Celtic, Scottish Cup, Scottish Football

The Hangover From Heaven

IMG_4169

Good Afternoon.

The Clumpany did not enjoy Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final.

It was quite a novel experience to discover that an ethereal entity could feel so sick. I was nervous all morning and then absolutely nauseous throughout the match.

As they did for large parts of the recent league game, Aberdeen worked unbelievably hard, and pressed Celtic (who were undoubtedly not at their best) as no other Scottish team has all season. And on another day Aberdeen might have taken their chances and won the game. [Mind you they also might easily have gone down to ten men during the first half! 😉]

But that didn’t happen, I am delighted to say. Celtic battled and turned the screw as Aberdeen tired, and they somehow found a winning goal in injury time.

It was tough on Aberdeen. I have many Dons on my timeline who are great folk, who give their team fantastic support and who want the same reforms in the governance of our game as large numbers of Celtic fans. It was hard for me not to feel some sympathy for them as their side went down at the death like that.

Some sympathy.

Because as the state of my ethereal stomach attested, I would have been absolutely mortified if Aberdeen had won. Having gone through the league unbeaten, won the League Cup and arrived at the threshold of an Invincible Treble – a feat never likely to be repeated – it would have been demoralising to see it snatched away. Brendan Rodgers and his team have performed brilliantly this season, and they totally deserved their place in history.

Anyone who suggests that winning trophies must be meaningless to Celtic fans given the club’s resources and track record can quite frankly take a running jump. Saturday was absolutely excruciating, and the joy of prevailing was exquisite, just as it was after the League Cup Final and after Celtic clinched the title against Hearts.

Mind you, the agony was nothing compared to the experience of the monumental hangover endured by The Clumpany on Sunday.  I can only assume that my 15th Buckie and Bleach on Saturday night was a ‘bad pint’.

He was sneered at, but Derek McInnes was probably correct in his pre-match comments/ ‘mind games’. There could have been a lingering sense of anticlimax about a great season had Celtic lost the Scottish Cup final. And personally I think the last thing they deserved was an anticlimax.

Celtic have been relentless this season. Relentless even when the flair for which they have been applauded was absent and they simply had to grind out results from somewhere.

For me, one of the best indicators of their unrelenting efforts this season is their December results: eight league games, eight wins, plus a Champions League draw at Manchester City.

Simply magnificent.

Others will write detailed analyses of this historic season and the contribution of various players (for me the rejuvenated Scott Brown was the standout across the season, but I am happy to hear the arguments for others). The work of Brendan Rodgers and his backroom staff who have performed a near-miracle with (mainly) Ronny Deila’s team will also receive forensic coverage.

However, I simply wanted to say well done and thank you to all concerned, including the Celtic board who made the Rodgers appointment happen, and the fans who were magnificent every step of the way, and who heeded the manager’s call for patience at the start of the season.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the 2016-17 campaign was a worthy tribute to the Lisbon Lions, the 50th anniversary of whose European Cup triumph was recently celebrated in such fantastic style.

The Lisbon Lions: How To Live Forever

I will mention the defeats to Lincoln Red Imps and Barcelona in Europe because they ARE part of the story of the season – and uncomfortable parts too. Ultimately however, the thing to take away from them is that they were not THE story of the season. They happened and they were bad moments. But they didn’t define Celtic’s campaign. The Hoops made the Champions League group stages for the first time in three years (which most of us would have defined as a huge success before the start of the season) and got three creditable draws, including a 3-3 draw against Manchester City on one of THOSE epic nights at Celtic Park. Not only did Celtic pick up a point that evening, they also showed a host of Premier League teams how to play against the previously-imperious Pep Guardiola’s side, whose season was never quite the same again.

This season was one of progress for Celtic. Lots and lots of progress, which amazingly included winning an unbeaten Treble.

An. Unbeaten. Treble.

What can they possibly do for an encore?

Well, Rodgers’ every utterance speaks about development and building for the future so it seems highly unlikely that Celtic will rest on their laurels. Champions League football with group stage wins and a longer European campaign would be amazing, but let us be in no doubt about quite how difficult that will be to achieve.

For now however, let’s take a moment to pause and salute the undefeated domestic treble-winning Champions of Scotland, who did it playing the Celtic way.

We may never see the like again.

But I hope we do, and I am sure that Brendan and everyone at the club will give it their very best shot.

