Welcome to Issue 25
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Goodbye ragtag glory
By Daniel Gray
Clubs must unite to grasp the thistle
Self-interest and short-termism have served our game poorly. But a key report has raised hopes of SPFL co-operation to boost income and improve fans’ experience.
By Maurice Smith
Restricted view spoils our game
SPFL clubs must demand a better TV rights deal whereby Sky opens access to the hundreds of games that it does not broadcast live.
By Grant Russell
Charity begins away from home
With the country in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, the Twenty’s Plenty campaign is organising fans, encouraging them to unite against match ticket increases and for an away game price cap.
By Craig Anderson
Essential movies for away fans
By Keith Wallace (Fitbatweets)
Dugmeat days: Championship season 2022/23
In the first part of a new series, we dive headfirst into the chaos and comedy of a league that captures Scottish football’s essence better than any other.
By Scott Fleming
Football’s dementia crisis
Several scientific studies are showing a link between heading the ball and the increase of dementia diagnoses in former players, but what is being done about it?
By Ginny Clark
Here to help
Assistant managers are vital but unheralded. Several practitioners of the artform explain why the role involves so much more than cone-carrying.
By Greg Gordon
Set-piece of mind
Corner kicks, seen as crucial, exhilarating opportunities to score, are rarely converted into goals. So, what is all the fuss about?
By Vinny Ferguson
Careless talk costs games
Managers and coaches can make a big impact with their pre-match and half-time words. But they have to be concise, precise and carefully targeted.
By Paul Grech
Sunshine galore from Tartan Army
More than 20 years ago travelling Scotland fans raised money for an orphan in Bosnia. The secretary of the charity founded soon after explains how the energy of recipients keeps motivating supporters.
By Heather McKinlay
Teamwork to tackle scourge of suicide
FC United to Prevent Suicide are using football to reach those affected by Scotland’s biggest killer of young men.
By Andy Ross
Smiths of Hillwood: no ordinary dynasty
Four generations of one family have been central to the Glasgow club since 1966, on and off the pitch, but for them it has always been about serving the wider community.
By Chris Collins
Fate will find a way
Virgil van Dijk initially struggled to realise his full potential, but two formative seasons at Celtic Park saw him flourish and blossom into the world class player he is today.
By Sean Cole
Adopted Viking warms to Iceland
Steven Lennon left Rangers more than a decade ago and considered quitting football. Now he is one of the top scorers ever in the Icelandic league, and is thriving off the field too.
By Danny Lewis
We need to talk about Kevin
A fan led initiative became instrumental in the campaign to name Falkirk’s South Stand for their most celebrated player, finally bringing a sense of community back to an increasingly alienated support.
By Grant Heaney
From Windhoek to Maryhill
At end of the 1990s, Quinton Jacobs turned down European giants to play for Partick Thistle in the third tier of Scottish Football. His time there was brief, but they will never forget each other.
By Neil Cowan
Snack bars galore
From hatches to huts, sheds to retooled vehicles, let’s hear it for our terrace tuckshops and their indomitable staff. It would not be matchday without them.
Words by Daniel Gray. Photographs by Alan McCredie
Masterclasses in observation
My father loved football. It was more than a shared interest – it was our common language. And it has shaped me as a photographer.
By Colin McPherson
Give my love to Rose
Having always remained faithful to Kilmarnock FC, a recent career change led me to fall helplessly and hopelessly in love with another club.
By Seán McGill
Oot ’n’ aboot big time
When my young son boycotted Pittodrie, it was the start of a glorious new chapter. We’ve chalked up over 100 grounds all over Scotland but our daytrips are about so much more than football.
By Graeme Giles
When Dad came back from Argentina, again
I was a small boy when my father won a dream ticket to World Cup ’78. Imagine my delight a few months ago when I spotted him in BBC archive footage from South America.
By Colin Leslie
The Babe Ruth of soccer
Forward Andrew ‘Wingy’ Wilson mesmerised all who saw him play. His was a comic book story of derring-do, war and sublime goals.
By Harry Pearson
Old pals’ act deserves to die
The vast majority of managers are drawn from a shallow, parochial and ultra-familiar pool. Our boardrooms need to get bolder.
By Chris Sweeney
If you have a problem, and no one else can help…
Several countries allow clubs to enter B teams into their league systems, and Scotland has recently begun to follow suit. Wider adoption could revolutionise our national game.
By Ross Hutton
Oor Wullie! Your Wullie! A’body’s Wullie!
Dumfries-born William Gibson has played for a dozen different teams on both sides of the Anglo-Scottish border, but only at one of them has he ever truly belonged.
By Giancarlo Rinaldi
The day Bielsa came to town
Rumoured sightings of Leeds United’s beloved Argentinian boss in Edinburgh lead to a pursuit across town, and reflections on the meaning
of football. By Mark Holmes
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
How China’s football revolution began with a friendly in Parkhead in 1979.
By Franco Ficetola
Game changers of the Thistle mind
Ever pondered how certain key matches might have turned out differently? As a Jags fan, I do it all the time. Here are my favourite what-ifs.
By Kenny Pieper
The hidden joys of going down
Relegation can often spell disaster for a club and its fans. For Livingston FC, though, it was an opportunity to regroup and reset, marking a new beginning of promise, potential and hope.
By Callum McCormack
Away days keep us Honest Men
Supporting Ayr United from Aberdeen has brought years of joy and friendship on the road, Star Wars Stormtrooper and all.
By Dave Smith
Skye highs and lows
A French Manchester City fan has become an unlikely authority on the Skye and Lochalsh league, and its struggle for survival.
By Callum Tyler
Remembrance of things passed
In the early 1970s my dream of playing professionally was on the cusp of becoming a reality. But what happens when you just don’t make the cut?
By Craig Millar
Oil, Scots and the Great Game in Iran
The forerunner to BP had distinctly Caledonian origins and its bosses were only too keen to export football as a means of social control.
By Jack Taylor
Bale, Lineker, Keegan, Law . . . Watson?
They’re all British players who have made their mark on the continent. What’s John Fox Watson doing in there? It could be argued that the little-known Scot is the most significant of all.
By Ross Kilvington
Uncovering my collection of matchday programmes helped me to rediscover a long-lost hobby, and the sense of community that came with it.
By Jim Thomson
How national is our national game?
As the 2022/23 men’s football season gets going, it’s worth asking how well spread the SPFL teams are and what this says about the development of our game.
By Jon Davey
When the Bully Wee bossed it
Nobody gave cash-strapped Clyde much of a chance when Ronnie Macdonald took over in 1998. Nobody outside the dressing room, that is.
By Phil Rodger
An American Dream
In the second part of a diary series, two former McDermid Ladies reflect upon their life changing opportunity to live and play in the US.
By Scarlett Archer and Rebecca Murdoch
For the last six years I have refereed in Germany’s amateur leagues, enduring a never-ending lack of respect. My Scottish roots helped me find some unlikely common ground.
By Ian Plenderleith
Six of the best: Greenock Morton
One of the oldest clubs in Scottish football, this Inverclyde side are among the most innovative when it comes to kit design.
By John Devlin
Pairing each Scottish Premiership stadium with their spiritual English counterpart.
By Zack Gardner
The Wee Howff by Graham Fulton
Love Street by Julie McNeill
Rusty Turnstiles An’ Mucky Slopes by Brian Wright
Wee Willie on the Wing (Patient No. 23902) by David Kilpatrick