football

Exercise and Mental Illness

*Before we begin I would like to make it abundantly clear that I am not an expert on mental illness, I’m just here to write about some of my personal experiences of it. I’m going to marry my anxiety/depression with my lifestyle as someone who plays competitive football (soccer) on a regular basis and, as of January, goes to the gym two to three times a week.*

*As stated above I am by no means a medical expert, so if you think you might need help/advice then please go to your doctor. (I really should take my own advice but who has the time!)*

Retrospectively I believe I have always dealt with some form of mental illness. I didn’t notice it, at the time, in high school but looking back there was definitely a degree of anxiety and stress that existed back then. By the time I reached university it was in full flow. I transformed from this happy, go lucky, little Glaswegian to this suffocated, self-doubting, unmotivated, capitulated person. I was going through life simply existing. I always feel weird talking about this time, because while all this ‘negative thought process’ was taking shape I was forming some of the greatest friendships and creating some of the best moments of my life. And I never forget that that was the case. Truth be told though if I hadn’t met the wonderful Christine McMahon in that daft work-experience course during my 3rd year of university  then I honestly don’t know how worse I would have got.

I felt very isolated at university and, for the first time in my life, I felt very alone. My best friend Natalie was always there for me, except in 2nd year and the years following when we were on different timetables and that’s when I started to spiral. I struggled to make friends because I was so shut down and closed off. There was a sadness surrounding me, it’s no wonder people stayed clear.

It had got to the point where I was basically speaking to my Mum regularly about life and “how we just get a job – in an office – we work there until we’re 65 (probably 70 by the time I get to retirement) and then we die – that’s it Mum – that’s my working-class life”. I still have strong feelings about the working-class hero and the lifestyle that is made for them, but I also have strong feelings towards the teenage/going on 20 year old me who had completely given up on life.

I am incredibly happy to say that I am now, generally speaking, able to stay on top of my mental health. I exercise, I listen to music, I play my guitar, I write (A LOT) and I am a much happier person for doing so. It would be great if I consciously didn’t have to do these things in order to keep my head above water. I mean I do love playing my guitar, and from a young age the first thing I did when I came home from school was turn on my speakers and crank up the volume. Old habits die hard because I still rush home from work just to hear the same old songs I’ve listened too since I was a wee bambino carefully and meticulously listening to and remembering every word of Elvis Pressley’s ‘30 #1 Hits’ album. I’ve been doing this for so long that most of this self-care is subconscious thought and action, but I do have the odd reminder where I’m very aware that this is how my mind copes with it all. Consciously, I’ve even thought of bringing my guitar to work for some respite through the day but that always seems a little far-fetched; even though there hasn’t been a day gone by since 2013 that I haven’t reached for my guitar. It gives me peace. Music, my guitar and my writing is my own little self-care package. Exercise to a degree is part of that package but, I have discovered, it can come with its own complications.

Exercise is a different kettle of fish; and it’s one which I haven’t quite mastered. I don’t know if perhaps the nature of sport demands a mental strength that I’m maybe not prepared to cope with, at this time or all the time, but it’s definitely a relationship I would like to dissect.

Last night at football (soccer) training I completely lost myself. I was filled with self-doubt, I repeatedly told myself I was no good, and I felt an incredible sadness come over me. Last night has most definitely been the worst manifestation of my depression/anxiety. I hated every minute of the training session – through no choice of my own and through no one else’s fault (i.e. my team mates and/or coaches). It really makes me angry too because when I rocked up to training I was joking with my friends about the potential dangers of listening to Bob Marley in the car because I was totally zoned out and loving life. I was absolutely fine when we had our pre-training team talk, I was happy as Larry going through the warm-up and then we stepped into the first possession drill and IT just happened. The scariest part for me is that I can’t put my finger on why it happened? For me, there was no reason. None, whatsoever.

When this anxiety comes out of nowhere and, appears, to happen for no reason – that’s when I get really scared. My greatest fear comes to life when I don’t feel in control of my own mind.

It’s so cliché but it really is like a dark cloud just swirling round your wee head telling you that you’re no good. It’s relentless. I can’t really put it into words but in simple terms it’s a battle with yourself, and it’s one that no matter the outcome you’re always on the losing side. I am very fortunate to say that this intensity of anxiety doesn’t happen to me often; in fact it’s pretty rare but nevertheless it’s still very frightening. I think the scariest thing for me is that I have dealt with a more consistent bout of depression before, back when I was in university. I hated my day to day life as a student. I always had a passion for learning, and for the most part it was my thirst for knowledge that got me through, but I really had little motivation to do anything else other than drink alcohol – which let me tell you is not, always, a good tonic for depressive thoughts. I get really scared because I think I might revert back to this state.

Back to the football field where my anxiety materialised, I am going to talk you through exactly what happened to me last night. There are several stages to my mental illness, and I think I went through every single one of them over the course of a 2-hour training session.

So as I said before, IT hit me during the first possession drill of the night. First stage: anger. I lost the ball, someone took it off me and I just screamed ‘fuck!’. A couple of my team mates reacted to my aggression – not understanding that my mind is in a whirlwind of self-doubt – and so comes stage two: paranoia. I think that my team mates are laughing at me, and in that moment I don’t trust them. I’m suspicious of my friends – who I’ve known and loved for over a year. I love these people, I don’t want them to be afraid of me, I don’t want them to think I don’t trust them because I DO (even if my anxiety doesn’t). And so comes stage three: guilt. I feel guilty that I felt that way about my friends. “They’re good people”, I tell myself. “Why are you being like this?”, I tell myself. And therein lies stage four: self-blame. I feel bad. I am a bad person because I thought badly of my friends. “Nothing has happened to you today. I’ve had a good week. Why are you sad right now?” These critical and questioning thoughts circle round my head continuously over the 2-hour session. I feel like I don’t deserve to be sad. By the time we reach the last 20 minutes my breathing has become heavy, I have my hands resting on my knees, I’m decked over with my head staring at the ground and all I want to do is scream. FULL CIRCLE. We’re back to anger. By this point I have stopped trying and I admit defeat (the worst stage). A couple of my team mates have noticed that something isn’t right. They do the right thing and they ask me “Lindsay, are you okay?”. I can’t express to you enough how important that question is, and how grateful I am that you asked me that question. And please, even if I didn’t give you an answer, or if I shrugged you off and shut you out, know that I didn’t do that from a place of anger, or dislike –  I did it because I can’t cope with the vulnerability of the whole situation. I hate my friends seeing this side of me. I don’t think I’ve ever let my family see that side of me, some of my friends will read this and not have a clue that this is even going on with me and that’s okay. Because that’s the way I needed it to be.

