Benchman: Too much football - really?

MYSTERY PICTURE: Can you name this ex-Falkirk manager?
MYSTERY PICTURE: Can you name this ex-Falkirk manager?

This week our columnist reflects on warm weather training in Dubai, freezing cold football in the north-east and an unorthodox transfer move by ex-Bairns boss Willie Cunningham.

THE BLEW TOON?: Well done to the Bairns fans who made the 320 miles round trip to Peterhead last Saturday on a day when the weather was a complete contrast to the first fixture at Balmoor back in summer. The first experiences of the much-vaunted Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route were pretty hazy as windscreen wipers tried to combat wind and rain of almost Biblical proportions.

HAT-TRICK HEROES: Declan McManus is joining a select band of players who have scored hat-tricks for the club on more than one occasion. Angus Plumb scored several hat-tricks and I always wondered if we would ever see his achievements equalled. Season 1951/52 was his finest run, when he scored hat-tricks against Dunfermline, Stenhousemuir and Arbroath. That was quite a season for hat-tricks and others were scored by Bobby Morrison and Jimmy Brown.

IT AIN’T WHAT YOU DO: Former Hearts coach Jon Daly was severely critical of new boss Daniel Stendel for the way he was treated. Similar criticisms came from Christophe Berra and Glenn Whelan. New brooms will always want to “sweep clean” on arrival. One famous clash at Brockville came when Willie Cunningham arrived. He obviously had it in his mind to move players on, but one attempt was tragically comical. The player concerned was told to collect his boots, get in his car and “follow the boss’s car”. No geographical instructions were given. Brockville to Kincardine. Kincardine to Dunfermline. Willie’s car arrives at East End Park. The manager rolls down his window, sticks his arm out and points to the stadium entrance. He then drives off, leaving a bewildered player to assume that Dunfermline was his next employer. Not as much as a good-bye, good luck or thanks.

TOO MUCH FOOTBALL?: Managers complain of their players being jaded, tired and exhausted after their hectic schedules, especially over the Festive period. The answer is of course to fly off to sunnier climates, relax – and play some more football. Aberdeen are in Dubai for a winter training camp and play a Jordanian side Al-Wehdat SC. Relax? Given the current political crisis in that part of the world, I can think they would be better off in Balmedie.

ACROSS THE DECADES: A West Brom fan wrote in the i paper that their side boasted a player who had played across three decades. So, have we- two in fact. Step forward Kenny Dawson and Kevin McAllister. The legendary left-winger arrived at Brockville in the 30s, played in the 40s and I can remember him at the latter stages of his career in the 50s. Falkirk’s Player of the Millennium turned out in the 80s, 90s and the 2000s. That takes some doing and the two players deserve great credit for their durability and fitness levels.

ANSWERS: Last week’s keeper was George Farm.