East Fife’s defensive wall was impressive

Considering that most matches that take place north of the border are attended by the proverbial two men and a dog is the BBC’s coverage of Scottish football disproportionate? Roy Jackson certainly thinks so…

Saturday evenings were cold wintery affairs. I’d just come in from playing football on the croft in front of the house with a load of mates amongst who was numbered Joe Corrigan who would later become Manchester City’s goalkeeper. I’d had a bath and was sat in front of a roaring coal fire listening to all the football scores because my Dad had his pools to check. He had Littlewoods and another one on the go. A guy in a brown macintosh with wide lapels and a brown trilby hat used to come round and deliver them and my Dad and I used to get all set around 5 o’clock and I remember going down the pages ticking off boxes, until eventually we got onto the Scottish teams, my interest in results waned, but my imagination was stirred by listening to stuff like; Hamilton Academicals 3 Partick Thistle 3: Airdrionians 4 Queen of the South 5.

Apart from wondering where all these teams played I also wondered if Scottish football was played without goalkeepers.

It was when I grew older that I wondered how a football team got called after an area or a county. I mean despite listening hard, I never heard a score being read out of West Riding of Yorkshire 2 Swindon 1, or East Anglia 2 York City 1. But in Scotland we got East Fife, East Stirlingshire, Heart of Midlothian.

It seems to be a kind of intelligence test. Where do East Fife actually play?
I looked it up and as all you guys might already know, they play in Methill.
Oh, you don’t know where Methill is? Well it’s just outside Leven. What do you mean? You don’t know where Leven is? Well, it’s on the coast between Lower Largo and Buckhaven, about 8 miles east of Glenrothes. So now you know.

And what about (this for readers of a certain age) Third Lanark. How does a club start off with a number?

Fascinating stuff for an interested and inquisitive twelve year old mind.

It was many years until I found out the club was named after the Third Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers sometime back in 1900.

But for sure, you wouldn’t get such a thing today; The 4th Greater Manchester Athletic Football Club.

There’s a lot of time given over to Scottish football on 5Live and it kind of winds me up somewhat.

So now I’m all grown up and I have to say, I just don’t get this.
There’s a lot of time given over to Scottish football on 5Live and it kind of winds me up somewhat.
I fully accept there are people who are Scottish, people who just like football in any form who’ll watch Italian football, Spanish and French soccer etc, just because it’s a football match, you’ve got Sky Sports and you have time, so you can watch football all day regardless of where it is being played. Which is terrific.

But what I don’t get is that with all the leagues in Scotland with tiny little clubs that apart from 3 or 4 thousand that go to watch on a wind blown afternoon, no one cares about.
I’d bet the majority of people in the UK don’t even have a bull’s notion of where they actually are!
So why are they covered so comprehensively? BBC spend a lot of time covering a lot of Scottish football. BBC Scotland sure, but nationally? Is it so necessary?

Does it get more irritating the further south you go?
Do people in Southampton give a stuff about Celtic?
How much do people of Bristol or London care about Rangers?

Take East Stirlingshire for an example, I’d say a good few people know where Stirlingshire is but how many would know where they play (without looking it up on the web); well, they play in Falkirk.

Falkirk is a small town of around 34,500 people which for a football town is quite small, which is why it’s a bit of a surprise then to find that it supports two teams, Falkirk being the other, and they don’t even share grounds.

Even more surprising is that this catchment area of Scotland which has admittedly a much greater population to choose from, has proportionately, a large number of clubs to choose from. In that narrow but wide band from Glasgow in the West and Edinburgh say around 50 miles you have the leading lights of Scottish football represented.

You have of course Celtic, Rangers, Hibernian, then vying for some attention and a bit of limelight, Livingstone, Motherwell, St Johnstone, Stirling Albion, Alloa Athletic, Dunfermline and of course Falkirk and East Stirlingshire.
And finally the emotively named Heart of Midlothian.
(Can you imagine either City or United being called Pride of Greater Manchester?)

Does anyone know that Kilmarnock scored five goals on Saturday, or that Inverness Caledonian Thistle slipped to a two goal defeat?

I remember on those cosy afternoons putting 1’s, 2’s and crosses with my Dad, recording complete surprise to find that Celtic didn’t actually play at Hampden Park, that the massive stadium called Hampden Park was actually the home of a little club called Queens Park. This caused me all sorts of concern. Why did this little club play in this huge famous theatre? And where on earth did Celtic play then?

And then you have the amazing fact that when I used to look for Port Vale who play in The Potteries, you also have in Scotland Raith Rovers… and neither place actually exists as a town or a place, now, how does that happen? Raith are actually based to the east of Kircaldy.

I suppose the nearest equivalent might be East Lancs Rovers based in Miles Platting or wherever…

It seems to be well acknowledged that there may be three or four teams who could play in the middle or lower end of the Prem, but the rest?

There’s loads of clubs in Wales and certainly over here in Ireland and a good few up in the North who I’m sure stir the hearts and minds of several thousand loyal supporters, and into those lives inject all sorts of preoccupation, but these get, apart from the scores being read out, nothing, zilch, which conversely, seems about right.

But I understand the principle. A bit like Formula 1, about 95% of the coverage focuses on the leading five or six cars. The coverage that the last fifteen cars get is minimal or non existent -unless they crash. When was the last time there was extended camera footage or an article on Lotus or Virgin cars battling it out for 15th place for instance.

So likewise, does anyone know that Kilmarnock scored five goals on Saturday, or that Inverness Caledonian Thistle slipped to a two goal defeat by…. who?
Apart from giving out the scores, I really don’t understand the amount of coverage that Scottish football gets on 5 live and or the BBC.

No idea about Sky, I haven’t got it, so I never watch it.

Following the same principle as F1 that I outlined, we don’t get a lot of coverage on teams in the lower leagues in the UK apart from the late night football show on a Saturday night after MOTD, but you’ll get a lot more about the SPL.
But you won’t hear about (if there IS such a thing as) top football in Wales, Northern Ireland or Ireland.

But you’ll get yards of coverage about Celtic, Rangers and a few others.

I just don’t get it.

This article originally appeared here at Wolvesforum http://wolvesforum.co.uk/