It’s safe to say that Scottish football is complete and utter lunacy. From angry managers to an intoxicated cup draw special guest (allegedly), Scottish football continues the quest to be the most entertaining league in Europe.
Obviously, when I say the ‘most entertaining league in Europe’ I certainly do not mean standard wise, as that would also be utter lunacy. I am implying that certain antics both on and off the park play a pivotal role in ensuring that Scottish football’s constant entertainment. This season alone, supporters of Scottish football have had the pleasure of witnessing Ryan Jack being sent off approximately 15 times, club statements, honking referees, Lafferty giving Celtic fans the finger, never-ending manager sagas, snowball fights and most importantly, Hugh Keevins reacting to being called a ‘speccy tube’.
Even though I am an avid believer of Scottish football, other leagues across Europe will undoubtedly have their fair share of entertainment, even if it isn’t the same standard as the SPFL’s. Due to this, I will be picking out four things that separate the glory of Scottish football from the rest of the pack.
1 – The kick-off
Oddly, I’m beginning with something that may not necessarily be entirely unique, however is being included on this list due to the sheer consistency. People will no doubt witness this, yet be completely unaware its happening.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching every tier of professional Scottish football, from League 2 to the Premiership. Aside from the standard of referees, there has been one regular occurrence which I’ve seen at every level, which occurs at the very beginning of the game. I’m going to call it the “kick-off tactic”, even though tactic may be polite, as I have only seen it work correctly on a handful of occasions. In order to complete the tactic, your team will need to be kicking-off. The player who is instigating the kick-off, will play the ball to another, usually a centre midfielder. The CM will then look down the wings to see his teammate, usually a small and tricky winger, making a darting run along the touchline. It is then the CM’s job to play a long searching ball to find the winger, so that he can retain possession in an attacking position.
On paper, this actually makes sense, launching the ball forward so that you can receive the ball in the opponents half, when their defence may not be fully settled. However, I can assure you that this is never the case. The first problem lies with the player receiving the ball. As I said previously it tends to be a winger of some form, even though on occasion it could be a full back or a striker. Even at that, 9 out of 10 times the opposing defender will win the ball with complete ease. Even if the defender fails to win the ball, the second problem lies with the delivery, as I’ve had the unfortunate displeasure of seeing my side kick the ball out for a throw-in straight from kick-off over and over again.
The tactic does have some variations however. Sometimes, the ball is played to the centre half, giving him the job of completely rocketing the ball up the other end. I have also seen the ball go to one full back, who diagonally hoofs the ball up the park to find the winger. This is, in fact, a personal favourite of mine.
2 – Whatever Kingsley is
In June 2015, it was announced that Lisa Simpson tribute act ‘Kingsley’ would be unveiled as the new mascot of Partick Thistle. Created by English artist David Shrigley, the announcement of ‘Kingsley’ was globally recognised due to how completely bizarre the mascot is, with it actually trending worldwide on Twitter at one point. ‘Kingsley’ was originally received with mixed reception, with some saying the mascot was utterly terrifying, with his look ultimately defeating the purpose of a mascot. However, since the announcement more and more people have warmed towards him, as he perfectly captures everything great about Scottish football, just by being a big, weird, sun looking thing.
The grotesque look, the three teeth and the raging monobrow has solidified ‘Kingsley’ into mascot folklore, if there is such a thing. He has supplied us with some fantastic moments, from ‘mooning’ the famous Celtic huddle in Braveheart style, to appearing on Channel 4’s ‘8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown’. Love him or hate him, it’s refreshing to see that ‘mascot of children’s nightmares’ has been a success. Long may he reign as an unlikely, yet fitting ambassador for Scottish football.
3 – Comical referees
Even though I have already had a couple of digs already, I actually believe referees have an extremely difficult job. There is zero margin for error, meaning that one mistake could easily effect the outcome of a game, which it has done many, many times in the past. Not only can one mistake or lapse in concentration effect the outcome of a game, it could also negatively affect the reputation of that referee. Newspapers will have them in the headlines, radio shows will be talking about them, and thousands of fans across the nation will be tarnishing their name, all for one mistake.
In saying that, I believe Scottish referees are completely rank rotten.
I understand that you can find poor referees globally, however there seems to be a collective standard surrounding Scottish referees, with no one really standing out. It seems like each week; one referee will steal a headline regarding their performance or a decision they have made. Now, many fans will actually expect the referees to underperform, as many come with their own reputation, which I would imagine is not very nice.
Strangely, I feel almost hard done by if a referee has a perfect game in Scotland. As long as it has nothing to do with the team I’m supporting, I actually quite like the mistakes. Alongside a Bovril, the freezing cold and route one football, in order to create a stereotypical Scottish football game, you need a dreadful official.
I’m not a massive fan of signalling out people who are just trying to do their job, however I’m sure that referees are used to the criticism they receive, especially Scottish ones.
4 – The national team
Shock horror, the Scottish national team is unique to Scottish football. Yes, I know that it may sound rather stupid; however, I could not discuss Scottish football without discussing the reason why I have lost ten years of my life.
There is always a sense of underachievement regarding the national team, as our last successful qualification for a major tournament came twenty – yes TWENTY – years ago. Adding to the never-ending disappointment, there have been a few occasions were we have been inches away from qualifying. I may have only been eight years old, yet even I remember how heart-wrenchingly disappointed I was when Christian Panucci headed home an Andrea Pirlo free kick, after Alan Hutton was body checked off the ball.
Nonetheless, after years of disappointment, the Tartan Army continue to follow in the thousands, as they will continue to do so in years to come. Our supporters are a complete credit to our nation, and from what I know, we always have been. At the start of each campaign, we know that when the season ends, instead of feeling undeniable joy, we will feel undeniable disappointment and regret. Disappointment because we’ve not qualified, regret because you’ve spent half a week’s wage on bogging Hampden Pies.
The team itself is also incredibly unique. How many national teams do you think have played a 4-6-0 in a must win game? Or how many national teams have phenomenal left-backs, yet struggle to find a single sufficient right-back?
After another failure of a campaign – even though this time we had some beautiful moments – the team will be looking towards the Euro 2020 campaign, hoping that they can finally qualify for a major tournament. As always, before we have even kicked a ball, myself and I’m sure plenty of others will be incredibly apprehensive. That still will not stop us as fans of Scottish football turning up to the games, supporting our national team. The press and non-supporters of our game may slate us for our lack of quality. However, they will never take away how passionate we are both on and off the pitch.
Scottish football is beautiful; do not let anyone tell you anything else.
Written by Cameron Middleton (@cameronmiddleton8)