Archive | November, 2010

Scottish Cup 4th Round draw

22 Nov

Scottish Cup 4th Round Draw


Killie go Global

15 Nov

Now, before you go any further, I warn you that this post was written with blue tinted specs firmly on.

The Kilmarnock captain, and one-time Hearts target found himself getting a call up to Craig Levein’s squad for the friendly against the Faroes. Many Killie fans would say not before time. Not me however, I’d suggest this is right on time.

The 24 year-old midfielder has been surrounded by a lot of hype from the Rugby Park faithful in recent seasons, who believe that the tireless former Clyde man was head and shoulders above the rest of the team. Not that they were wrong, Brysons performances stood out consistently. Only because there were no other performances worthy of comment.

Craig Bryson has every right to be ecstatic, having earned a place in the Scotland squad.

Best of a bad bunch

Bryson was performing well in a team low on confidence, with players who were resting on their laurels and lacking any real passion.

Now, in a rejuvenated squad under the stewardship of Mixu Paatelainen, Bryson looks te times the player he was last season. He’s transforming into the player he has the potential to be. His energy and vision are superb, and playing beside 40-something-capped international Alexei Eremenko,  Bryson is a revelation. Every game, he seems to be improving and the phrase “Bryson’s best game in a Killie shirt….”  is being thrown about week after week.

Captain Fantastic

An unlikely choice of captain at the start of the season, in a squad with the fantastically passionate and vocal Manuel Pascali and SPL veterans such as James Fowler and Garry Hay. Though Bryson has not disappointed, his leadership, determination and influence are clear for all to see. He’s spend a lot of time working on the physical side of his game, and is fast turning into a very well-rounded midfielder.

Eremenko: The perfect foil for Bryson

Looking at the player he was as recently as 6 months ago the improvement is fantastic. He’s went from an above average SPL midfielder, to an international quality SPL captain. Craig Levein has an eye for a player (at club level at least), and his selection is evidence that the former under 21 player is ready to make the step up, at long last.

‘Keeper called up

Another player who is making his mark on the Scotland scene is Killie’s young ‘keeper, Cammy Bell. A fantastic shot-stopper (very much in the mould of his team-mate Alan Combe) with superb command of his area, Bell has never looked out-of-place in the SPL.

Many were skeptical when Jim Jefferies kept farming Bell out to the 1st and 2nd division on loan, whilst still rewarding him with contract after contract. However when Bell broke into the first team last season, it was clear to see why. 24 years old and with plenty of first team experience with Queen of the South (and a UEFA cup match) under his belt, Bell showed some real class and potential with his performances. Similarly to Bryson, Bell is far from the finished article. His composure and aerial ability still need a bit of work. Though Kilmarnock have a history of  producing great ‘keepers; Allan McCulloch, Bobby Ferguson (who was the world’s most expensive goalkeeper) and Jim Stewart. If Cammy Bell can be half as good as any of these Rugby Park legends, then he’ll be a damn fine goalkeeper.

Of course it is only a friendly, and the team is ravaged with injury. And yes, this is the only reason these players have  a sniff of being in the Scotland first team.Though, everyone needs to get a foot in the door somewhere, eh?

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Celtic Speak out against Green Brigade

9 Nov

Following the events of the weekend, detailed in yesterdays blog, Celtic have released a statement;

“The actions of this small minority have no place at Celtic Park and, clearly, we apologise for any offence caused.”

A spokesman later added: “The club is currently carrying out an investigation into this matter. When it is concluded, it is the club’s intention to ban those identified as responsible from Celtic Park.

“Celtic fans have rightly earned a magnificent reputation for their positive behaviour and backing of the club.

“It is extremely disappointing that the actions of a small minority have embarrassed Celtic and tarnished the club in this way.”

It’s encouraging to see the Club taking action against theses fans, and I hope it is carried out as suggested by Celtic. With any luck they’ll be banned from every other SPL ground too, oh well I’m allowed to dream.

The Green Brigade

8 Nov

I do not believe that football is the place for politics, and as such I keep them apart. However, I have never been so disgusted and section of a football support as when I saw this image:

Evelyn Beatrice Hall who said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” had clearly never experienced anything as morally corrupt as this performance by a section (which was a minority) of the Celtic support.

Remembrance Sunday is not about glorifying war. Nor is it about glorifying the British Army. It is about honouring the fallen.


Multi Cultural

Celtic claim that they are a multi-cultural club and they respect other people’s beliefs (yet I remember a Palestinian flag being displayed by the Celtic support at Rugby Park, despite Biram Kayal and Israeli being in their squad) pity some elements of their fan base, primarily the Comrades and the Green Brigade, continue to shame the club with their anti-poppy protests.