I’m reading this back and I’ve just realised that I’ve told a BIG FAT LIE. Christ, I might even have been lying to myself all these years. I love football, I really do but I think it’s just dawned on me that football isn’t an escape for me as it is for so many other people. I think I’ve just had an epiphany.

I suffered massively with anxiety and depression in high school. I’ve only just realised that this anxiety didn’t manifest in the corridors of All Saints Secondary but on the field at Lennoxtown, Barrowfield and the concourse at Celtic Park. When I was 16 I achieved a dream that I had since I was 5 years old. I signed a contract to play for Celtic Football Club. I played football (soccer) at the Celtic Girls Academy, and even made it into the Reserve Team, for two seasons all in. It should have been the happiest time of my life. In stark contrast it was one of the worst times of my life, and I’ve never been able to explain why this was the case and I think there’s proof in the pudding here that it filled me with such a negative energy that I actually managed to block it out for a while there.

Dear God, I can’t believe I managed to ignore that crippling self-doubt that plagued me from the age of 16 to the age of 18 for so long. It makes me incredibly sad that I suffered from mental illness at a time in my life when I’d achieved my childhood dream. There were great people in that club, and that team. I still remember my team mates fondly, but I doubt they think the same of me because similar to my time at university I was shut off and sad – all the fucking time! I couldn’t make head or tail of it. I feel sad that those girls never got to know the real me, because the real me is pretty funny and in all honesty once I get going you can never shut me up but I don’t remember having any particularly long conversation with anyone at the Celtic Academy – which is such a shame. I was young, and I didn’t understand that I was ill. I didn’t even recognise it at the time. I suppose I thought I was just shy. Which I can be, that’s for sure. But it was just an excuse (or a false truth).

I can’t believe I’m only realizing this now, 5/6 years on. Madness!

I think it’s safe to say football and my mental illness have a rocky relationship to say the least. Football demands a lot of mental toughness – perhaps I don’t have it, or perhaps I have it but just not on a consistent basis. A lot of this toughness is about maintaining certain mental attributes. You MUST maintain self-confidence, you MUST maintain motivation, you MUST bounce back from mistakes immediately and you MUST maintain a positive attitude. I get all those things, and understand their place in sport but for someone like me that is an incredibly demanding list of mental attributes. I think in many ways the sport that I love and choose to play is crippling me. Don’t get me wrong if you step back and look at the bigger picture the things I learned, especially at the Celtic Academy, have stood me in good stead my whole life and trust me I never forget that. I always maintain a high standard of myself in everything I do. But I’m no wonder woman, and I have my flaws and my weaknesses. FYI: that’s okay.

I read this tweet recently that was discussing this concept called ‘toxic positivity’. It was dispelling the phrase “Don’t be negative” as something that had come to mean don’t think critically, don’t feel negative feelings, don’t focus on bad experiences, don’t ask for help and really, to get down to it, don’t be anything but a happy person. This isn’t possible, nor does it force you to be a positive person with a positive life. As a human race, can we please STOP REPRESSING AND/OR IGNORING negative thoughts? Let’s begin to think critically about our own sadness. Understand it, because in doing so you will have a much better understanding of yourself.

In all honesty I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this and I know when I post it that I will once again be filled with the negative thoughts that plagued my football session last night. But it’s important. People have to know. More importantly, people (my friends especially) have to know that it’s okay not to be okay – even if it’s for a couple of hours out of your entire day. We have to speak about these things otherwise we can’t make things better or we can’t make people more comfortable. I don’t have all the answers, in fact I have very few answers, but I know that silence on the issue is no answer at all.

I can’t look back on this time and feel like I’ve wasted it worrying about my mental illness, or living with it, or complaining about it. This is a time where I have great friends, an incredible tribe of women (and men) behind me willing me on in life, I have fresh ideas, I have an incredible job, the best boss, a fantastic co-worker (office bestie), I have my physical health, my Nana, my parents are supportive and healthy and wonderful and hard-working, me and my brother are getting on like a house on fire (when we haven’t always in the past), there’s little to no drama in my life and I’m doing some cool, courageous things in spite of my mental health!! In fact, all of the above is in spite of my anxiety/depression.

Back to the freaking point of the article, exercise has definitely been a great tool which has helped me to live with my mental illness. I have met new friends through exercise, I have gained self-confidence, I feel physically fit, I am (for the most part) happy when I’m working out, I feel accomplished and overall it gives me a positive outlook. It’s sad that one laps inspired me to write an entire article but you know what it’s also pretty empowering that after going through all that trauma that the very next day I can pick myself up, take to my key board, write down my thoughts and share my experience with the public domain. There’s pros and cons to everything; exercise has its positives and it has its negatives pertaining to each individual. You do you. Take care of yourself and take care of each other, and eventually everything else takes care of itself.

Notes to take from this:

  1. Sometimes you just have to be unashamedly sad.
  2. You deserve to talk about your feelings.
  3. Think critically about our own sadness – begin to understand it.
  4. Self-care is ESSENTIAL.
  5. Talk about LIVING WITH mental illness – don’t suffer from it.
  6. Stop telling people to be more positive and/or grateful – end ‘toxic positivity’
  7. Ask people if they are okay.
  8. Seek professional, medical help.
  9. Understand that it’s okay not to be okay.
  10. Silence is not an answer.
  11. Live your best life in spite of your mental illness.

 

*Again, this is a personal experience; I don’t wish to put anyone off using physical activity and exercise as a way of living with mental illness because I fully support that it can be a very positive experience and a beneficial lifestyle choice*

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In the Heat of Lisbon.

Simpson, Craig, McNeil, Clark, Gemmell, Murdoch, Auld, Johnstone, Lennox, Wallace and Chalmers.

These were the first Scottish men to lift the European Cup. Every player in that Lisbon Lion side came from within a 30 mile radius of Glasgow City centre.

John Fallon was an unused sub. John Hughes, Joe McBride, Willie O’Neill, Charlie Gallagher (Ireland) and Jim Brogan never made the squad. At the time Celtic did not wear shirt numbers, in fact they were sewn onto their small shorts. A second goalkeeper was the only substitute you were allowed at the time. Players didn’t listen to music through their headphones. They didn’t take selfies on their phone. They didn’t communicate via whatsapp, snapchat, or facebook messenger. They told jokes, and sang songs. The pulled practical jokes and lived a stone’s throw away from their supporters who laid awake in anticipation over the road from the team hotel the Palacio in Estoril.

Celtic flew to Lisbon as clear underdogs. The European Cup was the preserve of Latin clubs, such as Real Madrid, Benfica and of course Inter Milan and AC Milan, who had both lifted the trophy prior to 67’.

