Gringo & Son
We have a new regular feature for you to read over, a sort of catch up on the last few days at all things ICT. Dave and Rob, better known as Gringo and Gringo Junior will be bringing you what's been happening and keeping us up to date with all the goings on in and around the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium. I'll leave it to the lads to describe what it's all about. Junior is first up with this piece of gossip.
The new season is upon us, some may say it started too early for their liking, and our beloved Caley Thistle are yet to get a win in 5 attempts. Decisions have gone against us, chances have been missed and we're suffering in the treatment room, but personally I don't think it's time to be pressing the panic button just yet. Terry and Mo have worked hard to bring in new faces after the release of so many players at the end of last season, and with the likes of Tudur-Jones and Tansey in the ranks, as well as the return of Aaron Doran on a permanent deal, things will soon happen for us. As I said, it's a new season and it's only just begun.
'Gringo and Son Articles' will be another new addition to ICT this season, on the internet at least, from whereby 'Gringo and Son' (That's my old man and me, hence the name) shall give our own personal opinions on all things ICT. Our own take on things happening on the pitch, behind the scenes and probably even our own matchday experiences. Perhaps even a 'Travel Documentary' from Gringo whenever he's traveled to games. "We walked to the station and got on the train. We got off the train at our stop and had a beer. Then we got on our next train, and had a beer. We got off the train at our stop and had a pint. Then, we got on the next train..." I think you get the idea!
I am yet to make a game thus far, work and family commitments the issue, meaning Gringo has already got the 'Games per Season' family bragging rights, depite living almost 500 miles down the road! Even my mum, Mrs Gringo, has more games under her belt, something no lad is ever happy to admit! But I am actually quite pleased with how things have fared thus far since the end of last season.
The release of so many players at the end of the last campaign didn't really cause much concern for me as the players that were being released had perhaps had their day, or weren't worthy of being kept on. Blumenstein was never out of the treatment room, Odhiambo had a shocking first touch and blew hot and cold, and Golabeck & McBain were perhaps past their best. Only one of the ten released, in my view, should have been kept on, and that was Grant Munro. Not because he is a local lad who came through our youth system, but because he is a useful, basic defender who gets the job done. Since having his captaincy taken away he was able to concentrate fully on his game and keeping the defence tight and well managed. Foran was definitely an appropriate replacement as captain (forgive the word 'replacement'), and has led by example ever since, but we're currently missing something at the back, and Grant's experience would have been an advantage in helping our new younger signings, as well as keeping us a little more solid at the back.
Terry and Mo', despite being questioned about their decisions to release so many players, have done fantastic in bringing in some new blood, whilst also bringing back Aaron Doran on a 3-year permanent deal. Had any of us known we would have the likes of Welsh International player Owain Tudur-Jones in our ranks, as well as the aforementioned Doran, it's quite possible that many of the Caley Thistle faithful may not have been so harsh to judge the decision to release so many in the first place. Adam Rooney was, if you remember, still at the club having had a new contract offer placed on the table, and if we were able to keep hold of him, who knows how the season may have started?
It's no question that we are perhaps missing Adam, but at the same time perhaps not as much as many would have thought. Yes, he scored over 20 goals last term, but the majority of those came from the penalty spot or against lower league opposition in cup competitions. On that basis alone, you could argue that any one of the current squad, Tade or Foran maybe, would be ample replacements for spot-kick duties, which so far have not come our way. It's more Adam's ability to hold the play up and time runs properly that we are perhaps missing the most in the final third this season.
Five games have come and gone and judging by newspaper reports and listening to radio broadcasts, we have been pretty unlucky to not have a win under our belts yet. Our only point of the season so far came in a 3-3 draw away at East End Park, from which Gregory Tade received some criticism after the match for snatching a goal away from Richie Foran. The game itself was probably the worst performance of our season so far, although the scoreline suggested otherwise. The defence was poor throughout, we lost two of our defenders to injury during the game, and we lost a last minute goal courtesy of a cracking free-kick in injury time.
