Old Firm dominance is depressing
Is it just me, or is the news that four Old Firm players will battle it out for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award depressing?
Players like Lee Wilkie, Rob Jones and Jack Ross among a host of other unsung pros have made huge contributions to their teams this season, yet all their efforts will go unrecognised in the public arena.
Only the churlish would suggest that Celtic's Gary Caldwell and Scott Brown along with the Rangers pairing of Steven Davis and Pedro Mendes are not worthy nominees, but I wonder what criteria is being applied by Scotland's players when they make their nominations.
You have to go back twenty years to 89/90 season to find Aberdeen's Jim Bett as the last non Old Firm winner.
Clubs outside of the Glasgow pair seem to be at a distinct disadvantage. Without a galaxy of top names around them to let them shine as brightly as the Old Firm guys, their contributions are arguably greater than players who have more quality alongside them, yet they go unrecognised by their fellow peers.
At Tannadice, Wilkie has been magnificent in guiding young Gary Kenneth through matches and adding to the kid's store of football intelligence. As skipper he's also led like a lion after fighting for his very livelihood, coming back after two cruciate injuries which would have left lesser men crumpled shells.
His inspirational bravery alone deserves due recognition, never mind his fine defensive qualities.
Jones too, in a sometimes difficult season for Hibs, has been a dominant figure, while Ross has been a pivotal part of St Mirren's struggle for SPL survival.
Every club in the SPL has its heroes, and this ain't a gripe about the four who have been nominated. Mendes for his sheer panache and quality, would be my choice from the four, incidentally.
But, there's a case to be made for looking beyond the obvious choices, and I hope that in SPL dressing rooms next season, players take a look at the guys who go into the fray with them week-in-week-out and pause to reflect on qualities which are all too easily ignored when compared to the glamour of those starring for the Old Firm.
Something's changed in the way fellow pros make their choices. In the 10 years before this current 20-year period of dominance by Old Firm players, the award was picked up by seven players at clubs outside of the Parkhead-Ibrox duo.
Theo Snelders at Aberdeen, Richard Gough at Dundee United, Jim Duffy at Morton and Sandy Clark at Airdrie are among the winners in that era. There are still men of that calibre around the SPL.
There's an instructive look to be had at the list of winners for the SPFA young player of the year where a much more even spread of honours is apparent.
Steven Naismith at Killie, Derek Riordan at Hibs, James McFadden at Motherwell and Kevin McNaughton at Aberdeen are all recent winners. If only a more even spread of recognition was represented in the senior award.
Personally, I think it would have been fitting for someone of the stature of 'Streaky' Wilkie, to have streaked past the rest to reach the winers line first this season.