A poignant fixture in the Carabao Cup 19/09/2017

Tonight’s Carabao Cup fixture between Tottenham Hotspurs and Barsnley F.C. will be a rather poignant affair with regards to the ill health of Barnsley F.C. owner Patrick Cryne. Mr Cryne is terminally ill having suffered with bowel cancer since November 2016. Last week Mr Cryne, aged 66, wrote a moving letter in the match day programme to supporters, the night of Barnsley’s 3-2 cup victory over Derby, stating that he is unlikely to make it to the end of the 2017/18 season.

It would be rather special for his side to knock Spurs out of the cup on the hallowed Wembley turf; a venue that holds a special place in Mr Cryne’s heart. The Barnsley man stated that he has seen many special games in the famous old ground, including his sides’ historic 2015/16 campaign in which they won twice at Wembley, lifting the Johnstone’s Paint (EFL) Trophy and gaining promotion to the Championship via the play-offs. Imagine his delight if his team were to knock the big boys out in the same place he witnessed his clubs phenomenal success.

I’ve no ill thoughts towards Spurs, I wish both sides the very best. But I felt it was important to highlight the insignificance, and simultaneously the significance, of our beautiful game. Life is finite and as such we must cherish every moment.

Tottenham Hotpsurs v Barnsley in the Carabao Cup Third Round kicks off at 8pm.

 


 

Patrick Cryne’s open letter in full

I am living on borrowed time. I live in pain, but living is better than the alternative. Cancer is insidious, cruel and rapacious and I implore everyone to have regular checks to stop it gaining hold.

Recent months have brought into focus the things that are important to me. I have spent a lot of my life pursuing the ultimately pointless when there were better things to do. My family have always been important to me but I should have spent more time telling them so.

I do now and it creates joyfulness in our relationships. Of course, my football club has been important too and I am lucky that my family have shared my love of Barnsley FC.

For much of the time since I became the club’s buyer of last resort, I allowed others to run the club, fearing that I did not know enough to win the respect and supporter of the ‘football people’. It is ironic therefore that we enjoyed one of our most successful periods when I did take up the mantle ending in two successful visits to Wembley.

Maybe, one day before too long I will tell the secrets of how we did it. Certainly, the whole club working as one was instrumental. I don’t know if we will ever repeat the sense of togetherness of that season, which extended also to the fans, their tolerance and incredible support.

There are many things I wanted to achieve before my custodianship of our fabulous team ended at the hand of the Grim Reaper. Of course, I wanted to see us get back to the Premier League and make some enhancements to the iconic West Stand. On a personal level, I wanted to bring back together all the 1912 FA Cup final medals, but I only managed to retrieve five.

Most people realise I was a reluctant custodian but what has made it bearable against the occasional cruelty of the internet world is the kindness shown to me by so many fans on a personal basis.

People are not shy in coming forward and telling me they appreciate my efforts, even if I have fallen short of their aspirations. I receive many letters and cards from fans who share with me their memories and best wishes. I am grateful to them all.

Regarding this season, I think we will get stronger as it goes on and our team gels, not unlike the double Wembley season. I do not expect to live to see the ultimate outcome, but I travel in hope.

I wish you all a good football season and thank you for your kindness down the years.

15/09/2017 European Football Special

15/09/2017 European Football Special

Tuesday 12th September 2017 – Group A,B,C and D opening games

Celtic were absolutely hammered by classy PSG. We can’t be mad; the French side will likely win the tournament. I was amongst many a Celtic supporter last night who commented on the fact that no one in Europe, as it stands, is better than this side. They have world class players from back to the front. The newly formed MCN ripped the Hoops apart. Neymar scored the opener, Mbappe doubled the lead and Edinson Cavani scored two. Mikel Lustig’s own goal added the fifth.

This was to be Celtic’s worst European defeat at home. Neymar, the most hated man in the East End of Glasgow, has now scored five Champions League goals in five games at Parkhead, while also conjuring up seven assists.

This was the best bit of football I have ever seen at Celtic Park. I was mesmerized watching PSG pass the ball around the field so strategically, with a touch of elegance to every kick of the ball. I stood to applaud when the final whistle blew; they were majestic.

Celtic will have to battle it out with Belgian side Anderlecht, who also fell to an opening game defeat to Bayern Munich. Goals from Lewandowski, Alcantara and Kimmich gave Bayern a 3-0 victory at home against 10-man Anderlecht. Sven Kums, unfortunate name, was sent off 11 minutes into the game after conceding a penalty which Lewandowski consequently scored from. As they battle it out with PSG for the top-seed.

Lionel Messi continues to prove he’s the best in the world scoring a brace as his side breezed past Juventus with a 3-0 victory at Camp Nou. Sporting Lisbon saw off a late comeback after taking an early two goal lead in Greece. Bruno Fernandes added a third in the second half, which proved crucial towards the end of the game, following Felipe Pardo’s brace which wasn’t quite enough to salvage a point for the Greeks.

Chelsea battered FK Qarabag in their Group C opening game. Goals from Pedro, Zappacosta, Azpilicueta, Bakayoko and Batshuayi, including a Medvedev own goal, gave the Londoners a 6-0 home victory. Zappacosta’s finish to make it 2-0 is sublime! Check that out below. Roma and Atletico Madrid came away with a share of the spoils as they played out a goalless draw in the Italian capital. Both keepers were kept busy, saving shot after shot after shot.