That night in Lisbon on the 25th May 1967, Celtic annihilated Inter Milan by a single goal. They did it playing football, “pure, beautiful, inventive football”. This is what Jock Stein had to say about his Bhoys after the famous victory. Prior to the game Scotland’s greatest ever manager played game’s with Helenio Herrera, who was considered to be the greatest leader in the game at the time. Two days prior to the final Jock named his team. He brought the press in, laid his cards on the table and shared what would be his European Cup winning team. The big man said, “I am now going to tell him how Celtic will be the first team to bring the European Cup back to Britain, but it will not help him in any manner, shape or form: we are going to attack as we have never attacked before,”. And attack them they did.

The Italians were cocky. They altered their training time so they could sit and watch the Glasgow bhoys. In an interview in 2007 captain Billy McNeil, Stevie Chalmers and Bobby Lennox all stated the advantage and boost that gave the players. It made them more determined, as the Italians laughed and mocked the green and white. Big Jock was aware they were watching and told his team to “muck about”. Bobby Lennox recalled that Jock had them “playing in different positions”. Lennox played left-back, Gemmell was up top and McNeil was put on the side-lines. Jock was cunning, and the cat and mouse tactics had begun. The big man played on Inters’ over-confident.

Jock didn’t allow the players to use the hotel pool, insisting that his players stay out of the sun. They were to wear clothing at all times, as to avoid getting sunburn. And Jock made sure that this time around the players would keep themselves to themselves; they wouldn’t mingle with fans, as they usually did, and they weren’t given the freedom to do as they pleased. Not this time. Nonetheless the players were happy with their preparations, and felt very relaxed.

The night before the game the Bhoys were invited for dinner at the house of Brodie Lennox. The players watched England play Spain on the telly and later that night they walked back to their hotel. John Clark remembers Celtic trainer Neil Mochan leading the team astray, insisting he knew a short cut. But it ended with the players climbing over a fence as they reached a dead-end. Could you imagine Real Madrid or Juventus players doing that in two weeks time the night before their big-game in Cardiff? I don’t think so.

The day of the game just happened to be a Holy Day of Obligation, so the players and the fans made their way to mass on the morning of the final. Jock Stein himself asked Father Bertie O’Reagan to lead the mass for his players, it was important to them. I can imagine the droves of Celtic supporters saying their prayers and dropping some extra money in the charity boxes, in the hope it would help their team succeed. The locals enjoyed the travelling supports religious ways, with many fans saying it won the locals over.

Jock lead the team talk back at the Hotel before they left for the Estadio Nacional. He told his players, “they had the chance to make history.” On the way to the stadium Bobby Lennox was sure the driver got a little bit lost, but noted that the Bhoys couldn’t give a jot as they continued singing songs at the back of the bus.

Billy McNeil recalls seeing the “magnificent” Inter Milan team in the tunnel in their “inspiring” blue and black kit. Jimmy Johnstone did the same, turning to his pal Bertie Auld he said “Look at them, wee man, they’re like film stars!” to which Bertie replied “Aye, but can they play?” Their admiration lasted only seconds when out of nowhere Bertie Auld began to sing “The Celtic Song”.

“For it’s a grand old team to play for. For it’s a grand old team to see.”

Everyone in green and white standing in the tunnel at the Estadio Nacional joined in. The expression on the Inter players’ faces was a right picture.

The Italians were very defensive. They’re man marking was exquisite but they didn’t account for Jock’s Lions who kept them busy all game. Tommy Gemmell, Celtic’s left-back had six or seven shots early on. The forwards were taking their defenders into silly areas making it possible for Gemmell and Craig to burst forward and attack. The game plan certainly had Inter on the ropes, but what Celtic didn’t want was to lose an early goal considering the Italians catenaccio style of play. The Hoops went a goal down when Jim Craig fouled Cappellini in the box and Mazzola converted the penalty just six-minutes into the game. Inter didn’t make much of an attempt to double their lead, they truly thought that one goal would be enough. This allowed Celtic to continue their siege on Giuliano Sarti’s goal. Auld hit the woodwork, Johnstone’s header was saved, Gemmell hit the woodwork, his free-kick saved by Sarti and the Hoops were even denied a penalty.

Ironically, the keeper Sarti was marked by Stein as Inter’s weak link. But the guy was having a blinder. He had to right enough, because Inter couldn’t get out of their own box. It was 9-men behind the ball, the bus was parked and Celtic was probing.

The second half begun; the two Celtic full-backs, Gemmell and Craig, had got up the park at the same time, this should never have happened. Craig passed to Tommy and like a bullet being fired from a gun the ball was in the back of the net. The equaliser was scored and everyone knew Celtic were going to become European Champions. The belief was there, the hunger was evident. Inter had no chance. A thunderous strike from 25 yards out; it was unstoppable. The Estadio Nacional erupted!

Sarti was helpless, there were five minutes left to play when Chalmers poked in Murdoch’s drive. It was 2-1, and Celtic were about to become the first British European Champions. Stevie Chalmers notes that this is a move Stein made him practice at least three times a week. Lennox concurred stating: “Stevie must have done that a thousand times in training – the ball came through and he pushed it in the corner of the net.”

CELTIC WERE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE.

After the final whistle supporters flooded the field. They ripped grass from the pitch, took players boots and jerseys, the claw marks on Billy McNeil’s neck was one of the most unsavoury souvenir’s the captain received. The pitch invasion meant that the European Champions could not be presented with the trophy on the pitch. Instead, captain Billy McNeil was ushered around the stadium, protected by armed guards, to received the trophy on top of a podium in the stand. It remains to this day to be one of the most iconic images in sport. In fact I am looking at it right now as it hangs from my wall in work.

This incredible feat, this extraordinary journey was courageously done by local Glasgow men. When you consider the magnitude of it, it really is enough to bring a tear to your eye. Look at the squad and you’ll know it almost certainly should not have happened. Jock Stein was fortune enough to be asked back to Celtic Park in 1965, following a dismissal from his job as Celtic youth and reserve coach. Stein was dismissed on the grounds that he was a Protestant and therefore would not go further in his position at the club. Imagine? The match winner, Stevie Chalmers, almost died in his early 20s. He was given three weeks to live following his tuberculosis-meningitis diagnosis. Bobby Lennox may never have become a footballer, at all, had he not got over his shyness as a child. As a young man he was embarrassed to play in front of his peers.

The team were back in Glasgow the following day. Supporters turned up at the airport to celebrate their European triumph. The Hoops sang “Hail, Hail” with the supporters as they left Glasgow airport. Over 65,000 supporters greeted their heroes on the stands and terraces at Celtic Park. The team were taken around Glasgow on the back of a lorry and were waved, cheered and celebrated by the people of Glasgow. The city belonged to Celtic.

