Weir’s Week: Boo boys, handbrake birth and cricket crooks

<em>Picture: Tom Reynolds</em>
Picture: Tom Reynolds
By Stewart Weir

Saturday
I’ve probably watched more football than most, so I’ve seen and heard most things that fans, friend or foe, can verbally hurl at players. Occasionally comic genius, at times barbed and cutting, but for the majority of the time just a drone, part of football’s noisy soundtrack.

Have a few thousand signing or shouting the same thing, and the effect is far greater. Someone, somewhere thought up the “two Andy Gorams” line, but delivered en masse, it turned into one of Scottish football’s best jibes.

Similarly, Scotland’s Tartan Army have been vocal over the years, and their “you only sing karaoke” directed at Japanese supporters in Yokohama was fantastic.

For the most part though, fans tend to show their emotions with oohs, aahs, eeks and yelps, accompanied by applause.

The later is the universal sign of appreciation, even on occasion directed at opposition players, almost certainly when someone is struck down by injury.

Maybe last Saturday was just an odd occasion, a one-off. But there was nothing particularly sporting, good-natured or respectful about sections of the Aberdeen support who cheered and jeered Steven Naismith of Rangers as he was stretchered off at Pittodrie.

I say sections of the Aberdeen support, because from what I saw, large sections of the ground was unfilled, shopping with the wife, watching on TV, or just not being arsed better options than paying to watch the once-dandy Dons live.

Still, those who were there made sure they stuck out with their treatment and abuse of the stricken Naismith.

Of course, maybe it was just the pitch-side effect microphones that picked it up and made it sound worse than it was. Maybe it was a microphone placed in front of the most vociferous Aberdeen fans. Maybe ESPN overdubbed someone else making those chants.

Maybe Aberdeen supporters are just running out of excuses.

We all know there is no love lost between Aberdeen fans and Rangers, with Aberdeen fans and the west of Scotland-biased media that Sir Alex Ferguson (who has been away from Pittodrie of 25 years now), once goaded, or with Aberdeen fans and Celtic, with Hibs, with most of the world in fact.

Social media allowed some Dons followers to have their say on events last Saturday. And to a man, or woman, they tried to justify or excuse the abuse hurled at Naismith, everything from him (Naismith) trying to break Rob Milsom’s leg and so getting what he deserved. Or what about Rangers just being cheating, diving bastards, like when Sasha Papac fell over to win a penalty at the weekend (which I think happened after Naismith had gone off), or Kyle Lafferty getting Charlie Mulgrew sent off at Ibrox (that’s Charlie Mulgrew, now of Celtic).

Or what about the Glasgow press again raking up Neil Simpson’s tackle on Ian Durrant, again nearly quarter of a century ago?

Actually, a great many of those working in the media won’t remember that because they are too young, and the only people raking that up are those who sing “Nice one Simmy”.

See what I mean about running out of excuses?

Irony of ironies, on Saturday, Aberdeen’s lifeline came from Ricky Foster, the captain, who as I wrote about a few months ago, took dogs abuse on the club’s pre-season tour because he’d just returned from a season-long loan deal at Rangers.

Oh, and they had an excuse for that as well …

Sunday
Knowing several rally drivers as I do (some considerably quicker than others) they earn a living at high speed but are always last-minute when it comes to other things.

So no surprise to read that Swedish driver Per-Gunnar Andersson’s wife Marie-Louise gave birth to their son Alvin on her way to the maternity hospital.

Obviously from his first appearance, young Alvin has a liking for cars.

“He seems to have it in his genes,” Andersson told the Swedish newspaper Expressen. As opposed to his missus who almost had something else in her jeans …

Andersson – known as “PG” (although I won’t be taking Tips from him, “boom boom, I’m here all week …”) – is used to listening to pace notes when he’s driving. But you can imagine his wife calling “bump, fast, open right, open left, water, push, BABY!”

