The Countdown – A Walk for a Mate

The clock is ticking, slowly but surely manoeuvring & manipulating it’s way to Saturday 29th of July. It’s a big day – especially for myself and Michael McDougall.

It’s the day we will aim to walk from Stadium to Stadium in Glasgow, raising funds for good friend Eddie Wolecki Black.

If you want you can donate, just click here – https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/twomenoneknee

Eddie sadly suffered a stroke & brain haemorrhage while managing Airdrie last March in a league fixture at Central Park, home of Cowdenbeath.

Our quest will begin at Ibrox Stadium, home of Glasgow Rangers. A Stadium in which I have some very fond memories, a stadium in which we have grown up in and watched some beautiful footballers. From there we will head over to Firhill, home of Partick Thistle – again a stadium in which I have spent a bit of time & again another stadium we both have fond memories in, especially when it comes to last minute winners sitting in the home end!

From Firhill we will trek through the city centre towards the East End of the City, to home of the invincible’s – Celtic. Another home of rich heritage and legendary footballers. We’ve had good & bad memories here, the later more prominent in the last season.

As the curtain draws a close on our adventure we will make one last push to get to the National Stadium, also home of Queens Park which is deep in the bowels of the South Side of Glasgow. This will be our final port – the last stadium to visit in which the Museum staff have kindly offered us and anyone on a tour a pitch side view of our heads being shaved, by our lovely assistant Mel Fraser.

I look forward to this journey, not so much the tired, weary legs in the days after but it is for a great cause and for a great man.

Jamie Doyle has just completed a mammoth effort to visit all of the football league stadiums in Scotland, again raising funds for Eddie. Well done big fella!

Thanks again for all of your support, we really do appreciate it.

 

 

 

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A Walk for a Mate

If you follow me or 6, 8 or 10 on social media then you will be well aware of the latest instalment of the podcast with a good friend & mentor Eddie Wolecki Black.

Sadly, Eddie suffered a severe stroke & brain haemorrhage at half time in a game against Cowdenbeath whilst manager of Airdrie FC. The below link is in aid to raise funds in order to help send Eddie to America to get the treatment needed in his recovery.

In football I have many mentors, many people who I like to learn from & many who have literally helped me on my own adventure in the game wether that be playing, coaching, working or talking about the game. Eddie is someone who I often speak to about life & the beautiful game.

You see it’s not just me who has been influenced by Eddie, there are probably players & coaches throughout these shores who have at some point been coached by, worked with or even spoken to Eddie about the game we all love. You can’t help get lost as he speaks to you about experiences, formations and his own career to date.

So the other night myself and another good mate of mine Michael McDougall spoke about Eddie and the influence he has had on the game, we decided to do something to raise money in aid of Eddie’s journey to America. A journey in which will hopefully help him on his road to recovery.

So what exactly did we decide to do? Well if you know us both we have 1 knee between both of us, so the name ‘2 men, 1 knee’ stood firm. There is no budging on that! In good nature of the name we are going to go on a little adventure which will see us wander  from our beloved Ibrox over to our friendly neighbours in the East end of the City at Celtic Park. We will then toddle from Parkhead to the National Stadium before making our way back to a place we are all to familiar with – Ibrox.

Once our tired little legs make our way to the main stand of Ibrox, surrounded by the sea of Blue we will get our heads shaved. Yes that’s right, our heads will be shaved. Michaels impressive ginger mop as well as my aggressive main of Lego will be gone, leaving  nothing but a pile of multicultural hair on the ground!

If you would like to support us on this then please click the link below, we will also be sending out live videos from our social media sites along with pictures of our freshly shaven heads. All donations are welcome, as little or as large as you may wish to contribute.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/twomenoneknee

Also if you would like to listen to the podcast then click this link and wander into the wonderful footballing mind of Eddie Wolecki Black. I’m sure you will get lost in it all just as many others have.

Part 1https://soundcloud.com/68or10/ep21-p1-eddie-wolecki-black-united-sturrock-goals

Part 2https://soundcloud.com/68or10/ep21-p2-eddie-wolecki-black-management-life-lessons-barcelona

Thanks again for all of your help and support.

Craig & Michael

 

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A New Adventure 

I suppose some people might have expected this a month ago but it wasn’t something I was prepared to dive into with two feet. I had to think about it. Reality hit home last night.

Words are never something I have too much difficulty in finding. Last night I was challenged and failed to come up trumps. They had abandoned me.
The challenge would provoke my thoughts, as per a million bouncing around at a time, ricocheting off each other only to scurry off in the opposite direction. Composure was needed, it was found. However the words that usually flow off my tongue were found wanting. Playing hide and seek.

