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!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Standard

Pocket Money on Tap

Some say money makes the world go round, this is certainly the case in the world of football. In Scotland we are in some ways lucky the money has dried up, you won’t see players bought for 10, 20, 30 million. That just isn’t somethin we could fathom, of course clubs down south will pay that if they think it’s worth it, after all that is pocket money to them.

This post has came about from weeks of watching boring, predictable, mediocre football. Give or take a few games. How can people honestly preach the premier league is the best in the world? Money wise absolutely but apart from that I can’t quite see the attraction anymore.

I’m dying to be proved wrong, itching for one of these more recent 30/40 million pound players to prove me wrong. 

Just two years ago we had the likes of Luis Suarez to marvel us, how did Liverpool invest the monies received for his sale? They oayed big money for unproved players at the top level. You might think I’m mad but what has Mario Balotelli done? When has he performed consistently on the big stage? Now believe me Balotelli isn’t alone, there are plenty of other players who haven’t lived up to the early promise or the price tag. Mario and Liverpool would just be easy targets as they have spent well over £200 million without any trophies or European value to show. Let’s hope Klopp can change that, it’s a tough job and he will need to bring in his own players. He can’t be judged on Rodgers wasteful signings.  

So who has been the best transfers recently? I think it’s a very simple answer Dele Alli at Spurs, loaned back to MK Dons briefly (signed in the region of £5 million) and Dimitri Payet at West Ham (signed for just over £10.5 million) now you could also throw in the likes of bargain basement signings Jamie Vardy & Riyad Mahrez. All of the above have been consistent when fit and continue to send the fans home happy. 

Norwich v Liverpool game on Saturday afternoon was probably one of the best games of the season. Poor defending made this possible but let’s be honest we all want to see goals, we all want excitement and we all want to be sent home happy. I also watched the West Ham v Manchester City game and again it didn’t fail to please. Aguero the obvious stand out for City but I love watching David Silva. Of course I tuned in to see the ever impressive Payet but I’ve found a new admiration for West Hams attacking 3 of Payet, Valencia, Antonio. I can’t leave out Mark Noble, he’s a player I’ve always enjoyed watching, a product of the youth academy and one who is consistent, technically tidy and wears his heart on his sleeve. I love that!

You always expect to be entertained, especially if you pay a lot of money to go to the game in the first place and spend hundreds of pounds a year on TV subcriptions. 

I often make the threat of cancelling my sky sports and BT sport subscriptions but I’ll never do it, I love the game too much and love watching games but too many are now about money, tactics and overrated players. 

I can’t see it changing but just hope that teams will spend their pocket money wisely, just like your Leicester’s, West Ham’s and Spurs – specifically under Pochettino.

Have a good day!

Craig 

Standard

Jumpers for Goalposts

Let me take you back to my childhood, to the streets where I grew up playing on the south side of Glasgow.

It was nothing special, a bit of grass, 4 jumpers or traffic cones and we had ourselves a stadium (in our eyes).

I used to spend all my time outside mastering my skills (my trainers would vouch for me) wether it be kicking the ball off a wall (my gran used to chase me, I always used to wreck the pebble dashing) playing cuppy with my mates or playing against out local rivals on their patch or ours.

That was the life, nothing could beat it. We used to sit and decide what colour we would wear in the big games and plan our team the way we wanted to play.

Aw man, what a team we had, to be fair even our fiercest rivals had a good team. We used to play against the kids from everywhere around us, the games were fast, furious but also very technical. The surfaces made no difference, grass, red ash (the stuff that would wedge itself into your leg and could only be removed by a wire brush) and gravel. Where better to hone your skills and smash a few car windows!?!

If you could play on ash and gravel you could play anywhere. This stuff was ruthless it made you work on your touch, the ball would come at you from all angles. Touch, play, move..that’s how it was done.

The kids of today don’t know what that’s about. If it isn’t a 3G pitch, have a remote control or a touch screen then they aren’t interested.

Some will prove me wrong but a huge percentage wouldn’t even hesitate to stay in and mingle on social media than have a kick of a ball.

The kids of today have the opportunity to be the stars of tomorrow, they just don’t know it yet.

I used to love playing, I would be out all day since I woke up. Home, changed then off to training. Then I’d come back and play with my mates later on.

Youngsters who play on the streets around the world aspire to be the next big thing and believe it or not, long before your pro youth set ups and academies the streets are where players were made.

It’s something you rarely see now which is a shame for the game and the kids of today. The locals and neighbors will be loving it but still some of the older folks in my mums street still have fond memories of us playing in the middle of the street, even if it is a smashed window or broken plant pot.

Those where the days, back when we worshipped that very ground. It was our stadium, it was our patch and I had some of the best games of my life on there as well as a few bad ones but there was always tomorrow to bounce back. It kills me that no ones played on it since we did. They obviously couldn’t live up to the legend of past days (Haha).

Ps. It’s now used for people walking their dogs and other stuff.

CJ

20140801-112521-41121944.jpg

Standard