Still, all are doing fine, and the car has scrubbed up well. Something else you can do in a BMW …

Monday
El-Hadji Diouf, no stranger to these parts, either when either spitting on Celtic fans or as specialist wind-up merchant for Rangers, signs a three-month deal at Doncaster Rovers. Sochaux, Rennes, Lens, Liverpool, Bolton, Sunderland, Blackburn, Rangers, Doncaster. Get where you’re headed career-wise, “L”.

Diouf arrived at Doncaster along with Pascal Chimbonda and Herita Ilunga, part of agent Willie McKay’s endeavours as the club’s transfer consultant. I wonder who is agent to those players?

The tactic is simple, as McKay explained last week. “In every squad there are two or three good players who aren’t getting a game for whatever reason.

“We will take them to Doncaster, put them in the shop window and sell them on with sell-on fees.” Having been party to a similar project, it is a sound plan, in theory. But Doncaster need it to work.

As does Diouf. Because the only gig in town still left open to him after this could be that of a panto villain …

Tuesday
Still in Doncaster, and it is an emotional and poignant night for Rovers striker Billy Sharp, who plays just three days after his two-day-old son, Luey Jacob Sharp, died on Saturday.

Fittingly Sharp scores, the message on his shirt saying everything.

And for once, a referee – on this occasion Darren Deadman – didn’t brandish a yellow card, using his compassion and judgement to see beyond the Laws, rules, regulations and directives, and allow Sharp his moment of glory and grief.

Wednesday
Much of the early part of the week was spent seeing, reading and listening to the achievements of Glasgow City. No, not the local council, but the women’s football team who had just reached the last 16 of the Champions League.

A great achievement no doubt. And their reward was to have their away tie against Potsdam broadcast live, on BBC Alba.

I tuned in to be nosey, and to undertake some considered research for Weir’s Week. The end result: Potsdam 10 Glasgow City 0. the biggest defeat in the club’s history. I suppose that’s what happens when you come up against the big boys, er, I mean girls.

I hope the girls enjoyed their moment in the limelight, for somehow I don’t think the second leg will be deserving of the same hype and press attention …

Thursday
A dark day for cricket as former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt is jailed for 30 months for his part in the conspiracy to bowl deliberate no-balls in last year’s Test match against England.

Test bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, was jailed for one year and bowler Mohammad Amir, 19, has been sentenced to six months while their agent Mazhar Majeed was jailed for two years and eight months.

It’s the first conviction of its type since the infamous case involving Sheffield Wednesday players Peter Swan, Tony Kay and David Layne, nearly 50 years ago.

Both cases were revealed by national newspapers, begging the question somewhat, why sporting bodies persist in employing ex-cops when investigative journalists have a better strike rate? And I should know.

Bowling no-balls to order is quite an easy scam, as is another one I’m currently writing about. More of that in print soon, I hope.

But of course, the bowler needs to be in complete control in order to deliver the illegal ball – and bet – at the right time. Probably why no-one ever employed Devon Malcolm or Mohammad Sami as a spot-fixers …

Friday
David Beckham helps LA Galaxy to the MLS Western Conference final after the beat New York Red Bulls 3-1 on aggregate.

I’ve never fathomed the “conference” system in American sport given these two are divided by a few thousand miles. On the pitch though, it was Beckham who divided the two, setting up one goal and winning the penalty to help Galaxy win 2–1.

Beckham PLC also set up the winner in the first leg. So all in all, he’s made a difference before he returns to Europe (as I wrote last week) and what might be Olympic glory. We’ll see.

That first leg however, was worth watching. To see what I mean, forward it on to 7:30.

Imagine if that had happened at Hampden, Celtic Park or Ibrox? Parliamentarians, polis, SFA, SPL, SAS would have been diving in, condemning all and blaming it all on cheap drink, religious intolerance and sectarianism.

Missing the point that football is a passionate game, whoever plays it, or wherever it’s played …

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz

Donate to us: support independent, intelligent, in-depth Scottish journalism from just 3p a day