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Sir Chris Hoy

Melrose Sevens Website

Saturday
It’s the second Saturday in April, and that means the Melrose Sevens. Saracens, the defending champions, reign supreme again, but only just as they see off a gutsy challenge from French outfit Clermont Auvergne.SaracensLogo

Melrose remains the original, and to my mind, the best Sevens tournament there is. Yes, there might be bigger crowds, better exponents and more glamorous locations elsewhere. But where else would you have the match ball for the final delivered by a Grand National winner (Ryan Mania), or a kick-off delayed because Little Bo Peep and was rounding up her sheep, or a call from the crowd of ‘Aye, yir mother tackles better.’

Sevens is a world-wide game now, included in the Commonwealth Games, and the Olympic Games for 2016, as Scott Hastings must have mentioned three-dozen times in commentary, just to put himself in the frame for a trip down to Rio. As if to prove the world-wide appeal, India arrived as one of the guest sides at The Greenyards. A few years ago, China visited. India did little better, beaten 45-0 in their only appearance.

Oh, imagine the ignominy of returning home to the biggest democracy in the world with that score against your name. Nothing to do with the margin, just that it was Gala who inflicted it …

Sunday

Millwall Fans vs Police

Millwall Fans vs Police


After mayhem amongst Millwall fans at Wembley, today Newcastle United supporters kick-off against followers of Sunderland, police, polis horses, wheelie bins and anything else that gets in their way.

The ‘English Disease’ has been kept in check for years, but it bubbles and simmers under the surface and, as was proved this weekend, doesn’t take much to combust. Of course, hooliganism is a curse throughout football. Even in Scotland, despite the best efforts of some to ignore it, and divert the focus instead on to banners and songs …

Monday
Take your pick. But Scottish football was today split/divided/in meltdown/at Civil War after Ross County and St Mirren voted down the SPL proposal for league reconstruction. Without the necessary mandate, the SPL’s 12-12-18 option (unwanted, even hated amongst ordinary fans) is booted into the long grass.

SPL Logo“Putting Scottish football in jeopardy,” was how Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne saw Ross County and St Mirren’s actions, rich from the man who when given the chance to ditch the 11-1 majority rule, didn’t act.

“Self-interest,” was how Scot Gardiner of Dundee viewed the actions of Roy MacGregor and Stewart Gilmour, rich from a man who believed he had bettered Scottish football when he took a club, 24-points worse off than the Division One champions, into the SPL to do no more than make up the numbers, and then sacked the manager.

“It was Rangers,” was how the eejits, conspiracy theorists and paranoid of Scottish football saw it.

What MacGregor and Gilmour did see was straight through the gossamer of league reconstruction. It was ill-conceived, flimsy, and with no guarantee of succeeding.

St Mirren LogoInteresting, that in talking up the need for change and more exciting matches, Peter Lawwell of Celtic, one of the SPL’s driving forces behind reconstruction, stated ‘nine thousand were at the Ramsdens Cup final, so too at Partick Thistle against Morton, and St Mirren also took about 17,000 to Hampden (or the Scottish Communities League Cup final).

In all three instances, Scottish Football League-organised tournaments and nothing to do with the SPL’s management or Board. That didn’t go unnoticed.

What also hadn’t gone unnoticed was the language used by one SPL chairman in particular, especially amongst some of his voting members and especially within Division One clubs, that the proposed joining for the SPL/SFL membership ‘wasn’t an amalgamation but a reverse takeover,’ and how League teams had ‘bowling club constitutions.’

He might watch who he says that to in the future. Obviously money was at the core of the upset shown by the defeated SPL members. Maybe there was a sponsor after all ready to be unveiled for the SPL, and another, separate backer, for the middle division when the 8-8-8 split came in. I say maybe, because no-one was quite sure, and those who did know were not for letting on.

Where this all ends, who knows? What is evident is that football ‘people’ are struggling to come up with plausible, workable solutions. I’ve suggested before, that Scottish football should look to someone like Ken Schofield, someone with a sporting business head, who transformed European Tour golf and English cricket, to come up with a plan, not some politician or even worse, a committee of football chairman headed by an expensive paper shuffler. Of course they won’t, because out of all of this, the last thing they want is home truths, or to be one of the turkeys compelled to vote for a merry, happy, and prosperous Christmas …

Tuesday

Susie Wolff Racing Driver

Susie Wolff
Racing Driver

Whilst I might have disputed her rights to the title ‘the fastest woman in the world’ you can but admire what Williams F1 driver Susie Wolff has achieved. However, even having the audacity to don a race suit and crash helmet appears to have been too much for one of the last remaining automotive dinosaurs, Sir Stirling Moss.