They were the greatest team in Europe. Jock Stein’s Celtic entered five competitions that season, and won all five. Two weeks after the final Celtic were invited to play against Real Madrid for Di Stefano’s testimonial. Real had won the European Cup in 1966, and were bumping their gums about how they were the still the best team in Europe. So for good measure we beat them as well. Bobby Lennox scored the goal in front of 135,000 at the Santiago Bernabeu. After that, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Glasgow Celtic was the best team in Europe.

the best nicknames in football.

United, City, County, Rovers, Wanderers.

All of the above offer the run of the mill; nicknames which fail to tell the story of the proud community of football fanatics who support their respective clubs.

Few nicknames offer an insight into the behind the club badge. Of those that do, here are some of the best in Britain:

AYR UNITED

Founded: 1910 (106 years old)

Ground: Somerset Park (10,185)

League: Scottish Championship (currently 9th)

Nickname: The Honest Men

Ayr United’s nickname is taken from the famous Scottish poem ‘Tam o’Shanter’ written by Scottish bard and Ayrshire born, Robert Burns. Scotland’s national poet wrote a sweet anecdote to his native town in which he described the town as a haven of “honest men” and “bonnie lasses”. The poem, published in 1791, described the life of a man named Tam, who visits the local pub with friends and gets himself in a rather drunken state. Meanwhile Tam’s wife sits at home in anger at her husband’s immoral behavior. One night Tam rides back on his horse, Meg, and a stormy night it was. On his journey home Tam notices a glow from the local haunted church, and peeks through the window to see witches and warlocks dancing. There is even mention of the devil playing bagpipes. I think Rabbie Burns may also have been a bit pickled when he wrote his beloved poem. Long story short, Tam gets himself in a bit of bother and finds himself fleeing from the haunted creatures. The horse loses a tail, and Ayr United find some inspiration. The Honest Men stuck, and what a fine nickname it is.

“Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses, for honest men and bonnie lasses”

What happened in 1910?

  1. Old Trafford opened (First game ended in a 4 – 3 defeat to Liverpool)
  2. Frenchman, Louis Paulhan completes London to Manchester air race in under 24 hours
  3. Terra Nova sets sail on Arctic expedition
  4. The Fowler Match, considered to be “the greatest cricket match of all time”, took place at Lord’s between Eton and Harrow
  5. 300 suffragettes clashed with police outside British parliament over Conciliation Bill

 

BURY FC

Founded: 1885 (131 years old)

Ground: Gigg Lane (11,840)

League: English League One (currently 20th)

Nickname: The Shakers

The Shakers, a truly unique and fantastic nickname! The name was coined back in 1892 by the then Chairman, J T Ingham. Prior to the Lancashire Cup Final in 1892, against what would be tough opposition in Everton, the Chairman put full faith in his team to come up trumps and defeat somewhat better opposition with this rather sharp remark:

“We shall shake ‘em, in fact, we are the Shakers’

Bury would go on to win the competition, after the Chairman’s rousing team-talk. The name stuck, and the Shakers would go on to Shake it Up in the 1900 and 1903 FA Cup final, were they won the famous old tournament on both occasions beating Southampton and Derby County respectively.

Vincit Omnia Industria or “work conquers all”.

PS. We love your nickname Bury FC!

What happened in 1885?

  1. Women were permitted to take the University of Oxford entrance exams for the first time
  2. We witnessed the largest margin of victory in a professional football match. Arbroath led Bon Accord by 36 goals to nil (it was 15 – 0 at half time)
  3. 29 kilometres away Dundee Harps were playing against Aberdeen Rovers in the Scottish Cup. The referee noted 37 goals but the club secretary suggested a miscount and noted 35 goals instead. The official score was recorded as 35 – 0.
  4. Millwall FC is founded (The Lions)
  5. The first flush toilet is demonstrated by Frederick Humpherson
  6. The first Dictionary of National Biography is published

 

COWDENBEATH FC

Founded: 1881 (135 years old)

Ground: Central Park (4,309)

League: Scottish League Two (currently 10th)

Nickname: The Blue Brazil

Another classic football nickname. There are a couple of fan theories as to why Cowdenbeath are called the Blue Brazil. One of the more obvious reasons is that their home jerseys are indeed blue. A popular theory is that the name provides a heavy dose of irony towards a football team that has never found much success. It has also been suggested that the name arose due to the club’s financial plight during the 80’s which was humorously compared to that of Brazil’s national debt. There is also a rather long winded story on fan website, http://www.thebluebrazil.co.uk, which suggests three Brazilians illegally played for Cowdenbeath on the last game of the season against Dunfermline in which Cowdenbeath won the game 11 – 1 with the three Brazilians claiming all the goals. The fan forum goes concludes, “The Cowdenbeath community hailed these 3 lads as heroes and as they didn’t know their names they were christened ‘The Blue Brazilians’.” It is rumorued that the Rio Trio left Scotland to play football in their native Brazil for then champions, Santos.

Have a read. (http://www.cowdenbeath.free-online.co.uk/fanzine/bluebrzl.htm)

So who knows!? But it is one of the best nicknames in football.

 

What happened in 1881?

  1. Andrew Watson of Queens Park Football Club captains Scotland to a 6 – 1 victory over England. He was the world’s first mixed race international association player. (Scottish/British Guianese background)
  2. Old Carthusians defeat the Old Etonians 3 – 0 in the FA Cup final at the Oval. This would be the last time the FA Cup was played between amateurs.
  3. The Natural History Museum opened in London
  4. Godalming, Surrey becomes the first town to have its streets lit by electric light
  5. Alexander Fleming was born

 

DUNDEE UNITED FC

Founded: 1909 (107 years old)

Ground: Tannadice (14,223)

League: Scottish Championship (currently 1st)

Nickname(s): The Arabs (The Tangerines and The Terrors)

Not a particularly exciting or thrilling nickname, however it is rather intriguing. Like Cowdenbeath there are rather a few fan theories. Again, one such theory provides a heavy dose of irony with many believing that, like Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain who are funded by United Arab Emirates, that the Tangerines have come into a bit of money. Of course, not true but rather amusing. Another theory comes from a fan story that dates back to the 1962/63 season. According to legend this season offered a particularly cold winter and thus many matches were cancelled. The club attempted to thaw the ice with a tar-burning truck. Unfortunately, the truck caused damage to the grass and so to allow play to continue the club had no choice but to pour sand onto the field. The use of the sand and the desert like look it gave the ground was therefore the reason behind the unique nickname.

However, I’m not so sure how accurate or, indeed, true that story is. Maybe take that with a pinch of salt.

What happened in 1909?