#KeepOnClumping

Celtic, Media, Satire, Scottish Cup, Sevco

Pedro’s Water Torture

Picture via @AlisonGConroy

Good Evening.

Well done to Celtic on making it to the Scottish Cup Final, where they will face Aberdeen. I can’t wait. It promises to be a great occasion between the two best sides in Scotland.

Commiserations to Sevco who were distinctly second best in all departments today. Apart from Joe Garner, who remarkably managed to be third best in everything he did in a two horse race.

Despite crashing out, Sevco are still confident of a home tie in the next round and have offered the SFA the use of their microwave if it is needed. 😉

Willie Collum managed not to be completely horrific in every decision he made, which presumably now makes him Scotland’s top referee. Nevertheless, his failure to send Andy Halliday off for this early ‘challenge’ is utterly inexplicable:

Andy Halliday sends Patrick Roberts into next week

Perhaps Collum and his fellow match officials were simply struck dumb by the sight of a player using an actual scythe to bring down an opponent? Whatever the case, the decision still stinks many hours later. 

People complain about fussy refereeing preventing football from being a contact support, but Collum’s failure to award a red card here is an absolute joke. If that ‘tackle’ had appeared in an episode of Casualty, the BBC would probably have been inundated with complaints about showing gratuitous violence.

The Clumpany was most disappointed, however, with Scotland’s Player of the YearJoey Barton who managed to have an even quieter game than he did during the 5-1 mauling earlier this season. What’s going on Joey? You won’t get an enhanced contract from the proceeds of Barrie McKay’s £6m move to RB Leipzig if you don’t buck up your ideas soon!

Barton’s display was once again a complete contest to that of Scott Brown, who was absolutely immense. Brown’s masterclass was a particular shame given how a number of pundits have been howling with outrage at Celtic ‘playing the system’ to allow him to play by appealing his red card against Ross County….

However, the main point I wanted to dwell upon today was the above-pictured curious display from Paperwork Pedro at his post-match press conference. 

In his Sky interview, Pedro was pretty magnanimous about Celtic’s victory, reflecting the genuinely warm words he seemed to exchange with Brendan Rodgers on the pitch after the game. Fair play to him for that. But what was going on at the press conference? Alison Conroy tells us the following 


What possible insight into Sevco’s display could be offered by those liquid-filled glasses?

Over to you Pedro… 😉

“This glass is filled with the tears of my friends in the press who really didn’t want Scott to play. He had a great game. Which gives me no pleasure as I am clearly not an admirer of Celtic Football Club. As the PR man told me.”

“Next to that glass we have a sample of the piss you have all been taking this week by discussing the ‘Old Firm’. Is it not enough that I have the best squad in Scotland to entertain the fans? Why do you need to upset the face-painter and remind other people of painful unpaid bills? I am going to get into trouble for saying that aren’t I? What was that thing I said at my first press conference about ‘history’? Please print that instead.”

“The third glass is where I keep my pet shark. A Celtic fan I know who is [*cough*] also called Pedro Caixinha suggested that I should call the shark ‘Liquidation’. So I did. I like to put on waterskis and jump over him. I have recently broken my waterskis but understand that one of you might be able to lend me some. Is there anyone from the Afternoon Shark-Jump newspaper here? I think that is what my favourite blogger calls it.”

“The fourth glass is from the Chairman’s personal collection. It is called Chateau de War Chest, and is apparently the world’s first completely colourless and odourless red wine.”

“And finally, the fifth glass is what I have called ‘Joe Garner’s Sparkling Water’. You may think that it looks like tepid, lukewarm, still water which has algae growing in it, and which flatters to deceive. In response I would say ‘Well done! Now you know why I have named it after Joe Garner’.”

#KeepOnClumping

Celtic, Media, Scottish Cup, Scottish Football, Sevco

A Complete Lack Of Imagination


Good Evening.

Imagine the scene.

You’ve got a Scottish newspaper or radio/ TV show to fill with football-related items. 

You look at the weekend’s fixtures and note that as well as there being a substantial league programme, there are also two Scottish Cup semi-finals taking place, featuring the holders and the three top sides in the Premiership. 

Celtic are chasing a Treble, Aberdeen are looking to win their first Scottish Cup in a long time to cement their resurgence of recent years, Sevco are seeking their first ever major trophy, and Hibs are (were!) looking to repeat their remarkable triumph of 2016.