This week, Moss decided to have a pop at our Susie in his usual chauvinistic tones, stating he didn’t think women could be top race drivers because they lacked ‘mental aptitude.’ Said the man who not so long ago, showed his mental aptitude and awareness by falling down a lift shaft …

Wednesday
Margaret Thatcher is laid to rest, and not surprisingly, there is plenty of comment about her on social media, even around her connections with sport. And I don’t mean Dennis here. People flag up her opposition to British athletes going to Moscow in 1980, the rebel cricket tour to South Africa, Bradford, Heysel and how politically involved she, and her Government of the day, were around events Hillsborough.

However, given how despised she was in Scotland, for various reasons, I can’t help but point out to Tom Hall on the Scottish Football Blog that during her time in office, Scotland reached three World Cups, Dundee United reached the UEFA Cup final and the semi-finals of the European Cup, while Aberdeen won the Cup-Winners-Cup and also a semi-final in that tournament. And, we beat England at Wembley and exported Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in history. So not all bad.

Personally, some might say bizarrely, two sporting memories stick out. One was the busload of Welsh rugby fans turning up in Edinburgh in 1983 with a banner in the back window proclaiming; “Keep Llanwern, Close Ravenscraig.” The other was the abuse that Airdrie ‘keeper John Martin took as a ‘scab’ during the Miners Strike, and how that continued for years thereafter. Turning people against people, communities again communities, was one of Mrs Thatcher’s biggest achievements.

rangers1-300x300Meanwhile, it emerges that Craig Whyte has sold his rights to someone wanting to make his version of events during his time at Ibrox. What form ‘Rangers: The Movie’ takes, we can’t be sure. And who should play Craig Whyte? Well, Tom Courtenay did a fantastic job as Billy Liar, but might be considered past it now. And Danny Kaye, superb as Walter Mitty, is somewhere else. No, for me, given the nature of the storyline, might I suggest Craig Whyte should be played by Paul Baxendale-Walker? Just a thought, you understand …

Thursday
And, as everyone guessed, some of us much sooner than other (like a year ago), Sir Chris Hoy retires from international cycling. As the BBC said on their website; “Sir Chris Hoy retires, assured of his place in British sporting history.” Talk about stating the obvious.

Sir Chris Hoy Retires

Sir Chris Hoy Retires

There is no doubt that Hoy is worthy of whatever title people want to pin on him; icon; legend; hero; role-model. Of course, someone of his standing can’t quit without us getting a healthy ration of my least-favourite buzzword, ‘legacy.’ And what will Hoy’s legacy be?

Well, apart from the velodrome that carries his name, probably making life doubly-difficult, if not impossible, for any Scots or British cyclist who follows in his wheel tracks. Just imagine winning five Olympic gold medals and still be rated second in the list of greats.

All sport seems dominated by this word, legacy. So, what ‘legacy’ was it that inspired Britain’s greatest Olympian to take up cycling? Was it watching the Tour de France? Was it having the often-lethal wooden Commonwealth Games track in Edinburgh to pedal around? Or was it Chris Boardman on his super Lotus-engineered bike? No. It was none of the above.

Unfortunately for the legacy merchants, Hoy’s inspiration to get a bike (as he didn’t have one to get on at the time), came from watching the film ‘ET.’ So instead of spending millions, if not billions, on attempting to guarantee a sporting legacy, really the UK and Scottish Governments should have been offering free subscriptions to Sky Movies …

Friday
‘The Weirdos’ – the annual, most irreverent sports awards in the land – are still eight months away. But already we have a contender for ‘Numptie of the Year.’ Take a bow Gillian Renwick, SNP Councillor for Lenzie & Kirkintilloch South in East Dunbartonshire.

Cllr Gillian Renwick SNP

Cllr Gillian Renwick SNP

While people were still digesting Hoy’s retirement, she was using Twitter to ask the question; “Is it controversial to say we should rename the Glasgow Veladrome? The aim was for him to be there – did he get a great TV or s’ship deal?” Later, she tried to correct her earlier faux pas by saying; “Sir Chris Hoy is a legend – that’s my opinion and he will always carry the flag for Scotland & Britain.” Will that be the same Britain? No, I won’t ask the question of state the obvious.

However, to my mind, no-one would have asked that question unless they were looking for answers in the affirmative? I hope she realises she’s done her chances of ever being Sports Minister untold damage, while given her spelling of velodrome, Education Minister is probably another office she won’t see!

