GLF75: Graham ranges from the World Cup to Brian Martin
A view from the Phil O'Donnell Stand
Beer etc at the football – for once I have to agree with Chairman John Boyle on his rant in the Aalesund programme about providing a service to fans at games. I went to Middlesbrough v Ipswich two days after that game and was able to have a beer in the ground before heading up to my seat. The bar was also pretty busy at half time, although by that stage it was needed given the rubbish we had watched for the opening 45 minutes! This was along with a majority of the others at the game, and at £2.90 a pint I am sure the Boro are doing pretty well out of it! Therefore why can’t it be possible to have a beer up here? If people want to have a beer before the game they will have one. Why are the Cooper Suite, Jack Daniels, Fir Park Club, the Electric etc so busy before games = because there is still a demand for a pre-match pint. Why shouldn’t the clubs be allowed to “cash in” on this demand? I don’t think Mr Boyle is encouraging drink at the seats during the game, although if he is I would argue against that one.
One other idea I think he may have right is the use of artificial pitches. I didn’t travel to Aalesund but I did see games at Alloa and Airdrie at the start of the season and see no problem with them. I also had the opportunity to play at Lesser Hampden in the summer and found it no problem on my ageing joints at any time. We have problems keeping pitches in good condition through our winter, with multiple call-offs, therefore these pitches would seem to make sense in our climate. Hopefully the SPL will be able to have a sensible discussion on this in the coming months.
Referees – Every year I bring this up and so far this season things have been no different (and not just at Motherwell games!). In the space of a week I attended two games where managers immediately came out after games and had a go at the referee.
The first was at Airdrie v Ayr at New Broomfield, the ref gave a penalty for Airdrie when the goalkeeper protected himself from an onrushing forward, and then sent the goalie off. Brian Reid could barely speak after the game he was so angry, and striker Mark Roberts was prepared to retire if he could have afforded it! Then later in the week I saw Queen’s Park v Forfar at Hampden in the Alba Cup, and again the two managers had comments to make about the ref. I was really surprised to hear the comments but was glad to hear them as they backed up my own view.
Sadly the three European refs we have had at Fir Park were also rubbish, the one I saw at Middlesbrough got pelters from the fans, then we have Dougie McDonald! When I saw he was to referee the Celtic game I was resigned to the fact the three points were always going to be beyond us! He didn’t disappoint, and within the opening minutes had awarded Maloney a foul for a blatant dive setting the tone for the game.
He then gave a penalty that I am not convinced was a penalty and then showed a straight red for a tackle on a player heading away from goal with defensive cover. This helped convince me that he gave it without seeing what happened, and he had simply guessed about the decision. One again I ask what is to be done with this situation? Is it the way referees are brought through, is it the people who are training them? Have they ever played football? Or is the constant tinkering with the laws leading to confusion. What constitutes a fair tackle these days, from what I have seen this season I have absolutely no idea and neither do the umpteen refs I have seen!
It makes me believe that TV evidence MUST come in to the game, if it can work in Cricket, both Rugby codes, American football, then why not the greatest, most popular game of all!! Extra referees are no use as we saw in the Tottenham v Young Boys game, when three of them missed Defoe’s handball in the lead up to the second goal. Personally I wish they could get it right more often than they get it wrong and we can leave grounds talking about the game rather than the refs!
World Cup 2010– what a let down that was! I think the competition has now become so bloated with the 32 teams. It means the early stages are a bit dull, as there is a degree of predictability about it. The pundits don’t help by trying to make snap judgements after only a game or two. For example, it’s a poor tournament for the Europeans, even though three of semi finalists ended up being European! They also told us this was the year for the Africans – wrong again!!
I think we need to somehow get back to the days of 16 or 24 teams where the games could mean more from the early stages. The only downside is a reduction in the number of teams is that Scotland will never make a finals ever again – although I am sure you could argue we might never do it again!
All of this could mean I am getting old and still believe that no World Cup will ever match the heady days of 1970 in Mexico with the magical Brazilians of Pele, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gerson, Carlos Alberto etc.
Transfer window – Now beginning to think this isn’t such a good idea after all! There are now two sides of it I don’t like;
1. You can start a season and play a number of games with a team that is not relevant to the one that will play the rest of the season, this is because of…
2. There is so much brinkmanship meaning most of moves are done on the last day.
Either abolish it completely or, as some managers have suggested, have it closed for the start of the League season. Also stop the media saying the window SLAMS shut!
Brian Martin – I have had the pleasure of bumping into the Well legend on a couple of occasions at games this season. He is doing Press Association stats work at Clyde and Albion Rovers games.
He finally gave up playing in January of this year, after turning out for Fauldhouse in the Juniors. He told me he was 46 years old when he finally retired, and reminded me he had made his debut for Albion Rovers at the age of 16. Yes that’s right, 30 years in the game at various levels. You wonder if anyone will ever repeat this feat - with the amount of money in the game there won’t be many who will play for the love of the game this long. Also players seem to lost interest earlier in their careers and stop playing even earlier.
While Brian did win a couple of Scotland caps he never really got the credit he deserved during his career. Maybe there is a case that someone who has served the game at all of these levels should be honoured by some form of Testimonial Dinner, game etc etc. Brian is probably the last of his kind, sadly, and we should be lucky that his peak years were spent at Fir Park.
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