Welcome to Issue 28
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Chance and connection
By Daniel Gray

Sheer madness at Ochilview
Heading towards the end of the Championship season, both of the main title contenders were waylaid by thorny questions surrounding their ownership and stadiums. But it didn’t stop Dundee and Queen’s Park serving up a spectacular, unforgettable finale.
By Scott Fleming

It’s a safe bet clubs will fight curbs on gambling bonanza
Scottish football’s addiction to gambling sponsorship is chronic but other European leagues have shown it’s possible to thrive without it.
By Maurice Smith

When performance centres don’t perform
I was involved in the design and delivery of Scotland’s National Performance Centre for Sport, now known as Oriam. Its state-of-the-art training facilities make it the perfect place to train, so why haven’t the SFA and the national team put it to better use?
By Neil Gibson

Too many coaches and parents are leading boys by bad example
Violence and verbal abuse are rife at grassroots, with football the vehicle for toxic aspirations. Hutchie Vale’s conduct policy offers a ray of hope.
By James Morgan

The Old Lady comes to Caledonia
Juventus are among the most famous and well-supported clubs in the world. Now, thanks to a series of youth training camps, they are also contributing to the development of the next generation of Scottish talent.
By Mark Gordon

Hearts Foundation shows how fans can own benefits and challenges
From the ruins of the Romanov years to stability and transparency today, the Tynecastle club has been reborn by honouring the distinction between owners and professionals.
By Andrew Adams, Stephen Morrow and Ian Thomson

Will power, bravery and honesty
A year ago Will Graham had a brain aneurism on the pitch at the age of 23 and was told he’d never play again. He is intent on proving them wrong, however long it takes.
By Michael Dart

Scots qualifiers hold passport to success
The more the men’s national team improves, the more Scottish blood will be discovered, enhancing results still further.
By Gordon Cairns

The first man of Tannadice
Billy Hainey’s playing career was distinctly marked by a remarkable series of footballing firsts. Then, in 1966, he secured his place in the Tangerines’ Hall of Fame by scoring them their first ever European goal in a giant-killing Fairs Cup win over Barcelona.
By Craig Millar

How Higdon became Steelmen’s Mr Big
The outsize English striker took the SPL by storm 10 years ago, scoring 26 goals and outdoing the Old Firm in the individual awards.
By Andy Ross

The ballad of Jimmy and Rattie
In the late 1920s, three fearsome Scots fought it out to become top goal-scorer of the English leagues. One was hailed as a great by the British press, but the other two died tragically young, having become heroes at the small clubs for which they played.
By Harry Pearson

The Nutmeg Match Report: Forfar 5th, East Fife 4th
The nine-goal thriller of legend remained elusive in the Station Park fog but events were livened by a genuine Bridie crisis. Words by Daniel Gray. Photographs by Alan McCredie.

Pyramid schemes
Hope and ambition are the lifeblood of football, but a proposed ten-team Conference League at the fifth-tier level could stymie this by effectively relegating the clubs below it. This would be a travesty, potentially spelling the end for some of our beloved lower-league sides.
By John Penman

Let’s end top-flight tedium with title play-off
We’re all poorer for the kind of one-club dominance exemplified by Celtic. An easy, exciting solution can be found lower down the SPFL, and in the US.
By Andrew McInnes

Finding light in the lower leagues
To many it is “just a game”. But when a particularly trying period in my life resulted in a long depression, a growing interest in the Highland League helped me to heal and reminded me that life was worth living after all.
By Graeme Giles

Oof! How did he miss that?
I’ve been a devout Hibee for most of my life, so why didn’t I know that my team had won the Scottish Cup in 2016?
By Jo Higgs

Mucho Betis! Green and white in Gorgie
At the Polwarth Tavern near Tynecastle, a group of Real Betis supporters have brought the vibrant, passionate spirit of Andalusia to West Edinburgh.
By Scott Tominey

Never meet your heroes, unless they’re a Rover
So much can go wrong when interacting with a childhood idol. But when I had the chance to meet with the title-winning Raith Rovers team of 1992/93, I’m glad I didn’t let previous experience put me off. By Andy Harrow