The Nature Reserve at Duddingston

Spring has finally arrived. April showers are being blown in on a lively west wind. The sun teases us with an appearance from time to time. Lawns are being cut. Daisies are beginning to grow. The sand martins are hovering around the embankments on my local nature reserve at Duddingston. And the old “Lady” of the Loch of Lowes has laid her 65th osprey egg.

Thatcher Funeral CroppedBut that doesn’t mean the winter of our discontent is completely over. The ghost of Margaret Hilda Thatcher has haunted us all week, as it did the week before. Her stately funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Wednesday was supposed to be our final farewell but the debate over her legacy is raging still. Indeed, the Scottish Parliament staged its version on Thursday, with MSPs debating a Green Party motion which insisted: “There is such a thing as society.”

On the day of the funeral itself, there were celebrations that “the witch is dead” in the old mining communities of Danderhall and New Cumnock and there was an anti-Thatcherism rally in Glasgow’s George Square. News that the Chancellor George Osborne was shedding a tear in London did not surprise many people in Scotland because he is seen as carrying on where the Iron Lady left off…rolling back the state, eeking out austerity budgets and doling out welfare cuts.

And strangely enough, the medicine seems to be working. The latest figures show the Scottish economy is growing again ( at 0.5 per cent). Unemployment is down to below 200,000 for the first time in four miserable years (7.3 per cent, compared to a UK average of 7.9 per cent). But then came a warning from the independent economist John Philpott that the worst of the public sector jobs cuts has still to come. He predicts that a further 34,000 jobs will go in Scotland over the next two years.

Scottish Parliament  CommitteeThe Scottish Parliament is worried too. Its economy committee brought out a report which found: “Underemployment has grown significantly since the economic crisis five years ago, with young people particularly badly affected.” It estimates that the number of part-time self employed workers has gone up by 37,000, with most of them working an average of only 13 hours a week.

The Scottish Labour Conference in Inverness this weekend will be insisting “there is an alternative” ( to misquote Mrs Thatcher again ). The party has a policy review going on at the moment which the leader Johann Lamont says must end the “something for nothing culture”. It’s thought this is code for ending some universal benefits, such as bus passes for pensioners and free prescriptions, and targeting other benefits on the very poor. Also up for discussion is the party’s stand on further devolution. An official report to the conference calls for more income tax powers to be given to the Scottish Parliament, along with vehicle excise duty and air passenger duty. As usual, Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster are jealous of further powers for the “White Heather Parliament ” so we await with interest the outcome of these highland games.

Sir Chris HoyWe now know at last who will not be competing at the Glasgow games next year. Sir Chris Hoy announced on Thursday that his Olympic and Commonwealth cycling career is over. At the age of 37, he’s decided enough is enough. “ People don’t realise how much the London Olympics took out of me,“ he said. “I don’t want to go to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games just to wear the tracksuit and wave to the crowd. To go on for another year would be one year too far for me.”

This modest Edinburgh man is Britain’s most successful Olympian, having competed in four games and won six gold medals. He won two gold medals at two Commonwealth Games and earlier this year won a six-day event in Rotterdam. But is he retiring from cycling? No sir, he’s launching his own brand of cycles and will be an ambassador for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, indeed the new velodrome has been named in his honour.

As a fellow cyclist in Edinburgh, I hope to see him pedalling to work with the rest of us…facing up to that wild west wind and enduring the same April showers.

Saturday
The conclusion to 2013 Six Nations Championship was one to remember as WRU Logo Chamions 2013Wales beat England handsomely to land the title, and deny Stuart Lancaster’s team a Grand Slam. It was one of those games that made you smile, not just because of the manner in which the Welsh won, but because so many experts called it so completely wrong.

The word ‘narrow’, or the phrase ‘just a few points’ were regularly used when it came to predicting what might separate these sides at the end of 80 minutes. The 27-point winning margin the Welsh achieved kicked all predictions in to touch.

“England’s bubble has been burst,” said World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward. And he would know. For there was a man who regularly had his balloon pricked as he went for titles and Slams while in charge of England. In 1999 it was Scott Gibbs who did the damage at Wembley, while a year later in the rain at Murrayfield, Andy Nicol led the Scots to a memorable, if unexpected, Calcutta Cup win, so denying England the Grand Slam. In 2001, with the competition fragmented by foot and mouth, England fell at the final hurdle again when confronted by Ireland, and the following term, while it wasn’t in the final game, France halted English title ambitions. Sir Chris HoyWoodward came good in 2003, delivering the World Cup. So, Stuart Lancaster, that’s how you overcome disappointment.