  1. The National Old Age Pension scheme came into force
  2. The first film in colour was shown using Kinemacolor at the Palace Theatre in London
  3. The department store Selfridge’s was opened in London
  4. Manchester united won the FA Cup for the first time (Beat Bristol Rovers 1 – 0 at Crystal Palace)
  5. Matt Busby was born

 

SOME WORTHY MENTIONS

  • Peterborough United – The Posh
  • Hartlepool United – The Monkey Hangers
  • Everton FC – The Toffees
  • Clyde FC – The Bully Wee

 

European Glory: Steven Gerrard’s Retirement (Part 4)

The comeback to end all comebacks and Steven Gerrard, Captain Fantastic, was at the centre of it all!

No-one in football will ever forget that night in Istanbul. The Turkish capital was the site of mission impossible. Liverpool were trailing and Gerrard, leading by example, brought his team back to life to lift the European Cup for his boyhood club. It will go down in football folklore as one of the greatest European finals, and one of the most memorable comebacks in sport history.

On the 25th May 2005, Steven Gerrard and his team mates faced the biggest challenge of their careers. A first 45 minutes of football dominated by AC Milan, left Liverpool trailing by 3 goals to nil (3 – 0) at half-time.

Most of the Liverpool players went into the second half looking to salvage some pride and spare further embarrassment. But one player wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Steven Gerrard was the source of inspiration which led to European Glory, and Liverpool’s fifth European title.

On the 54th minute of the match, Gerrard leaped into the air and fired in a header from a Riise cross. His celebration; a war cry to the travelling Kop. NEVER SAY DIE!

56th minute, Smicer beats Dida with a long-range effort. One more goal, and it’s all tied up with time to spare.

60th minute; the equalizer. Gerrard is fouled by Gennaro Gattuso. Xavi Alonso from the penalty spot; a Dida save, a follow up shot, GOAL!

Over 6 minutes Liverpool, led by Steven Gerrard, had transformed an embarrassing European Final defeat into a real, nail biting contest. One which would be decided in a penalty shoot-out.

It went to the wire. Liverpool had scored 3 of the 4 penalties taken; Milan had only scored 2. The pressure lay with Ukrainian International Andriy Shevchenko. Only Jerzy Dudek stood in his way; and that he did! A penalty save from the Pole, and Liverpool were European Champions once more! 3 – 2 winners in the shoot-out. Mission Impossible: complete!

After an unbelievable European final, Gerrard had his hands on old Big Ears!

A humble player, Gerrard has always recognised the work of his team mates, his manager in Rafael Benitez and the Liverpool supporters for the victory in Istanbul. Gerrard himself has stated that his header, and Liverpool’s first goal, would not have been scored had Didi Hamman still been on the bench and if Riise hadn’t crossed the ball.

Winning the European Cup was a personal landmark for Gerrard. In doing so, he became the second youngest captain to lift the European Cup, aged 24. The youngest is, Frenchman, Didier Deschamps who won the European Cup in 1993 with Marseille.

His heroics on the night, brought unforgettable glory to his boyhood team. It will never be forgotten by the Liverpool faithful or neutral fans alike.

Steven Gerrard was the embodiment of the Kop on that magical night in Istanbul, and his legend will forever be engraved in football folklore.

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Great Rivalries: the North-West Derby (Part 3)

Not your typical Derby, but surely this great rivalry is the most anticipated clash in English football. The two clubs are the most successful English teams in both domestic and European competition and between then they have won 38 league titles, 8 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, 4 UEFA Super Cups, 19 FA Cups, 12 League Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 36 FA Community Shields.

Gerrard has travelled the 32 miles, along the M62, on 35 occasions to face his old enemy.  He has won 13, drawn 2 and lost 19 times against the Red Devils of Manchester. Gerrard shares the mantle as the top scorer in the North-West Derby with George Wall and Sandy Turnbull (both of Manchester United), and has scored 9 goals in this fierce rivalry.

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Gerrard’s most famous victories over Manchester United include the League Cup Final win in 2003, where Stevie scored the opening goal and Liverpool lifted the trophy winning 2 – 0 at the Millennium Stadium. Also included in the list of famous victories over Man U is the 4 – 1 thrashing at Old Trafford in 2009. Again, Gerrard was amongst the scorers that day. Some of you may remember Gerrard racing towards the corner flag, kissing the Liverpool badge then kissing the camera in celebration after hammering the ball into the net from the penalty spot to put Liverpool ahead in the first 45 after trailing a goal behind. Gerrard cheekily revisited the camera kissing celebration in 2014, when he scored two goals from two penalties winning the game 3 – 0 at Old Trafford.

Gerrard had some great days, and some terrific goals against Manchester United. Unfortunately, his last game against the Red Devils was tainted by his sending off, after only 38 seconds on the field. Gerrard replaced Adam Lallana at half time, and after moments on the field he was sent down the tunnel for stamping on, Manchester midfielder, Andre Herrera who had lunged in on Gerrard to win the ball. Not a good day for Captain Fantastic.

His first game against his bitter rivals didn’t end with much success either. Liverpool lost 3 – 2 on September 11th 1999 at Anfield against their bitter rivals. Gerrard had to wait over a year to get his first victory over Man Utd. In December 2000 Liverpool walked away as 1 – 0 winners at Old Trafford. He would have to wait a couple more months to score his first North-West Derby goal. On 31st March 2001 Gerrard got his just rewards and scored a long-range screamer at Anfield, when Liverpool bet the Red Devils 2 – 0.

 

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Gerrard had a passion for these games. They meant everything to his city, and to his family. Although he cannot boast the greatest success against his rivals, he always has fantastic memories of getting one over on them on several occasions. Gerrard perfectly summed up his passion for the North-West Derby in his autobiography:

“From Huyton to Melwood to Anfield, for more than twenty-six years, I had always felt compelled to show fire towards United. They were the enemy. You never rolled over against United. If they got one over you, you fought back. You went in harder, with just a little more crunch, just to let them know it really was personal. They did the same to us.” (Steven Gerrard, 2015)

There was rarely a dull moment in these fixtures and it will be weird not seeing the famous number 8 feature in future North-West Derbies, but we can always recall the best of the action and the man at the centre of it all….Steven Gerrard.

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Steven Gerrard’s Retirement (Part 2): The Merseyside Derby

In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, Gerrard stated that his hat-trick against Everton marking his 400th Premier League appearance was his favourite Anfield memory.

