Saturday, January 31, 2009

Season 2008/2009: Match 16: Rangers v Dundee United

I made my first trip of the season to Ibrox today, thanks to the season ticket of a colleague who has moved to our employer's Singapore office.
I'd imagine he was a tad warmer than I was while he watched the match in his equatorial apartment, as it was a biting wind that greeted those hardy souls who turned out to watch Rangers tangle with a Dundee United side accustomed to taking points from the Old Firm.
Rangers were the brighter of the two sides early on, but struggled to break down the stubborn visitors and avoid the linesman's flag.
The line-up sent out by Walter Smith was more attack-minded than that selected in recent weeks, with Kris Boyd, Nacho Novo and John Fleck all starting, though Novo was substituted before half time having sustained what appeared to be a sprained ankle.
Dundee United, probably feeling the effects of Wednesday night's mammoth League Cup semi-final, were nonetheless well organised and coped well with everything Rangers threw at them. The longer the match went on, the more likely it seemed that the Tannadice side would hold on for at least a point.
Then, with barely 15 minutes remaining, the miniscule Fleck burst into the box, where he was hauled to the ground by Mihael Kovacevic. It takes a 17-year-old with considerable cojones to step up to the penalty spot ahead of international strikers, his club captain and players who have been playing professional football since before he was born.
The wee man made no mistake from the spot, slamming his kick to Celtic-bound Lukas Zaluska's right, the keeper diving the wrong way. So now I can say I was there when one of the most highly-regarded youngsters in British football scored his first Rangers goal.
Kyle Lafferty added a late second as Dundee United left massive gaps at the back while pursuing an equaliser.
It wasn't an astute performance from Rangers, with an apparently gifted side toiling against a determined defence, and a lack of vision shown by a midfield that should be oozing creativity. Plus points were the performances of Bougherra, Fleck and Davis, the three players who looked likeliest to create something of note for Rangers. Serious question marks remain over the defence though, with none of Bougherra's three defensive partners - Davie Weir, Kirk Broadfoot and Steven Whittaker - looking entirely convincing.
And Barry Ferguson looks increasingly like a liability - too big for his boots, determined always to be the centre of attention, but never doing anything to justify his own over-inflated view of his own worth.
Can Rangers win the title? Without a doubt. But not without some substantial improvements, and a dose of luck.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Ten: My Ten Favourite Rangers Players

1. Brian Laudrup

2. Paul Gascoigne

3. Ally McCoist

4. Andy Goram

5. Mark Hateley

6. Richard Gough

7. Rino Gattuso

8. Ian Durrant

9. Giovanni van Bronckhorst

10. Jorg Albertz

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Fifteenth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge

Three of last week's mystery tunes were correctly identified, Neepheid and Rob each spotting two of them. Answers to that quiz are now in comments on that post.

Here are this week's lyrics for you to identify - name the artist and song based on the lyrical snippet. No Googling!

1: Burn all the candles out, make a wish but not aloud.

2: We scratch our eternal itch, a 20th Century bitch.

3: And the spectres in the masonry remind us of the things that might have been.

4: You know that I would love to see you in that dress.

5: The camera's here and the microphones and they wanna know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Almost all victories on the football field give the victors a warm glow at the final whistle.

But when you're the player who slams home the winning goal in a 4-3 victory over the dirtiest, whiniest, girniest, most unnecessarily and misguidedly aggressive team in the league - it's an especially warm glow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dying Virgin

The current collapse of some of Britain's best-known high street traders has had an unexpected effect.

When Woolworths announced that it had begun a closing down sale, the day immediately following the announcement was the 100-year-old company's record highest day of trading. The Aberdeen brach was like food parcel day at a UN refugee camp, scrums of people all but slamming each other into the rapidly emptying shelves.

Yesterday, Mrs Wife and I ventured into Dundee and found ourselves in Zavvi, the oddly-named record emporium formerly known as Virgin.

(Richard Branson obviously bailed at just the right time. And the Virgin is now right royally screwed.)

It was a similar situation to that we encountered in Woolies just before it closed - the shop probably seeing more money flowing into its tills in single days than in the previous six months combined.

It's a curious situation - we're only tempted out into the shops when we think there's a bargain to be had, and we don't care enough to spend money in well-kent high street stores until they're wheezing their last dying breaths.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Over the past three days, I've been reading The Independent's guide to Presidents of the United States of America (as in the heads of state of the world's most powerful country, not the 90s college rock band).

Flicking through the book makes me brutally aware of how little history I'm actually aware of - I'd barely heard of most of the men who have led America since George Washington, and I'm even shamefully ignorant of most of the pre-Reagan presidents.

But thinking about it, I'm not terribly well-versed in the leaders of my own country - both monarchs and Prime Ministers. I was born during Thatcher's reign, but prior to Maggie, I'm very hazy on who followed who.

