GLF 60: Graham tells it like he sees it.
A View From The Main Stand
April 6th 2006 – Not exactly Motherwell-related but what were you doing on the Thursday night when Middlesbrough came back from three goals down to make the UEFA Cup semi finals by beating Basel.
As the Boro are my English side I sat down hoping that they could come back from the two goal deficit of the first leg. When they went a further goal down after only 25 minutes or so I thought the game was up and decided that it was time to finish Ian St John's biography and listen to some music.
Thankfully my wife put the game back on with just over 20 minutes to go and when the Boro were 2-1 up but still needing two goals to win. But it was meant to be as Jimmy Floyd and then Maccarone saw the Smoggy boys home.I often think that there are many parallels between my two sides, with them both being from similar types of towns or areas, and also of similar standing within their own leagues.
Boro are also owned by a fan who has poured money in to keep them in the top flight and bring some top players to the Riverside. Steve Gibson is lucky that he can do this knowing that there is the possibility of a decent return from the money sloshing about the Premiership.Maybe Motherwell will have a day in the European sun like this again by either qualifying through a Cup run or, as we did in the 90's, through our league position.
I was so inspired by the Basel performance that I took in the Easter Monday game with West Ham at the Riverside. Some think this is an expensive day out, but it is almost no more expensive than travelling to Inverness or Aberdeen.
The mileage is about the same, and the entry fee was £23, only £3 more than these two. Although having said that I considered going to see them play Newcastle the previous Sunday but that was put on hold when I found out it was £31 for the cheapest ticket.
Ibrox– I am “lucky” enough to watch the games at Ibrox from the Press Box these days which means I am not stewarded in the same manner as the Well fans in the corner of the Broomloan and Govan Stands.
But how poor was the atmosphere at Ibrox with the only sound being the band they have constructed to drum up some singing. As someone said it was like Livingston with more people! They were out sung by the 800 or so Well fans who truly supported their team for the 90 minutes.It was just a shame that we couldn't find the goal that we deserved to take at least a point.
I also had the pleasure of reading Follow Follow and Number 1 fanzines and what a weird and wonderful world they live in! They seem to think that the whole world is against them, the media, the TV, referees, SFA and every other team's fans!They also seem to live is a world that is stuck away back in the middle ages where battles still need to be fought and they are the people – who gives a shit!! They are a football team the same as us but they seem to want to identify themselves with some other cause which I don't understand!I haven't been lucky enough to see a Celtic fanzine for years but when I did see them they were exactly the same! So what is the truth….
Well as a fan of a provincial club I find it interesting as we all feel that they get all the coverage in the papers, the bulk of the time on TV, both Setanta and Scotsport, they get all the decisions from the media etc….but somehow they just can't see this at all.
Players Wages – I'm sure that you all saw the figures showing the average wage for clubs in the four divisions in England, if you didn't here is what they said;
Premiership: £676,000 per year
League One: £67,850
League Two: £49,600
This is unbelievable all the way down, can someone tell me how some of the players in the Premiership can command such a salary? Some of them look ordinary players who seem to have been lucky to have landed on their feet in the Premiership.
It also puts into perspective why players leave the SPL to head for the Championship and League One given that these average wages outstrip what most SPL clubs will be in a position to pay.This also shows how the cock up with the SKY TV deal by Rodger Mitchell, when he knocked back £42 million has had a major impact.
This just stresses how important it is that we continue to grow our own young players to fill the gaps created by the players who will inevitably leave our clubs, as Lasley and Partridge have done in the last couple of seasons.
Sadly for these guys they have disappeared without trace as far as football is concerned but at least with a little more money in their pocket.
Player of the Year- I have listened to the pundits who have rambled on about this subject through March and into April (by the time you read this you'll know the winners) and I can't believe some of the players being mentioned.
There was a case made for Shaun Maloney, a player who at the start of the season was number five striker at Celtic, behind Sutton, Zurawski, Hartson and Beattie, thus making his early season appearances coming off the bench. Not enough for me to be the player of the year.There almost seems to be an annual campaign for Stilian Petrov, but I think that he has had a really quiet season compared to previous one, with the only outstanding game that he had being against us when he scored a hat trick.
The problem is that there has been no real outstanding player in the SPL this season, although I think there has been one! I would give the award to Kris Boyd, not only did he score goals for Kilmarnock, he kept this going when he moved to Rangers.
If I was being asked to look at our own player of the year I am torn between goalkeeper Graeme Smith and defender Brian McLean who have been consistent all season. If pushed I would go for Graeme Smith who has been the best goalkeeper I have seen at Fir Park for some time, but he still has a way to go to put pressure on Keith MacRae as the best of all time.
Ian St John– I have just finished reading Sinjy's book and was slightly disappointed by the tone of it all the way through, he seems to have had a problem with every team and town he has ever stayed in and every manager he has dealt with.
He describes his home town in nothing but derogatory terms, he has a go at some of his former Well team mates, Shankly gets it for the way he let him go, Houllier got it, Portsmouth was a struggle for him. Maybe there is a common link here Ian, maybe you have a closer look to see where the problem lies!
Promotion/Relegation– Once again the SPL relegation/promotion position is heading for legal challenges as a result of some of the guidelines they have come up with over the years. This time it is Livingston who could challenge St. Mirren's promotion as their Love St ground won't have undersoil heating, even though they are planning to move to a new stadium at the start of the following season.
I accept that we were major beneficiaries three years ago but when will all of this end, will there ever be a season when the team who finishes bottom just accepts it?
Gretna– am I the only person in Scotland who doesn't see this team as a fairy tale? They remind me of Livingston and the way that they marched through the lower divisions as they bought up all the best players in the League they were moving into and paying them inflated wages beyond the means of others in the same League.Livingston are now at the stage, I believe, where they have peaked and they are about to go full circle and return to crowds that matched those at Meadowbank Stadium.
Brooks Mileson seems to get away with it as he has built the persona of being a man of the people. Almost going as far as buying fans off as he invests in Trusts throughout the country.How can a town of Gretna's size hope to support an SPL side that has to have a 6,000 seater stadium?
I have more sympathy for the way that Inverness have climbed through the Leagues over the last 12 years. They still have some of the players that they had in the Third Division playing in the side at the moment, with Ross Tokely having played in the Highland League with them!
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