What’s more, all of the sides have sizeable followings and managers with a point to prove. So, in short, the semi-final line-up is very tasty. With plenty of angles to cover and stories to tell.

The Glasgow Derby is undoubtedly the more attention-grabbing of the two ties, bringing together as it does the two biggest-supported sides in Scotland and containing intriguing sub-plots around Brendan Rodgers, Pedro Caixinha, Scott Brown, questions about the standard of refereeing, and the relative form of the two sides.

Cup semi-finals are nearly always – on paper at least – absolute crackers and something to look forward to. This particular set of semi-finals is perhaps above average in terms of the sense of anticipation that surrounds them.

So, overall, if you worked in the press you are likely to find that there is plenty to say about the games, and a willing audience who wants to hear it.

All of which begs the question of why oh why oh why do some outlets seem to think that the most appropriate way to cover the semi-finals is to overwhelmingly focus on only one of them and produce output which goes something like this:

“Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm”.

It won’t take you more than half a second of searching on Google to find the sort of articles to which I am referring.

I am inclined to suggest that this rampant Old Firmery is simply the product of a lack of imagination. Much of the press has ‘always’ covered Scottish football like this and they have little appetite for turning off the autopilot. Why produce interesting takes on the semi-finals when there is some familiar old crap that you can simply dust down?

The alternative is to suspect that some truly spectacular liquidation-denial is occurring. A systematic attempt to pretend that something we all saw didn’t actually occur. The problem with that, of course, is that it insults our intelligence and mocks 276 stiffed creditors (including every taxpayer in the U.K.) in a manner which suggests that Scottish football is some sort of moral vacuum which is to be cherished!

But surely no one working at a mainstream media outlet would have the nerve to do such a thing, would they?

Whatever the truth, the liberal deployment of Old Firmery is piss-taking of the highest order, which deserves our utter contempt.

#KeepOnClumping

Media, Scottish Cup, Scottish Football, SFA

The Big Plan: Get Mo Money


Good Afternoon.

It has become something of a running joke that every time a Rangers or Sevco ‘legend’ or ‘legned’ pops up in the media to discuss the (lack of) fortunes of the latest Ibrox club, and how it can assume an alleged ‘rightful place’ at the top of Scottish football, the answer is ALWAYS “more investment”.

More money.

Lots of it.

Please.

Pretty please.

From someone.

Anyone.

WE NEED THAT MONEY. Wah wah wah. 😢

St Walter of the Blessed Cardigan is the most famous advocate of the “pretend even harder to be Rangers” strategy, and it is getting to the point where his pleas are almost as desperate as the football his teams used to play.

But the genre has possibly reached its nadir, courtesy of the the ever-popular Mo Johnston. Back in the UK from Florida to help promote the Scottish Cup semi-finals (and you have to admit that William Hill and the SFA certainly know how to pick people for promotional duties…), Johnston was – astonishingly – asked about his views of Sevco and the gap to Celtic.

Yes, I was shocked too.

And he even had the temerity to suggest that Dave King should sell up and let someone else have a go!

Mo Johnston tells Dave King to splash cash or sell Rangers

“Maybe Rangers need a 
different owner,” said Johnston. 

“Perhaps that’s what has to happen. I don’t know much about the takeover but what I would say is that, if the owner
 injects money into the club, then things would be better.”

Searing insight, Mo!

Spending money will clearly make things better. Just like it did for Rangers who now lie festering on the corporate mortuary slab.

“I don’t know the boy King’s finances, but if he puts more money in, then things might improve. But I don’t think he’s going to do that.”

“The boy King”?!

Yes, he actually said “the boy King”!

“If this is the case then, probably, they would need someone else to come in and invest their money.”

You don’t say…

“There aren’t a lot of people out there who would be able to do that. For me, it would have to be someone from 
China. That’s the one for me.”

Someone from China. Has Mo simply picked out a country at random and said “aye someone from there should come and fix things. Someone with money”?

Anyone in particular, Mo? Anyone?

Is there anything to be said for waiting on a postman from Micronesia to step forward with his piggy bank?

Or for the chief of a hitherto-undiscovered Amazon tribe to emerge from the jungle and announce his lifetime love of the Gers* and willingness to invest his crops in rebuilding the team?

But Mo hasn’t finished yet.

“Rangers are a big, big club.”