Manchester United got a 3-0 victory at home to Basel. Goals from Fellaini, Lukaku and Rashford got the Red Devils off the mark in Group A. Fellaini was brought on to replace Paul Pogba who pulled up with a hamstring injury just 19 minutes into the game. This could be a concern for Mourinho going forward. The injury proved to be a blessing in disguise when the Belgian opened the scoring in the 34th minute. Group A opposition CSKA Moscow beat Benfica 2-1 in Portugal; a huge statement from the Russian side to take all three points away from home. Benfica will feel hard done by when a penalty was rewarded for a hand ball in the box. Almeida was the man who received a yellow card for the hand ball but he will feel aggrieved as his hands were clearly by his side as Berezutski’s shot was fired at him.

 

Wednesday 13th September 2017 – Group E, F, G and H opening games

Tottenham Hotspurs and Borussia Dortmund played out an exciing European encounter at Wembley Stadium. Son Heung-min opened the scoring then Yarmolenko equalized for Dortmund and then who else but ‘Arry Kane stepped up to put Spurs ahead four minutes after the score had been tied. Kane scored his second of the night an hour into the game but the talking point of the night was Jan Vertonghen’s sending off in stoppage time. It should be noted that Yarmolenko’s goal is a thing of beauty, get it watched! Don’t let the result fool you, this was a very close encounter. Pulisic was on fire! Definitely the one to watch this season. Should he continue to have such a huge impact on such a big game he’ll have big name clubs calling on him very soon. Dortmund will feel aggrieved after an Aubameyang goal was ruled to be offside. Should the goal have stood it would have been 2-2 with over half an hour to play. Things would have got very interesting indeed. But it wasn’t to be and Kane’s smart finish sealed all 3 points, and the Spurs go marching on on on.

No surprises that Real Madrid made light work of Apoel Nicosia with a 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu. No surprises again the Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace. No surprises again that Real Madrid were awarded a penalty. However, It was a surprise that centre-back Sergio Ramos scored a over-head kick. CR7 may well have had a hat-trick if it were’t for goal line technology. Modern football eh?

Liverpool’s first Champions League game since 2014 ended in a 2-2 draw with their Europa League final opponents Sevilla. As he did in the 2017 final, Joaquin Correa cut through the Liverpool defence with ease to curl the ball past Karius to level the scoring at 2-2. Wissam Ben Yedder made a fool of the Liverpool back-line for the opening goal; scoring a tap in right in front of the mighty Kop End. Firminho equalized from a Moreno pass. Salah’s hard work paid off for the second goal, which was guided in as the ball struck the foot of Kjaer deflecting it past the goalkeeper Rico. Liverpool may well have taken all three points had Robert Firminho finished from the spot. The Reds were rewarded a penalty when Sadio mane was brought down in the box. But it wasn’t to be and Correa eventually scored the equaliser after many Liverpool chances went begging. The sour point of the evening was when Sevilla boss Eduardo Berizzo was dismissed for throwing the ball away when it went out of play. Ludicrous! Joe Gomez was also sent for an early shower, dismissed following a second yellow. Spartak Moscow drew 1-1 with Maribor in their Champions League opener. UEFA will have to take action following an incident in which a flare was fired at German referee Deniz Aytekin.

Manchester City won their opening game 4-0 in Turkey against Fenerbache. The goals come from John Stone (x2), Sergio Aguero and Jesus. Pretty standard victory, not much to say really. So many shots on target, not enough goals. Napoli fell to an opening game defeat, as Shaktar Donetsk seen the game out to win 2-1.

Besiktas sealed an away victory beating Porto 3-1 in Portugal. Tosun’s second is sublime! RB Leipzig played out a 1-1 draw with last years semi-finalists Monaco.

 

Thursday 14th September 2017 – Europa League opening games

AC Milan showed that their big summer spending wasn’t done in vain following their 5-1 win in their opening game against Austria Vienna. Their £34 million signing Andre Silva scored a hat-trick, Calhanoglu opened the scoring (£22 million) and Fernández Saez (Suso) scored the fifth. The Rossoneri are not here to mess about. 

It would appear that non of the Italian teams are there to take part, but there to take over. Atalanta absolutely hammered Ronald Koeman’s Everton with a 3-0 victory for the Seria A side. Lazio also got in on the act coming from behind twice to beat Vitesse 3-2 in Holland.

French side Lyon drew with Apollon Limassol from Cyprus. Dynamo Kiev defeated Skenderbeu 3-1. Braga came away with the bragging rights (see what I did there) with their 2-1 win over Hoffenheim in Germany.

Why always me? Mario Balottelli was on the score sheet for Nice as they bowled over Belgian side Zulte Waregem with a 5-1 victory.

Osterunds beat Zorya Luhansk 2-0 in Ukraine. Taking the Swede’s top of the table above Athletic Bilbao who managed a draw with Hertha Berlin.

Arsenal came from behind to beat FC Koln 3-1 at the Emirates. Alexis Sanchez scored a fantastic solo effort, not to be missed. While you’re at it check out Cordoba’s long range finish. Peach! The talking point of the night has surely got to be Arsene Wengers pink jacket. Crvena Zvezda drew 1-1 with BATE Borisov.