I am not suggesting that everyone needs to agree with the Poppy Scotland Campaign, nor am I suggesting that everyone should donate. It would however appear that a little respect, is too much to ask.


Celtic Critical

The Green Brigade have in recent years done a lot of good work, in terms of their anti-racism and anti-facism work, though this performance may have undone a lot of that. Judging by the reaction on message boards and in todays newspapers, even the Celtic support have been critical of this performance.

The official statement by the Green Brigade was as follows;

At half-time during today’s match against Aberdeen we displayed message banners calling for ‘No bloodstained poppys on our hoops’ in protest at the Club’s decision to once again wear the poppy on our shirts during next week’s game at St Mirren (a match our group will not attend because of this decision). This is in support of an appeal by Poppyscotland to all SPL clubs. Poppyscotland describes its role as ‘supporting heroes’ and state that ‘the poppy has become a symbol of remembrance and for the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces’. Our group and many within the Celtic support do not recognise the British Armed Forces as heroes, nor their role in many conflicts as one worthy of our remembrance. Earlier this year, the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday confirmed that 14 unarmed civilians were murdered in Derry in 1972 by the Paratroop Regiment. They were among hundreds killed by the British Army during the most recent phase of conflict in Ireland. More recently, the British Armed Forces have murdered and maimed many thousands more innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The poppy remembers not just our grandfathers who fought the Nazis but also those who bombed the Belgrano and brutally occupied the streets of Belfast and Basra. While we recognise the right of individuals to remember their dead and that many within the Celtic support will wear the poppy in memory of family and friends lost in WW2 and other conflicts, we cannot accept the imposition of the poppy onto our shirts.
As far back as April, representatives from the Green Brigade, Celtic Supporters Association and Celtic Trust met with Peter Lawwell to express our united opposition to the Club imposing the poppy on the first team jersey. We also know that the AICSC and many other individual supporters had called on the Club to reverse their position of previous years and take the poppy off the shirt. Following our meeting in April, the Club were contacted on several occasions for further dialogue on the issue but informed us that they were still considering their position and would get back to us. The first any group knew of the decision was after it had been made, and publicly announced. We share the views of the AICSC whose recent statement on the poppy stated that ‘to see the jersey being used as a medium for such a divisive symbol and the message it communicates is deplorable’, and that it showed a complete lack of respect for the support, further highlighted by repeated declarations on the official website of Celtic’s delight to be wearing the poppy and supporting Poppyscotland. It appears rather than leave his politics at the door, chairman John Reid, the former Armed Forces Minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Defence, has forced his onto the first team jersey.

As you may have noticed at today’s game, we mistakenly missed out the ‘D’ in ‘bloodstained’. This happened in the rush to finish two displays for todays game (with our ‘Show the SFA the red card’ action before the match). The real mistake, however, is the Club forcing the poppy onto our shirt.”

It would appear then that, they have taken issue with the murder of innocent civilians amongst other things. Last year during the Falkirk v Celtic game on November 8th, Celtic fans (from outside the ground) sang so-called rebel songs over the minute’s silence. I guess it’s okay to glorify murdering innocent civillians if it goes to a jaunty tune.

And this is what it is vital to remember. Nobody is wearing a poppy to support war or bloodshed. But to commemorate the lives of the fallen, who fought for our freedom. And still are fighting for our freedom today. The number of Scottish soldiers who died in WWI alone, works out as over 100 soldiers per day for 4 years. Imagine the heartbreak and suffering it caused. Nowadays the Poppy appeal is helping soldiers who served and are serving in Afghanistan, just because this is an ‘unpopular war’ is irrelevant, foreign policy is not dictated by the military.

Our right to exercise an opinion and have freedom of speech was protected and fought for by the people we commemorate, and far be it from me to deny this group of fans their right to protest. If you don’t agree with the politics behind it, like the Green Brigade themselves stated – “leave it at the door.” Don’t buy your poppy, don’t donate your money and if it causes you such strong ill feeling, stand outside until the minute’s silence is over.

No comment as of yet from the Celtic Chairman

The silence from former Defence Secretary and now Celtic Chairman, John Reid is deafening. And this, says a lot more about the politics of Celtic FC than any statement ever could.

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2 Nov

The SFL have taken heavy action on Dundee FC

It was announced yesterday by the Scottish Football League (SFL) that Dundee FC would be fined 25 points. A decision which, quite rightly has been met with outrage from many in Scottish football. And not because of the effect it has on the club.

