High Ground edition 12; dateline 2 May 2012Singing the Blues
MacSideliner was musing about the Scottish Colourists, a group of artists from around the turn of the 20th century, when thoughts turned to other colourful institutions of a more sporting persuasion founded during a similar period in history. Down in Madchester the Blues are enjoying time in the spotlight as “noisy neighbours”, while up in Glasgow the blue team here are looking like they might be soon receiving the footballing equivalent of an ASBO for anti-social behaviours of a governancing kind. BBC Scotland once made a programme about Rangers Youth Academy titled Blue Heaven. The Academy came about after the disastrous signing of Torre Andre Flo for £12 million back in the day when someone thought it might be worth investing that kind of dosh in a rangy Norwegian rather than in the development of groups of young players. It turns out that the next BBC programme might be titled Blue Murder, what one of the Big Two got away with for years under the eyes of the ever-vigilant Scottish Football Association, Scottish Premier League and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
Down in England the big sports story may be all about the running out of steam of a sporting behemoth that is piling up debt by the day (that would be Man U rather than the Olympics, of course) but up here in the rarefied atmosphere of North Britain, as a senior civil servant wanted to rename Scotland in the not too distant past, the only sports story making back and front pages on a daily basis is the future fate of Rangers Football Club. Leveson, Murdoch, Trump, Fred the Shred, even Alex Salmond take second billing to the Teddy Bears travails. It’s often first up on the news and we’ve seen thousands of fans march on the national stadium at Hampden to protest at sanctions being handed down to the club for numerous serious breaches of governance and rules of membership.
The story simply runs and runs and runs. We have consortia of potential buyers with names like the Blue Knights who for all anyone knows may turn out to be more like the Barren Knights. There are three-man judging panels from the governing body who are nameless; think The Voice except that they don’t spin their seats around after the performers have been up on stage. Then the social meedja networks crank up and name them, then the head-cases start with the threatening behaviour and we are propelled back to the unpleasant times of the threats to managers of last year. Thankfully the two responsible for that appalling conduct were jailed recently.
Blue in the Face
Speaking of criminal behaviour, MacSideliner was appalled when hearing of the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling on the Cheats issue. What is the point of their existence? In Scotland it will be very interesting to see how our own MacCheat, David Millar, responds to the ruling. He, in contrast to D-wayne, was extremely contrite and remorseful after his ban and appeared to be making a real effort to say he was wrong and personally responsible for his actions, regardless of the corporate practices rife within his own sport of cycling. The real test will be when Chambers posts a qualifying time for London 2012, as he most likely will, and has to be invited to join Team GB. It will be a test for Team GB too as he is possibly a potential medallist. Hmmm. Haven’t we in sport been telling young people that drug-taking is not a good thing and if you get caught you get punished... well, punished a bit, and now maybe not that badly. You could be out as long with a injury. Worth a gamble. Bet now.
Wha’s like us, and what colour’s their coupon?
In the land that invented high blood pressure, there’s no getting away from it: the Fergmeister is looking a bit red in the face (coupon in Govan-speak) these days, and it’s not just because of that team selection for the derby game. Contrast that with the complexion of the urbane nomad that is Roy Hodgson, selected ahead of Your ‘Arry for the tasty chalice that is the England job. Come to think of it, ‘Arry can get a bit flushed in the fizzog department at times too. Those two guys should be at school in Scotland today as we have halved the amount of fizzy drinks consumed by children. A health result? Seriously?
And get me a tin of Tartan Paint tae
That’s how Billy Connolly started in the mirth-making business. In the shipyards, apprentices used to be sent for items that either didn’t exist or did but you wouldn’t have thought they did. Sent for a “lang staun” (long stand), the apprentice would wait outside a door to nowhere waiting for it to be opened after a lunch break, thereby standing for a long time, while “get me a rubber hammer” was an instruction to fetch a real item.
The theme of this month’s MacColumn has of course been colour so, being Scottish, I had to work in a reference to tartan. Organisers of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (ring the bell and tick the box!) launched the official tartan for the event and a fetching number it is too. It’s not easy describing tartan so look it up on the web, you lazy so and so’s, if you want to see it. Designed by a local Glaswegian Scots-Asian school pupil, it incorporates colours reflecting history and heritage and stuff.
Next time (the Jubilee edition): Andy Murray’s haircut, (Sir) Chris Hoy’s shaving tips, Stephen Henry’s retirement plan – probably something low-impact I would guess – and a belated tip of the titfer to Edinburgh Rugby for their exploits in the Beer Cup. (Salary cap excuses anyone?)
The High Ground
An alternative view of the Scottish sport, leisure and culture landscape