Gerrard had a real talent of terrorizing the Blues. In fact, he has scored 10 goals in the Merseyside Derby making him 4th in the list of all time Merseyside Derby goal scorers:

  1. Ian Rush (Liverpool) – 25
  2. Dixie Dean (Everton)- 19
  3. Alex Young (Everton) – 12
  4. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – 10

Arguably Gerrard’s most controversial Merseyside Derby was his sending off on 27th September 1999 at Anfield. Kevin Campbell, the Everton striker, had put the Blues ahead by scoring past Dutch keeper Sander Westerveld in the Kop end. Westerveld had gotten himself into more trouble in the second half exchanging blows with Everton striker, and Scouse boy, Francis Jeffers. Both players were naturally sent off in a complete moment of madness. Steven Gerrard completed the hattrick of red cards on the day. The red mist came over him and after only 47 seconds on the field he was sent off.

Steven recalled the incident in his autobiography. He described his disappointment at being left out of the starting XI and explained his game plan:

“just belt one of them. Fucking belt a Bluenose. Let Gerard (Houllier) know he is not dropping me for another derby. Ever.”

He shortly admitted that he was “a red card waiting to happen”. His temper had gotten the better of him, and instant regret followed when he ran up the tunnel. This wouldn’t be Stevie G’s last red card, nor would it be his quickest. A bit more on that in the next edition.

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The Merseyside Derby hasn’t been all doom and gloom for Stevie. In fact, it’s been rather successful.

Gerrard got off to a winning start in his first Merseyside Derby. On April 3rd 1999, The Reds eventually ran out as 3 – 2 winners at Anfield. On September 15, 2001 Gerrard finally got his name on the score sheet. He scored the equalizer as the Reds came back from being a goal down at Goodison to win the game 3 – 1. He made sure the Evertonians would remember the name for years to come as he celebrated his first Derby goal by pointing to the name on the back. Not the first time he’s done that against rival teams.

Gerrard picked up his first Merseyside Derby hat-trick on 13th March 2012. His hat-trick was the first in the Merseyside derby since Ian Rush at Goodison Park in 1982, and the first hat-trick at Anfield since 1935 when Fred Howe put four past Everton. Only four Liverpool players have managed the feat, and now 77 years on Gerrard joined the exclusive club. (Harry Chambers in 1922, Dick Forshaw in 1925, Harold Barton in 1933, Fred Howe 1935, Steven Gerrard 2012)

Gerrard’s derby delight was a sickening blow for Everton, and manager Davie Moyes, as it was the manager’s 10th season in charge of the Blues. His third goal, rattled in at the Kop End, was Liverpool’s 300th against their rivals in all competitions. This was the performance that the Reds were hoping for. Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager on the day, had suffered a bad run of games. Liverpool were at crisis point, so who would step up and prove the doubters wrong but Captain Fantastic himself, Stevie G.

In Gerrard’s book, ‘Steven Gerrard: My Story’, he admits that “every Merseyside Derby generated fear in me”. Gerrard had a fear of losing against the Blues, especially at Anfield. He had only lost to Everton once at home (Anfield), and that was in 1999 after the sending off incident previosuly discussed.

Gerrard also has a great respect for his city rivals. He has often thanked the club for their support with the Hillsborough Inquest, and their charitable giving towards the Hillsborough Family Support Group. In his biography he wrote:

“It was easy to speak sincerely of my gratitude to Everton in regard to Hillsborough; their compassion had been sincere. We were united in grief and a desire for justice. Hillsborough, and the families of every single fan we lost, will always matter far more than the next derby.”

On 28th January 2014, the Reds recorded their biggest Premier League win over Everton winning 4 – 0 at Anfield. This was Liverpool’s biggest Merseyside Derby win at Anfield since 1972, and their biggest in the derby since 1982. Steven Gerrard got himself on the score sheet that day beating Everton centre back Alcaraz to the ball with a header in the box, after a Luis Suarez corner.

In Gerrard’s final season he looked set to steal the headlines. On 27th September 2014, in what was Gerrard’s final Merseyside Derby at Anfield, the captain found himself on the score sheet once more. His second half free-kick soared into the top corner past American International Tim Howard, only to be cancelled out by one of the best Premier League strikes of the season. Phil Jagielka’s incredible volley, described by Roberto Martinez as perhaps “the best strike I’ve ever seen”, stole the show from Gerrard who was minutes away from grabbing the headlines for scoring the winner in his final derby day at Anfield.

Gerrard didn’t get a victory in his last Merseyside Derby and had to settle for a rather drab nil-nil draw but he had some terrific moments in the Merseyside Derby, and no group of fans is more delighted about his retirement than the Evertonians. For many seasons, he was the symbol of their inadequacy. He was the suppressor of Goodison, always keeping the friendly neighbours in their place below the might of his Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard’s Retirement

So, today’s the day. 24th November, 2016. Steven Gerrard, Captain Fantastic, retires from football.

Gerrard spent 17 years at Liverpool, making 710 appearances, scoring 186 goals and winning 9 trophies for the Reds. He ranks fourth in the table for most capped England players with 114 appearances.

The testimonies and career highlights have been all over social media, and we can do nothing but reminisce a fantastic career in football, as one of the greatest leaders on and off the field and one of the best, if not the best, midfielders of the last century retires from the game. 

No one will forget that Steven Gerrard FA Cup final against West Ham or his sizzling, “yaaa beauty!”  strike against Olympiakos in the Champions League or indeed his hattrick against Everton in 2012 or the famous comeback in the Champions League final which resulted in the young skipper lifting old big ears for Liverpool’s fifth European Cup success.

There are many phenomenal moments in Stevie’s career, but also some rather car crash episodes. The slip against Chelsea is his most recent catastrophic error which cost Liverpool a long awaited premier league trophy. His 47 second red card also springs to mind in the epilogue of Stevie’s worst moments. But there can be no doubt that the positives far out way the negatives.

A wonderful player and ‘the last of the dinosaurs’ with a style of football embodied by Wimbledon’s crazy gang, it is with a heavy heart that we must say goodbye to Stevie G.

Here is the first installment of our five-part special which pays homage to one of the best midfielders we have ever seen. A player who symbolized the old blood and thunder style of the British game, someone who time and time again came up with the goods. An iconic figure of the 21st Century, and one of the most decorated sports men who ever lived.

Premier League great, and Liverpool Legend….Steven Gerrard.

gerrard2_2167086k-everton-hatrick-jamie-carragher

 The Beginning

Steven Gerrard started his Liverpool career against Blackburn Rovers, on 29th November 1998, replacing Norwegian right back Vegard Heggem.          (Liverpool won 2 – 0 on the day)

French man, Gerard Houllier would be the one to give Stevie G his chance. Gerrard once described Houllier as “one of the nicest men in football”. He has cited the French man as a source of calmness on the day of his debut.

