Monday, June 1, 2015

Sow good. The championship season.


It's been a belter. Obviously for those of us who watch the fitba through maroon-tinted goggles it was unexpectedly painless, at least in the league. The cups were another story but if Robbie Neilson's plan was to concentrate on the league then it worked a treat. The three-horse race with Hearts, The Rangers #2 and Hibernian didn't work out. Instead, Hearts had the league sown up before Valentine's Day with Falkirk and Queen of the South in particular forming a cluster of four some distance behind.



I was lucky enough to be at the Whisky Fringe when news of Sow's last minute winner at Ibrox came through. Probably the most important goal of the season. It instantly dented the unfounded and undeserved self-regard of Sevco Rangers and their lapdogs in the media. From that game on, they were trailing Hearts and proceeded to go to pieces. That was followed up by another important defeat of Hibernian who after the previous season's farce hadn't really got going yet.



Hibs then lost two on the bounce to Falkirk and Alloa while Sevco dominated all teams until they too met the unpredictable Alloa with only a late goal saving them from defeat. More points lost to Hearts though. The gap was to grow even larger after Hibs visited Castle Greyskull and handed Salary McCoist's overpaid duds a 3-1 defeat. Hibs had looked uncomfortable at first, barely able to string a pass together, but then the Sevco defence imploded and Sevconian FC were fortunate to keep the score to 3. In typical Hibs fashion though they followed up that satisfying win by drawing at home to Raith Rovers. The much ridiculed Christian Nade creating havoc in the Hibs defence. Hearts were still undefeated when they met Hibs for the first Easter Road derby. Hibs were up for it and Hearts despite having possession and chances didn't look like scoring. Hibs did, Hearts got a man sent off and Hearts were heading for defeat. With the Hibs fans bouncing and taunting, the Hibs players inexplicably gave Hearts the freedom of the pitch. Ozturk took the ball and this happened... 




Late November and Hearts hammered yet more nails into McCoist's coffin with a 2-0 win at Tynecastle. Rangers turned up with a mission to hurt and that they did. Incredibly, only one of them saw red but young Kevin McHattie was forced out for months after a horrific kick from Kenny Miller. Hibs meanwhile lost again to Falkirk. Mid December saw McCoist have his ass handed to him in Dumfries after a convincing win for Queen of the South against 'The People'. Hearts marched on regardless. The start of December saw Sevco in a cup semi-final and plucky wee Alloa. Surely this would bring some comfort for Salary and his well-remunerated players? Maybe not. One of the results of the season... 




Ally McCoist then became the first(!!!) Rangers manager of the season to leave footballing duties in favour of 'gardening leave'. With a glum Kenny McDowall now in the throne, Sevco's defence went all LibDem and things could only get better...

  

High-score of the season is an easy one to call. Again, an important win came when Da Rangers were labouring to draws with Falkirk and er... Cowedenbeath the week following this mauling.

  

In March, Stuart McCall who had done a grand job leading Motherwell into danger took over at the Ship of Fools and went on an unbeaten run. Or in other words, a series of draws against teams in the second tier of football whose player budgets would barely stretch to buying a pair of spades for both of Rangers' gardening-leave managers.

Hibs meanwhile were looking good and were now the closest of 'the other two' to Hearts. When they met Rangers at Easter Road on March 22 anything other than a Hibs win would give Hearts the title. As per usual in games of high significance, Hibs went to pieces and McCall was the toast of the Blue Derry Boys of Billy Union Orange or whatever the Rangers' fans sing about themselves.

When the fixtures were announced, the Hearts/ Rangers match on the final day of the season was seen by some to be the title decider. In the end, Hearts won it without kicking a ball. In the middle of March. All that were left were the play-offs. Alloa deservedly secured their Championship status while the formidable Queen of the South narrowly lost to Rangers. The idea of Da Rangers back in the top flight was as appealing to most of us as being caught in a sandwich between Eric Pickles and Jackie Baillie. Could Hibs stop them? No. Only Motherwell, who had under Stuart McCall, been sacrifical lambs for Die Rangers stood between the Premiership and the Forces of Dunkelheit.

In the end, all's well that ends well. Sevco were trounced over two games and their cartoon defender Moshni is facing police action after giving Motherwell's Irwin a bit of doing after the final whistle. At least for another year, Scotland's top flight will be spared the violent play of Rangers players as well as the violence, sectarianism and racism of their fans. Some further financial woe is not out of the question. 'Glib and shameless' Dave King who had a hand in the previous Rangers going bust is now at the helm. What could go wrogn?

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