Oh no, not this nonsense again…

“They and Celtic both are. If you get it right, you’ll get your money back. The amount of money going about in the Champions League is ridiculous and that is.”

“If you get it right, you’ll get your money back”. What on earth is this guy on? Did he not see what can happen when a ‘club’ gambles everything on European revenues? Revenues which are getting bigger, but which are also getting harder and harder to access if you aren’t a top ‘club’ in one of the biggest leagues.

How about living within your means and building a sustainable operation, Mo? Even if that means it takes a very long time to close the gap with Celtic?

The fact that the papers continue to give a platform to this type of nonsense amuses me greatly. It has no basis in reality or fact, doesn’t help Sevco one little bit, and simply exposes the ignorance of the person uttering it.

It may fill column inches, help to sell the last few remaining printed newspapers, and give Sevco fans a warm glow. However it has little to do with the truth of Sevco’s circumstances and resources, and absolutely nothing to do with Scottish football in the 21st Century.

So Mo. What do you think about the plans for the super casino and hover pitch at Ibrox?

#KeepOnClumping

Media, Satire, Scottish Cup, Scottish Football

The Perfect Sky Sports Panel


Good Evening.

Not for the first time this season, the coverage of Scottish football attempted by Sky Sports has been something of a hot topic this weekend. My favourite moment was the commentary after Leigh Griffiths’ good goal against a very hard-working and well-organised St Mirren side. Do take a moment to savour it!

Leigh Griffiths makes it 4-1 [from @CelticGoals]

Listening to that funereal assessment you are left with little choice but to conclude that the commentators could have saved themselves a lot of time and breath by simply saying “it was shite”.

I often feel that Sky’s coverage of Scottish football has very little to do with Scottish football in 2017, and everything to do with Sir David Murray-era Rangers(IL) and Celtic. Their coverage – right down to the repeated mentions of the ‘Old Firm’ – just screams of seeing the entire national sport through the prism of a ‘contest’ which disappeared in 2012, and which isn’t coming back in any way, shape or form. Not even via the cunning expedient of an Ibrox-based tribute act.

Which brings me to the main point I planned to cover in this blog. The element of Sky’s coverage this weekend which seemingly attracted most comment was their studio panel for Saturday’s Sevco v Hamilton Scottish Cup quarter-final tie.


Yes. David Tanner was in the company of Walter Smith and Neil McCann. Neither of whom have any discernible connection to Hamilton (or indeed to Sevco’s true position in the game).

You have to wonder whether Sky even has the self-awareness to reflect on how this might look to viewers of a non-Sevco persuasion.

I’ll leave you to ponder that yourselves.

The presence of these two Rangers* men (and indeed the resulting standard of punditry on offer) made me question quite what lengths Sky might go to to deliver a staunchly Rangers*-orientated panel of pundits in future…

>>>>>>

“Good Afternoon, my name is David Tanner. Sky Sports is here at Ibrox today for Rangers* versus some other team. Let’s face it, you aren’t really bothered who the other lot are, so we’ll forget about them. Although we might say they weren’t as good as the mighty Rangers* at the end of the match. Regardless of the final score.

But what about Rangers*? Well it is brilliant to have both halves of the Old Firm* back* in the top flight – as the Dalai Lama, the UN Security Coucil and the regulars at the Louden recently said in their joint statement. 

However, today is all about Rangers*. We are using a larger studio than normal because we have an extended panel of top pundits to give you all the insights you need into Rangers*. And they will all have a little chuckle if some terrible refereeing decision goes Rangers’* way.

So, our guests this afternoon are:

Neil McCann.

Walter Smith.

Bill Struth’s hat.

A foul committed by Graeme Souness in the late 1980s.

A DVD of Ally McCoist’s funniest bits on ‘A Question of Sport’.  

A jar of water from the actual toilet in which Rangers were presented with the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972.

The Chairman of the ‘Staunch Earplugs Company’ whose fine products have been blocking out the Billy Boys from journalists’ hearing for decades.

A piece of manure – still steaming – from King Billy’s horse.

And of course, Paul Gascoigne’s imaginary flute.

We were hoping to be joined by an actual £10 note spent by Sir David Murray in response to a Celtic fiver, but sadly it hasn’t arrived in time.

