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Paying the penalty in SPL games

Chick Young | 17:18 UK time, Monday, 18 August 2008

Celtic fans may or may not be delighted that Chris Hoy rode his bike at the Olympics: but they'll be ecstatic that Thomas Gravesen got on his.

The Parkhead club eventually slipped the manacles off the deadly dull Dane whose only contribution to lighting up the place was a hat-trick against St Mirren at Love Street.

To be fair, Gravesen was a nutty as a fruitcake off the pitch, but at £40,000 a week the club wanted world-class footballers, not after-dinner speakers.

His pay-off would no doubt have squared the debt of some small African nations, but the club did well to cut their losses. Gravesen, in truth, turned out to be as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.

In any case who needs international players when match officials are doing the business for you?gravesen_sns438.jpg

Another week, another questionable refereeing decision, another dodgy penalty.

And compared to what went through Charlie Richmond's mind at Tannadice, Eddie Smith's award against St Mirren was innocent of all charges.

Honestly, the words "Charlie Richmond is now just about the best referee in the country" had scarcely tumbled from my mouth on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound, when he refused Dundee United a spot-kick that was so ridiculously obvious the Celtic back four blushed with embarrassment.

His decision was inconceivable to me. Richmond gets much more right than wrong, has a good relationship with players and managers and is well liked throughout the game.

But this was like giving Dr Crippen community service.

Referees are turning into lemmings, self destructing as they reach the top of the cliff and then jogging towards the edge.

Mike McCurry, Eddie Smith and now Charlie. No more, gentlemen. Get a grip of your whistles and as one go forward together. Our game cannot take much more of this.

Maybe it was just one of these weekends.

In the live post-match interview with Walter Smith at Ibrox I was bombed by a baguette, dropped from some height by two squabbling seagulls.

It was of such size that I thought at first it must have been transported by a pterodactyl and it missed me by the width of a slice of corned beef. It fairly splatted as it landed on the Ibrox track.

There were three major surprises about this.

First, spotting a baguette in Govan, and second that the Rangers manager and I could not contain our mirth and were forced to abandon the interview laughing like childish schoolboys.

Third, that some could take offence, contacting the BBC to suggest some ridiculous alliance with Walter Smith and that I would not have wet my pants with other managers.

Oh the paranoia of it all. Trust me, I would have creased myself if it had happened while I was talking to the Reverend I.M. Jolly.

We really need to loosen up, like that's going to happen with the first Old Firm game of the season on the horizon.

You can't blame James McFadden who revealed at the Scotland camp on Loch Lomondside this week that basically he would rather face the task of emptying the loch with a teaspoon than sign for Rangers or Celtic.

He has deduced that as a Glaswegian it ain't worth the hassle. And that comes from a man who currently works in Birmingham - where even the birds cough.

But actually, Charlie Richmond's aberration aside, the action at Tannadice proved that maybe there isn't that much wrong with the Scottish game.

It was a pulsating, throbbing, breathless 90 minutes which trapped like a drag race and then pressed the accelerator.

And 24 hours earlier Hamilton won again. They can only throw that title away now.

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