Category Archives: Sport

Simply Gone Bust

One of the benefits of having moved ‘down south’ is being able to watch the demise of Rangers from afar. I have no torch for either half of the so called Old Firm, although that term will have to be rethought. The less pleasant aspects of both clubs have spread throughout the country like Japanese Knotweed, choking off any chance of growth in support of clubs around Scotland.
Whilst there is no doubt something chastening for all clubs that one of the stature of Rangers can go to the wall, it’s mixed with amusement and dollops of schadenfreude. They did after all bring it upon themselves.
Most amusing has been the strident tones with which Rangers fan base have maintained that somehow it’s all the fault of Craig Whyte, a johnny-come-lately owner who purchased the club from Sir David Murray barely a year ago. Yes, he’s been complicit. He wanted to make a fast buck, but, one look at the various charges laid at the clubs door should tell even the most rabid of the “Follow, Follow” brigade (and that’s Blindly follow follow), that something has been amiss in the state of Denmark for some time.
In the early to mid 80’s Rangers were not the club most are familiar with. They were a mid table side, playing to crowds of half the number they’ve seen in recent seasons. Aberdeen and Dundee United were the successful clubs in Scotland at the time, using youth policy and shrewd management from Alex Ferguson and Jim McLean to become respected in Europe. Enter David Murray, rebuffed in his attempts to buy his boyhood team of Ayr United, he successfully purchased Rangers. Installed Graeme Souness as player/manager and things would never be the same again for Scottish Football.
Rangers embarked on a spending spree. Established international players Chris Woods, Terry Butcher, Trevor Steven et al were persuaded north, trophies were once again piling up and, loyal fans flocking back. Club after club spent good money after bad enticing third and fourth rate European players to their squads in an effort to keep up. Fergus McCann at Celtic had to do away with the infamous biscuit tin. The thing is, sanity gradually took hold. Clubs began to cut their cloth, yes, even Celtic. Not however, Rangers. Blinded by the need to one up their hated rivals, new and more elaborate means were found to continue bringing in the mercenaries. The sense of entitlement amongst their fans only grew.
And now, the house of cards has come crashing down. The financials don’t appear to have been wholly above board. Tax evasion, EBT’s, double contracts. Systematic cheating to further tilt a playing field that was never level to begin with, Rangers enjoy significant advantages over the rest of the SPL, except Celtic. More TV money goes the way of the big two than does the rest of the SPL, the numbers required in a vote to change anything in the SPL were skewed to ensure nothing could go against the big two.
Outside of the financial wrong doing (alleged), it amounts to cheating on the field of play. By not paying certain things everyone else was paying, they could pay more on players. Thus bettering their squad further and probably winning more than they would have done had they played fair. Not for one second do I imagine it would have been a utopian ideal, Rangers may well have won all the trophies over the time frame they did anyway, but, we’ll never know.
Has there been one word of remorse? From anyone connected with them? Err, no, just finger pointing and claims of a vendetta. The usual paranoid fantasies of Old Firm fans who believe everything is about and for them.
For any number of years now, both Rangers and Celtic have publicly claimed to be seeking entry to the English Premier League, for that way riches lie, and indeed Scottish clubs were reassured that the SPL would continue without them, for no club is bigger than the league. Suddenly, with the club facing the prospect of liquidation, it became, “Scottish football NEEDS us”.
And so, they have been liquidated. Rangers are no more; instead there is The Rangers, a club with no history and at the moment no league to play in. The SPL will vote on July 4th on whether or not The Rangers should be allowed Rangers’ SPL share and thus take their place in the SPL. This leads to further complications. Many Rangers fans point out that as The Rangers are a new club, with none of the history etc. of Rangers, they therefor should not be liable for any of the punishments to be meted out once the legal processes have taken place. This ignores a couple of things:
1. If no punishment is to be made that sets up a precedent whereby any club can just walk away from it’s debt and carry on as though nothing was amiss.
2. It’s a new club, therefor it should have to go through all the same application processes as any other new club would in order to gain league status.
The second of these is the most interesting to me. Assuming a vote is passed denying them access to the SPL, it seems to have been taken as read that the club will just enter the SFL in division three. This just glosses over the fact that there is a process to gaining entry to the SFL. Clubs like Cove Rangers and Spartans have tried and failed recently, and I’m sure there would be legal challenges should this be a mere fait accompli. There is no guarantee that SFL clubs would vote to allow them in anyway, quite apart from the due diligence angle, as Peterhead have already mentioned, why ruin the competition by allowing this club in. Once again turkeys, voting and Christmas spring to mind.
The new season fixture list was announced and it threw up some interesting discussion points. The SPL list contained “Club12” the designation given for whatever club takes Rangers place. Conspiracy theorists have been analysing the list since and the following points jump out:
1. Celtic face Club12 on Boxing Day. It’s normal at this time of year for there to be a Rangers v Celtic clash – is this a sign that The Rangers will be allowed in the SPL?
2. Celtic have a home game on the same day as Club12 once, Dundee United have a home game on the same day as Club 12 nine times. – another sign The Rangers are coming? It’s widely believed that Dundee are in pole position to take Rangers place, in this scenario that would require 9 games to be rescheduled on police advice. Does this make it more likely that The Rangers are Club12? I could be that Dunfermline get unrelegated!!
3. Whilst the SPL have taken a simple route and can just replace Club 12 with whoever, the SFL will face a bit of a nightmare reshaping their fixture list should Dundee/Dunfermline be in the SPL and should The Rangers pitch up somewhere in the SFL. Another sign that The Rangers are expected to go to the SPL?
Who knows? It just gets more complex and more surprising by the day. Walter Smith appeared to lead a bid to take over The Rangers, however his white steed had a panic attack and bolted with him still on board just a few hours later. News of another bidding team has been reported in the last day or so too. To top this though, stories have begun to circulate of the new ownership at the club hatching a plan to purchase Bury, an ENGLISH League 1 side. Bury would then be moved wholesale to Glasgow, renamed as The Rangers and presto! Goodbye SPL, hello, well ok, League 1.
This smacks of yet more, “we’re taking our ba’ away” posturing, the big “we dinnae need you but you need us” grandiose arrogant scheme old Rangers were very fond of. The logic of it defies thought!
Worst case in Scotland would see them entering Div 3 of the SFL with the likelihood being that with the Rangers name and new financing they would cruise through to Div 1 in successive years. Year 3 would be a bit tougher but they should gain promotion to the SPL then. That would also be the end of the 3 year European ban. So Year 4, when they are again eligible for Europe, they are in the SPL and probably mounting a challenge for trophies and qualification for Euro competition.
Assuming the myriad logistical issues and footballing boards in England, Scotland, UEFA and FIFA can be overcome, there is no guarantee of anything in England for them. League 1 can be tough to get out of, ask Sheffield United!, and the Championship even harder. They could slog for seasons just to get a sniff of the EPL, and Europe a pipe dream long after the ban is lifted.
Sadly though all of this seems moot, despite numerous SPL clubs having made noises about ‘sporting integrity’ it seems they are paving the way for a vote that would allow The Rangers into the SPL. Kilmarnock being the worst offenders here, tripping over themselves to kiss Rangers buttocks at every opportunity. Recent boardroom shuffles at Aberdeen can be interpreted wither way, but many feel it clears the way for a yes vote. Rumours are also emerging of a “compromise deal” that would see The Rangers accepted to the SPL and then immediately relegated to Division 1.
Whatever happens, we do indeed live in interesting times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sport

