The One Where Mike Sees Both Sides of the Argument.

It’s difficult sometimes to know who to shout for, isn’t it ? I mean if you were watching a Rugby match and Wales were playing, well, anyone really you know you’ll be cheering for whoever that anybody is. No contest there, no flipping of a coin. A cricket match between Australia and er…. well, you know you’ll vocally support “and er…”, don’t you ? Equally true if you don’t happen to hail from Blighty and England are playing Football/Cricket/Anything against Anyone Else. The Anyone Else XI will be the bookies favourites outside these shores.

But what if one of the most evil and vile of all football teams goes into administration? What if a side disappear which has harboured and promoted sectarianism, (along with the other lot), succoured and supported everything that is nasty and abhorrent in football and in British society ? How do we feel if they go to the wall ? Happy ? Perhaps. Good bloody riddance to them ? Maybe.

But , in truth, they won’t be going anywhere. They will immediately be docked 10 points for going into administration which will take the club from 2nd place in the league down to …er…2nd place in the league. That’s how far the top 2 are ahead of the chasing pack. (if you take 10 points off them right now, they’ll still be 9 points ahead of third place, such is the joke of the pointless Scottish Football set up).

So they won’t win the league this year, but they probably wasn’t going to anyway. That bunch of bigots from the other side of the tracks are 4 points clear anyway and look set fair to win it. Again. Rampant sectarianism and bigotry aside, (and, no it hasn’t or ever will go away from the Auld Firm) can you be forgiven for feeling sorry for Rangers getting themselves into so much trouble ? Spending more than they could justify in the never-ending effort to beat rivals Glasgow Celtic and win at least one match against European oppo each year ? Shouldn’t we say “oh fuck ’em” and be done with it ?

But what about all the little people behind the scenes who make the club tick, who rely on the club for their wages, the income from the fans on a Saturday, the club shop and the local Union Jack supplier ? They can’t all be Unionist Nutters, can they ? Then again, without Rangers, what’s the point of Celtic ? If Alec Salmond gets his way, there’ll be no hopping over the border for a kick about in the English Premier League so the Bhoys will be left with a dull Saturday at ForfarfiveFifefour Academicals, or a wet Wednesday night playing Partick Thistlenil. That’s no existance for anyone.

But doubtless the Gers will return next season, just with cheaper flags and one or two fewer bowler hats. The two teams will spend the next millenia hurling abuse at each other, punctuated only by a football match breaking out occasionally (well, 4 times a year, if you don’t mind, excluding cup matches) because if this isn’t allowed to happen, scottish football will go the same way its rugby went – bereft of fans or supporters, with the authorities having to give away tickets to primary schools to foster the illusion that people actually want to turn up to watch this shite. So we have to hope the industry that is Rangers FC survives. I know, I can’t believe I’m writing it either.

Meanwhile, another bunch of hard-nosed bastards face extinction and extermination. The poor old tabloid journalist is under the cosh and he does not like it. Trevor Kavanagh, Associate editor of The Sun attacked the arrests of his colleagues by police as “heavy handed” and a “witch hunt” and “disproportionate”. And he would know. If there was ever a witch hunt which could be described as heavy handed and disproportionate look no further than the Joanna Yeates murder investigation, when the paper (among others) hounded and publicly hung Christopher Jefferies for the woman’s killing. According to the paper this was an open-and-shut case of a beardy-wierdy attacking and killing a young blonde luvverly. (And thank fuck she was blonde and luvverly or we’d have never read a word of it).

The paper (manfully aided and abetted by the Mirror and the Mail) were judge, jury and executioner on this case, just one of the many, many occasions where a private individual was hounded out of house and home because a hack didn’t like the cut of his jib. Will anybody shed a tear for these reptiles who have made so many lives a misery ? Probably not. I dunno why these blokes are worrying about anyway. If they’d read their own copy over the years they’d realise that prison is like a holiday camp and that it’s better on the inside than it is out.