Down Under, the F1 season starts in Melbourne, albeit a damp one which means that final qualifying isn’t completed until the morning of the race. As part of the big day, a bunch celebrities raced around the Albert Park circuit in Mazda 6’s, amongst them Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, who managed to finish second in his race, but only after knocking the corners off his car during practice. The phrase ‘one careful owner’ doesn’t apply to these cars, especially the one in Frame 3!

Sunday
Seldom on March 17, is St Patrick ever overshadowed by another saint. But today it’s St Mirren’s day as they beat Hearts 3-2 to take the Scottish League Cup, the club’s first major trophy since 1987.

St Mirren LogoWe’ve all known for sometime that the Cup competitions present the best opportunity for clubs outside Glasgow’s big two, to collect some silverware. St Mirren’s success at Hampden meant that six different clubs have won the last six domestic knockout tournaments. So it can be done. It would just be nice, in the case of the league Cup, if some teams – and some fans – took it a bit more seriously at an earlier stage.

Monday
Any poll, survey, chart or Top 10, 20 or 100 is likely to cause disagreement of one sort or another. The Herald, in what is a quiet week leading up to an unimportant World Cup qualifier against Wales, decide to reveal their 50 Greatest Scottish Footballers.

Davie CooperOn day one, ‘the humble jury of Herald journalists’ create a bit of a stooshie by naming Davie Cooper at No.48, three places behind Pat Stanton. Whether this was an attention-grabbing ploy, or an attention-deficit disorder, I’m not sure. Personally, I wouldn’t have had Stanton on the same page as Cooper, let alone ahead of him. But again, football is about opinions, and they cover themselves by claiming the criteria for inclusion must necessarily be vague.

Interestingly, they quote the great Bob Cramspey. “Once players reach a certain level an appreciation of their relative worth is subjective.” Crampsey, who I sat with for many an hour as he compiled his ‘Ask Bob’ column for the Evening Times, also reckoned Cooper was one of the few players who would be considered watchable by any generation. Which, I think, would be enough alone to see him better than 48th by any standard …

Tuesday
Having already sacked Steve Kean in September and Henning Berg in December, Championship side Blackburn Rovers axe manager Michael Appleton after 15 games and just 67 days at Ewood Park. It would appear every manager Blackburn employs is of the interim variety. Either that, they’ve signed up to one of those day-to-day rolling contracts …

Wednesday
I wake up to find one of the tabloids proclaiming that a movie is to be made about Celtic founder Brother Walfrid with none other than Daniel Day Lewis in the starring role.

Brother Wilfrid StatueOf course, when it comes to Scottish football at the movies, nothing, not even Greegory’s Girl, can come close to A Shot At Glory, which starred Holywood great Robert Duvall and the legend that is Ally McCoist. The BBC’s Rob Maclean concurred, suggesting the movie even had a cult following. I’m sure that’s what he tweeted.

Whether Brother Walfrid’s tale, about how he set up a sporting club to help poor families in the East End of Glasgow (or the Kelly’s and White’s as they were better known), ever reaches the production stage, it is unlikely to be as bewilderingly surreal as the making of A Shot At Glory, and the sideshow that was Scottish football’s lesser lights being drawn towards the bright lights.

There are certain things you see in life that make you blink twice and look again. Seeing wee Bob Duvall at the Scottish Football Writers Association’s annual dinner in the company of former Airdrie assistant manager John McVeigh was one such moment, as was witnessing Batman (Michael Keating) at Boghead, or Hermann Goring (Brian Cox) at Rugby Park. As my now-deceased former Evening Times colleague Alan Davidson made mention, “this travelling circus might be more entertaining than the movie itself.” Who am I to argue …

Thursday
Pietro MenneaSad news today that Italy’s former 200m world record holder and Olympic champion Pietro Mennea has died, aged 60.

At the Moscow Olympics in 1980, Mennea denied Scotland’s Alan Wells a golden sprint double. Talking to Wells about that race, he once told me; “He (Mennea) was capable of anything. You were never sure what he was going to do. Sometimes, I don’t think he did either.”

It is a measure of Mennea’s ability that in 1979, he set a then-world best over the distance in Mexico, a mark still not bettered by a European athlete. Indeed, it took 17 years before his time of 19.72 secs was beaten by Michael Johnson at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Johnson’s record since bettered by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt.

Farewell to a true sprint great!

Friday
The Craig Levein Effect is still alive and kicking. Still adverts being fired around on social media telling us tickets are still available for tonight’s World Cup qualifier at Hampden against Wales. And to think the lengths people went to just to get briefs for Anfield in 1977 or Cardiff eight years later.

