High Ground edition 15; dateline 6 November 2012

Would  you  Adam and Eve it?
See you Jimmy, it was never in doubt. “Oor Andy”, the Olympic champion, has now added the US Open to his palmares. That would also make him world champion if he was an American. It just shows you: if you keep trying and you have the right amount of talent you’ll achieve a big one. I was going to apply this aphorism to Scotland’s men’s football team but I’m not completely sure of my formula on that one.

Murraymania – it’s mint
It also shows you that nice guys can win and win big time; win major even. When Andy decided to visit his home town of Dunblane, a small settlement near Stirling, the region went Murraymania [Surely ‘Murraymaniacal’? Ed]. People travelled from all over to say well done to the rather quiet and unassuming young man who has, through his achievements, given a new and wholly positive connotation to the name Dunblane in the national psyche. Car drivers were parking three miles outside the town as everywhere inside the city limits was completely choc-a-bloc. Andy did his own thing as usual and rather than using the now de rigeur open-top bus walked down the high street to the tennis club where his career began and to which he regularly, and rather more quietly, comes back. It took him several hours to get there but nobody cared one jot. They all waited patiently and he spent time with everyone. A fantastic day of reflection, appreciation and quiet satisfaction. MacSideliner told you it would all happen, did he not?

National footie team comes close in major finals qualification drama.

Wait a minute, I hear you all say, haven’t the Scots crashed out even earlier this time? I am, of course, talking about our women’s side who only missed qualifying for “Sweden” by losing a late, late goal in the play-off match against Spain. We went 2-1 up in the second half and only needed a draw as the first leg had finished one apiece. However, in now stereotypical Scottish football style, we managed to lose one goal and then another right at the death to crash out of the competition.

And by the way (to quote Ali McCoist when he was a celebrity) our goalie, Gemma Fay, saved a penalty in this game to match the one she saved in the home leg – and we still snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. On the brighter side, it does show that in Scotland we are making great strides in sports equity. Never mind Title IX, we just go straight for a carbon copy of the men’s game.

Actually, that last bit isn’t quite true because as the women’s team is actually getting closer to qualifying for a major tournament, the men’s side has slipped further from any chance of regular qualification – seven times out of eight in the case of World Cups – to missing out in play-offs, to just missing a spot in the play-offs, to being down and out increasingly early in the group stages. To be completely accurate, in terms of Brazil 2014, we are still mathematically able to qualify and they do say it’s never over until the fat lady sings. Having watched the Wales game through my fingers via a free live internet streaming site and winced at the moment when Charlie Adam did his Wile E Coyote impersonation as Gareth Bale accelerated past him like the Roadrunner, it seems more of a case that it will always be over until the Fat Boy slims. Beep Beep.

That’s what makes sport wonderful, of course: the drama and the unpredictability of the moment. Ten minutes earlier the same Charlie swung over a magnificent cross which Steven Fletcher nodded into the roof of the Wales net. If it hadn’t had been chalked off, mistakenly, by the linesman Scotland would have gone two up and probably been safe for three points. The margins are thin – thinner than some of our players anyway.

Made from increasingly flabby girders?
Just recently I’ve had to watch three Scottish teams lose goals in the last ten minutes of a game. Scotland men, Celtic against Barcelona, and then the women, and it got me thinking: has this got anything to do with the infamous Scottish diet and our national issue with alcohol consumption? Our football players in general simply look less fit than their opponents. We have players in all our teams who are just a wee bit jowly for me. As none of our Scottish Olympic medallist look like this I think I have hit on a Football MacFatties Factor. The really worrying thing, though, is that the most recent corporate sponsors announced for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are fizzy drink manufacturers Irn-Bru and Bakers from Loch Ness, who are always on the TV displaying their well-tasty-looking monster cakes...

But the future’s bright…
With disappointments in football and rugby abounding, the loss to Ireland in the shinty/hurling international, and the devastating news that we also lost our grip on the World Porridge-making Golden Spurtle (to an Englishman!) and the World Stone Skimming titles to a Welshman and an English woman, it is getting increasingly difficult to “celebrate success” as SportScotland, “the national agency for sport”, might say. They do love a quotation mark, do SportScotland. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. As well as basking in Andy Murray’s triumph at Flushing Meadow, we also had the resurgence of Paul Lawrie playing a blinder as the oldest guy in the European Ryder Cup Team. He’ll be even older when we host it in 2014 but dinnae worry, we’ve been investing half a million quid a year for the best part of a decade so we might find some younger players for the team some time soon. Oh and I should have pointed out that we had all the winners of the youth groups male and female in the stone skimming. Remember, it’s all about “future legacy” and it’s never over until the clinically obese individual starts warming up those vocal chords.






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