Gerrard didn’t see much action that day however he has since recalled a “safe touch” on the ball, a pass or two and a terrible cross that almost “sailed over the Centenary Stand”. Paul Ince was least delighted with Gerrard after this incident. gerrard-ince210104

In the early stages of his career, the young Gerrard was given the tough task of filling in for injured skipper Jamie Redknapp. In his first season as a red, Gerrard made 13 appearances but has admitted that he struggled out of position and was plagued by nerves.

A special moment for Gerrard was his first Liverpool goal. On 5th December 1999 against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield Stevie went on a mazy run, he takes it past two then slots the ball into the bottom left hand corner before running to the fans and sliding on his stomach to celebrate what would be the first of many. Liverpool eventually won the game 4 – 1.

At this time, Gerrard had to watch on as the rivalry between Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) and Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) grew in intensity. Both teams fought tenaciously over the league, but it was Manchester United who enjoyed most of the spoils. In Gerrard’s debut season, he watched on as the Red Devils completed a unique treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, in that famous victory in Barcelona.

Gerard had to bide his time, and his first trophy came in February 2001 beating Birmingham City 5 – 4 on penalties, after a 1 – 1 draw, in the Football League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. A couple of months later in May, Gerrard would again lift silverware. This time he lifted the FA Cup after beating Arsenal 2 – 1 over the 90 minutes. Again, the stage of Gerrard’s silverware success was the Millennium Stadium in Wales. Michael Owen, a great friend of Gerrard’s, was awarded man of the match after his 2 goals in the last 10 minutes of the match sealed the deal, and brought the trophy back to Anfield. Four days after lifting the FA Cup, Gerrard would play in his first European Final….but we’ll get to that a bit later.

The early stages were bitter sweet for Gerrard. He had very few starts, relatively few appearances and a Merseyside derby to forget however there were glimmers of hope and his silverware success offered a glimpse of what was to come.

END OF PART ONE.

The Football Memories Project

 

 

Yesterday afternoon I visited the Football Memories exhibition at Hamilton Central Library. The project is coordinated by the Scottish Football Museum, Sports Heritage Scotland and Alzheimer’s Scotland who are working together to create a network of football memories which will help to fight the battle against dementia.

The Football Memories project was set up in 2008, and utilizes group discussions, still images, memorabilia, and short film clips about football to stimulate recall in people with Alzheimer’s. These group discussions are led by trained volunteers who spend time with dementia sufferers who have long admired the game of football. The volunteers share images, stories, and memorabilia from former players and favourite teams in the hope of triggering personal memories. The workshops aren’t exclusive to dementia sufferers, rather they are open to all, particularly those who may be lonely or isolated.

The project comes to life through its incredible volunteer work force and through the Football Memories website. The online source offers a comprehensive database of unique and personal stories from fans around the world. The long-term goal of the project is to eventually collate a book which gives access to an entire spectrum of personal, and inspired memories.

The volunteers coordinating the Football Memories clinics really put on a show! They have great enthusiasm and some fantastic stories to tell. The story telling is really something, and is great fun for any football fan. Whether you’re a Bully wee or a Hibee, there is something for everyone.

There are currently over 130 Memories groups in Scotland, and there is great access to these groups through social media. The Football Memories Scotland Facebook page is full of information, including contact details and website information, and gives an insight into some of the work that will be looked at within the group discussions.

Memories, of course, form a crucial part of our being. They allow us to perform behaviours, and communicate with loved ones. The purpose of the Football Memories project is to encourage those with dementia, or indeed any one suffering with some degree of memory recall, to boost self-confidence, morale, and self-esteem.

There is sadly no cure for dementia but the Football Memories clinics stimulate emotive feelings and memories, most of which are a reminder of happier, or indeed more youthful times in the sufferer’s life. Carers, and sufferers alike, have noted the positive impact the project has had on dementia sufferers, notably in their self-confidence and communication. Football Memories has offered the chance for people to re-connect with their healthy and happy mind, and in doing so has allowed the sufferer to re-connect with their family and friends who care for and love them.

I spent the afternoon browsing the memorabilia on show and as I walked around the room I found that the objects on display had a profound effect on me.  In my early twenties, addicted to technology, I found myself not looking down at my phone but rather I was engaged in a full-on football discussion with a gentleman who had attended the European Cup final at Hampden in 1960 between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt. Real Madrid won 7 – 3 in front of 127,000 spectators at our own national stadium. He even recalled being at both semi-final home and away legs when Rangers were beaten 12 – 4 on aggregate by the German side.  Now if I was hooked knowing maybe only one o1960_european_cup_finalr two of the Real Madrid players, you can imagine what someone with dementia might gain from having such an inspired conversation. The volunteer, a big Rangers fan, I believe his name was Billy (no joke!), was great fun and was telling story after story after story!

The Football Memories project is fun, informative, rich, enlightened, and pure dead brilliant! It really is for everyone. At its core, the principle of the project is to share and record some of the greatest football stories that have been experienced through the lives of dedicated football fans. To sit, listen and relax whilst engaged in a memory group or to talk, share and recall whilst in a memory group is truly a wonderful experience, it’s no wonder I walked out that room today feeling ten feet tall.

A marvelous project, coordinated by fantastic volunteers.

Please get involved. Join a group. Lead a group. Simply come along and listen, I promise you it is so worth the journey.

 

You can follow Football Memories on Twitter @FblMemories and on Facebook @FootballMemoriesScotland.

Please like, follow and share this tremendous project.

 

 

Reference

http://www.footballmemories.org.uk/content/get_involved/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/footballmemories/about/?ref=page_internal

https://twitter.com/FblMemories

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnkuDpUYodI

Futsal in Scotland: What’s the Problem?

Futsal, Futsala or Futebol de Salão, is a game played on a field the same size of a basketball court. It is played with a smaller sized ball (size 2 or 3), which is heavier in weight (roughly 465g) and has virtually no bounce. The game has been valorized for its ability to create an environment in which players will gain 600% more touches on the ball and has single handedly developed the ‘natural ability’ of some of the world’s best players. The truth is that there is nothing ‘natural’ about it! Futsal, its rules, pitch size, ball size, squad size etc etc etc has and will continue to create and nurture the best footballing talent in the world.

So why on earth are we not copying the formula of soccer success?

Tonight, England will take on Scotland in the World Cup Qualifiers and I couldn’t be any less excited if I tried! And I’m not the only one. Adrian Durham, football journalist and broadcaster, slammed the England national squad selection and felt Southgate’s choices were ‘unimpressive and underwhelming’. As a Scotland fan, of course my home nation, I would love to tell you how eager I am to watch the game but truly I couldn’t give two monkeys! Sure, an underdog story is on the cards but in reality tonight’s fixture only shows the poor quality of player that both nations have produced in the past two, maybe three, decades. Where is Denis Law, King Kenny Dalglish, Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone, Dave McKay, Billy Bremner, Jim Baxter and the list goes on!  Guys who could dribble a ball around 10 men in a telephone box! Where has it gone? There is no one in the England squad or the Scotland squad that excites me or entertains a crowd the way that those guys could, and it worries me and has done for years!