Slavia Prague beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0. Astana lost 3-1 to Villareal in Spain.

Real Sociedad made light work of Rosenborg with a 4-0 home victory. Zenit won 5-0 in Macedonia against FK Vardar. The Spaniards and the Russians look set to battle it out for the top spot.

There are too many games to comment on, so you can see the results by clicking here.

 

ONES TO WATCH

Celtic 0 – 5 PSG: https://youtu.be/wnbN8yS24gA

Bayern 3 – 0 Anderlecht: https://youtu.be/vB1O3oj0Y60

Barca 3 – 0 Juve: https://youtu.be/ErL9WRKNJSY

Sporting Lisbon 3 – 2 Olympiacos: https://youtu.be/XqH-QnXs8-0

Chelsea 6 – 0 Qarabag: https://youtu.be/m4A4dAnM9mc

Roma 0 – 0 Atletico: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGlGi-OO6w0

Man U 3 – 0 Basel: https://youtu.be/Lj8RjXAt2XE

Benfica 1 – 2 CSKA Moscow: https://youtu.be/ifTSrMo8umE

Tottenham 3 – 1 Dortmund: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiQMT5UR9nU

Real Madrid 3 – 0 Nicosia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAWf5DXYtqo (fast forward to 2:42) OR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZiGetEoa3g

Liverpool 2 – 2 Sevilla: https://youtu.be/JGwZErMgUZc

CAN’T FIND HIGHLIGHTS FOR NK MARIBOR V SPARTAK MOSCOW

Fenerbache 0 v 4 Manchester City: https://youtu.be/T24uu3ZOllQ

Shaktar Donetsk 2 – 1 Napoli: https://youtu.be/H_Zv45Q8q5M

Porto 1 – 3 Besiktas: https://youtu.be/6JOBPE9upVI

RB Leipzig 1 – 1 Monaco: https://youtu.be/-T4KuwxvQi8

 

EUROPA LEAGUE

Atalanta 3 – 0 Everton: https://youtu.be/igtBOnIuSLE

Arsenal v FC Koln: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uUEFiZ5ArM

15/09/2017 Issue 29

This week Jedi Knight, Mark Hamill, moved over to the dark side by becaming a Wolves fan (by complete accident of course). A Twitter mishap lead to Hamill professing his love for the West midlands side. A fan had tweeted Hamill asking if he was a Wolves fan and Mr Hamill, being the kind soul he is, liked the tweet believing that the question referred to the furry, four-legged animal. Wolverhampton Wanderers naturally pounced at the chance to welcome Mr Hamill to the club, posting a picture of manager Nuno Espirito Santo with the caption “The force is strong here…”. Well played Wolves!

Partick Thisle have changed the name of their stadium following a penned six-figure sponsorship deal. The Jags home will no longer be called Firhill and will be known throughout the world as ‘The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill’. Very important to remember the ‘at Firhill’ as the Managing Director Ian Maxwell thought it was very important to recognise ‘history and tradition’. Fair play!

Kylian Mbappe is now the first player to score two Champions League goals for two different clubs as a teenager; scoring for former club Monaco and now Paris Saint-Germain.

UEFA has charged Celtic and PSG for incidents which occurred during their Champions League fixture on Tuesday evening. A Celtic fan was lambasted by his fellow supporters when he ran on the park and made an attempt to kick Kylian Mbappe. The club will rightly be fined for the incident and hopefully the fan in question will never step a foot inside Parkhead again. PSG have been charged due to damaged seats in the away section. The hearing will be held in October.

The UEFA money pot will be well and truly filled to the brim as FC Basel have also been charged after their fans lit fireworks at Old Trefford on Tuesday night.

Asensio missed Wednesday night’s Champions League match after picking up an infection from shaving his legs. Yes, this is serious.

Rachel Corsie has been appointed as the new captain of the Scotland Women’s National Team by new team coach Shelley Kerr. Scotland got a 3-0 victory in Hungary in Kerr’s first game as the new boss. The goals came from Lana Clelland (15), Claire Emslie (27) and Jane Ross (89).

Frank de Boer has been sacked as the manager of Crystal Palace after 4 Premier League games. Stick to the fantasy football mate! After his 77 day reign he has been replaced by Woy Hodgson.

The Europa League fixture between Arsenal and Cologne was delayed by an hour as thousands of away fans arrived and attempted to enter the stadium without tickets. The Cologne following were allocated 2,900 tickets, but 20,000 supporters turned up at the gates.

 

ONES TO WATCH

May the force be with you: http://www.nme.com/news/film/mark-hamill-becomes-a-wolves-fan-2139778?utm_content=manual&utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=nme

We’re AT Firhill now: https://twitter.com/ThistleTweet/status/907566524457787393

25/08/2017 Issue 28

Gemma Fay has retired from International duty after almost 20 years between the sticks. Over her career she has made over 200 caps, making her the most capped Scotland player ever. Fay has captained the side since 2009 and led her nation to their first major tournament since 1998.

Leanne Ross and Ifeome Dieke also announced their international retirement this week. All three players were recently inducted into the Scottish FA Roll of Honour as one of just 12 players to have won more than 100 caps.