Considering that I'm supposed to be a journalist (well, actually I've been a market analyst since January 1st, but it's the same ballpark), I suppose I should really know more about the history of this wee green country on this wee blue planet.

A bit of learning is in order methinks.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Season 2008/2009: Match 15: Montrose v Annan Athletic

Football can be a right pain in the ass.

Montrose kicked off under their fifth manager of the season yesterday, former Hibs and East Fife defender Steven Tweed having been appointed player-gaffer on a two-and-a-half year contract during the week.

Aside from playing himself at centre back, Tweed's team was largely unchanged from that fielded by Kenny Black the previous week, a team that won 3-1 against Elgin City.

On paper, Montrose should have been too much for an Annan Athletic side still coming to terms with playing their first season in the league. Unfortunately, games in Montrose are played on plastic, not paper.

They were definitely the better side, but that will be no consolation to a Montrose side that lost 3-0. The first goal came against the run of play, Graeme Bell sidefooting the ball into the goal off the underside of the crossbar.

Former Montrose loanee Scott Anson added a second after the break, but the best finish was probably Montrose captain Keith Gibson's, the big midfielder turning a Phil Storey cross beyond Greg Kelly and into the bottom corner of his own net.

So the Steven Tweed era began in inauspicious fashion, and hopefully things will pick up soon. Last week Montrose looked like potential promotion winners, yesterday they looked far from fluid.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Fourteenth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge

Four of the five tracks from the thirteenth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge were spotted by my eagle-eyed (or should that be eagle-eared?) readers. Answers are now in the comments on that post.

So now to this week's selection - simply identify the five tracks pulled at random from Magic Tune Box III, no Googling allowed.

1. We're gonna chug-a-lug and shout.

2. Oh what a feeling there'll be, the moment I know she loves me, 'cause when I look in her eyes I realise, I need her sharing her world beside me.

3. Like most babies smell like butter, his smell smelled like no other.

4. I've been casing your joint for the best years of my life, like the look of your stuff, outta sight.

5. You bite through the big wall, the big wall bites back.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lack Of Interest

People who don't like music fascinate and scare me in equal measure.

I've got a very vague guideline that anyone who owns fewer than 20 CDs/LPs/cassettes (a vintage one there, nostalgia fans)/downloads - the medium is unimportant - can't and shouldn't be trusted.

As far as I'm concerned, someone who claims to have no interest in music has no interest in life. For every occasion, for every mood, for every type of weather and for every time of day, there is a song, an album or a melody.

Take late at night, when you're alone and preparing for bed - that's the time for Massive Attack, Spiritualized or Mogwai's more gentle moments.

First thing in the morning is time for something with a beat - whether that's Kings of Leon, Dodgy, Girls Aloud or Chesney Hawks is a matter of personal preference.

And as the 3,000-song party playlist on my Magic Tune Box shows, there's an almost limitless supply of good-time tunes.

I once worked with a guy roughly the same age as myself who had broadly similar interests to mine - we both liked playing and watching football, a good movie and the occasional drink and game of pool.

But we differed in one key respect - he had absolutely no interest in music. He was always astonished that I would spend money on tickets and that I would travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow for gigs.

Perhaps the most tragic aspect was that this young fellow owned only a single CD.

I can barely bring myself to type any more, so sorry is the tale.

If anything shows that my erstwhile colleague had no interest in music, it is the title of that CD.

It was the seminal Magnum Opus that is....

....Texas' White on Blonde.

There but for the grace of a non-existant God go I.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Road To Recovery

I was back at the coalface today having had two days off to get my wisdom teeth out and recover, followed by a weekend of further recovery.

I felt fine the day after the bilateral removal, and thought that the whole process was going to prove pain free.

That was until I woke up in agony in the middle of Friday/Saturday night. It seems that the tender tissue around the stitches takes a couple of days to bruise.

So Saturday saw me increasing my dosage of painkillers, although things did improve a tad on Sunday.

The area around the spot where my lower wisdom tooth could formerly be found is still pretty tender, but I'm fairly sure I haven't burst the stitches. And the pain has, for the most part, moved into my jaw and tongue - I presume I'm using both differently while attempting not to bash my raw, stitched gum against my teeth.

Anyway, I was back at work today with breath that probably stinks to high heaven, what with having a recently-stitched wound in my mouth, and unshaven since Thursday, as my left cheek is too tender to shave.

And joy of joys, my new boss is over from Norway tomorrow - what an image I'm going to present!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Season 2008/2009: Match 15: Montrose v Elgin City

In the bleak midwinter, many matches across the UK were cancelled yesterday due to frozen pitches and conditions more suited to sitting inside and watching TV than sitting in a concrete and steel cowshed and watching what passes for football on this chilly wee island.

Angus alone saw both Brechin's Glebe Park and Forfar's Station Park deemed unplayable, but we're made of sterner stuff in Montrose. And our pitch is plastic.