We are yet to gel as a squad and I suppose this was the danger when all those players were released last season. Finding replacements seemed to be the easy part, but getting them to gel has proved tough. It's great to see Chris Hogg back, but his lack of fitness has been clear to see, particularly in the match against Dunfirmline. Set-backs through injury are only going to lengthen the gelling process, with Tudur-Jones, Cox, Gillet, Meekings, Proctor and others all still weeks away from even being considered for selection. If that treatment table doesn't get quieter by Christmas, then I will maybe start to worry more.
The calibre of player we have at the club now is strong, when you consider the internationals in our squad. Welsh International Owain Tudur-Jones being the first name on everyone's mind. We also have Aaron Doran of Ireland, Johnny Tuffey of Northern Ireland and Nick Ross with his Scotland under-21 call ups. I reckon that Shane Sutherland may also get a call up too in the near future, but he will obviously need more regular starts in our very own first team to get that accolade. A player who may, as suggested on the caleythistleonline.com forum, hold a key to our goalscoring troubles thus far in the current campaign. Only Terry and Shane will know the answer to that one.
Off the park things haven't been going our way either and there is really only one thought on peoples mind when I say that - Rossco's rejected red card appeal for what was a clean and fair challenge on Steven Naismith against Rangers. As a topic that has perhaps been done to death, I'll not go on and on, but surely even the Rangers fans saying that Rossco took the player as well as the ball suggests that he won the ball in the first place. Video evidence and reports of the game all stood in the defence of Mr Tokely, so it makes me wonder just what kind of idiots we have running the SFA. It'll certainly be interesting to see how many of those decisions go for or against teams visiting Ibrox, or indeed Rangers themselves.
One incident off the park that many people would not have heard about, involves a young lad who visitied the home fixture against Rangers after spending much of the last few weeks in Raigmore Childrens Ward. 13 year old Keiren Sutherland (No relation to Shane) suffers from Cerebral Palsy and has recently undergone a hip operation, which has obviously caused him some discomfort and pain. He follows Caley Thistle's scores but his preferred team is Rangers. The lad said himself that it's a win-win fixture for him, a situation that I know many ICT fans find themselves in, not just with Rangers, but with Celtic, Hearts, Aberdeen and other teams too. You can only imagine Keiren's delight when his Grandad told him he was to be going to be going to the match. His first trip out of hospital since he had the operation. What Keiren didn't know was that Caley Thsitle had in fact invited him along to meet both sets of players prior to kick off. Laura and the rest of the staff, players and management couldn't have done more to make Keiren's experience a memorable one. Even David Tanner of Sky Sports got in on the action by having his photo taken and signing his autograph. This really goes to show how much of a community club Caley Thistle are, even if the people they deal with turn up in opponent colours. Unfortunately Keiren's experience turned sour when his (now former) idol, Steven Naismith, refused to have a photo taken or sign his book, but such was the effort put in by ICT, he came away absolutely delighted. Richie Foran is apparently his new favourite player, despite him not playing for Rangers.
Our next fixture should be an interesting one with a visit to Ayr United in the League Cup on Wednesday. Perhaps one of the best away days in recent years occurred at the very same venue in the penultimate fixture of the 09/10 season, when Caley Thistle were resounding 7-0 winners. I'm not expecting the same result this time round, but a win and a clean sheet would be very welcome. I'd love to see Shane Sutherland getting a start up front, and perhaps Johnny Tuffey will also get a game. But as with any cup affair we can't take our opponents lightly. We've had difficult cup games against Queens Park, Partick and even Elgin City in recent years, but in time we'll give someone a hiding. If that happens on Wednesday, it can only really act as a springboard to get our league campaign off the ground.
Cheers Gringo Junior, great first volume to catch up on the Caley Jags rollercoaster.
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