New Scotland boss Shelley Kerr picked her first international squad for the upcoming friendly against Hungary on Wednesday afternoon. The Scots face Hungary on the 14th September away in Budapest. Celtic’s Megan Cunningham has been called to the national squad in place of the newly retired Gemma Fay. Lucy Graham, who scored a brace for Hibs in their Champions League qualifier, has been recalled and will be hoping to gain her first cap. Squad regulars Kim Little, Jennifer Beattie and Lizzie Arnott are all still ruled out through injury however Manchester City’s Jane Ross, who got injured in the first European Championship tie against England, will return to the squad.

Kerr’s big task comes in the face of the 2019 FIFA World Cup qualifiers which take place in October. The Scots have been placed in a group with Belarus, Albania, Switzerland and Poland. The dates of these fixtures can be found on the Scottish FA website.

Celtic have qualified for the UEFA Champions League following a 4-3 defeat to Astana of Kazakstan. The Scots progressed with an 8-4 aggregate score-line and despite the nervy second-leg the Hoops were never in doubt to qualify. Astana’s opening goal came from an Ajer own-goal. The young centre-half was attempting to block the shot, but instead had to watch as it made it’s way into the Celtic net past Craig Gordon. Scott Sinclair then responded with an outstanding curling effort; the keeper stood no chance. Poor defending after the break left Celtic trailing by two goals as Astana went 3-1 ahead on the night. Things only got worse with just over 20 minutes to play when Twumasi scored his second and Astana’s fourth of the evening. However all was well in the final 10-minutes of play when Olivier Ntcham, who continues to impress in the Hoops, and Leigh Griffith scored to bring the score on the night to 4-3, with an aggregate win of 8-4.

Russian hacking group, Three Bears have released some very telling information regarding some 25 players given therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) and failed drug tests. TUEs allow banned substances to be taken for athletes’ verified medical needs. Now there isn’t a lot wrong with this as long as protocol has been followed, but the leak may re-open the debate regarding whther or not anti-doping agencys are successful in dealing with drug use and whether the systems they set in place can be misused.

Wayne Rooney retires from international football. He ends his England career as the country’s top goalscorer, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton, with 53 goals.

Scores in the 8th minute, ruptures his knee seconds later. Yup! Hamburg winger Nicolai Muller faces seven months recovering on the sidelines after a helicopter celebration caused damage to his anterior cruciate ligament. Ironically, Muller’s goal was the only goal of last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Augsburg. But the 29-year old admitted he felt rather foolish, and so he should. Regardless, we wish him all the best with his recovery.

David Villa has been selected in the Spain squad. Newsworthy because he retired three years ago in 2014. The MLS star retired from international football following the World Cup in Brazil, wrapping up a career in which he scored 59 goals in 97 appearances for La Roja. Villa has now came out of retirment to play for Lopetegui’s side in Spain’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Liechtenstein.

Oliver Burke has left RB Leipzig to go to West Brom. Strange move considering the German side are into the group stages of the Champions League, drawn against Monaco, Porto and Besiktas in Group G.

Celtic were drawn against formidable opponents in Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Anderlecht in Group B. Fans were delighted, expecting they would be drawn once again against familiar opponents Barcelona and Juventus who were drawn together in Group D.

Full Champions League draw

  • Group A Benfica, Man Utd, Basel, CSKA Moscow
  • Group B Bayern Munich, PSG, Anderlecht, Celtic
  • Group C Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma, Qarabag
  • Group D Juventus, Barcelona, Olympiakos, Sporting
  • Group E Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, Maribor
  • Group F Shakhtar, Man City, Napoli, Feyenoord
  • Group G Monaco, Porto, Besiktas, RB Leipzig
  • Group H Real Madrid, Dortmund, Tottenham, APOEL

Full Europa League draw

  • Group A: Villarreal, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Astana, Slavia Prague.
  • Group B: Dynamo Kiev, Young Boys, Partizan Belgrade, Skenderbeu.
  • Group C: Braga, Ludogorets, Hoffenheim, Istanbul Basaksehir.
  • Group D: Milan, Austria Vienna, Rijeka, AEK Athens.
  • Group E: Lyon, Everton, Atalanta, Apollon.
  • Group F: Copenhagen, Lokomotiv Moscow, Sheriff Tiraspol, Zlin.
  • Group G: Viktoria Plzen, FCSB, Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Lugano.
  • Group H: Arsenal, BATE Borisov, Cologne, Crvena Zvezda.
  • Group I: Salzburg, Marseille, Vitoria SC, Konyaspor.
  • Group J: Athletic Bilbao, Hertha Berlin, Zorya Luhansk, Ostersund.
  • Group K: Lazio, Nice, Zulte Waregem, Vitesse.
  • Group L: Zenit St Petersburg, Real Sociedad, Rosenborg, Vardar Skopje.

 

 

 

 

18/08/2017 Issue 27

FC Schalke will offer every supporter over the age of 16 a FREE pint of beer for their opening league fixture against RB Leipzig on Saturday. CLASS ACT!

Stuart Armstrong pens a new two-year deal at Celtic.

After being signed by West Ham for the small fee of £10.2m back in January, Robert Snodgrass has been told he is free to leave the East London side.