It’s an unusual feeling but one I had to accept and deal with. It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone, especially someone who you are very close to.

Why was I feeling this way? It was the last time I would see my good friend on the pitch, no more cake and coffee before training – catching up on life. Changing the world in our own minds. Iain & CJ will have to settle for my mad ways – not that they haven’t already.

There she was – surrounded by a squad of 13-15 years olds, waiting for the first word to be spoken. Looking on intensely to see what their former head of youth had to say or was going to say. Amy could have stood and said nothing, that would have been enough for the amount of time and brain power she has dedicated to this club and the footballers and people within it. The round of applause showed appreciation on another level.

Blood, sweat, tears, phonecalls, dedication, compassion, passion, knowledge and time.

All of the above has been poured into this club over the years. In my eyes it’s been an adventure for everyone involved, one I’m sad to see end.
I echo the words of players and parents throughout by saying all the best on what ever journey you go on. All the best in your new adventure, wherever that may be.

When I first spoke to Amy about coming back to City I thought it was a wind up, I was up for taking some more time out of the game and relaxing, pondering what would come next. After some thought I was in, in to work with my old mucker again and with these fantastic people/players at the club. 

One part of that is now gone and we have to move on. It may sound harsh but that is the reality, we stick together and work as much and as hard as we possibly can to give these girls the best chance possible. We give them the tools and platform to perform to their best – we encourage, we push/challenge them as well as provide support to them on their own journeys in life not just the game.

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Rehab – a familiar journey

Friday was a tough day. A right bastard of a day!

I’ve spent two years trying to build my knee and its surroundings back up. Sadly for me I’ve not been doing that great at it so I decided to do something about it. Two years have went to waste.

I booked myself into a medical clinic, one that was going to point me in the right direction and help me out. I needed someone who was going to tell me right from wrong but more importantly to tell and show me how to better myself. How to recover.

My physios great, I walked in the room broken, no confidence and no hope. I longed for a future of walking properly or maybe even breaking into a run. Was it too early to dream of making a comeback on the green carpet? 

For two years I’ve been on the throne which sits atop the scrap heap, walking is difficult, cycling is a nuisance and running isn’t an option. My legs at times don’t function, something blocks them from connecting with my brain, which in turn forces them to stop doing things. Not great if I’m being totally honest with you.

He gave me a few tips, some pointers on how to activate my brain, something which can be very hard at times. There are many who would vouch for me. We done some light exercises, he had a rummage about the old knee and off I went. I walked out there like a new man, confidence instilled.

I spent a good 10 minutes dodging people in central, literally dropping the shoulder and moving past them. Friday morning I wouldn’t have done that, I would’ve been one of they awkward folk you see who stop dead in front of you, not entertaining your invitation to two step round each other. I couldn’t help it, my brain and leg wouldn’t let me go left. It was odd and an ongoing problem for about a year. A few littles words and movements opened up that door of uncertainty. 

Now I’ll drop the shoulder and get past you, my heads up again. I’m not walking round with my head counting the stones on the pavement. I will see you and the chances are I’ll be past you before you know I’m there. Now I’m not going to do this everytime – every now and then my brain will decide against what I want it to do. That’s fine but in time the goal is to make that movement to the left automatic again. No thought needed. 

I spent yesterday in the hydro pool. Fuck that’s a bloody shift. Pyramid exercises, you ever heard of them? No! Me neither. I’ll tell you right now I might just be an expert after yesterday – work up to 80% then back down. Half way through my legs were screaming, cramping up at the thought of moving another inch. If it wwasnt for the floatation belt I was going under. 

No problem, the phys sorted that right out, a few cycling motions a few stretches and I was back at it. Confident again, feeling encouraged and hanging onto his every word (and the edge of the pool).

Afterwords I felt a million dollars, cloud 9 the works. As the afternoon went on I felt horrendous. My body wasn’t used to being battered, it wasn’t used to working. For two years it done nothing, now it’s on the go again. It’s going to be tough but I know it will be worth it in the long run. 
A few words from my physio helped me get back on the right path. Now it’s up to me not to be daft, I need to listen to him. I’m 28 years old and I have the body of a war veteran. I was stupid, I played through injuries – pretended most wernt even there. It was great at the time but look at me now. Can hardly walk, can’t run. Not the athlete I used to be – not even a shadow of him. 

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The Brave & Broken Hearted!

Wednesday 10th June 1998

What were you doing on the day above? I know exactly what I was doing. My little brother had just turned 4 a few days prior. After the birthday cake had been devoured & balloons deflated (or burst) it was time to look forward to the World Cup.

