Posts Tagged ‘Scottish football’

The Power of the Small: A Journey into a Hidden Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 19th 2014

Football is everywhere in modern life and no more so than in Scotland.

It is a partial story, concentrating on the theatre, drama and tropes of a very select few: the changing fortunes of Celtic and Rangers, the predictability of the Premiership, and an over-focus on a few clubs in the Central Belt (along with Aberdeen and the two Dundee clubs).

A whole array of football is missing from these accounts: the Scotland of the non-league game represents what is in effect a hidden Scotland. The biggest and most impressive part of this is junior football which covers 164 clubs in the country, and is nearly entirely absent from our media and public conversation, from the vast coverage of the game on TV, radio and papers, and which seems even beyond the reach and interest of Stuart Cosgrove and Tam Cowan’s ‘Off the Ball’, along with most football reporters.

At the start of January 2012 myself and my friend Eddie completed our tour of Scotland’s 42 senior football grounds and teams. We had deliberately undertaken the journey in a rambling, off the cuff way: to consciously not make it into a project or extension of work, and to do it with affection and love. It was also not just about football, but going to parts of our country with curiosity, as well as spending time travelling and blethering as friends. That experience concluded as I wrote about in ‘Scottish Review’ at the time, at a Peterhead v. Celtic cup game, and Berwick Rangers v. Stranraer. Read the rest of this entry »

The missing stories and, for some, the pain of growing up

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 8th 2013

On Saturday the Scottish football season opened in earnest with the first weekend programme of the new Scottish Premiership.

There has been little excitement amongst fans, followers and media, despite the final reincorporation of the league authorities into one body, the Scottish Professional Football League, and the ending of football as a closed shop with the agreement of play-offs in and out of the lower league. But it all seems to most the status quo by another name, aided by the continuation of the discredited Neil Doncaster-Stewart Regan MBA culture at the top of the game.

In all the words and talk expended, the psychologies of Scottish football are both fascinating and deeply entrenched, yet seldom explored. In this essay, I want to examine two dimensions: the historical dominance of Celtic and Rangers historically, and the recent implosion of Rangers.

Scottish football has, since its inception been shaped by the triumphs and tribulations of Celtic and Rangers. In the last 20 seasons, a mere eight other clubs have won a total of 12 trophies out of a potential 60. Yet, Scottish football hasn’t always been as lopsided as this. In post-war times, there were two very different periods and experiences, 1946-65 before the Stein era at Celtic, and the first decade of the Scottish Premier Division. These were highly competitive eras with a powerful Hearts and Hibs in the first, and Aberdeen and Dundee United in the second. Sadly, the Scottish Premier League has since the advent of the UEFA Champions League, been the joint most uncompetitive league in Europe, alongside Ukraine. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fall of BBC’s  ‘Sportscene’ and Why It Matters

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 18th 2013

Scottish football matters to lots of us. Its images and halcyon images define many of our lives – the Lisbon Lions in 67, Rangers in Barcelona in 72, Aberdeen in Gothenburg in 83, the Jim Baxter keepie-up and the Archie Gemmell run.

When you think of English football one of the many images that might spring to mind is ‘Match of the Day’ and this may include its current opening credits. You would not say the same of the current BBC Scotland version of ‘Sportscene’.

Once upon a time ‘Sportscene’ and STV’s ‘Scotsport’ were part of our national fabric. There was Archie Macpherson anchoring one and Arthur Montford the other. They became national icons, figures of respect, learnedness and even in some strange way, of a Scottish sense of male style. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scots and Power:

The Cardinal, John Haldane and Glasgow Rangers FC

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 5th 2013

Scotland has a strange relationship with those in power and authority. We tend to buy into the romantic stories that we are a radical, restless nation, who fear no one and question and challenge everything.

The truth is very different. To some there is a suspicion of those in power; but across society, the political spectrum, and mainstream media, there has consistently been in Scotland a lack of curiosity about who has power, and a near-complete absence of a culture and practice of investigative journalism or activism.

This isn’t just about the media, but about public culture, life and attitudes. If we look briefly at the experience of the media, we can see a very different set of patterns from England. The established Scottish papers, ‘The Scotsman’, ‘The Herald’, ‘The Scottish Daily Express’ and ‘Scottish Daily Mail’ were all products of the once-powerful liberal establishment – a pattern that could be said to dominate until the late 1960s and early 1970s. None until then or since became beacons of investigative journalism, despite numerous talented editors and staff passing through their doors. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wave of Democratic Protest that Changed Scottish Football will Change Society

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 4th 2012

This has been a sensational few months in Scotland. We have the manoeuvrings on the independence referendum, economic worries and wider anxieties about the euro crisis.

Yet, what has captured the headlines has been the state of Scottish football, the implosion of Rangers FC, and their demotion to Division Three. Football matters in Scotland because of tradition, culture and global reach. It also helps that we are the third most fanatical football nation per head in Europe, after Iceland and Cyprus.

The events of this year have been seismic and need to be understood in a wider context. In the last couple of years three of the biggest institutions in Scotland which have defined much of our public lives, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Labour Party and now Rangers FC, have hit crisis, lost their way and suffered ignominy and humiliation.

What has been called by some ‘the Scottish spring’ of football has consequences well beyond the boundaries of the game. Just to recap for non-football fans, it was only due to the unprecedented gathering of fan power that the football authorities were prevented from keeping a Rangers who went into liquidation in the top flight Scottish Premier League (SPL); they then stopped Rangers being ‘parachuting’ into Division One rather than Division Three. Read the rest of this entry »