Everton put one foot in the door of the Europa League group stages with their 2-0 win over Hajduk Split. They will be pleased with the result given that the game was brought to a halt by crowd trouble on the 33rd minute. Hajduk fans surged towards the field of play and threw objects towards the Everton crowd. Michael Keanescored the opener and Idrissa Gueye doubled the blues lead following the 5-minute delay during the first-half.

Celtic have pretty much sealed their place in the Champions’ League group stage with a emphatic 5-0 victory over Astana. It was easily one of the best European nights at Parkhead in a long time. A great atmosphere, some terrific goals, some fantastic individual performances and the return of the Green brigade all made for another special European tie at Celtic Park.

Aberdeen have been fined £9,100 by UEFA for crowd trouble during their Europa League qualifying tie against Apollon Limassol in Cyprus at the beginning of August. The crowd were charged on the grounds of “crowd disturbance” and have been punished for failing to follow UEFA regulations with regards to having no travelling stewards.

Hibs are living up to their Championship winning reputation having successfully won both Premiership games so far, including a 3-2 victory over Rangers at Ibrox last weekend. They take on Hamilton Accies and striker Steven Boyd who continues to impress at Hamilton Accies, with three goals in two games. He is another  exciting talent in a list of Accies academy graduates – we will be watching his season unfold in the coming weeks. Hamilton take on Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday afternoon.

We were sad to hear the news that the former Aberdeen and Dunfermline manager  Jimmy Calderwood has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Our thoughts are with Jimmy and his family; we hope that he will be given great support in the challenges that he will face in the future.

Dundee FC have submitted proposals for a new stadium at Camperdown Leisure Park. #saygoodbyetoDens

And finally, the police were called because Neil Lennon celebrated a goal. (And I wish this was fake news) Please tell me again how thousands of bigots chanted anti-Irish abuse at one man then phoned Police Scotland because he had the last laugh? Outrageous.

 

ONES TO WATCH

Crowd trouble at Goodison Park: https://youtu.be/wtIEsEsDiR4

Celtic destroy Astana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeZZUTrScV4

Rangers 2 – 3 Hibs: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/scotland/40913510

Hamilton 3 – 0 Dundee: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/scotland/40911933

Six red cards in the Scottish Premiership: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/scotland/40919594

Dundee statement: http://dundeefc.co.uk/news/dark-blue-property-holdings-ljrh-chartered-architects-statement/

Neil Lennon celebrates and it makes the news and the police are called: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/scotland/40921924

28/07/2017 Issue 25

Viktoria Plzen unveil beer can dugouts. The Czech club partnered with local brewery Gambrinus to create the unique dugouts at their home, the Doosan Arena, to look like two colossus cans of beer. The result is fantastic!!

Apparently it’s not the first time it’s been done. This I was completely unaware of. Sevilla unveiled similar designs in 2014, and they even moved away from liquid based commodities for a time in 2012.

Scotland Women’s National Team were knocked out of the European Championships. Despite the victory over Spain, the Scots couldn’t add to Caroline Weirs first half finish which meant the dream, for now, is over. It was a real classic to watch. There were some mad goal keeping errors, great pieces of skill (including Chloe Arthurs Maradona turn) and some real end to end fight to the finish play from both sides; clearances off the line, last-ditch saves, shots off the woodwork – it was an entertaining and intense fixture to say the least.

England march on to the quarter-finals of the competition, winning all three of their games in the group stage. Toni Duggan, who recently signed a new deal with FC Barcelona, and team mate Parris scored the goals as England defeated Portugal 2-1.

USA won the Gold Cup beating Jamaica 2-1. Jordan Morris scored the late-winner and here it is.

Celtic’s Champions League first-leg tie against Rosenborg proved to be a tricky encounter. The Hoops just about managed to keep a clean sheet but will have been disappointed to not have created many chances in front of goal. With the absence of Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele, Celtic had no natural striker to field and so Tom Rogic was chosen as the man to go up top. He had very little success, and he wasn’t the only one. James Forrest had the touch of an elephant, unable to finish any decent half chance that came his way. Scott Sinclair was effectively marked out of the game by a very organised Rosenborg defence and captain Scott Brown was often bullied off the ball. The young Kristoff Ajer, who has been at loan to Kilmarnock for all of last season, was awarded man of the match and quite right too. He was perhaps the only player to receive pass marks. Rosenborg missed some huge chances, that may well come back to haunt them come the second-leg in Norway. Hedenstad’s free-kick had the Celtic crowd breathing a sigh of relief once once pushed away by Craig Gordon but the biggest sigh of relief came when Yann-Erik de Lanlay fired his shot over the bar from 12 yards out. Celtic controlled most of the possession but without a natural striker they looked lost to say the least. We’ve a big tie to come on Wednesday night.

Aberdeen got off to a good start with a 2-1 victory over Apollon Limassol. Ryan Christie and Graeme Shinnie both found the net in; the captains’ goal was a particularly special finish. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the game so don’t have any analysis to share with you, so here’s BBC Sports take on things: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40692502

After the Supreme Court ruled against Rangers over their use of EBT’s from 2001 to 2010, the SPFL announced that they could not impose fresh sanctions after seeking legal advice from Queen’s Counsel Gerry Moynihan. Therefore titles that the Rangers unlawfully won, through buying players/staff they could not otherwise afford without the EBT tax avoidance scheme in place, will not be further punished or investigated. The SPFL have called for an independent review of football governamnce in Scotland with particular interest in the way in which Rangers financial problems were dealt with.

