This week the Benchman looks at Falkirk’s opening day draw against Peterhead, East Stirlingshire’s thumping win over Gretna 08, and football and money.
Memories: Those who were there will never forget the 26th minute of the Celtic v Falkirk Scottish Cup semi-final at Ibrox in 1997. David Hagen hit the ball into the soaked turf and it bounced across into the danger area. Paul McGrillen sent a looping header over Celtic keeper Stewart Kerr. Paul died ten years ago, and it was really moving to hear of his family arranging a hill walk in Paul’s memory. They are raising awareness of Mental Health issues and suicide prevention. It’s taken a long time for these issues to be given prominence and our club is no stranger to these issues.
Did he ever play the game: It was fairly obvious that many of the so-called top referees seemed uncomfortable when they tried to kick the ball back to players. Had they ever played the game? Now we have several ex-professional players training to be referees in England, including former Scotland striker Chris Iwelumo. I will always remember sitting next to one of our high-profile referees, when he proudly admitted, “I find it hard to think that here I am on the same pitch as these famous players, when In was rubbish at football.” Enough said.
Off to a bad start: Sack the manager. It’s the wrong appointment. We were rubbish. Imagine losing our first three games. It’s now the middle of September and we haven’t won a league game. Fast forward to the end of 1990/91 and we have enjoyed one of the best seasons in recent times. Patience. Belief. Faith.
Shire storm: Played three, won two, drawn one- goals for 14, goals against 1. The Shire have raised a few eyebrows with that start and the summer investments seem to be paying off. Only 175 were at the game and that is a shame. If you can’t get along to a Bairns away game, why don’t you go along and see Shire? There are a few well-known former Bairns on view.
New rules: It’s strange to see players getting the ball from goal-kicks in their own box, not to see drop-balls and seeing three-man walls. I await with interest VAR and the Handball Histrionics once the Premier League starts.
Stability: The demands on managers seem to be increasing. We want success and we want it now. Nottingham Forest, 20 years away from the top flight, have had 13 managers in eight seasons. It’s reminiscent of the “Off with his head!” approach taken by the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.
Answers: Last week’s picture was a Falkirk v Celtic game at Brockville. Alex Ferguson was challenging Evan Williams.
Football and money: Gordon Taylor of the English PFA and not everyone’s favourite person, stated the obvious when discussing the dire situation at Bury.” Football isn’t always a money-making game.” Several other clubs could be in similar situations to The Shakers. Meanwhile, Harry McGuire moves to Man Utd for £80m.