BENCHMAN: We’re not quite motoring but making ground

The Benchman reckons Falkirk’s recent performances are the indicators of a good team.

STILL IN THERE

It was a strange game and until the sending-off, St.Mirren were definitely on top. Peter Houston was less than happy with his team’s performance. Falkirk are not firing on all cylinders, but are now in third place and within sight of the top two. They say that’s a sign of a good side - so here’s hoping.

CLICHÉ-FREE ZONE

How refreshing to hear both managers give an honest, realistic analysis of a game. Peter Houston has always told it as he saw it, and Jack Ross was equally open, frank and balanced in his comments. He faces a real challenge at Saints, but he has the potential to affect a rescue mission.

MANAGERIAL MERRY-GO-ROUND

You have to wonder if some of the career decisions of young managers are wise. From Hearts to MK Dons? From a team with real potential and a solid community-based support to a team languishing in 19th place in the Third Division (a rose by any other name). Look at Steven Pressley’s career moves - doing really well at Falkirk and then Coventry and Fleetwood. It’s a short shelf life, but domestic considerations and short-term financial security need to be weighed up against reputation and successful experience to build on.

YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE

Arsene Wenger’s decision to field a young team against Southampton backfired on him. Falkirk’s best sides were a successful blend of keen fit youngsters and wise old heads. Reggie Smith, Willie Cunningham and Jim Jefferies found that combination was the key to success.

TRAGEDY REVISITED

Older fans were reminded of the tragic events of the Superga and Munich Air Disasters, when news broke of the devastating plane crash which killed most of the players of the Brazilian side Chapecoense. The team was heading for Medellin for the biggest match in its history. Football fans were quick to respond and Cristiano Ronaldo’s immediate financial donation to the bereaved families spoke volumes, as did the St.Etienne shirt tribute. I can still remember the programme for Manchester United’s first game after the crash and the spaces on the page for their line-up were blank.

NO JOKING MATTER

Football fans can be cruel at times, and much of what passes as “banter” would in any other situation have serious consequences. Racist, sectarian and homophobic taunts and chants are still too commonplace, but there is one subject that we shouldn’t treat with any flippant, jocular or “harmless terracing humour.” The current exposure of alleged child abuse within football clubs will undoubtedly spread to Scotland. Let’s hope that football fans treat the matter with the utmost sincerity and not resort to a points-scoring “who-knew –what” concert of criticism. Remember the victims in all of this.

ANSWERS

Last week’s mystery keeper was David Harvey of Leeds and Scotland. Falkirk played Sunderland in the Andy Lawrie Testimonial Match.

TEASER

Which club did Gregor Abel move to when he left Brockville?

BENCHMARKS

Match rating: 7

Team rating: 7

Opposition: 6

Referee: Thompson 6

Best Bairn: Mark Kerr