The governing body and media silence on the issue, by means of sweeping this under the carpet, shows public support and approval of cheating in Scottish football. Fan groups in Scotland are currently seeking legal advice to call for more action to be taken. The Scottish Football Supporters Association has taken the initiative to call for the first independent evaluation of Scottish football governance. They have launched their campaign #GiveUsOurBallBack and are calling on supporters to take their survey, which was launched in Parliament on 20th July 2017, to gain the fans perspective on the games governanance. Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/sfsa-benchmark-2017

 

ONES TO WATCH

The dug-out: https://twitter.com/FootyAccums/status/890882313046949889

Scotland 1 – 0 Spain highlights: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40748362

Jordan Morris winning goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUlHbY42vZ4

Gold Cup Final highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aj3l3vjDr7M

Aberdeen 2 – 1 Apollon Limassol: https://twitter.com/fitbawweekly/status/890903552570384385

Scottish Football Supporters Association: https://youtu.be/-2orTP0dOWA

Scottish Football Scandal: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40710728

The King of Kings

The King of Kings

This morning I was greeted by an old friend; scrolling through my Twitter feed it came to light that ‘On this Day’ in 1995, Henrik Larsson (my hero) signed for Celtic football club and the rest, they say, is history.

Yet again he captured my imagination, I remembered with utter dread the feeling I felt that day on 16th May 2004 when he departed the Hoops and left to join FC Barcelona; a move he thoroughly deserved and one that he could, and should, have made many years previously.

I can never forget the goals he scored in the UEFA Cup final, his first equaliser truly was one of the great European cup final goals; scored from a near impossible angle with the glance of a head. Nor will I forget the goal he scored against Boavista in the semi-final which sent six daft Celts in my Auntie Eleanor’s front room into a tizzy and left Boavista goalkeeper Ricardo in tears as he sent the Bhoys in green to their first European Final since 1970. His chip over Stefan Klos, his touch, his brilliance and class is etched in my memory.

The greatest ever Celt; he understood what it meant to wear those colours, he knew the importance of stopping THEM getting ten in a row and more, he was the one who stopped it with a sweet, curling finish from 20 yards; the crowd going mad. This was just the beginning for The King of Kings.

“CHEERIO, 10 IN A ROW”, cried 50,000 Celts.

The day he cut his dreads made front page news. On our way to the UEFA Cup Final he silenced Souness who declared the first-leg, “men against boys”. Men against the King more like!

Men nil Bhoys two.

The Kings parting words certainly rang true: “This will learn them a lesson, never talk until the game is finished.”

In season 1990-2000 Larsson was gunning to be Scotland’s top scorer with 8 league goals in 9 games. Things were going oh so well until his leg-break against Lyon in the UEFA Cup 1999. Broke in two places, career over? No chance.

The King Returned, and had what was arguably his best season under new manager Martin O’Neill. He formed a formidable partnership with the brilliant Chris Sutton, and over the season Larsson bagged 35 goals in 38 games. That year he was presented with the European Golden Boot and was crowned the SPFL top scorer. Not to mention that Celtic won their first domestic treble since Jock Stein’s Lions in 1967 that same year.

Over 60,000 men, women and children wept as the greatest ever Celt played his final game in Paradise. The sun shone, his boy Jordan smiled on as Dad smashed two past Dundee United and then the legend himself cried as he walked onto the famous turf and said goodbye to his beloved Celtic support. I was there, and I buried my head in my Dad’s shoulder wishing it all away.

I was at Hampden Park a week later when Henrik scored a brace to help Celtic lift the Scottish Cup with a 3-1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic. It remains one of my favourite memories of Hampden to this day.

Purchased for £650,000, it was the best money the club has ever been spent.

In 7 years he made 313 appearances, scored 242 goals, won 4 Scottish Premier League titles, 2 Scottish Cups and 2 Scottish League Cups.

Beyond Celtic he has lifted silverware in England, Spain, Holland and Sweden.

After losing the Champions League final to Barcelona in 2006, Thierry Henry stated that one man made the difference and that man was substitute Henrik Larsson. The King came on in the 61st minute, Barcelona were trailing by a goal and within 4 minutes of play he assisted both the equalising goal and the eventual match winner. WORLD CLASS.

On the international stage, Henrik played his part in getting Sweden to the semi-final of the World Cup against Brazil in 1994. He featured in their third-place play-off against Bulgaria and scored a goal in a 4-0 victory for Sweden. This was Sweden’s best finish in a World Cup since finishing second place in 1958.

The King came out of international retirmenr for Euro 2004. He lead his country to the quarter-final of the tournament, scoring 3 goals in 4 matches. They were beaten in the quarters by the Netherlands in a penalty shoot out. We should note that the King won the best goal of the tournament for his diving header against Bulgaria.

In 16 years he scored 36 goals in 106 appearances for his country.

Henrik Larsson is the King of Kings, and don’t you bloody well forget it!

 

14/07/2017 Issue 24

Firstly, I apologise for not posting in a couple of weeks.

But I’m back now so no need to panic.

NEWS NEWS NEWS!!

