I've done this every year for sixteen years, and to be honest it's never felt more like a chore. When you don't have any skin in the game - that's six years Caley Thistle have been stuck in the Championship - it becomes even harder to be motivated by watching Celtic and Rangers pump everybody. It's also more difficult than ever to pick players from other clubs for this XI, because I'm very close to crossing the 'taking the p***' line' by doing so. Still, I've tried my best. For historical reco
Top ten time! Here's the countdown from 25 to 11, if you missed it. 10. JOHN SOUTTAR (RANGERS) There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and John Souttar getting injured. Inevitably Soapy got crocked on his Rangers debut and was missing for eight months; giving him an Old Firm game at Celtic Park for his first start felt like a disaster waiting to happen and so it proved with the centre-back gifting a goal with a dreadful backpass. Rangers need a reliable partner for Connor Goldson; Sou
So I don't have the time to blog much these days. But this series has been going on since 2012/13 and I'm worried that the world will end if I stop. Also, people tend to enjoy it; there's something so very Scottish Football about fans complaining that their team's duffer isn't at the top of my list. The ten previous winners, by the way: 2012/13: Rory Boulding (Kilmarnock) 2013/14: Stephane Bahoken (St. Mirren) 2014/15: Jim Fenlon (Ross County) 2015/16: Rodney Sneijder (Dundee United) 2016/17:
At one end of the scale, Scottish football finances are in rude health. Celtic and Rangers both reached the promised land of the Champions League group stages this season, which means megabucks. Whilst Rangers have had some interesting spending habits over much of the last decade, this along with the sale of Calvin Bassey will surely leave them no longer dependent on the riches of Douglas Park. But 2023 could be a very difficult year for a number of Scottish football clubs. The main reason for
To be honest, these days the Premiership preview is a slog to write. That's partly because my own team aren't in it, partly because I don't have the time to do pieces on individual clubs anymore and partly because for my entire football life it has been either a one horse or two horse race. And a race like that isn't interesting unless you're backing one of the two horses, So I'm happy to accept that this is a bit thin and fully expect to be quickly proved wrong on most of it before the clocks g
Here we go then. The Scottish Championship is my bread and butter, by which I mean that I make the same blunders as in all the other previews but with much more confidence. Allegations that I predicted Arbroath to finish bottom last season and Dunfermline to make the playoffs (no,not those playoffs) are absolutely outrageous and completely true. In recent times this division has tended to be dominated by a single club who clearly have more cash to throw at the squad. Out of the last eight cham
As someone with a wicked sense of humour and a deep love of schadenfreude, League One will doubtless bring me lots of joy every season as long as my own team aren't stuck in it. It's a beautiful combination of full-time clubs who feel the seaside leagues are beneath them - and whose players too often play as if they feel the same - and part-time sides who range from battle-hardened, dangerous units to a complete omnishambles (sometimes both in the same season) with everything in between. It se
Those of you who have read my previews before (all three of you) will know that I put a large onus on budget as a factor in how well clubs will do. And with good reason. After all, last season League Two had Kelty Hearts; the season before that there was Queen's Park, who won the title by 16 points in a campaign only 22 games long; in 2019-20 Cove Rangers were 13 points clear when the final quarter was written off. And for 2022-23 we have, well, nobody who really stands out. Which should mean a
The keeper and back four can be found here.
We're going 4-2-3-1 this year, as for some reason none of the strikers in this league could hit Adam Rooney levels of goalscoring, let along Michael Higdon levels. On the other hand, the midfield could get a bit over-run and there may be more wingers than there are wings. Still, it's my site and my rules, so there.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: CALLUM MCGREGOR (CELTIC), JOE ARIBO (RANGERS)
Honourable mentions: Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), David Turnbull (Ce
So when I first did one of these, Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, I had a hairline that was still within communicating distance of my forehead and Allan McGregor was playing for Rangers. What? Oh.
Anyway, this is the fifteenth annual Team Of The Year. Here's the previous fourteen. I regret nothing. Except Daniel Majstorovic, but that goes without saying.
2007/08: Allan McGregor (Rangers), Alan Hutton (Rangers), Carlos Cuellar (Rangers), Lee Wilkie (Dundee United), Lee Naylor (Celtic),
The players ranked 25 to 11 can be found here.
