Foot­ball crazi­ness ru­ins game

Lennox Herald - - NOTEBOOK -

What are we like? We are ob­sessed with foot­ball – and it in­trudes dis­pro­por­tion­ately on our lives.

Here in the cra­dle of Scot­tish foot­ball we have to suf­fer the angst that ac­com­pa­nies it into ev­ery liv­ing room and pub­lic place where there is a tele­vi­sion set.

There is foot­ball on of­fer ev­ery night of the week, and all day on Sun­days, much to the cha­grin of many peo­ple.

I have, in re­cent weeks, been putting to­gether a book about peo­ple and places in Dun­bar­ton­shire and Loch Lomond­side, and nat­u­rally foot­ball has a prom­i­nent place in it.

The an­tipa­thy be­tween Rangers and Celtic sup­port­ers which, de­spite ob­jec­tions from the clubs, who have a vested in­ter­est in the num­bers com­ing through the turn­stiles, and politi­cians, who want to turn a blind eye to it lest it of­fends vot­ers, is for­ever with us.

It man­i­fests it­self in trou­ble such as hap­pened at the end of Hiber­nian’s Scot­tish Cup vic­tory over Rangers at Ham­p­den Park.

That in­ci­dent has, of course, been blown out of all pro­por­tion, and the me­dia must shoul­der much of the blame for that.

So, too, must the per­son who drew up the Rangers’ state­ment fol­low­ing this in­ci­dent, and the di­rec­tors who signed it off.

It was, as they say in foot­ball, well over the top and it will have dire con­se­quences for all Scot­tish foot­ball clubs.

Celtic and Rangers and other prom­i­nent Scot­tish foot­ball clubs, such as there are, were about to be in­vited to join a new English league set-up.

After what hap­pened at Ham­p­den, on and off the field, that plan has been kicked into row Z in the grand­stand.

One story I have in my book in­volves John Mad­den from Dum­bar­ton, the first Celtic player ever to kick a ball against Rangers, and Neil McCal­lum, a Vale­man who was the first Celt to score in an Old Firm match.

It cen­tres mainly on Mad­den - I won’t go into de­tail here who was born in Dum­bar­ton High Street, and whose rel­a­tives lived in Col­lege Street and Hill Street, Bruce­hill.

Mad­den is a leg­end in Euro­pean foot­ball and be­came a hugely suc­cess­ful player and coach with Slavia in Prague.

The Czech club hadn’t heard of him though and had been try­ing to per­suade an­other Dum­bar­ton man, John Robert­son, who played for Rangers, to take the job.

Robert­son, who be­came the first ever man­ager of Chelsea FC, had his mind set on a ca­reer in jour­nal­ism and de­clined the of­fer from Prague.

Then he and an­other fa­mous Rangers and Dum­bar­ton player, Find­lay Speedie, put their heads to­gether and came up with a scheme to put Mad­den’s name for­ward for the post.

They told the Czechs that Mad­den was one of their team mates at Ibrox Park and sent him off to Prague with a busi­ness card with his pho­to­graph on it in a swish bowler hat and ex­pen­sive Crom­bie coat.

The card bore the leg­end “John Mad­den, Rangers”.

Although there may have been good, hon­est ri­valry, it ap­pears there was no an­tipa­thy at that time be­tween the Old Firm play­ers or the fans.

What­ever dif­fer­ences there may have been be­tween Rangers and Celtic play­ers were put to one side. These men were all Sons of the Rock and they stuck to­gether.

The big­otry and sec­tar­i­an­ism that taints the beau­ti­ful game in Scot­land was to boil over later as the num­bers of both Protes­tant and Catholic Ir­ish immigrants swelled the work­force the Clyde ship­yards.

In the news­pa­per busi­ness they talk about sto­ries hav­ing legs. The story of Scot­land’s shame is a marathon run­ner, the gift that to the me­dia goes on giv­ing to this day.

It is a pity there­fore that this ob­ses­sion with trou­ble on the ter­rac­ing over­shad­ows so many of the good sto­ries about foot­ball and the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in­volved in it.

Like the story of the Rev Ian Miller, who is prob­a­bly the only min­is­ter in the Church of Scot­land who sup­ports Celtic and is in­cluded in his new book about his life as a par­ish min­is­ter in Bon­hill.

And young John McGinn, of Hibs and Scot­land, whose story fea­tured in the Len­nox Her­ald just a few weeks ago.

Since then John has re­ceived an in­ter­na­tional cap in the game against Den­mark at Ham­p­den and was voted man of the match.

He starred too against Rangers in the cup fi­nal and after­wards cel­e­brated with his grand­fa­ther, Jack McGinn, who lives in Dum­bar­ton.

Jack is a past chair­man of Celtic and Pres­i­dent of the Scot­tish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and hasn’t a sec­tar­ian bone in his body.

Foot­ball runs in fam­i­lies and it is no co­in­ci­dence that young McGinn’s fore­bears were highly skilled foot­ballers.

One of them was John Mad­den, who be­came known as the Fa­ther of Cze­choslo­vakian foot­ball.

They talk about sto­ries hav­ing legs - the story of Scot­land’s shame is a marathon run­ner

The gen­er­a­tion game John McGinn with grand­fa­ther Jack

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.