But we have just been joined by another old friend who was thought to be missing. Yes, it’s the Daily Record’s Gary Ralston’s lost relationship with Rangers*. ‘Lost relationship’, it is particularly good to see you ‘in person’ rather than on posters appealing for help with the search.

Right, that’s our panel. Let’s talk about just how fantastic Rangers* are. Who would like to answer that?

‘Steaming pile of manure’, why don’t I come to you first?”

>>>>>>

Such a fine panel must surely make it worth having a subscription to Sky Sports.

Mustn’t it?

#KeepOnClumping

NB Remember folks, it’s just a bit of fun…



Satire, Scottish Cup, Scottish Football, SFA

Watt Were They Thinking?


Good Afternoon.

The Clumpany almost felt sorry for the SFA yesterday.

No, really.

Because Tony Watt’s comments on Scottish football while he was promoting the Scottish Cup were – in places – cringeworthy.  Although he was full of praise for Hearts – for whom he recently played – comments such as those below are not the sort of thing you want to hear from someone who is supposed to be ‘bigging up’ one of the game’s major showpieces!

“It’s just not for me. It’s the style, the play, everything. Financially, England is better.

“It wouldn’t be worth your while coming back to Scotland when you could play in England”

But then I remembered that this is the same SFA which is no stranger to ‘Armageddon’ chat, which managed to mess up a Cup draw live on air, which received flak over the Scotland squad’s flight home from Georgia being massively delayed, and which seems not to have heeded the advice of Barry Hearn on promoting the game despite having invited him to come and do so in 2014!
Clearly the SFA had no control over Watt’s comments, but nevertheless, my sympathy quickly evaporated and I found myself wondering what other ways they might find to make a PR hash of the Cup this season. Here are some ideas:

  • The quarter-final draw resulting in four ‘Rangers*’ v ‘Rangers*’ ties. With all eight Rangers* sides somehow drawn at home.
  • The semi-finals seeing the SFA trial innovations aimed at attracting new TV investment into Scottish football. Project Green will involve all teams and officials wearing green strips, the use of green balls and goalposts, and the pitch marked out with green lines.
  • All 22 players in the all-Rangers* final being attacked on the Hampden pitch by Hibs fans [see Daily Record for further ‘details’].
  • The trophy being presented by celebrity guest ‘The Human Torch’ from the Fantastic 4, who will accidentally melt down the trophy prior to the presentation ceremony.

And finally

  • The SFA will organise an ‘open top bus’ parade for the winning team. To be held on the Glasgow Subway because they left it too late to hire an actual bus.

It’s going to be absolutely fantastic.

#KeepOnClumping

Media, Satire, Scottish Cup, Sevco

Warbo Willing To Cash In On Unicorn – But Will Demand Chunk of Proceeds Go On Building Monorail

Rodney, pictured with moonbeams.

The Daily Piss-Take revealed yesterday how the Disney Company is considering a £6m bid for the unicorn, and Warburton will sanction the departure of his pet – which he received as a farewell gift when he left Citytraderville – if a hefty cut of the fee is reinvested in Rangers’* monorail.

By A.Hack

Mark Warburton will reluctantly sanction the sale of Rodney the unicorn if it allows him the chance to built his ambitious Rangers* monorail.

We revealed yesterday that American outfit the Disney Company is considering a £6million move for the unicorn who impressed them in a screen test last Sunday.

If a bid is made, the Rangers* board will almost certainly punch the air and run around shouting “woohoo, actual transfer income!” for several weeks. And Mark Warburton will demand a very chunky chunk of the unicorn proceeds.

A Rangers* insider said: “The manager hasn’t been able to build much of the monorail in the short term because there isn’t a lot of money for him to buy rails, or trains or even rolls of thin card for the wee tickets.

“If serious money is offered, or even if it’s joke money from one of those shops that also sells fake plastic turds, Mark wouldn’t want to lose his unicorn, which he paints light blue every morning. However, if it gave him the opportunity to build two or three miles of track in the direction of South Africa so he can hopefully talk to the Chairman about a war chest one day, he’d be prepared to let it happen.

But given the kind of money being spent by Disney, there’s a real chance the unicorn could go for a lot more than £6m in the summer. Because we might have worked out how to attach a Mickey Mouse mask to its face, and trained it to walk on two legs by then. That’s the dilemma.”

The unicorn was unavailable for comment.

#KeepOnClumping

NB Remember folks, it’s just a bit of fun!