FANTASY IS BACK! Yes, the online fantasy football saga has returned. It was released on Wednesday morning, to much delight of it’s avid fans.

Lewes FC has become the first pro or semi-pro club to pay its male and female players equally. SUPERB!

Wayne Rooney has returned to his beloved Everton, and has already scored his first goal upon his return –  an absolute screamer in a pre-season friendly against New Zealand side Gor Mahia.

Manchester United and Manchester City players are to honour victims of the Manchester Arena attack by wearing the city’s worker bee emblems on their shirts in solidarity with the city, the victims and their families. They first meet at the International Champions Cup on 21st July in Singapore.

Real Madrid’s new signing, Theo Hernandez, managed only 7 keepie-uppys at his unveiling in the Bernabeu Stadium. Embarassing!

Aberdeen were held to a 1-1 draw by Siroki Brijeg at Pittodrie. Ryan Christie’s opening goal was cancelled out by Markovic shot from 18 yards which levelled the tie.

Sad news coming out of Ajax that their young talent Adbelhak Nouri has suffered permanent brain damage after he collapsed during a friendly match against Werder Bremen on Saturday. He suffered heart rhythm problems during the game and following his collapse was flown to a hospital in Austria via helicopter. I’m sad to write that the 20-year-old has no chance of recovering from the damage.

 

SEEN AS I SKIPPED A WEEK, HERE’S LAST WEEKS NEWS

Lionel Messi penned a new four-year deal with FC Barcelona. His release clause is a reported 300 million euro. The deal keeps him in Catalonia until 2021. The wee man has scored 507 goals in 583 matches, lifted eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues. The best!

Arsenal paid £45 million to bring Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette to North London. The French-man scored 28 goals in Ligue 1 last season, making him the league’s second top scorer behind PSG’s Edinson Cavani with 35 goals.

Alex Neil has became the new manager of Preston North End.

John Terry is heading to the English Championship. He will play for Aston Villa next season after 22 years at Chelsea.

The Rangers lost their tax case to HMRC on Wednesday morning following their quick exit from Europe, following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Luxemborg’s Progres Niedercorn. They should now be stripped of 14 tainted titles, and Scottish football’s fan groups have been making waves on social media to make sure the case will not be silenced by the media and the Scottish Football Association who are attempting to silence a national, and potentially global, sport scandal. Aberdeen supporters also took to the stands to show their contempt and rallying cries will, i’m sure, continue into the start of the season. Titles were won unlawfully, sporting integrity must be upheld. #stripthetitles

£48 million was paid to over 80 people over 10 years which brought Rangers 14 tainted trophies. Rangers broke the law to gain a sporting advantage. A sporting penalty must be paid and it must fit the crime. This means stripping titles. #stripthetitles

St Johnstone are also out of Europe, following their embarrassing defeat at the hands of FK Trakia from Lithuania. Even with the advantage of an extra man, after Trakia went to 10-men, the Saints still couldn’t conjure up a goal. Shambles!

Wycombe Wanderers broke the mould with a new goalkeeper kit that offers a homage to the classic shirts of the 80s. Chairboys goalie Scott Brown may find his job a little bit easier this year, as he is sure to blind opponents as they approach the box.

Toni Duggan has announced her moved to FC Barcelona. The 25-year old striker has signed on the dotted line until 2019. Duggan learned her trade at Everton before a big move to Manchester City where she has placed for the last four seasons.

 

ONES TO WATCH

Wayne Rooney: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40602174

Real Madrid new signing: https://twitter.com/SoccerAM/status/884526224466464768

LAST WEEK’S REACTION

Scottish Football’s reaction on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/DandiesMin/status/882531148471173120

https://twitter.com/GrahamSpiers/status/882531474918051840

https://twitter.com/RuaraidhGillies/status/882318486156038144

https://twitter.com/PolhomeEditor/status/882529853148475392

https://twitter.com/rangerstaxcase/status/882524468882677760

https://twitter.com/DuncMcKay/status/882538416302436356

https://twitter.com/jftbrian/status/882537111135690752

Rangers exit from Europe on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/meina_k/status/882346843975413761

https://twitter.com/Oldfirmfacts1/status/882323375841886208

https://twitter.com/stevenceltic81/status/882315874878861312

https://twitter.com/StanCollymore/status/882318089697845248

23/06/2017 Issue 23

BIG NEWS: The English Football Association has ended all of its sponsorship ties with betting companies, including a rather lucrative, long-term deal with Ladbrokes (sponsors of the Scottish Professional Football League since 2015). The decision was made following a three-month review of the FA’s relationship with gambling companies. There has been pressure placed on the FA as they came under scrutiny by former, and current, players. The most high-profile player to place blame at the hands of the FA was ex-Rangers, Newcastle United and Burnley player Joey Barton, who was banned from football for 18 months after admitting to an FA betting charge last April. Barton also admitted to being a gambling addict, and has been fined £30,000 for breaking FA rules for placing 1,260 bets on matches between March 2006 and May 2016. Following Barton’s charge many ex-players spoke out about the issue, insisting that betting had to be “regulated” and calling for support from the FA regarding player’s gambling addictions.

It’s happened again!! We have a new, official animal psychic. Nika, the football predicting polar bear, is the official psychic of the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup in Russia. It was revealed that Nika is a huge football fan, who loves to play with her ball all day long (she even sleeps on it). Cute!