True ‘Lie, madly, deeply
Having fallen out with football, the Premier League and my own club, Everton, I unexpectedly rediscovered my love of the game on a balmy spring evening at Dunterlie Park.
By Mike Murphy

Why all the hate?
The rivalry between Dunfermline Athletic and Falkirk is hard fought, cruel and often violent. But why do these clubs, miles apart and with a body of water between them, hold such a ferocious hostility for one another?
By Craig Cairns

To the Gable Endies of the earth and back
Steve Doyle first saw Montrose play in 1947. Thousands of matches later, his passion for the club is as keen as ever, even though home has mostly been Carlisle.
By Craig Stephen

The day my ultimate derby was ticked off the wish list
Rivalries don’t get much juicier than Auchinleck Talbot and their neighbours Cumnock. Players, locals and family members describe what it means to them
By Donald Ramsay

Davie White’s record deserves more than mere erasure
He may have won no trophies in his two years at Rangers but the young manager came close, and against Jock Stein’s Celtic to boot.
By Stephen O’Donnell

How Baxter’s second coming tested the faith
Rangers welcomed their legendary midfielder back to Ibrox with adulation in 1969. Despite flashes of his old brilliance, by December he was done.
By David Allan

A bright future for Wee County
Following a tumultuous period, Nairn County have steadied the ship. With fresh ambition and newfound belief it seems something special could now be brewing at Station Park.
By Michael Bochel

The best journeys take you home
After more than three decades away, I stepped down from presenting Sportsound and returned home to north-east Scotland. A new career, behind the scenes at Cove Rangers, has given me a turbulent, dramatic year, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
By Richard Gordon

Lessons in resilience at every level
The last time Sandy Clark worked at Albion Rovers, he helped them win League Two. This year, the educator and former Hearts and St Johnstone boss returned to try and keep them in the SPFL.
By Ginny Clark

Meetings of the immortals
Hugh McIlvanney, the greatest sportswriter of his generation, knew Jock Stein better than most. He shared insights into the Big Man one leisurely afternoon.
By Richard Purden

Programme musings of a Terrors titan
Jim McLean’s often blunt, unforgiving matchday columns remain as a vibrant historical record of his decades-long managerial heyday, and as a fascinating glimpse into the workings of one of Scottish football’s great minds.
By Greg Gordon

The pitch less travelled
From Stornoway to Vatersay, I walked all 156 miles of the Hebridean Way. There I found bracing winds, beautiful scenery, the spirit of community, and a very generous amount of football.
By Paul Gamble

Take me to the islands
As a boy I was spellbound by the Highlands & Islands League, and travelled huge distances to games – in my imagination.
By Chris Marshall

Orkney FC know how to make waves
The manager of the pyramid’s most northerly club is proud of its tier-six status and stack of trophies. Now he wants a new home with grass and a shot at the Scottish Cup.
By Mark Holmes

Going down headbutting
In 2013, Partick Thistle reached the final of the Challenge Cup. The game might have ended in tears for us Jags but it still gave us plenty to laugh about.
By Neil Cowan

A fives family affair
In 1994, a casual five-a-side game got underway in the southside of Glasgow. Almost three decades later, it’s still going on.
By Ronnie McCluskey

Rivals must figure out ways to catch Old Firm
Whichever way you crunch the numbers, Scotland’s duopoly have bagged the league title for almost 40 years. It’s a similar story in much of Europe but ‘other teams’ must keep the hope alive.
By Jon Davey

Six of the best: Falkirk
The Bairns have enjoyed both dizzying highs and multitudes of upsets in their century and a half out on the pitch. Here we look back at the most memorable kits to have accompanied the Stirlingshire club on their 147-year journey.
By John Devlin

Peter The Cat and the Gough twins
A trawl through the Panini oeuvre turns up some gems of sartorial and footballing trivia.
By Greg Lansdowne

A Partisan Memory Of Hamilton Accies V Partick Thistle A Million Years Ago by Andy Breckenridge
There are no Ref Stickers Published by Panini By Dave Martin
The Arctic Arms, Dundee By Sarah Stewart
U-16s By Nick Allen
The closest we came to flight By Nick Allen