This would be my first, the first one I could recollect game by game. The first I would know exactly what was happening. I knew the players, the teams & the stadiums. Attracted by the kits, boots & balls. All now retro novelties worth a small fortune! I was obsessed by it all, caught up – all starry eyed & full of hope!

USA 94, was a vague memory – diluted by misty waters at the back of my head. I was 6 years old at the time – the stand out being Brazil winning on penalties as Italy’s Roberto Baggio launched his penalty towards the clear blue sky.

Euro 96 I will always remember, more so for Gazza’s genius against who else – Scotland! Then came Super Ally’s wonder strike with the outside of the boot into the top corner v Switzerland! Two stick out moments for me in that tournament.

So back to Wednesday 10th June, I was eagerly anticipating the first game of the World Cup. So much so that I think I may have bolted out the class room in excitement before the bell finally rang. In my mind I was like the Flash, leaving a wake of paper in a whirlwind as I took towards the door. Racing out the gates I dodged a few parents, dogs, cars & walls. A lung bursting run across the road, I knew the hill was coming but I took it in my stride. Head down I darted across the park, no time to hang about today lads – the game is on!

Past the shops I burst through the front door like a mad man, bag dumped at my arse, jacket in a heap – I reached for my football top & trackies. I was ready, in the melee of dancing through people I forgot about my mate, he wasn’t blessed with the pace & dancing feet that I had. He was a bit of a juggernaut so I imagine he left a few people on their bum on the way down the road. Finally – peering in anticipation he appeared.

All red faced & wide eyed he gave me the shout, again I wasn’t hanging about – I met him at the bottom of the stairs. We had approximately two minutes to make a decision on where we would watch the game. His house or mine, no pubs back then – we were 10 years of age.

Usually we would be seen strutting about on the field, kitted out for the kick about ahead but that could come later. We were about to watch the Mighty Scotland v the Boys from Brazil. We quickly decided on his, I grabbed some munchies & juice – there was no time to waste. I perched my derriere on the couch talking to his mum as I waited on him getting changed. The opening ceremony had just started, both of us shouting on him as he wrestled with his jumper. It’s bloody gorgeous outside and he’s wearing a jumper – still red faced from his 200 yard dash home from school.

For the next hour and a half we sat in silence – only cheering when John Collin’s, vintage predators and all stroked that ball into the bottom corner. We got beat 2-1, Tom Boyd scored an OG. I was fuming! 10 years old & fuming that Boyd scored that OG. For weeks I couldn’t understand why we came home early – a draw with Norway & defeat to Morocco. Heartbroken & fuming! It’s no secret I took it to heart.

The rest of my mates decided that they would support other teams, France, Holland & of course Brazil. I took to supporting the individuals – Ronaldo, Zidane, Del Piero, Denilson, De Boer, Veron, Ortega. I could go on forever.

I think it might have been round about this time I gave up the ghost with International Football, 10 years old & I had lost the romance that Scotland had to offer. Now more than ever I would support my club, Rangers.

For years I have stuck by my guns & shut out International football. It was too slow for me, no entertainment what so ever. Don’t get me wrong as I said above, I kept an eye on the Individuals & the Beautiful Argentina. The colours of the kit, the class they possessed as individuals & the man-like GOD that is Riquelme.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I switched on Sky Sports last Sunday & actually watched Scotland. Fearful when we conceded – I’m not going to lie about that but we done better second half & walked away from a potential banana skin with a 5-1 victory. Good start – well done lads.

The best things about the night was the return & performance from Robert Snodgrass. I was delighted for him. What a bloody tough time of it he’s had these last few season’s with injury. Great hunger, desire & let’s not forget he’s a talented lad. The boy from the East End of Glasgow was the shinning light, he gave me a bit of hope – he persuaded me not to reach for the remote to change the channel. Before his injury I enjoyed watching him and in some way missed him when he wasn’t playing. A real character.

We don’t have a World Class player to grab our nation or a game by the scruff of the neck & carry us through qualifications & tournaments, but we don’t need one. Some of our neighbours can vouch for that. I truly believe that if we were to keep Snoddy fit we are in with a fighting chance. Of course he can’t do it all by himself & if we get the right mix in the squad then we might just do it.

As I said I’m delighted he’s back in the game. Robert Snodgrass you beautiful hairy bastard!

So here’s to you big fella for giving this 28 year old a bit of hope. I’m not saying I’m going to jump on the bandwagon when things are going well & then take a nose dive straight off again when it hits the fan but you know what? I’m going to get behind the team & support them but lads – just don’t break my heart again!

 

 

 

 

 

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Light Nights, Worldies and Fisty Cuffs

What a night it is outside, the smell of the fresh cut grass – hayfever is about to take and absolute battering! Jumpers at the ready – goalposts, not your good jumpers though or you’d get a kicking. 

If you were lucky there has just been something on at Hampden or the road works have left behind a couple of cones. We’ll have 4 please – easily makes two sets of goals.

Got to chat with your mates, all blue tonight lads don’t anybody be a smart arse and wear white or any other colour. Down the field by 6. Who cares about homework that can be done on the walk to school, we can all chip in and help.

Who’s not making it? What do you mean they’re not making it? Grounded?! For what, ah okay fair enough. 

10-21ers, two 45s or play until the street lights go out. Take your pick, you knew you wouldn’t get the shout from your mum, tea time has been. The pre match meal of toast and whatever else you can grab has been.

You’ve won, some worldies, some good football and the bragging rights of the street until the rematch tomorrow night. Not to mention some crunching tackles, these games wernt for the faint hearted. Sly kicks, elbows, fights who cares we all wanted to win and win we had! Happy days man!

Those where the days, not a care in the world unless it was about beating the older kids on the field. We had the bragging rights, the field was ours and we would do anything to keep it that way. 

It kills me that you don’t see that these days, those days are long gone. Victims of the ever so popular growth of technology. 

The memories, the laughs, the goals and yes the fights. Great times with great people. 

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Creativity & the Killjoys 

Pass – Pass – Stop – Pass – Pass – Pass – Stop!

Pass – Pass – Stop – Pass – Stop – Stop!

Talk for a while and then do it all over again!

YouTube has polluted the minds of footballing connoisseurs world wide. Albeit for the good, the bad and the damn right ugly it’s a massive source of the game today. 

Young kids can watch the heroes of yester year, the older generations can reminisce – basque in the memories of what was and shake their heads in disgust at what it is now. It also allows me to see everything I can about the game I love, admire and share with everyone I meet. 

I enjoy the visionaries of football, young or old I just love them. I grew up wanting to be entertained, I grew up wanting to entertain, I craved creative players the ones who played on the edge and brought danger to opponents week in week out. 

You would be forgiven for thinking I only admire players who pass, that’s half the battle – I admire technicians but hard work comes first. I love players who excite me, ones who have the beauty of mind to unlock defenses and create something out of nothing. I don’t see why you would hinder or eliminate players who have those little moments of magic. I have to give coaches and managers alike massive praise who encourage creativity and freedom, the one who allow players to entertain and express themselves. 

Podcast after podcast I like to provoke people’s thoughts, pull them away from the tv screens, analytical reports and coaching manuals. I will make them think about why they love the game and how they first fell in love with the sphere. 

Being creative isn’t all about beating someone in a 1v1. Visionaries, a world I will repeat time and time again – players who can play 3 passes ahead of others, ones who see pictures and how they will develop. Space invaders who pop into areas and damage teams with a killer pass, movement or goal. I like seeing players who want that ball regardless of the players surrounding them, speed of thought is important and that is developed as time goes on. 

I want players to make the defenders think, give them decisions to make. Get them with their back to goal and drive at them with pace, it’s something defenders rarely want – a position they don’t like to be in and the closer you get to them the closer you get to their goal!

I’m a self confessed admirer of all of the above. I’m at home when I see composure on the ball, elegance in attack – creativity & imagination in possesion, clever movement off it. 

Don’t get me wrong I love the dirty side of the game, you heard guest of EP09 Matty Flynn giving me a little nod for doing his dirty work for years. I loved a tackle, like to read the game – break play up and move the ball. As the years went on I became a visionary, yes the ones I keep talking about, maybe round about the age of 11/12 I had a little dabbling in the more attacking side of the game and I liked it – from then on in I would play with some beautiful players, ones who would bring the best out in me and allow me to express myself on a weekly basis. I’m not sure what they thought of me but I loved playing the beautiful game with each and everyone of you!

So here is my plea to you, a parent, a coach, a team mate – please do not kill off a player who possesses the above qualities or skill set. They may not have it all but encourage them to enjoy the game, allow them to be themselves and show off what they have. 

Give the players the freedom to express themselves, show them you trust them and believe in their ability – if they make a mistake then help them, solve the problem, fix it and tell them to try it again. The rewards and emotions when it comes off will be priceless.

On that note I’m off for a sleep with one though in my mind, Damn I wish I was still playing! 

 

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