But Kavanagh does point out that an example seems to being made of the Sun. Well, that’s as may be. It does help, of course, that my former employers over at News International (d’you know ? I miss them more than ever at the moment) seem hell bent on shopping anyone and everyone that’s come within a gnat’s chuff of this story, just as long as Rupe, James and Rebekah are spared the ignominy of a 4 o’clock wakey wakey call. But all this certainly seems to be buying Trinity Mirror and Associated Newspapers enough time to nip down to Staples and order another half dozen shredders before the rozzers arrive. Trevor is right that, at the moment, it seems like the only crooks in town are Sun journos.

But what of the arresting officers ? Have we forgotten that the coppers waking up shagging Sun journos in the early hours are working for the force which is the other half of the same mucky coin. There are far more bent coppers being questioned and suspended on Operation Fuck They’ve Caught Us Out than anyone imagined – an early indication of the Met Police’s  “Buy One Get One Free” policy, available to all good news outlets up until very recently.

So we have bent coppers arresting bent journos. Now it depends on which side of the fence you sit, but corrupt state law enforcers against privately paid operators carrying out the orders of their superiors ? It’s a tough one, innit ? Rangers or Celtic ?

In a final oddity, Sean Penn has come out on the side or Argentina in the Falklands row. Now then, that’s a teaser. If you were judging Sean on Shanghai Surprise I may be shouting GOTCHA! from the rooftops. As it is, his role as Harvey Milk has saved him in my eyes, so Viva Las Malvinas it is. And if settling a major political military crisis by judging a man’s filmography isn’t the way forward, then I don’t know what is.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

News item:
A disgruntled Newcastle United fan has failed in a bid to get himself banned from St James’ Park by invading the pitch.
Kevin Southerton, 26, ran on to the field after Djibril Cisse scored for Sunderland in February’s Tyne-Wear derby.
He told police who pursued and arrested him: “I hope I get banned. I’m sick of watching this.”
Although Newcastle magistrates could have imposed a three-year banning order, they opted to fine him £200.

Now who amongst us hasn’t felt like that at least once in their lives? Anyone who’s spent any time standing in the covered end at The Valley knows that urge only too well. In the 70’s I once watched Charlton draw 0-0 in three consecutive matches, a Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday thrill-fest. It was like undergoing root canal work.



A colleague once wrote of a crusty old fan in Scotland (at some team like Hearts, or Arbroath—you know the type) who every single Saturday took his place in the stand by the players entrance, resplendent in a grubby old mac and woolen bobble hat, and booed his team ON to the pitch. He never missed a home match. Furthermore, after one mid-week away fixture, the team were on the club bus driving home through the pouring rain when they spotted this same fan trudging a lonely trudge through the storm, having been to watch his lads lose away. They took pity on him and picked him up. No sooner had the coach pulled away that our hero stood up at the front of the bus and delivered a long stream of abuse, punctuated by profanities, on what a useless bunch of wankers they were. After 75 yards of this the bus pulled in and the players threw off the old git again.

The Traditional Way to Watch Charlton AFC

The Traditional Way to Watch Charlton AFC

Football fans have a bad rep, but there’s always occasional characters like the examples above which give you renewed hope for mankind in general. At this stage I’d like to draw your attention to to a lovely little book by Jack Bremner entitled “Shit Ground No Fans” a collection of football chants collected from around the country. Many are predictable and repetitive, but there are a few little gems within its 256 pages. One example from Boston United goes (to the tune of John Denver’s Annie’s Song:

You fill up my senses
Like a gallon of Batemans
Like a packet of Seasalt
Like a good pickled egg
Like a night out in Boston
Like a greasy chip buttie
Like Boston United
Come fill me again


Oddly the great Andy Goram song isn’t included in its pages. Readers will recall when Goram, the then Rangers goalie, had been “exposed” in the press as having a mild form of schizophrenia. Shortly after, opposition fans started chanting “Two Andy Gorams, there’s only two Andy Gorams”

And they say there’s no humour left in the game.