What hiatus?

As some of readers may remember, amongst the many sports I follow, cricket sits large amongst them.  In the main because it’s one of the few (perhaps only) sports I was even passably good at.  After around 17 years devotion to the cause of Corstorphine in one guise or another, I found myself in the unusual position of having to attach myself to a new club.  A circumstance brought about after I moved from Livingston into the wilds of Nottinghamshire.

This has meant coming to terms with a few differences.  As a country, Scotland is not exactly open about it’s cricketing heritage.  We’re a dirty little secret, best kept under the rug.  Indeed, at times it felt it would be easier to come out as gay, than to come out as a cricketer.  When petty and ill-informed MSP’s are questioning whether matches should be shown on TV in Scotland you start to feel a little unwelcome.

So after a work and family induced move to the “dark lands” south of the wall, it’s a novel feeling to be involved somewhere where people other than the players know about their local club.

I’ve brought my scorebook keeping talents to Caythorpe, a small village in central Nottinghamshire who’ve had a club off and on for over 100 years.  The first XI play in the Notts Premier League, whilst the second XI (for whom I score) are in Division 1 of the Bassetlaw & District League.  The B&D is one of two feeder leagues for the NPL, covering the northern part of the county.

The first big difference I noticed was that there are always more people around on a game day than just the 22 players on the park.  Every match has two independent umpires, and each club has a scorer, yes, even at second XI level.  Not only that, but people actually come and watch.  OK, not huge crowds, but a couple of weeks ago we played at Edwinstowe, and there were never less than 30 or 40 people sat around the boundary.   Having a bar that’s open does marvellous things in terms of supporters, and funds!  The vast majority of clubs are village sides, with picture postcard settings, but even here there are professional players brought in.  The West Indian Cavaliers side visited Caythorpe for a cup match last weekend, bringing with them, ex Notts and England player Usman Afzaal and the Saqlain Mushtaq!!

There are quirks too.  The draw exists in league matches here, it’s 46 overs maximum for the side batting first, but the side batting second gets the balance of the 92 overs if any are unused.  Points are shared in the event of rain/cancellation, so no need for percentages.  Most strange of all is the fact that matches start at 2pm.  Most of the villages in the area were built up around the coal mines, with matches timed to start to allow men to finish off a shift in the morning before playing in the afternoon.  So, despite the fact that Mrs T finished off the mining industry round these parts in the early 80’s there are still enough traditionalists around to prevent the start time from changing.

So, instead of sitting in a green metal container squeezed in beside kit and a stale old bloke from the opposition, I sit in a large comfortable, electronic scorebox where there’s a better than average chance my counterpart will be female (women are heavily involved around the clubs down here) and whisper it quietly so none of the presidents of Scottish clubs hear I even get a bit of beer money thrown my way for the pleasure of doing it.  Cricket, god love it.

———————————————————

There are some things not to love about cricket.  Match fixing, the length of a World Cup tournament, the ICC (the one body to make FIFA appear competent) to name but a few, but the chief irritant has to be Charles Colville.  The smug twat’s smug twat.

He has the world weary air of someone for whom everything came to easily, his condecension of those who fail to meet the standards of his favourites is renowned.  He is the single reason for watching Sky’s domestic cricket coverage with the sound off….well, OK, there’s Nick Knight too.  Even Mark ‘Lawro’ Lawrenson looks professional next to this guy.

Colville is the token non-England player in the Sky team, indeed, he never made it to county level.  He must be a contributory factor in Bob Willis’ biblical level sulk, one which is now entering it’s 10th year.

I can only assume this puffed up, patronising, wouldn’t look out of place at a Tory function with Flashman, Gideon et al, has some pretty good dirt on the head of Sky Sports.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cricket, Sport

Infamy, Infamy…..

Wow, I’m in print!!  Funny how your heart jumps when your name appears:

Half way down page 2, and then again at the end!

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Sport

Competition Time!

It’s the World Cup, and that means prediction time, in the interests of fundraising for RHC Lions cricket club.  Roll up, roll up, all welcome.

Join the prediction madness at:

Website:   http://www.sportguru.co.uk/worldcup
Pool code: gustmuse
Pool name: RHC Lions WC Predictions

It’s £5 to enter, simply drop me an email to confirm the details of how to pay.
Half of the entry fee goes to club funds, the rest into the prize pool.  Normally pay out is split such that 60% goes to the winner, 30% for the runner up and 10% to third.  This is however dependent on the total prize pool value.  If we have fewer than 12 entries it’ll be a winner take all prize.  13 to 19 entries will see us pay out to first and second on a 70/30 split.
Get predicting, get winning.  Sportguru is free to register and use.  I took part in a World Twenty20 pool on there and it’s straight forward to use.  Best of all, no spam from them since signing up.
Or the alternative version is available here (hopefully)….Fifa2010
email me on chappersp@gmail.com for a copy of the original excel sheet.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cricket, Current Events, Sport, World Cup

Mass Effect?

So there I was, clearing out the bathroom cupboard, or rather the shelf with all my gubbins on it, when what should I find? No, not that packet of three bought when I was 16 (more in hope than expectation). They expired years ago.

It was a Lynx gift set. Must’ve been a Christmas gift as it’s not something I’d usually buy. Lynx, every teenage boys first stab at smelling sophisticated. “The Lynx Effect” isn’t that girls suddenly fall at your feet, knickers down and legs akimbo, no. It’s that impenetrable fug of toxic fumes left in the bathroom after it’s been liberally applied to the armpit. Stuff not even the German High Command would’ve sanctioned in 1915 goes into every can Lynx. The secret of where Saddam’s WMDs ended up? Look no further than the Lynx laboratory. He sold all his recipes to them. In a few months time, Lynx Persia will be released in his honour. Free moustache with every purchase.

Not that Lynx wearers are the worst culprits out there. There is a certain corner of female society that believe a bath in a bottle of perfume is somehow alluring. You know the ones, there’s one in every office. Leaves a vapour trail behind her that is almost in the visible spectrum. They get men, not by flirtatious behaviours and the power of personality, but by overpowering their senses, causing them to short out just long enough to be ensnared.