Before we move on, there has to be an honourable mention for Caleb Chukwuemeka, whose exploits for Livingston had escaped me before I published the first part of this double-bill. Chukwuemeka, on loan from Aston Villa, suffered the ignominy of being subbed just seven minutes after coming off the bench against Aberdeen with David Martindale criticising his work-rate. That was less than a month after arriving; the forward has made a couple of appe
Ten years I've been doing this. Man, there have been some duffers. Here, for the record, are the nine previous 'winners':
2012/13: Rory Boulding (Kilmarnock)
2013/14: Stephane Bahoken (St. Mirren)
2014/15: Jim Fenlon (Ross County)
2015/16: Rodney Sneijder (Dundee United)
2016/17: Joey Barton (Rangers)
2017/18: Eduardo Herrera (Rangers)
2018/19: Umar Sadiq (Rangers)
2019/20: Madis Vihmann (St. Johnstone)
2020/21: Shane Duffy (Celtic)
Here we go for year 10, with the countdown from 25
I have been taking pictures at BMO field, in the stands since the opening season in 2007. Getting the camera into BMO Field has always been an issue, so much so that for the first few seasons I carried not only a printout of the BMO and TFC camera policies but also a letter from Paul Beirne specifically noting that cameras were permissible for personal use and that my use had been verified as such.
This website exists for friends and fans alike, its personal rather than professional and I never
I did it for the first 9 games, so the law dictates that I have to do it again: here's a look at the second quarter of the Championship season.
First, a caveat: whilst Arbroath are indeed part-time, this is not a bunch of guys playing for expenses money and a post-game booze up. Dick Campbell's squad contains plenty of players who could - should - be at full-time clubs but who probably make more money from the combination of football and a day job than plenty of ful
I don't care what anyone else says, the Championship is the most interesting division in the SPFL. What's that you say? "You're only saying that because the team you support is top of the table"? That's an outrageous allegation that I can neither confirm nor deny at this time.
We are now nine games, or one quarter, of the way through the season. So here's a breakdown of how the ten clubs are faring, with a grading system shamelessly stolen from the legendary Tell Him He's Pele site of years
Lyndon Dykes will be missed in Moldova
Dykes reminds me of the character in the Monty Python 'Upper-Class Twit Of The Year' sketch who "doesn't know when he's beaten, this boy, he doesn't know when he's winning either. He doesn't have any sort of sensory apparatus". I had no doubt at all that the naturalized Ozzie would be unfazed by his penalty miss against Israel, and there was something very Dykes about scoring a goal by essentially karate-kicking the ball. But whilst he remains somewhat lim
Are we ever going to have a battle for the league title again?
A two horse race isn't much more exciting than a one horse race when you don't have a stake in either, but last season some thought Rangers might be able to push Celtic a bit. Not too many expected them p*** all over Celtic's ten-in-a-row dream. Steven Gerrard's side won the title by 25 points. Can Celtic turn that back around. The evidence of their opening European games was not encouraging.
As for the other ten, we're very muc
For the first time since 2014, there isn't a club in this division that could be considered a Scottish football heavyweight - yes, I'd still refer to Dundee United as such, even if they are a bit flabby with bingo wings and move slower than a week in jail. There's also not a club like Dundee or Ross County who have significant financial backing from a benevolent millionaire.
So in theory at least the Championship is up for grabs. However Kilmarnock - back at this level for the first time sin
Given that League One is still mostly the domain of part-time clubs, any full-time teams should always be considered favourites.
Partick Thistle lived up to that billing last season, eventually. Falkirk on the other hand collapsed like a house of cards in a hurricane; if missing out on promotion was a catastrophe, slumping to fifth place is, er, something worse than a catastrophe?
For 2021/22, the Bairns, Airdrie - who have a bit of a hybrid model in their squad - and Queen's Park, who are
In recent seasons Scottish League Two has been dominated by clubs that have been rather flush with cash for this level - Queen's Park last season, and Cove Rangers the year before. At the other end of the table, the addition in 2015 of a relegation playoff has forced smaller sides who have cruised along at this level for aeons to either ship up or ship out; league mainstays East Stirlingshire and Berwick Rangers have languished in the Lowland League after dropping out of the SPFL, while Brechin
We waited twenty-three years for this, and what did we get? An endless barrage of mediocre nausea-related puns regarding the name of the Czech goalscorer.
What we didn't get was the epic, all-action, never-say-die, no-one-lives-forever performance from the home side that we were looking for and, frankly, expecting. Heck, no-one even got booked.
