to break into the top six after poor performances last term, despite this they still have a lot of dead wood in their sides which may hinder their progress.

Motherwell has the same nucleus of the squad that sealed them top 6 and a Scottish Cup final place last term. Having lost the goals of John Sutton they signed Michael Higdon to fill the void. The aging Keith Lasley and Steven Craigan add experience to a youthful squad and they could look good to build on their 6th place finish.

So….where does this leave Killie. Well, as much as I would be happy with any position above 9th, which is most likely just enough to avoid a relegation battle, Killie could do much better than this and secure another top six finish. They have an ambitious squad and have made some ambitious signings. The tactical know how of Shiels juxtaposed with the experience, determination and knowledge of Jimmy Nichol will be enough to drive the squad on. With Manuel Pascali taking the armband from Craig Bryson nobody can doubt the credential of the Italian to fill the role. Conservatively, however my prediction is an 8th place finish for Kilmarnock this season.

Will Killie better last year’s performance? Probably not. But they’ll have a damn good stab at it and it’ll be a typical blue and white rollercoaster ride along the way.

Grassroots Report

28 Apr

An audio report on the game in Scotland at its most important level. Grassroots football.

With Scotland set to be thrown in the worlds sporting spotlight with the Commonwealth Games in 2014 the importance of Grassroots sport is more relevant than ever.

At a grassroots level we are developing young people from the bottom of the sporting latter to allow them to ascend to become the best athlete’s they can be.

Football in particular relies heavily on cultivating youth at this level. With Scottish football at the top levels almost universally agreed to be in a poor state on and off the field the reliance on youth is more important than ever.

After investigation into Grassroots football it becomes clear that despite the resources at our availability in Scotland, we are not doing what we should or could be to help our youths and our game progress and there are many problems inherent in the system.

Click here, to listen