So, having passed a 10.30am pitch inspection, Links Park was ready for action come 3pm. And by 3.05pm, Montrose were a goal behind, having conceded a goal to Kenny Wright, a striker decked out in pink boots.

Seriously, isn't there a law against Third Division players wearing pink boots? There was a time when only the super-talented, multiple cap-holding world superstars wore even white boots, but now we have part-time players on the lowest rung of the Scottish professional game wearing pink boots. I think FIFA needs to get involved.

Anyway, Montrose were trailing from the fifth minute, but never really looked like losing the match. They equalised in the ninth minute, Roddy Hunter sending a low shot skipping across the plastic and under Ally Ridgers for the equaliser.

The Links Park side were ahead a minute into the second half, Paul Hegarty's son Chris scoring his first Montrose goal from the penalty spot following a foul by David Niven on Stephen Black.

Skipper Keith Gibson added a third in the 73rd minutes, Ridgers again beaten by a shot from the edge of the box, the ball again slipping underneath him.

Gibson had the ball in the net again later, when it appeared he chested it across the line, but referee Craig Charleston deemed the finish to be handball and instead booked the midfielder.

So, Montrose recorded a win in their first match of 2009, moving back into the play-off spots in the process, although they've played more matches than most of their near rivals.

But on form like yesterday's, they're worthy of their billing as promotion chasers.

Friday, January 09, 2009


What a load of fuss about nothing.

I was in the dentist's chair for just 15 minutes, and my jaw and mouth were so numb and I was so relaxed that, not a word of a lie, I almost fell asleep.

I was genuinely surprised when the dentist announced that the bottom tooth was out and that she was about to start stitching, as I expected the procedure to take much longer and for it to be far more uncomfortable. The stitching was the worst part, as the dental nurse put pressure on my tongue to keep it out of road - I'm guessing that sewing the tongue to the gum is frowned upon in dental circles - and it made me want to gag.

As for the top tooth - the dentist simply told me to open wide, jammed whatever tool it was into my mouth and pulled hard - it takes Usain Bolt longer to run 100 metres.

Now though, my lower jaw is throbbing and I can't fully open my mouth. I was spitting blood for most of yesterday evening, but things seem to have settled down now. Last night's oral intake consisted of four paracetamol, four ibuprofen, two pieces of chocolate orange eaten with only one side of my mouth and a bottle of water. I've managed to have some corn flakes this morning though, but I've been told to do salt water rinses of my mouth every couple of hours, which sounds rank. Oh, and my breath stinks.

Apologies to Jaggy - no photographic evidence I'm afraid. There's no external swelling or bruising, and as the gaping hole in my jaw is right at the back of my mouth, I can't get a camera close enough to take a photo.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Both my regular readers may remember that a few months ago, I was told I'd need to have a pair of wisdom teeth removed.

And those of you who read my internet-based textual tripe may also remember that I opted to undergo this bilateral removal under local anaesthetic, rather than while knocked out or sedated.

Well, today is the day that I clamber into the dentist's chair to have one of the hardest parts of my body sawn in two and ripped out of my face. Then go through it all again as the dentist looks to make a perfect matching set.

Nerves? Not yet. I'm trying not to think about it. But I'm preparing to be in a lot of pain afterwards, and to look like like I've gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

Spent Force

Got some spare cash even despite Christmas and the credit crunch?

Then grab yourself the attractive John Hartson statuette above, to remind you of the Setanta pundit and erstwhile Celtic and Wales striker's stunning good looks.

(OK, it's not actually a John Hartson statuette - it's a Darth Vader unmasked piggy bank. Uncanny resemblance though, no?)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Thirteenth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge

It may be a new year, but there are loose ends to tie up.

The Twelfth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge took place more than a month ago, and answers are now in the comments on that post. The winners from that challenge were Rab (at least I'm presuming he's the mystery anonymous commenter), Stu Who? and The Tomahawk Kid.

However, time marches on, and we've hit unlucky 13 in the challenge that I shamelessly stole from TK himself. The rules are simple - lyrical snippets from five random offerings from The Magic Tune Box are printed below - simply name the artist and song without resorting to Google or other means of cheating.

1. How old are you? Are you old enough? Should you be in here watching that?

2. You love blow and I love puff, And life is like a pipe.

3. My man is smooth like Barry, and his voice got bass, A body like Arnold with a Denzel face.

4. When there's northerners and southerners, And westenders in Eastenders.

5. DJ, gonna burn this goddamn house right down.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Gonna Party Like It's Twenty Zero Nine

My hangover has abated sufficiently to enable me to look at a computer monitor without wincing, my feet have thawed enough to allow me to walk without a peculiarly numb-toed rolling gait and Mrs Wife's Mither has served up a sumptuous New Year's Day feast, so all that is left for me to do before retiring to the sofa is to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009.