According to former Wales star Mickey Thomas, this is the worst Scottish team ever. Thanks for that Mickey. Yes, Scotland might not be enjoying the qualifying successes achieved a couple of decades ago. But when did Wales last qualify for a World Cup or European Championship finals tournament? Not even in my living memory. You need to go back to 1958 to find a World Cup finals event that featured Wales, a nation that invented the Eisteddfod just so they could win it.

In Garrison Keillor’s fine phrase, “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone.” The days have been cold and still. At night the sky has been clear, with a large Moon smiling gently down on us and Jupiter peeping over his right shoulder. Yes, Scotland in the week leading up to St Andrew’s Night is usually pretty quiet.

While the rest of the island has been beating its breast over the Leveson Inquiry into the bad behaviour of the British press, Scottish politicians have been holding back. They will debate the issue in the Scottish Parliament next week. The First Minister says he would prefer a “Scottish solution” and he has proposed setting up a non-political group, chaired by a high court judge, to examine how an independent press “ombudsman” might work, perhaps with the power to investigate complaints and the power to give victims proper redress.

As a former press man myself, I doubt if anything can tame the wild beasts of the media or the rumour mill, particularly now that they can roam at will in the jungle of the internet. The trouble is, the law is always too slow to catch up with them. The existing laws on contempt of court, obstructing the police, defamation, invasion of privacy etc all seem to take the courts years, and a lot of money, to enforce. Perhaps we should concentrate on enforcing the laws we already have more speedily rather than introducing new laws.

And while we are on the subject of law and order, it emerged this week that Scotland’s new single police force will have four deputy chief constables – each on a salary of £169,000. That’s more than the current chief constables are earning and is hardly a sign that merging our eight regional forces into one will actually save a great deal of money. There’s also been some confusion over who is in charge of the new force, the chief constable (salary £208,000) or the chairman of the new police authority.

As usual, the spectre of the 2014 referendum raised its head, like the Phantom of the Opera. It’s song this time was the song of the Clyde. The defence company BAE has warned that a shortage of orders will mean it will have to close one of its three warship-building yards in Britain – Portsmouth, Govan or Scotstoun. The last two, Govan with 2000 jobs and Scotstoun with 1500, are both on the Clyde and both potentially in an independent Scotland. Now there’s a pretty kettle of fish – as Gilbert and Sullivan would say – for the politicians to fry. We may know the outcome before the end of this year.

We learnt this week the true cost of Scotland’s aging population. The Scottish government already spends £4.5billion on health and social care for the over 65s and that is set to rise by over a billion every year, unless there are big changes to services. In evidence to the parliament’s finance committee, one health board said it would need to double the number of hospital beds over the next 20 years. All the more reason, I would have thought, to cut our spending on beds and provide more free care at home.

Just how vulnerable older people can be was dramatically illustrated when a farmer in Clackmannanshire accidentally cut through a gas main with his digger. Over 3000 homes in the hill-foot villages of Fishcross, Dollar and Tillicoultry were without heating for three days. The gas company was handing out small electric stoves to help old people survive.

At the other end of the age range, Scotland is fielding no fewer than three candidates, in the final shortlist of 12, for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year – Sir Chris Hoy, Andy Murray and Katherine Grainger. And this is in a bumper year for British athletes, the so-called “golden generation” spawned by the Olympic Games.

Our field sports however are not doing so well. Andy Robinson has quit as Scotland’s rugby coach after our team fell to a record low in the world rankings with that dreadful defeat by tiny Tonga. Our national football team is still looking for a permanent coach after coming bottom of its group in the World Cup qualifying rounds. And there’s yet another national stramash over how our football leagues should be organised.

Oh thank goodness it’s nearly Christmas. The festive lights in Edinburgh are being lit as I write. I can hear the fireworks in Princes Street. The Prime Minister’s Christmas tree has been sent down to Downing Street from a forest in Dumfriesshire. And, by the way, has anyone seen a batch of 420 Christmas trees which have been stolen from a farm near Jedburgh ? They were due to be delivered to an Ikea store. I do hope they haven’t been flat-packed and sent on to Lake Wobegon.

Sir Chris Hoy flies the flag at the Olympic opening ceremony Picture: Nick J Webb

Saturday
It was difficult to wake up on Saturday morning and not think about the night before.

There will be those pointing to the £27 million price tag, and those saying it was over the top and cheesy. But if Danny Boyle isn’t a “Sir” before this year is out, I’ll be amazed.

Covering a five-hour extravaganza isn’t easy. You need to research it, have crib notes galore, and be able to resist the opportunity to slip in your little gems of knowledge.

It’s when you leave the beaten track, or your script, that things can go slightly awry.

