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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish football’

How can we change the declining fortunes of Scottish football?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 10th 2019

Scottish football last week witnessed the regular circus of an Old Firm match. It was the usual pantomime of bad feeling and nastiness, with two Rangers players sent off and Celtic captain Scott Brown assaulted. Both clubs, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard and Brown were charged by the football authorities, while three football supporters were stabbed with one seriously injured – which was downplayed by most fans and media.

This unedifying drama and reflection of the worst of Scotland regularly comes around: with the two clubs sometimes meeting up to six times a season, all adding to the mutual hatred, obsession and co-dependency (which gives sustenance to the term Old Firm). Unacceptable behaviour doesn’t stop there with the recent Hearts v Hibs Edinburgh derby marred by flares thrown on to the pitch and racist abuse.

The Old Firm match came for those charged with running the game as a welcome distraction from its lamentable state, and the humiliation of the Scottish men’s international team who had crashed 3-0 to Kazakhstan, and then struggled to beat San Marino, rated the worst team in the world, 2-0. Read the rest of this entry »

Hugh McIlvanney: A Moral Compass and the Power of Words

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 30th 2019

The tributes paid to Hugh McIlvanney spoke volumes for the influence of the man, his writing and for his humanity. They were laced with recollections and memorable stories of late nights, pressurised deadlines, and long conversations – often involving drink. They came from far and wide across the spectrum including Donald Trelford, former editor of ‘The Observer’; Alex Ferguson, ex-manager of Aberdeen FC and Manchester United FC; Graham Spiers of The Times; Liam McIlvanney remembering his uncle; stars such as George Foreman and Gary Lineker – and even the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

McIlvanney wrote on sport for over fifty years, starting at the Kilmarnock Standard in the 1950s, having a spell at The Scotsman before moving to The Observer in 1962 where he spent thirty one years, before moving to the Sunday Times where he remained until his retirement in 2016. In that time he covered some of the most memorable football and sporting moments from Celtic winning the European Cup to the Ali v Foreman ‘rumble in the jumble’. But he also covered more – addressing, for example, when sport and politics mixed at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 and Munich games in 1972 when in both cases disaster and death struck.

In amidst the powerful testimony of McIlvanney’s prose and his care for detail, accuracy and the semi-colon was a discernable lament for the passing of a now lost world. This centred on numerous areas: a golden age of journalism and long form essays, a time when writers could get access to some of the greats and then get unguarded copy free from the constraints of PR advisers, and an age of working class self-education and advancement without forgetting about who you were and what was important. Read the rest of this entry »

The Football Club That Refused to Die: The Tragedy and Beauty of Third Lanark

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 31st 2018

Glasgow’s history has long been the stuff of legend – the stories of Red Clydeside, rent strikes, the power of shipbuilding, the scale of slum clearance – and of course, football.

In Scotland we seem to get too much football and too much bad football coverage. We get a narrow bandwidth of football which results in numerous stories, triumphs, tragedies, and moments becoming forgotten, as we surfeit on a diet of the stale Old Firm (cue a chorus from some that the Old Firm no longer exists).

One of the most poignant tales of our game is that of Third Lanark – a club once at the apex of Scottish football – that tragically went out of business in the summer of 1967. The bare bones of this story are widely known, but the detail of the story isn’t. And it is therefore welcome that purpleTV have made a one-hour long film, simply titled ‘Third Lanark’, aired last weekend on BBC Alba. Read the rest of this entry »

Anniversaries Galore: Are the best days of Scottish football long behind it?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 26th 2017

The only excitement this year in senior Scottish domestic football has been whether Celtic will go through the season undefeated in league, Scottish Cup and League Cup, and whether a historic treble is possible.

Along with that there are a whole host of memorable anniversaries. The 50th anniversary is coming up – on 25 May – of Celtic becoming the first British team to win the European Cup; while the 50th anniversary just passed on 15 April of Scotland’s legendary 3-2 victory over then world champions, England, at Wembley. On 4 June is the 40th anniversary of Scotland’s 2-1 defeat of England that involved the infamous invasion and digging up of parts of the pitch. And it has also been the 30th of Dundee United’s march to the UEFA Cup final defeating Barcelona and Borussia Mönchengladbach on the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Does Football Matter So Much? And is it about something else?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 25th 2016

Football saturates Scotland. It fills numerous conversations and dominates spaces, both public and private – and affects attitudes, thoughts and emotions. According to some measures Scotland is the most football mad part of Europe; in others, it comes third behind Iceland and Cyprus.

This isn’t just an essay about football – so if you aren’t a football fan, don’t stop reading as this affects you. If you are a football fan – and a partisan follower – let me be clear. I do not hate or want to denigrate any of Scotland’s football clubs, Rangers and Celtic included, while I do not see any club as beyond redemption or above reproach.

The Scottish Cup Final last Saturday between Hibs and Rangers was a captivating game of football. Hibs dramatically won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years and then all hell broke loose. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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