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What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:16 am
by fatshaft ... -football/

Celtic are currently 27 points clear in the Scottish Premiership. They have a chance to wrap up the league title as early as the start of April, and a very realistic shot at completing their first domestic treble since 2001. Times Sportswriter James Gheerbrant recently ventured up to Glasgow to “investigate” the effect Celtic’s dominance is having on football in Scotland, and how their superiority this season has come to be.

Unfortunately, he was unable to find out anything of note or value on his stay which was spent talking to the likes of Willie Miller and Archie McPherson – shocking I know. James decided to solider on anyway and publish his piece for The Times, spawning the headline “Is there any point in the Scottish Premiership?”. That’s a doozy, I’ll give them that. Something TalkSport listeners, as well as the mouth-breathers that reply with “Pub league”, “Tinpot competition”, “Joke of a league”, etc, can retweet to their heart’s desire.

The piece doesn’t actually feature in the Scottish edition of the paper, and is intended only for gormless English readers to lap up, then subsequently point and laugh at the stupid Jocks and their football. It joins a long list of similar pieces in that regard churned out by English journalists recently that all seem to question why we bother. It’s a foregone conclusion, what’s the point in even playing football? James Gheerbrant went to the effort of speaking to a Glasgow cab driver about it and even he couldn’t figure it out. I’m going to attempt to shed a wee bit of light on it.

Firstly, this isn’t exactly a new thing. The Old Firm have dominated Scottish Football for decades now and, you know what? No-one cares. Supporters of Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and every other club in Scotland still get up and go to games every Saturday because the title isn’t everything. Juventus, Bayern Munich, Olympiakos, Barcelona, BATE Borisov, PSG, Dundalk, TNS, Dinamo Zagreb etc, etc, all dominate their respective leagues. The last one, Dinamo Zagreb, are going for their 12th (TWELTH) league title in a row. Do supporters of other clubs from these countries not bother going to games? No, they still go and support their team because the title isn’t everything. Qualification races for Europe, relegation, cups, playoffs, derby games all happen in these countries.

Look at England, a fairly average Chelsea team are running away with the league title. Do Sky pack up the circus and go home? Do supporters stop going to games? No, because there’s so much more going on. West Brom, for example, are as well just not existing. They’re not going to win anything, ever, what is the point? Do you tell the thousands of supporters of English clubs that are going to win jack shit in the next century they’re as well folding? Because that seems to be the logic applied to Scotland and other European nations and it’s utterly ridiculous.

Half of the entire Scottish Premiership are in a relegation battle at the minute, the other half are either duking it out to finish in the top six or qualify for Europe. The league is routinely bananas, particularly at this stage of the season, but no-one would ever write a piece on that, would they? It doesn’t fit into the English media’s agenda of jock-shaming and labelling anything that doesn’t have the Premier League lion on it a waste of time. Including the leagues which outperform them in Europe every year. They have an inferiority complex and point to the “competitiveness” of the English top flight whenever their big teams are bodied out of Europe every season. Pointing and laughing at a country which has 50 million fewer people in is their way of feeling big. Do you think French football fans regularly bash the Swiss top flight? Do German supporters call the Austrian league tinpot? Perhaps jokingly, but not to the point where they question why these countries actually bother playing football at all.

Another key point that seems to be totally missed when talking about Celtic’s dominance is clubs dropping out of the top division. We regularly had a two-, sometimes three-way title race before Rangers imploded. Then Hearts imploded, then Hibs imploded, then Dundee United forgot how to play football (they still haven’t remembered), as well as Aberdeen being utter dung for years before finally getting their act together.

Rangers’ demise more than anything has allowed Celtic to get into the position they are in. What do you think would happen if you took Borussia Dortmund out of the Bundesliga? Monaco out of Ligue 1, Real Madrid out of La Liga? Bayern, PSG and Barcelona would coast to the title, cigars out even earlier than usual. To totally disregard Rangers absence would be insane, but that seems to be the case in most of these pieces. The other big clubs being out of the top division has obviously had an impact as well, just as it would any other football league in the world. Despite all this, Aberdeen ran Celtic close near enough all of last season, and even looked like the favourites to win it at one point. This was conveniently forgotten by Gheerbrant in his article.

You know what else we share with these countries dominated by the same teams? The utter elation of beating them. There are few things better than beating Celtic or Rangers, especially in a cup or to stop a treble. It is a wonderful feeling, even more so is watching your team lift silverware at Hampden at the expense of one of them. It makes winning trophies that bit more special, and one of the reasons our cup competitions remain special and still mean something. The same rush a supporter of Bologna would get from beating Juventus, or Ingolstadt of beating Bayern Munich. It is magic, and the seethe coming out of Glasgow often lasts for months. You don’t get that in England.

Celtic are leading the way in Scotland because they are a good team, with a very good manager and some exceptional players. Man City, despite one of their summer signings costing more than Celtic’s entire starting XI, couldn’t beat them. This was a City team that looked set to dominate their own league, before they were taught a tactical lesson by Celtic.