This punishment is as good as relegation for Dundee – and has devastating effects for everyone connected with the Dark Blues. Relegation to the Second Division will likely force the club to go part-time if they fail to bounce straight back up. When you consider how many players they will be forced to release, automatic promotion does not look likely.

This decision by the SFL is astonishingly heavy. Dundee have been docked more points than any of the Italian clubs involved in the 2006 match fixing scandal were.

“We are of the opinion that lessons are not being learned,” said an SFL statement. “For example, clubs have to realise that, going forward, they cannot treat their [tax] obligations as something akin to a credit card.” They make a good point – and have also made an example of Dundee. Other clubs in Britain have been in the same boat with HMRC; Cardiff and Portsmouth most notably. So it is fair to say that Dundee knew what was coming – even if they did not expect it to be so heavy.

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies described the punishment as “harsh” but acknowledged that Dundee were now in the same position for the second time in seven years, so something had to be done.

I’m not denying that action had to be taken, Dundee HAD to be punished. They had earned place money, and could’ve earned promotion with players they couldn’t afford so as a result had prejudiced other clubs.

From where I sit, which is very much on the fence in this case, the SFL are just as responsible for what happens to the players who are going to be look for new clubs, new jobs even new careers as the club were when they entered administration. That’s who my sympathy is for – the players and staff. The ones who have already been paid off and are looking for clubs, the staff looking for new jobs who need to put food on the table, pay mortgages and with about seven weeks until Christmas. And now, for the players and staff who may still have employment, but have no idea where their future may lie after the end of this season.

Dundee are going to have to start selling off their assets, as there’s no quicker way to recoup large amounts of cash. One option which has been mentioned is potentially selling Dens Park and sharing with neighbours Dundee United. Obviously, the fans aren’t going to want to share with the enemy. what looks more likely is star man Leigh Griffiths being sold, whether they like it or not. With rumours that St Johnstone and Kilmarnock are interested in the striker, he looks likely to be off. Though, for the Dark Blues, would holding onto their striker banging in goals and challenging for promotion be more profitable in the long run? allowing them higher prize money in the league and a bigger fee for Griffiths in the summer?

This matter should have been dealt with long before Dundee were allowed to get into administration again. It wasn’t and they were allowed to pick up exactly where they left off, a bit like Motherwell were.

Brian Jackson has the task of getting Dundee out of administration

Their administrator was Brian Jackson, who is charged with the same task at Dens Park. With Dundee given 10 days to appeal the SFL decision, there is a lot more news still to break on this story.

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Dundee FC – Staring into the financial abyss. Again.

1 Nov

From the top of the country to the bottom it would seem no club is exempt from financial chaos. With Liverpool having avoided administration at the last minute, and Portsmouth similarly being saved from the brink of extinction.

Closer to home though, the plight of Dundee FC has been well documented.

The club are in administration for the second time in 7 years, over spending contributing to their downfall on both occasions.

Falkirk, recently relegated to the Scottish Football League status have stepped in to help out Dundee, by donating a percentage of their gate receipts to the cash strapped club.

Many Scottish clubs are suffering financially with Hearts, Rangers, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock having almost £100m worth of debt between them.

Astonishingly, Hearts spend 120% of their income on wages. It’s not Dundee as a club that we have sympathy for, they should have learnt from their past mistakes.

Could the Dens Park gates be locked for good?

This is possibly why so many have been sympathising with Dundee.

Dundee FC Supporters Society Vice Chairman, Stuart Murphy acknowledges this;

“Some have accused Dundee FC of cheating by fielding a team they could not afford and living out with their means; I would suggest this applies to almost every team in Scotland at the moment” (In SPL terms only Celtic and Kilmarnock do according to the latest available finances.)

The Scottish Football League (SFL) looking at a massive 25 point deduction, Stuart suggests this would be unfair.

“The people that are punished by a points deduction are those who least deserve it, the fans and the players.

Any deductions that see a team relegated are just as responsible for destroying players lives as administration.

How many of Dundee’s current squad will still be employed by the club if we are relegated into the Second Division?

The SFL would be just as responsible for players looking for a new job as the club were when it entered administration.”

Stuart believes the SFL need to act on the situation, but suggests they should introduce regulations for member clubs.

“Some form of punishment needs to exist to stop clubs acting irresponsibly but the SFL also has a responsibility to  protect it’s member clubs from the risks involved in trying get to the SPL.

In Germany for example there are statutes in place to make clubs live within their means.”

Clearly there are still many chapters still to unfold in the Dundee saga, here’s hoping for a happy ending for everyone involved.

Click here for full print version of this story.