The sight of Bradley Wiggins, clad in the yellow jersey, was maybe too much for Hazel Irvine. She said all the right things, but then added a line about him being “the only winner of the Tour de France from these isles”.

Just imagine the noise a wrong answer used to get in Family Fortunes.

Her throwaway nugget was a surprise to a great many people, most of all to Stephen Roche, who won the race in 1987. Roche is of course from Ireland – which, the last time I looked, was part of the British Isles. Still, it was a long night.

And some will be hoping their careers last a bit longer than one evening as well.

After all the guessing, all the speculation and red herrings galore, it emerged that seven young athletes were to have the task of igniting the Olympic flame in the stadium.

Olympic legends Dame Kelly Holmes, Lynn Davies, Shirley Robertson, Duncan Goodhew, Daley Thompson, Dame Mary Peters and Sir Steve Redgrave – who carried the flame into the Olympic Stadium – nominated Adelle Tracey, Aidan Reynolds, Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk and Cameron MacRitchie to perform the ceremony.

What an honour. What a highlight. What a memory. What an enormous weight of expectation on young shoulders.

Because for as long as these youngsters perform, the media will monitor those performances. No pressure there, then …

Sunday
There was a time when it looked as if Rangers wouldn’t be making an appearance in any shape or form this season – as far back as last Friday, to be honest. But out trotted Ally McCoist’s men at Glebe Park in front of a capacity crowd of just over 4,000, a figure swelled by those able to tune in to BBC Alba.

I have in the past sung the praises of their coverage of Scottish sport. How others might learn from them. But I do wish they had a red button option for English commentary.

It took me back to a tale from yesteryear when John Brown of Rangers was entrusted with looking after new signings, showing them the ropes and routines, especially on away trips.

“Bomber” was to babysit new boy Terry Hurlock ahead of a game in Aberdeen.

Brown was in the bathroom, conversing with Hurlock who suddenly fell silent.

Brown found him sitting, absorbed in what was being shown on TV.

“I can understand you Bomber, and the other boys. But I can only understand every fifth or sixth word up here,” admitted a perplexed Hurlock – as he watched the Gaelic news on Grampian TV …

Monday
Teenager Ruta Meilutyte wins Lithuania’s first-ever Olympic gold in the swimming pool with victory in the 100-metre breaststroke.

It’s almost a British success, given that the 15-year-old attends school and is coached in Plymouth. So no danger then that any TV presenters would be giving it the old “hint-hint, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more” routine when it came to the question of drug-taking.

Unlike if you were from China

Tuesday
A lot of numbers being bandied around today, starting with those attached to the new SPL TV deal with Sky – who will show 30 games per season, plus five involving Rangers.

Does that mean that without the Ibrox club there would have been no deal? Where on the integrity scale does that one register?

The deal is allegedly worth £13 million a season, although £1m of that goes to the SFL clubs, with the rest divided amongst the 12 SPL sides, where points mean pounds.

So the winners come May can expect around £3m. Or should I say Celtic come May can expect around £3m. Somewhat shy of the £32m that Wolves, relegated from the English Premier League, earned last season.

Massive team, massive support, global admirers and a long history. Which, on a season-by-season basis, counts for ten times less than England’s most ordinary …

If eyes were diverted away from London, in Scotland at any rate, then they focused on Fir Park where Motherwell were involved in their first-ever UEFA Champions League qualifier.

Unfortunately they lost 2–0 to Panathinaikos. But given the importance and significance of the match, the good people of Motherwell and surrounds piled in to watch, all 9,035 of them.

Well, what else would you have expected for arguably the biggest game for the club in yonks, certainly their most important in Europe?

Yet that crowd figure was shy of the number which turned up last season to see Rangers at Fir Park, 9,063 the tally.

Rangers couldn’t possibly be a bigger attraction than such a crucial European tie? Could they?

Wednesday
Scotland hasn’t produced a swimming gold-medallist since David Wilkie in 1976. But Michael Jamieson had the chance to put that right, ironically in the 200m breaststroke, the event Wilkie won in Montreal.

Jamieson’s efforts were broadcast on the stadium big screens ahead of Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against HJK Helsinki.

The Team GB athlete had long held an ambition to perform at Parkhead, although that would have been with ball at feet and in a hooped jersey.

Still, it was good to see Olympic sport being welcomed by the Celtic faithful. However, I like many wondered if they would have stayed “live” with the medal ceremony and the national anthem had Jamieson won.

Now, we’ll never know – just have to keep guessing …

Thursday
Sir Chris Hoy wins again, his fifth Olympic gold medal, a member of the Great Britain sprint team.