Celtic do not dominate like this every season, it is a rarity and if it wasn’t they’d capture the treble unchallenged every year. Despite Gheerbrant’s claims, attendances are up at most clubs in Scotland and we still have more people coming to games per capita than anywhere else in Europe. As for Celtic, they’ve had more fans through the turnstiles than any other club in Europe this season, and they certainly don’t mind running away with things.

Whilst a six-team title race involving the likes of Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United would be interesting and take us back to the “good old days”, it isn’t a realistic possibility, and isn’t in almost every league in Europe which is dominated by the same teams. But we’ll still turn up and back our teams, and watch Scottish football and talk about Scottish football, because we still love it. It is great, it is bat-shit crazy at the best of times and no hack journalist from England will ever be able to understand it or the passion we have for it.

Never change, Scottish football.


Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:23 pm
by Worthy4England
I'd be delighted if the reporting (as with wimmins football) was consigned to somewhere it's not in my face. That's not anti-Scottish, I just don't care enough about the Scottish Football League. To give that some balance, I rarely look at English Premiership results these days either (insofar as they're not always avoidable) nor the English Championship - other than to occasionally check whether the Pies or Dingles are still in the relegation zone.

The Redshite, up until their last title win, had won 13 out of the 20 Prem League titles on offer - it was generally advertised as "the big 4" but in reality there was generally only one - it's now become "the big 6" as the Redshite currently occupy that lofty height with Arsenal only one place in front of them. At least Scotland was nearly a 50/50 split over the same period, although it's 30?-odd years since anyone but the big two won it?

I think the key mistake here is thinking that anyone outside of Scotland actually gives much of a shit, even if we occasionally have to pretend, to accommodate the size of the chips. I hadn't seen the article, and now, knowing where it is, I'm not going to bother reading it. But thanks for that, anyhow, FS.

Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:33 pm
by Prufrock
I'm not really sure what the point of that rant is.

If it's to say Scottish football isn't bobbins compared to the top European leagues... nah.
If it's to argue it's even remotely competitive in terms of the title...nah.
If it's to say fans of those teams can still care... well yes.

Celtic have won 26 out of 27 games. It's a bit of a piss-take. Pub football teams are allowed to care about pub football though.

Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:32 pm
by Harry Genshaw
I didn't know Celtic had had bigger crowds than Man U, Barcelona, Dortmund etc this season?

Our cup competitions have definitely been devalued over the years but if you think that means anyone beating any of the big 4 wouldn't be delighted you'd be crackers. Even in their current state the domestic cups mean more to English sides than they do to most of their larger European counterparts.

Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:41 pm
by Jakerbeef
I'm delighted you wrote that Fatshaft. I've been a miserable Scotland supporter for bloody ages (and being a long-suffering Bolton fan too indicates maybe I'm just a sucker for punishment) suffering through what has now been a few barren decades of pish. There are often times I throw my hands up and wonder why I even bother watching Scotland games. (Or football, full-stop).

But you have hit on the important point, The Main Thing, the reason we watch, and it is encapsulated in this video. Where my diddy-wee team went down to Hampden and toppled Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final. The first goal is a peach.

It was a small result in the grand scheme of footy but I'll always remember and it was a proud day. Goliath and David stuff and seeing it in a packed pub of bemused Celtic fans was the icing on the cake. My jammy Dad went to the game.

But, I don't entirely understand Prufrock's comments. We are walking awful loud for folk who are currently supporting a team that is much closer to pub football than the Prem...and we don't really have the right to denigrate another league when less than a year ago we were on the verge of total oblivion.

Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:59 am
by BWFC_Insane
I'm sure in Latvia, Latvian domestic football is very important to some people. But few outside of Latvia care.

Scottish football is the same. Those who enjoy it, crack on. To most of the world it is an irrelevance.

The bits of Scottish football I've seen on the telly past few seasons, the quality has been low, the entertainment value low. But then I'm sure a neutral with no vested stake would say the same about league one. Clearly football in Scotland has suffered generally from a lack of investment, but simply it isn't a product that man outside of Scotland care about, hence the lack of coverage and investment.

Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:47 pm
by Jakerbeef
I'd agree with all that. :D
I think the bugbear was the 'what's the point' thing in the article.

Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:13 am
by Abdoulaye's Twin
Jakerbeef wrote:
Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:47 pm
I'd agree with all that. :D
I think the bugbear was the 'what's the point' thing in the article.
I'd say what's the point of most football reporting. It's even more tedious than the football.

Re: What's the Point of Scottish Football?

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:26 am
by OrtonCakeBingoBongo
Was once in favour of the two Old Firm clubs joining the English league but have since had a rethink. For one thing it'll never happen, and furthermore it would just look so out of place I could never really get used to it. Yes it may provide the other teams up there with a far better chance of winning the league, but it could take away a huge element of achievement to those involved when any real competition has been moved elsewhere. Leicester winning the league last year was fantastic, great for all neutrals, but if a Motherwell or Kilmarnock were to do it north of the border how many would even be interested, or how much attention would it even receive outside of Scotland.

Say one thing, the best that has happened up there in recent years in the resurgence of Aberdeen. Seem to have taken over Rangers as the country's second team (in terms of ability) but then you see the gap between them and first place and it seems unbridgeable. Still a league's a league, can't just pick out individual countries, there's probably a similar thing going on in many European divisions, but as it's closer to home it invariably provides more focus.