Rangers landed a new deal with Sports Direct, and have made several signings to bolster their squad for the new campaign. Eight new players have arrived so far, with two-months left until deadline day. Mexican pair Carlos Pena and Eduardo Herrera both signed three-year deals at Ibrox, all-the-while the club was doing more business by locking down former Manchester City academy director, Mark Allen, as the club’s new Director of Football. Other signings include Candeias from Benfica (where he served 4 different clubs on loan from 2014-2017), Bruno Alves from Cagliari, Ryan Jack from Aberdeen, Dalcio from Benfica B (made two appearance at Belenenses on a one-year loan deal), Fabio Cardoso from Vitoria Setubal  and Alfredo Morelos from HJK Helsinki on a three-year deal.

It’s all kicking off in Spain, with legal battles galore! Remember the reason why Karim Benzema never appeared for France in the European Championships last summer? No? I’ll remind you. The French-man attempted to blackmail his fellow team-mate Mathieu Valbuena by releasing a sex-tape which featured the French midfielder. He threatened to release the tape unless Mathieu paid him off. Yeah mate, that shits illegal! On Tuesday (20th June) the Court of Cassation rejected Benzema’s appeal, and so a judgment will be made on July 11th 2017.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is being investigated for tax evasion. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is also being looked in to.

Liverpool sign Salah from Roma for £34m. Aston Villa have went in for John Terry. Johnny Hayes has signed a deal with Celtic. Barnsley sign Thistle defender Liam Lindsay (sad to see him leave Scotland to be honest). Ipswich signs Joey Garner.

Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic breaks the clubs oldest tradition by ruling out a move to Bayern Munich.

Sanchez became Chile’s leading goal scorer following their 1-1 draw with Germany in the Confederations Cup. The Arsenal striker has racked up 38 goals for his country.

Celtic and Linfield agree new Champions League date, despite the fact Linfield haven’t qualified for the next round. Perhaps given UEFA’s stance on racism we could just cancel the 12th of July hate march and play a game of fitba’ instead. Just a thought!

The season’s fixture list for the SPFL was released today. See the link below. Fixtures are subject to change in accordance with European fixtures.

The International Football Association Board have released their new ‘PLAY FAIR’ proposals in a bid to stamp out unsporting conduct in the game. The big talking points include:

  • Scrapping 45-minute halves, and replacing them with 30-minute halves.
  • A stadium clock, that co-ordinates the referee’s watch so that we all know exactly when we can leave to grab a half time pie!
  • A “clearer and more consistent definition” of handball (FAIR)
  • Allowing the players to pass to themselves at corners and freekicks
  • To disallow rebounds on penalty kicks

These are the people who brought us video refereeing. Expect to see some, if not all, of these new laws in the game some time soon.

ONES TO WATCH

Nika the Polar Bear: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40319327

Celtic sign Hayes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/scotland/40316464

SPFL fixtures: http://spfl.co.uk/premiership/fixtures/

09/06/2017 UEFA Champions League Final Special

Real Madrid won the UEFA Champions League AGAIN. Ronaldo made mince meat of Juve, as the Italians were beaten 4-1 in Cardiff. This was Real’s 12th European title. It was the first time any club had won the competition in consecutive seasons.

Ronaldo was presented with the man of the match award with a brace, becoming the first player to ever score in three Champions League finals. However Mario Mandzukic can probably be rewarded with the goal of the game, the goal of the season, the goal of the decade and potentially the best goal ever to be scored in a European final (or any final for that matter). NAILER!!  Alas, the dominant Spaniards reigned supreme; a blow for Gianluigi Buffon, looking to lift old big ears for the first time in his career, and triumph for super human Cristiano Ronaldo who will likely win the Ballon d’Or.

Juan Cuadrado made some history of his own, becoming the first substitute to be sent off in a Champions League final after being booked twice in 17-minutes following some outstanding play acting from Real captain Sergio Ramos. I would have loved to have seen that guy come up against the likes of Roy Keane and Big Bobo Balde. The guys made of chocolate; melts as soon as you breathe on him.

Real Madrid scored in every single match they played this season – an incredible achievement. On their way to Champions League glory Real dropped points only to Legia Warsaw and Borussia Dortmund, accumulating three draws, one loss and winning the rest. They kept a single clean sheet in their first-leg semi-final tie against Atletico at the Bernabeu –  a game they won 3-0. Apart from the three points dropped, and the 2-1 loss to Atletico, everything else was victory for Los Blancos and goals galore as they racked up 36 goals throughout the competition. They conceded 18 goals but it won’t matter to them. The matches were won, the points were racked up and they continue to dominate the European stage.

Where they worthy winners? In the final – YES! But I think we can all agree they were given a helping hand in the quarter-final against Bayern Munich when Ronaldo scored NOT ONE, but TWO controversial offside goals to take his team through against 10-man Bayern with a 4-2 aggregate score. Then again, they did batter city rivals Atletico in the semi-final so credit where credit is due.

Congratulations to European royalty, Real Madrid!

 

ONES TO WATCH

Champions League Final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOCJdR8yJdw

Ramos embarrassing play acting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2OaitCiMv8

Mandzukic goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFSulXDTrVo