BENCHMAN: Year of the anniversaries

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Happy new year from the Benchman and bring on the anniversaries.


The result left manager Peter Houston “frustrated and disappointed” and rightly so. John Baird and Bob McHugh had gilt-edged chances to score and Falkirk deserved a draw. There were some bizarre refereeing decisions, not the least of which was the handling outside the area by Hibs keeper Ross Laidlaw. That the winner came from “emergency” signing Kris Commons made it hard to bear. In truth, Falkirk were not far behind Hibs and a couple of new faces, especially in the striking department, could go a long way to narrowing the gap even more. Some may have to go out before that happens, and the Bairns boss knows that only too well.


2017 is the designated Year of History, Heritage and Architecture and there are many significant anniversaries for Scottish Football. Is it really 60 years since we saw Reggie Smith’s team escape relegation and win the Scottish Cup against all the odds? Bairns fans of a certain age will never forget the scenes in the town as the team brought the trophy home and there were unforgettable scenes that will live long in the memory. Celtic fans will celebrate their European Cup triumph in Lisbon - another triumph that will never be forgotten by those who were there or merely watched a grainy old black and white TV set.


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There is one other anniversary which marks a dark day in the history of Scottish Football and regrettably, the lessons were not learned. It is 50 years since Third Lanark folded. Although Renton and Vale of Leven had left the senior ranks, it was the demise of the Hi Hi that shook many in the modern age. The team had finished third in the old First Division behind Rangers and Kilmarnock only six years previously. They had produced great players like Brownlie, Carabine, Cowan, McLeod, Mitchell, Hilley, Harley and Gray and yet they were grossly mismanaged. The account of their last days makes scary reading.


“I believe in myself.” Bob Bradley looks forward to his next challenge, and given the trend in football management, that will be announced any day now. Played eleven, lost seven. Duration of tenure? 85 days. Should look good on his C.V. What about a contract that has a probationary period? If it’s not working out to mutually agreed standards, then it could save a lot of money in pay-offs. By Tuesday night, Swansea could well be paying at least four people who were their managers in recent times.


Last week’s mystery player was John McCole who left Brockville for Bradford City. Thomson Allan was signed from Hearts.


Since 2000, seven players have been voted SPFA First Division Player of the Year and all have played for Falkirk at some time in their career. Can you name all seven?


Match rating: 8

Team rating: 7

Opposition: 7

Referee: Allan 3

Best Bairn: Peter Grant/Luca Gasparotto

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