Category Archives: Scotland

UEFA Cup Final Build-Up: Pictures from Manchester (or how silly this post now seems…)

This post, covering the build-up to the UEFA Cup Final, came before all the bottles were thrown, a lot of windows were smashed and police officers were kicked and punched. Some of these pictures have now taken on a dark (yet, perhaps, darkly comic…) irony. I must say that on experiencing the atmosphere yesterday afternoon, it was a joy — thrilling, exhilarating, in fact. It was jovial, affable, and trouble that occurred later on didn’t seem that likely.

Still, when you’ve got tens of thousands of litres of alcohol, being served since 10am, seeping through the veins of almost 200,000 people (I wondered whether the 100k estimate was actually rather conservative), it seemed kind of inevitable that something would happen. The failure of the big screen in Piccadilly Gardens seemed to act as a trigger, although speculation doesn’t really help.

Manchester, from 1.30pm to 5.00pm

If Manchester was ‘mad’ in the late eighties and early nineties, then I have no idea what it could be described as today. The city’s unrecognisable — a sight of constant blue.

In excess of 100,000 Rangers fans (and a few Russians…) are readying themselves for tonight’s UEFA Cup final at the City of Manchester Stadium, with Rangers hoping to win their first European trophy since the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972.

For Zenit, with former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat at the helm, this is their first outing in a European final after dismantling a Bayern Munich side that is arguably the best since the likes of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Gerd Muller played together in the late seventies. On that fact alone, Zenit have to be considered favourites.

I couldn’t resist having a look, camera in hand, at what the atmosphere was like. Currently, Manchester is a proud, memorable image of fans savouring a European final.

If you wish to use any of these photos on your website or if you have any enquiries, then please email thesightisinend@googlemail.comthanks!

David.

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Filed under Football, Manchester, News, Rangers, Russia, Scotland, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, UEFA Cup, Zenit St. Petersburg

Football’s oldest rivalry must be resumed

When the newest managers of the two oldest international football teams both made their first squad selections this week, the thing that occurred to me was how exciting it would be if they were due to play each other in their first match.

Think about it, as if there isn’t already enough on an England v Scotland match, this would be the tastiest friendly in years; a new England era looking to lay fresh foundations after the unceremonious crumbling of the old empire, and Burley’s Scotland, with the new man under the unusual pressure of having to be as good as his two predecessors.

As it turns out, there was such a match in the pipeline this summer, with both sides apparently at a loose end. This has been cancelled however, because many Scotland players would have been unavailable due to the much more vital business of going on pre-season tours with their clubs.

What kind of killjoys are running football these days? Cancelling an England v Scotland match because of pre-season tours? Who’s wearing the trousers here? More to the point though, why on earth hasn’t the annual meeting of the auld enemy been restored?

Had this planned fixture gone ahead, it would have been the first time the two sides had met in a ‘friendly’ international since 1989 – the last instance of the Rous Cup fixture which was played for on five occasions after the annual British Championships were curtailed in 1984. Since then only two meetings have taken place, both the result of tournament draws; Euro ’96, and the two-legged Euro 2000 qualification play-off.

The reason the England-Scotland fixture was brought to an end was recurring crowd trouble. However, the 1989 fixture was played only six weeks after the Hillsborough disaster; since then football stadia have changed beyond recognition, and these changes have virtually eradicated hooliganism from inside grounds, so why hasn’t it been brought back?

One could argue that that the Home Internationals should return too, but the England-Scotland fixture is one that deserves special recognition, and in fact should be played each year independently of any other tournament. We are talking, after all, about the two teams who contested football’s very first international back in 1872 – the year of the Football Association’s formation, and the first FA Cup tournament. The annual renewal of this fixture ought to mark the anniversary of what was effectively the birth of competitive football, and quite frankly, a revolutionary world event.

Yet we have been robbed of this annual celebration by those at the FA and SFA who seemingly just can’t be bothered to pick up the phone and book the fixture, and when they can, the smallest excuse is found to call the whole thing off. This shouldn’t be allowed. There ought to be a preservation order slapped on it; in the way that no bulldozer is allowed within 100 miles of a UNESCO world heritage site, no possessor of a grey suit should be allowed to faff about with the England-Scotland game.

So next week, when you’re watching the new England or the new Scotland doing their best to get a game out of barely interested opponents far more concerned with self-preservation before the Euro 2008 finals, have a think about the game you could be watching, and drop the FA and SFA a line.

Jamie.

Since yesterday, the SFA and Burley have come out and said that Scotland want to preserve the gravitas of the fixture by making sure the game is played where both sides can field strong starting XIs. Whether this is definitely the case remains to be seen.

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Filed under Comment, England, Euro 2008, FA, FA Cup, Fabio Capello, Football, Opinion, Scotland, Scottish Premier League, SFA, Soccer, Sport

Tough decision

It seems likely that Dundee United skipper Barry Robson is going to be on the move today. United have confirmed that they have accepted £1 million-plus bids from Celtic and Nottingham Forest. That’s SPL champions, and champions league knockout stage qualifiers, Celtic. And League One play-off prospects Nottingham Forest.

So now Robson just has to choose where to make that next career step. Boy do I not envy him this decision! Anyone reckon he’s asked for thinking time?

Jamie.

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Filed under Celtic, FA, Football, Football League, News, Nottingham Forest, Scotland, Scottish Premier League, SPL, Sport, Transfers