A Cultural Phenomenon


Shame on you if you thought they were just a football manager and his assistant
Good Afternoon.

Regular readers of the Scottish sports press will know that whichever of the two clubs have being playing at Ibrox, hyperbole is always the order of the day.

No player crosses the threshold of the Crumbledome without possessing some level of genius, or extraordinary promise that has inexplicably been overlooked by the combined scouting efforts of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and AC Milan etc.

No board member ascends the Marble Staircase (which must always be mentioned) without apparently carrying with them a ‘war chest’ and the prospect of a golden future for the ‘club’.

And no manager ever enters the Ibrox dug out – where memories of a ‘golden era’ of EBTs, and side letters still linger – without being a tactical genius and extraordinary motivator of men. [Yes, even the world’s most Promising Ageing Rookie Ally McCoist once got that treatment from the press].

It is – obviously – all pish. On a grand scale.

The desperate need of large parts of the media to portray the Ibrox ‘brand’ as something that is epic on every conceivable level is as laughable as it is tragic.

It does of course mean that serious journalism and scrutiny is being sacrificed in the interests of a dynamic, feel-good narrative which is deemed to be the best way of selling ‘news’papers and attracting viewers and listeners.

It also means that when things like liquidation happen, it comes as a bit of a surprise to those who lapped up the positive effluent.

Oh well.

The Clumpany was amused this morning by a particularly epic piece of guff about David Weir, the managerial set-up at Sevco, and quite how great the world’s greatest great ‘club’ is.

Hugh MacDonald meets David Weir: The footballer monk

This was no ordinary piece of upbeat nonsense. This was a full-blown IMAX, 3D, surround-sound experience.

Best enjoyed with some popcorn.

At one point I thought we were about to see an emotional description of Weir eating a mouthful of the most succulent lamb.

But not quite.

I will leave you to enjoy the full majesty of of the piece, but the opening sentences certainly give you an idea…

“THE “footballer monk” is cloistered in a room only yards away from the clamour of a modern world.

David Weir will spend the next hour in reflection as the football business of Murray Park continues around him. The meditation is, of course, forced upon him. “It is madness here,” he says with just a hint of relish as he looks forward to an afternoon of watching the DVD of the match against Hibernian (again), answering his phone, making plans, looking forward. Always looking forward.”

The author could simply have said, “David Weir is very busy. But he’s having a sit down in his office”.

But that’s not as impressive is it?

And then there’s this little gem:

“Weir was once little boy lost. He found himself both by immersing himself in another world and by dint of a talent that was bolstered by extraordinary desire. Weir is a reader, a father, a son, an art collector, a coach, a husband. He is, at his very core, a winner.”

Wow! He reads! He has children! He has parents! He is married! He buys art!

Is there nothing this man cannot do?!

The whole thing reads like a hagiography. 

And as you will probably know, at least 50% of a hagiography is pure fantasy and the rest may well be exaggerated.

For Heaven’s sake, the article describes Weir as an “aesthete”!

If the article had referenced Aesop and his fables I might have laughed at it a little bit less.

But for The Clumpany the most striking parts of the article were the pragraphs on Mangerial Genius And All-Round Good Guy Mark ‘Warbmeister’ Warburton.

They were crackers…

When asked about any hesitation he may have had in going to help manage the tribute act, Weir says

“I had hesitations but only in respect of Mark”.

“Mark’s reputation in the game is really good. We have been successful and he was going to get his pick of jobs.”

Ah! We are back to that recurring narrative about how The Warbmeister’s ability and track record was so great that ‘clubs’ would have been queuing round the block for his services. 

If they hadn’t been too busy signing up other managers instead.

But back to Mr Weir…

“I told him [Warbs] I felt the people in charge of the club now were there for the long term and there for the right reasons.”

“I told Mark: ‘This will change your life. You will be the first English manager.”

Poor old Stuart McCall, eh? Airbrushed from history like 276 creditors…

“It is a great opportunity but be aware of the attention and the significance of the role. You are the spokesperson for half of Scotland really.”

And there it is folks! That breathtaking arrogance which refuses to die, no matter how many clubs expire at Ibrox.

Quite how the “spokesperson for half of Scotland” line could be spoken, recorded and printed without anyone having the self-awareness to spike it on the basis of being utterly cringeworthy is beyond me.

It does of course have shades of David Murray’s claim that the late Rangers Football Club was the “second most important institution in Scotland”

A claim that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs were to dispute in the most vigorous terms by rejecting the Rangers CVA and consigning them to liquidation!

“It [being Sevco manager] will affect everything, your family, how you are perceived. No longer will you be able to slip under the radar”.

Indeed David. And no longer will Warbs be able to go about his business without being fawned over as a Messiah on the back of a few decent results!

It must be awful for him.

I hope Mr Weir ‘warned’ Warbo that he will never have it so easy as he will at Sevco. 

After all, press scrutiny is just something that happens to other managers at other ‘clubs’.

Having savoured every last morsel of the Herald’s profile of Weir, I look forward to The Warbmeister being featured in a similar piece in due course:

“Kneel And Give Thanks: Mark Warburton’s Moral Crusade To Save The Soul of Scottish Football”

Admit it, you wouldn’t be surprised would you?