Fancy fields at Toryglen in Glasgow, the Orium in Edinburgh, St George’s Park just outside London and even the newly built Wembley Stadium haven’t produced or even witnessed players like the legends of old (auld) listed above. It’s sad. We spend our time and effort focusing on big budgets, and the need to fund this and the need to fund that when all that the single greatest footballing nation in the world are doing is sitting there with their thumbs up their arses as young boys and girls, of their own accord, grab a ball, create some make shift goals and play the game for the games sake! That single greatest footballing nation I am referring to is of course the mighty Canarinho, the Verde-Amarela, Pentacampeões…..The Brazilian National Football Team.

5 times World Champions. I’ll repeat that. 5 times World Champions.

We know how they’re doing it. I’ll repeat that. We know how they are doing it. But we appear to continue with the dull and utterly tedious notion that this formula cannot be repeated in Scotland. Why?

“We don’t get the right weather in Scotland”

“The kids are nae interested anymere!”

“It’s in the genes, you’ve either goat it or you’ve no!”

Pish!! How many times have you sat in a pub and heard this nonsense!

Jimmy Johnstone had it, Jim Baxter had it. In the month of June 1967, after winning the European cup, 100,000 fans at the Bernabéu Stadium stood and applauded the wee man, and couldn’t give a jot about Alfredo Di Stefano. Jimmy stole the show with an unforgettable performance that had even the Madrid supporters chanting “Olé!” throughout the game in appreciation of his marvelous flair and footwork.

Now I realise Jimmy was special, and I may be asking too much but we done it once, in fact we’ve produced these players time and time again, so why has production stopped?

In the same year Jimmy had the Bernabéu on its feet, Jim Baxter had Wembley Stadium up in arms. Baxter teased the newly crowned World Champions by keeping the ball in the air mid game before passing it on to Denis Law, who probably wondered if he was ever going to give the ball up. Now if any Scottish player was to replicate Baxter’s cheeky keepie uppy trick this evening I would be most willing to run down the pub to watch the game, but it simply won’t happen.

It’s like we’ve forgotten how to play, or indeed why we played in the first place and I believe Futsal holds the answers to our questions.

More contact time with the ball, keeping control of it in tighter, smaller spaces creating an environment in which decision making is the principle focus. The decisions you make in the game and the faster you can think is the only way you will out smart and beat your opponent. Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, probably the four best players in the world right now, are all products of this small sided and simple game.

Now, Scotland has taken steps to introduce Futsal however there are still some problems. The Scottish Futsal League, founded in 1997, partnered with the Scottish FA to deliver an “Adult Futsal League structure within Scotland”. Now this is all well and good, and it is great that there are now almost 700 adults playing futsal in six leagues across Scotland however this won’t benefit our national team, or indeed our national league, in the long term. Kids are the future, and they are the ones who need to be participating in this sport if we are to develop any real future football prospects.

Give credit where credit is due, the Scottish FA have now implemented a six-hour Futsal coaching course, called ‘Introduction to Futsal’. The course is open to anyone over the age of 16 and will focus on theoretical background, including the rules and history of the sport, as well as covering the various practical techniques. Having this structure in place can only benefit our appreciation and involvement in Futsal, but is it enough? Hopefully this course will quickly develop, and with time I hope it can expand to create its own unique coaching pathway within the Scottish FA coaching structure. The good thing is that Futsal is growing in popularity and now has a place in Scottish sport but its popularity, structure and presence needs to be far greater if we are to achieve any success.

Another keen development to be admired is the set-up of the Scottish Youth Futsal Federation. The federation was founded in 2015 and was created to promote futsal in Scotland while supporting local, regional, national and, recently, international youth futsal events. The focus is on young footballers’ participation, specifically reaching out to boys and girls from U9s to U17s. During the month of September, the SYFF hosted the IFA Youth Futsal World Cup in Dundee at the Dundee International Sports Centre. This is a tremendous achievement and a huge step in the right direction. There is no doubt that young people are picking up a futsal and getting involved, but there is still more to be done. Most young players are involved at club level, and unfortunately we find that most of the time these young players will get less contact time with the ball because they are engaged in fitness sessions or SAQ, when right now at the early stages all young players need is touches of the baw (ball)!

It’s no secret that across Britain futsal has struggled to gain sponsorship and valuable financial structure however with the set-up of these organisations Scotland may just have got the leg up on the competition. Tennents’ Wellpark Brewery, a famous Glasgow brewing company, sponsors the Scottish National Futsal League and now the Scottish National Futsal Team, whilst additional support also comes from Spanish sports clothing manufacturer, Joma. Again, this shows the tremendous effort being made to develop futsal in Scotland and truly highlights the growing popularity of Scottish futsal.

I admire those who are trying to push Futsal in Scotland, because they are truly making a difference. To those who are running the Scottish Futsal League and growing the popularity of the sport, I commend you for doing what needs to be done. I strongly believe that Futsal is the answer to our problems. Not facilities or finance, just pure and simple game structure. Players need less time to think, and more time with the ball at their feet.

The success of Futsal in Scotland so far has been the organisation of the first-ever Scottish Futsal Cup, the implementation of the futsal specific coach education course, and the commitment to entering the Scotland National Futsal Team into the 2017 European Championships. These achievements highlight the work being done at all levels of the game, but we need to do so much more to gain the real, long term benefits of Futsal.

The real success, of course, would be the grand reopening of the production line that produced so many great Scottish footballers, that have been recognised the world over. It would be finding a player that can take on 2 or 3 players only to go back and take all of them on again and win. Just the way it used to be; now that would truly be a delight to see.

 

England v Scotland

World Cup Qualifier: Group F

11th November 2016

Kick off 7:45pm

 

Mon the Scotland!

Reference List 

http://braziliansoccerschools.co.uk/index.php

http://talksport.com/football/pathetic-state-affairs-listen-adrian-durhams-england-rant-drivetime-161107216426#wmb02JAZGHD4ggPV.99

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/get_involved/4197976.stm

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3970

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3498

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1848&newsID=16266

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/local-sport/futsal-scotland-make-history-win-7856962#sPIL1YRTZUelFi3a.97

http://www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk/component/k2/item/18949-futsal-world-cup-comes-to-scotland.html

http://www.scottishyouthfutsal.co.uk/aboutsyff/

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/performance/training/neymar-jr-futsal-street-football-and-tricks