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The Old Firm go marching on

Chick Young | 14:53 UK time, Monday, 15 September 2008

A Hibs fan, I see, was forced to sit in a bath of beans after pledging to do so if his team re-signed Derek Riordan. "We will never get him back," he vowed. His cynicism, it seems, was blowing in the wind.

Oh ye of little faith.

Expect the unexpected in Scottish football; some of the time.

gersceleb438.jpgBut not of course when it comes to the Old Firm. I see the natural order has been restored at the top of the SPL, with Glasgow's Big Two leading the pack

In forty years of pounding this beat, wearily, I have been forced to report, it has nearly always been thus.

And before Celtic fans send out the lynching party, "natural order" refers to the pair of them... in either sequence.

It's as disappointing as it is unsurprising.

Kilmarnock turned up at Ibrox as championship leaders with a defence which looked as if it couldn't be breached by a Caribbean hurricane went a goal ahead and Ayrshire imaginations were running riot.

By full time normal service had been resumed and the mouse that roared had fallen for the cheese in the trap.

Meanwhile at Fir Park, the Great Claret and Amber Hope to splice the Old Firm, Motherwell, was laid horizontal by another tempest, this one in green and white hoops.

As for Dundee United, the pre-season forecast of most to challenge Glasgow's happy couple, in the great race they can't even release the hand brake.

Honestly, I'll think about sitting in a bath of beans myself if the Old Firm fail to finish one and two on the rostrum. That's something else for Celtic and Rangers to have on toast.

Meanwhile, while we're having a look at the supper menu, it seems that George Burley isn't everybody's cup of tea.

The guns were loaded for the Scotland manager after a miserable start to the World Cup campaign in Macedonia.

You could have deep fried a Mars Bar in the Skopje afternoon heat but there was too much rest and not enough work or decent play from Scotland.

What followed was an avalanche of criticism, some of it triggered by Burley's curious assessment that Scotland had been "outstanding" in the second half when they were in fact less crap than they were in the first.

It was proven yet again that when it comes to the art form of panic, we are world leaders.

Faithful readers of this column will know that I expected Scotland to struggle in Macedonia and to harvest - at best - two points from their journeys to the former Yugoslavia and then to Iceland.

So I must declare myself content with three in the wake of the heart-stopping win in Reykjavik where we felt for the last ten minutes like a man clinging to a cliff by his fingertips before the rescue by the coastguard, or in this case, the full time whistle.

And so there we are, back on the straight and narrow on the road to Cape Town, cradled safely in the knowledge that if the folk from the fjords don't burgle anything at Hampden next month then those who slaughtered Burley will turn out to be like those who mocked Noah as he built his ark.

Never rains but it pours, eh?

We need the salvation. Rangers and Queen of the South have evaporated from the Scottish challenge in Europe leaving our early season reputation around the world in rags.

I trust Celtic and Motherwell can heal the wounds.

They must be as lively as they possibly can be in their respective European campaigns - full of beans in fact...


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