“Not bad for an old man,” conceded his dad David, as ever right on hand to see his son’s latest success and furnish the press with a usable quote.

The best quote I ever heard about Chris, though, came during a photoshoot I set up ahead of his kilometre world record bid in Bolivia.

In the middle of an Edinburgh street, Chris stood with his lightweight super-bike above his head.

“Some machine that,” said an aged gentleman passing. “Thanks, it is,” Chris replied.

“Aye, but nothing like the machine holding it up,” added the old bloke. How right he was …

Friday
Katherine Grainger, after three successive silver medals, finally makes it gold, winning the double sculls with Anna Watkins.

A great gold for a great and dedicated sportswoman, and another win for Scotland, Grainger joining Hoy, fellow rower Heather Stanning and Tim Baillie in the C2 canoeing.

So, Scotland look well-placed for Rio in 2016, should independence be gained before then.

Or should someone point out to the saltire-wavers that those proud Scots were part of Union teams in each of their four disciplines?

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments.

A non-Augusta albatross Picture: twiddleblat

A non-Augusta albatross Picture: twiddleblat

Saturday
What a performance. What a result. No, not what happened at Rugby Park. What happened at the rugby.

Edinburgh produced the best-ever result (I don’t think anyone could ever say best-ever performance) from a Scottish side in the Heineken Cup, beating four-times winner Toulouse at a busy Murrayfield.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was more than enough to see Edinburgh through to the last four, with just a date in Dublin against Ulster (“just”, he says) between them and the final.

Nearly 38,000 turned up at Murrayfield. Big-time club rugby. But let’s not get carried away as some appear to be doing (headed in the direction of the nearest asylum). Edinburgh got that crowd because of the importance of the match, not because of any great support Edinburgh might have.

Many people I know who went saw it as a one-off, the chance to see Edinburgh – or just a Scottish club – that far advanced in the premier European club tournament. So before anyone sees Edinburgh as the biggest team in the capital – ahead of Hearts and Hibs – wait and see what your next home gate is.

Of course I can’t let Saturday pass without giving credit where credit is due. Well done to Celtic and Neil Lennon on winning the SPL title.

It is not a soiled title. It is not a tarnished trophy. It is not a competition won by the second-best team. Celtic won it fair and square. And anyone suggesting that Rangers’ ten-point penalty handed the Hoops the title are deluded.

It didn’t help the Rangers cause, admittedly. But there was no mention of penalties or administration when the Ibrox club lost a 15-point advantage in October. So please, get real …

Sunday
I hugely admire Sir Chris Hoy, although I still get to call him Chris. That might change if he wins another couple of golds this summer. I, like everyone else, might need to call him Lord Hoy.

And, on the evidence of Sunday at the world championships in Melbourne, he might have a chance of doing that. Hoy (or should I say Chris?) monstered his way to yet another world title (his 11th) by taking the keirin race. It was a typically gutsy, bullish effort from the Team Sky rider and one that should be sufficient to see him selected in that event come London.

He will also be part of the UK’s line-up in team sprint, but in the individual sprint he may (probably) need to concede that berth to his young team-mate and protégé Jason Kenny, who defeated the Scot in Melbourne.

Whatever events he participates in, Hoy will have everyone’s support. Or maybe not everyone’s.

His father, David, had the previous day highlighted the fact that British athletes had been given the chance to purchase two tickets from LOCOG for each session that they compete in. It means Chris may need to choose between sister, parents or wife Sarra as to who gets to see him winning again.

“It just needs somebody to sit down and think about the families who have got the athletes to this level,” said Hoy Snr. “Just a little bit of payback would be very welcome.”

Still, it could have been worse. The name Ticketus might have cropped up …

Monday
The Masters dominated the sporting Easter Sunday, and into the sma’ hours of Monday. It was worth staying up for.

As is the way these days, there were, naturally, a million-and-one comments posted on social media sites about the players, the shots and the protagonists.

What was the best shot?

Louis Oosthuizen’s albatross (or double-eagle as the Americans call it), or the eventual winner Bubba Watson’s Seve-esque wedge around the trees?

In the world of Twitter, however, there was an equally heated debate about the merits – or lack of them – around the emergence of former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan conducting the post-round interviews.

A great many didn’t catch up with that detail until Sunday night, probably not sure exactly who the “Michael” being referred to was.

But like a self-fulfilling prophesy that such jobs should be left to professionals, and that Vaughan would be caught out eventually (see the cricketing pun I used there), he boldly interviewed three-times Masters winner Tiger Woods.

“Four actually,” replied Tiger. Oops …

I, possibly more than most, realise that people need to make a start somewhere when they are switching careers or moving into new fields.