The only good news gentlemen is this, you can usually smell them coming and you can always tell where they’ve been, but beware, for many are now becoming cunning, and are starting their attacks from down wind.

——————-

It would seem the union representing BA Cabin Crew is trying to go out of it’s way to lose public sympathy, even before the strike action begins. If reports are to be believed, they’ve taken the iconic ‘US Marines on Iwo Jima’ photograph of 1945 and photo shopped it to show cabin staff raising the union banner. Hmmm, fair enough, it was US Marines in a campaign that Britain had little part in, but, given the amount of transatlantic business BA do, and how revered this image is over in America, it’s not great PR for anyone.

I’m not a union member, and I’m not a BA employee, in fact I’ve never even flown with them, but I can’t help but wonder if these Cabin Crew will be happy to win their point of principle yet end up jobless as they bring an already struggling airline to it’s knees.

As the fishermen are learning, you can’t keep hauling the fish from the seas and expect there to be more there next time.

—————-

So Canada’s ladies won the most protracted and pointless of the Winter Olympic events, the womens hockey. The fact that there only ever were two countries any good at it, and there are still only two countries any good at it somewhat leaves the identity of the finalists a foregone conclusion. If womens hockey is to remain an Olympic sport, and it will if only for reasons of sexual equality, it needs a revamp.

Canada and the USA should play each other in a best of five or best of seven series to decide the gold medal. The rest of the teams can play in a round robin format for the bronze. If nothing else, the 18-0 style results would disappear. It may also help the lesser countries improve without being demoralised twice a tournament.

On the men’s side, NHL Gruppenfuhrer, Gary Bettman, has done nothing to quell speculation that these will be the last games where NHL players will be involved. This would just be the latest in a long line of Bettman gaffes. The World Cup is no more, the World Championships suffer from being held at the same time as the NHL playoffs. People want to see the best players representing their national teams. The FIFA World Cup would be a whole other event if the squads were selected from non-league clubs.

The Olympics require a two week shutdown once every four years. It’s not that much of an imposition. The players like it, the fans like it, so lets keep it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sport

Hurrreeeee, Haaaaaarddddd

So, this is what my life has become. Suddenly, I’m obsessed with curling. Surely it’s no coincidence the throw rocks, this is as addictive as crack. Then again, we’re getting away from frumpy houswives these days.

Even the British team has a couple of cuties on it these days.

I now know more about ‘the hammer’, ‘hacks’ and ‘hog lines’ than I ever thought possible. I thought it was just about sliding stones down the ice to the target. Turns out, there’s a chance of both the mens and womens team ‘medalling’ for GB.

Even the Twitterati are following their fortunes.

——-

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Sport

Sport, Huh. What is it good for?

I did have my usual misery guts ranting type of entry ready to go on Friday, then Nodar Kumaritashvili happened. Here’s a young guy, doing something he loved, about to have the biggest day of his life. Something he’s prepared for, dreamed of and thought about for years. He wasn’t necessarily going to win a medal, or even threaten to, but, just to be there on the start line.

We all know what happened next.

Further bad news on Saturday as Scotland wing Thom Evans is carried off the Millenium Stadium pitch, taken to hospital and operated on after suffering a neck injury. Thankfully the news is reasonable this morning with reports that he is moving his arms and legs. One of my classmates suffered a neck injury playing under 18 rugby when we were at school. He’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

Why do we take these risks? Because we can? Speaking personally, I love the camaraderie of the of the team atmosphere, being able to take part in something I can do.

On the field, the Scotland Wales match was the most surreal finish to a game I can remember. With Scotland comfortable for the majority of the game only to concede 10 points in the final 30 seconds.

I was at the Stadio delle Almondvale for the Livingston v Annan Athletic clash. Fantastic match it was to. Annan had two chances in the first half, scoring with both, only being in the game thanks to a number of good saves from their keeper.

Not sure what Gary Bollan said to his team at half time, and it certainly wouldn’t be printable, but with a change to 3-5-2 they came out a different side and proceeded to batter the Annan side into submission. Young Andy Halliday was particularly fired up, and goals from De Vita, Winters and Halliday saw the result turned around. Sadly the side dropped back into 4-4-2 and invited Annan to get a bit more play in the late stages. Assisited by the referee who played a huge amount of injury time, most of it to make up for time Annan had wasted whilst in the lead! But Livi held out for a thrilling win.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Rugby, Six Nations, Sport