Don't forget that Scotland were the home side here. Opportunities to play at a major tournament are like hen's teeth for us; to do it on our own
The keeper and back four can be found here.
Here's the midfield and attack. This season I've gone for a 4-2-3-1.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: STEVEN DAVIS (RANGERS), ALI MCCANN (ST. JOHNSTONE)
Honourable mentions: Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), Hakeem Odoffin (Hamilton Academical), Joe Newell (Hibernian), Allan Campbell (Motherwell)
When Davis returned to Ibrox in 2019 he looked woefully unfit and I don't think I was the only one who thought his legs were gone; now 36, he looks as sprightly as ever and
Okay, since it's only two days till Steve Clarke announces his Euro 2021 squad, maybe it isn't too early for me to speculate anymore? So here's who I think - not necessarily who the boss thinks - will be the twenty-six players who will wear the Scotland shirt at a major tournament for the first time since France '98.
It'll be interesting to see who benefits from the decision to increase the squad size from twenty-three, given that the three fortunate so-and-so's are virtually certain not to
Best for Inverness on a difficult day was Wallace Duffy. What an invitingly sumptuous cross for Dan Mackay to power in a diving header. Cammy Harper on the other flank was equally impressive against Celtic's wide players and in midfield David Carson and Sean Welsh battled hard to stem the possession that Celtic were always going to dominate. We struggled up front working off scraps but substitute Dan Mackay scored that brilliant late power header to give us hope, albeit only fleeting. In general our defence stood firm for large parts of the game, seemingly working to a plan. Much better than many Premiership teams fared this season. Nobody hid in this game but we were restricted to what we could by a quality treble winning side. Blood, sweat and tears of pride.
As the season draws to a close we will not see so many of these guys here next season, but it has been an abstract pleasure reporting on our once again rollercoaster of a season.
The wait is over: Having lain idle since the 5th of May Championship flop against Ayr United, the long wait for the Scottish Cup Final is over for the Caley Jags. I imagine the stattos amongst us will be searching their Guiness Book of Records to find out the biggest winning margin in the Scottish Cup Final. I'll save you the bother. Renton 6-1 v Cambuslang on 4th February 1888. Or, ominously, Celtic 6-1 Hibernian on 6th May 1972. Are we about to change records?
Win or lose, I hope you all enjoy the occasion.
Semi-Final Joy: With a VAR assisted penalty, Billy Mckay opened the scoring early in the first half. Dan Mackay headed in the second from an inviting Jay Henderson Cross. Falkirk had their moments, Callumn Morrison hitting the post after some defensive indecision on the edge of the box. However, we did our own post hitting and Billy Mckay wrapped up the victory in the second half with a well taken finish, his 100th goal for the Caley Jags. That ensured our progress into the final. Nathan Shaw was unfortunate twice off the post and Falkirk were denied a consolation by some dogged defending. All in, comfortable in the end and Hampden calling once more.
The last time we played Falkirk at Hampden in front of 37,000 fans, it was a history making event. I don't really need to tell you how that worked out, but for those that were on another planet, we won the Scottish Cup by beating Falkirk 2-1. Since then both clubs have underachieved and hit the skids. Falkirk are now trying to get themselves out of league 1 and we are desperately trying to keep ourselves in the Premiership play-off slot after a horrendous season littered with injuries to the whole squad. A third round struggle past Stirling Albion before we went through to the 5th round by default against Queens Park, but since then have comfortably disposed of Premiership opposition in Livingston and Kilmarnock. Falkirk got here by putting six past Wick Academy before a narrow 2-1 win at Alloa. They then dumped media darlings Darvel 5-1 and in the quarter final put out Ayr United. On paper we will be the bookies favourites. That's not something we are normally comfortable with and I fully expect Falkirk will also fancy their chances in this one, and rightly so. Be warned!
Applause for Tommy Cumming set the scene on a dry but breezy afternoon. As it panned out it ended all square. Dundee were quick out of the blocks and pestered Mark Ridgers early on without creating the clear cut chance to open the scoring. Level at the break, the Dark Blues continued in the same vein after the break and made the breakthrough on the hour when Lyall Cameron scored. However we have been resilient of late and substitute Austin Samuels earned us a point with fifteen minutes remaining as we came back at Dundee to quieten their raucous support who firmly believe Billy is a short rotund person born out of wedlock!