But it was asking for trouble to give someone so relatively inexperienced – and from a totally different sport – that gig in the first place.

Anyway, I’m just looking forward to the Olympics and Geoffrey Boycott interviewing Usain Bolt …

Tuesday
Category One whistler Charlie Richmond quits amid claims he believed he’d been shunned and frozen out by his SFA handler for not being a team player.

As ever, anyone who dares say anything about the Scottish Football Association is cast as a wrongdoer and a troublemaker.

Almost immediately, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan used Twitter to call Richmond a “consistent under performer”, while referees’ chief John Fleming joined in, stating: “I consider his comments an affront to the work currently being undertaken by the Scottish FA to promote and support referees at all levels.”

A closing of ranks there – or a closing of eyes?

Wednesday
It was such a big story that Reporting Scotland did a live interview from Somerset Park.

Yes, because of events the previous evening, Ross County were crowned First Division champions, earning them promotion to the SPL.

I congratulate them. See, I’ve said it.

But I’m sorry. I ain’t buying into the fantasy being perpetrated by one or two blatantly delusional (or drunk) individuals that Ross County’s arrival is going to be great for the SPL. It’s Ross County who are getting in, not Barcelona.

My reaction may appear like sour grapes, but when you get people pointing to the Scottish Cup final a few years ago (when they were tonked by Dundee United) as being an example “of the kind of crowds we could take to Glasgow”, then someone somewhere has lost both sense and sobriety.

Like the rugby boys on Saturday, that crowd was an exception to the rule, not the norm.

Against Ayr United, a few hundred fans (probably nearer the two than the three) travelled south. OK, it was a midweek game, and OK, Ayr United might not be must-see opposition.

But will Motherwell or Hibs or Kilmarnock or St Mirren be any more an attractive proposition come November or February next term? SPL chairmen and bean counters won’t be planning their bonus structure on what Ross County bring to the party.

No, they’ll base it on what the likes of Rangers might bring them.

A lot of posturing today from the SPL’s decision-makers about the type of penalties clubs facing liquidation (ie Rangers) might face if they come back in another guise (ie Rangers Newco).

Threats of ten-point penalties for two years, and TV and sponsorship incomes hacked back to just a third (around £800,000 as opposed to £2.4 million) have been voiced. All very threatening, all very we’ll-show-them-who’s-boss.

Whether the vote goes that way remains to be seen. A who-blinks-first scenario is forming: the SPL wants to teach those who have flouted the rules (ie Rangers) a lesson. But what happens if such a club (eg Rangers Newco) seeks sanctuary in the SFL, wrecking any TV deal and denying club’s vital income?

Oh, there will be a debate-and-a-half that afternoon.

Of course, all of this is worst-case scenario stuff. Of course, worse-case scenario is still a massive threat to some SPL clubs (ie Rangers).

The SPL’s leaders are right to toughen their stance on clubs that go into administration or liquidate. It shows how weak their rules were previously. Or didn’t they believe it could ever happen?

If that was the case, then they have been acutely negligent. Or didn’t they notice what happened at Motherwell and Gretna?

If they had moved their rules and regulations to make them more robust after those episodes, when Gretna went to the wall or when Motherwell made 19 players redundant, no one could have accused them of bolting the stable doors and all that, or of knee-jerk reactions and double standards …

Thursday
On a day when director of football Damien Comolli leaves the club by mutual consent and Peter Brukner, head of sports science and medicine, also departs, at least Liverpool chairman Tom Werner says the Anfield board has “great confidence” in manager Kenny Dalglish.

Just what you want to hear just two days away from your biggest game of the season – an FA Cup semi-final against arch-rivals Everton. Bad enough being eighth in the Premier League – but not as bad as being second-best in your home city.

After that vote of confidence, there were names galore being touted as Dalglish’s replacement. Who would I go for?

Why, David Moyes of course. At least, after spending £120-odd million on players, it would save Liverpool some money on a relocation package …

Friday
Busy day on the airwaves. Early morning shot on talkSport’s superb through-the-night show Extra Time with Mike Graham, before talking about the dangers of the Grand National on BBC Radio Scotland’s Call Kaye.

When I say dangers, I mean to the horses, not to your bank balance.

Of course, betting can be profitable. Take one punter yesterday who lifted £100,000 when Big Buck’s won on the opening day of the Grand National Festival, its 17th consecutive win.

And how much did they have to gamble to hit six figures? Just half a million quid, as the horse started at odds of 1/5.

Big Buck’s was such a sure thing. In most people’s cases, so too would be a heart attack …

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments.