Football is indeed a funny old game.
In a year of pandemic misery our national sport has lifted the spirits of a tired and cynical nation.
Dominic Cummings is leaving number 10, the Brexit deal hasn’t been done, lockdown is on the horizon in the West of Scotland, etc. BUT all we want to do is talk about and relive our team finally doing the business.
For once lady luck came down on our side.
If we been the team to miss our last penalty and had the Serbians scored then Serbian Football would be £10million plus better off and it would be their team heading for Hampden and Wembley.
We’d still be in the doldrums and a Pandemic-accelerated financial basket case.
Scotland is now in their first finals since France 1998 and the nation is smiling and talking positively.
There is no doubt that Steve Clarke’s influence has been huge and we all owe him a real debt especially the bean counters at Hampden who must have been hiding behind their settees hiding their eyes through extra time and into the shoot-out.
Scotland is playing more like a club team with a binding spirit rather than a group of individuals who have just met, are there for the match fee and want to stay in their previous cliques.
The dark side is never far away though.
Overconfidence is always an issue when Scotland wins a few games.
Journalists are now filling pages talking about our 9 game unbeaten run and digging up statistics from the past about what 10 in a row would mean.
The fact that since we got humped 4-0 by Russia we’ve been playing second and third level teams rather than the big boys is somehow never mentioned as a counterbalance.
That we have qualified after 2 penalty shoot outs with a statistically unlikely 10 out of 10 consecutive strikes is put down to practicing penalty taking better than Israel and Serbia.
The two games in the next 4 days might extend our run or not – it doesn’t really matter.
We have the big prize for now and qualified against the odds.
Records will show the much higher ranked Norway and Serbia teams will be at home.
Ok we’ll be at home too but playing at Hampden and Wembalee.
Scottish Football on the park has rediscovered and is redefining teamwork.
Nothing else in our game or set up has changed
(That is a discussion for many another day though).
The success of our team is to a great extent serendipitous.
It’s not something anyone in a suit at Hampden has facilitated or can take credit for outside of hiring Mr Clarke who as Chic was telling us yesterday was the obvious candidate.
The right manager, Steve has gathered a promising group of players and with them negotiated a series of testing challenges.
The stark reality is sometimes the recent games have been painful to watch but progress in baby steps has been noticeable and we genuinely played well against the more fancied Serbia.
Teamwork has been our bedrock.
Teamwork that has been missing for a long time in our international set up and I would argue throughout our game behind the scenes.
Yes we lost a silly goal at the death but Serbia is some 15 places above us in the FIFA rankings and on the night we were by far the better side.
The same Serbian team that had just returned from Oslo having taken apart the much-vaunted Norwegian side.
Steve Clarke has been the catalyst that has facilitated the unforeseen move from Scotland being a team of self-interested individuals into one with the team spirit.
Yes Steve We Can Boogie.
The Scottish team has moved on and the future is brighter on the international stage.
I understand too why many previously ardent Scots fans had distanced themselves from the team as a personal protest against The SFA and their actions over the last few years.
I get that.
But listening to Ryan and Andy and Lyndon and Steve was enough to demonstrate that these guys are playing for the country and their folks back home and not the blazers or the system.
I buy into their passion and that alone is enough to bring even the stubbornest fans back aboard.
When Big Pink asked me to write a blog about the future of this site a couple of weeks back I said I would like to lurk for a few weeks and do some digging.
I have lurked and gone even further back too.
Top line is the SFM blog is not what it was but you all know that.
Here is Some Feedback
Bit by bit; imperceptibly over the months and years the site has entrenched into the home of the anger and the facts against what John Clark has come to call “The Big Lie”.
Its about how the authorities dealt with the financial collapse of Rangers and set the scene for a series of mayhemic events since.
It’s a big Scottish football story and a good insight into how the game managed itself
But other things have been happening since and football has broken out.
One of you said just yesterday
“This site has become a single issue site only becoming alive when something IBROX is current”.
That is partially true and is something to address because it diminishes what this site can achieve.
The number of posters has eroded since the RTC days and the number of clubs represented by posters has also diminished. The site was always a little Celtic minded but open and welcoming of all clubs at the same time.
Some of that goodwill leaked away in this summer’s SPFL pantomime season when self-interest and the quest for 10 became a subconscious position for some of your group.
The level of politeness and the moderation on the site has however remained a huge asset and is almost unique.
This openness has led recently to one serial troll reappearing after several previous monikers and he/she/they have been playing games with several well know posters. The resultant “dancing on a head of a pin” conversations are not so much “Monitoring Scottish Football” as “doing people’s heads in” and this episode has not helped.
That being said I wish salmon were as easy to hook as some on here.
I don’t think there are enough Headline Blogs like this one and in the past I’ve been told many new blogs are simply skimmed politely and ignored as the discussion reverts to the ongoing various fall outs of the consequences of the infamous secret 5 way agreement and all that has ensued following that particular monumental administrative cock up.
I well remember too and liked Stunney and his papers every morning and even though most of what is written in the back pages of the red tops is there to fill space it was still fun to read.
At the same time there has been so much going on that would have benefitted from the forensic discussion that SFM posters brought to the party.
The court reporting by John Clark, EasyJambo and others has been quite dogged, incredibly insightful and shown up the media on many an occasion.
As the subjects under discussion on SFM became narrower I think the site stopped attracting new blood and also accelerated the departure of valued posters.
The diminishing site then became easier for serial disrupters to play with and the ever-decreasing circles metaphor has probably become a reality.
Finally, the adverts on the site that appeared, as if by magic, a few years ago do not deliver enough revenue to justify the inconvenience to readers.
I can’t read the site on my phone without clicking into people trying to sell me stuff I have no interest in.
That’s just a summary of my views as someone who values what this site has brought over the years.
Is it Time for a Reboot at SFM?
I’d say yes and here are a few suggestions to get you thinking and to start a discussion ahead of Big P and his monitors taking some decisions.
Scottish Football needs an independent conscience.
Scottish Football will be the stronger for it.
SFM can be a huge part of that.
Not all fans will want to be part of it because many just want to support their teams and that is fair enough but without a fan voice and without real analysis of what is really going on all that will happen is we’ll get more of the same that took us into the football wilderness.
And without the right changes even Steve Clarke will run out of steam one day when the penalty gods favour some other side.
So here are 5 ideas for SFM to consider
1 A Regular Blog
This doesn’t have to be written for us like in the past– it can just be a weekly news pick that we highlight to set a discussion agenda.
2 The Creation of a John Clark Wall where we hold the facts about the run up to and the creation of his “big lie”.
Set it all our logically and leave it alone for a future date.
It won’t go away because the action created issues for everyone involved.
It should be constructed for all fans with no jelly and ice cream flavouring.
This action would makes SFM the experts and place to go to read what really happened, helps get that monkey off everyone’s back and can be revisited every February 14th or when something turns up.
It might throw more light too in why we are rejoicing about Scotland getting a £10M windfall from qualifying while nobody is talking about the £80M court case costs heading our way as a nation.
All out of a secret 5 way construct back in 2012 and good for nobody whoever you support.
In the meantime SFM should broaden the discussion on other areas like the dropping of the pyramid, the secrecy inherent at the SFA, SPFL and their JRG, Strict Liability, etc. etc. etc.
3 The return of likes for posts that are good or if you agree but with a difference.
I occasionally post on another site which is free to read for anyone but if you want to post or like another post you have to be registered and all likes show the name of the person who has posted.
4 A consideration for different threads at the same time.
5 No ads.
Sponsorship is fine and banner ads for sponsors too but no commercial links that wheech you off to pastures unknown.
Evolution rather than Revolution
I look forward to the debate and to working with Big Pink and his team.
As chair of the largest Scottish group of fans the SFSA (If you’re not a member please join) I know that the only certainty is that fans will never agree about everything or sometimes even anything.
The tribal and competitive nature of football sets us against each other and causes divisions and disagreements that can become entrenched.
Some would say that is part of the fun of it all.
That being said we do generally agree and care deeply about the following.
We want vision, leadership and most of all fairness and transparency.
All alien words in our game as is.
OK Scotland has qualified for a major championship but our game is still locked in a self-interest framed self-imposed wrestling hold and the fact is that escape will never happen without change.
SFM and SFSA can both be part of that.