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Own goal over Scotland fixture

Chick Young | 15:10 UK time, Monday, 27 April 2009

To B or not to B, that is the question.

And here is the answer. No, not in a month of Sundays. Nor Wednesday nights, for that matter.

Why has the SFA decided to take on a B international match at second prize level against Northern Ireland at Cumbernauld next week?

Scotland manager George BurleyThe apathy hangs so thick in the air you could cut yourself a slice.

Expect a crowd of 14 men and a dog... although I understand the hound in question says the job of getting there will be no walk in the park.

Actually, I'm going to the game and I might take my boots because the batting order is likely to sink to such murky depths on the talent scale.

Anglo Scots are involved in play-off matches in the English Championship and managers of sides in the nerve-wracking bottom six won't want their stars involved ahead of crucial fixtures.

However, Gordon Strachan and Walter Smith are likely to say "good luck" to any players selected ahead of the title showdown Old Firm game.

Aye, right!

We are so short of candidates for this team that the SFA board might send out a grovelling apology to Barry Ferguson.

All right, maybe I've taken that too far. But this is a pointless exercise.

We will field a team full of players who have no chance of ever representing the country at a meaningful level on a night when the televised Champions League semi-final might just prove too much of a temptation.

No contest. It's like Baywatch versus Bayview.

And don't give me that codswallop about giving some players a chance to pull on a Scotland shirt.

Do what the rest of us do for five-a-sides and buy one at your local sports shop.

It's the latest dodgy decision in a long list of dodgy decisions headed up by the old chestnut of European qualification.

Falkirk will be in the Europa League no matter what happens on 30 May, because Rangers are heading for the Champions League.

Good luck to the Bairns. It's not their fault but there is something intrinsically wrong with the system when we reward failure.

The club's starting position will be handsomely rewarded if they actually beat the Ibrox side.

But if they are runners-up they enter Europe so early they will just about have time for a cup of tea and a biscuit at full-time at Hampden before playing their first qualifying tie.

But at least John Hughes proved to be the class act that sections of the support - those who called for his head in an ill-timed open letter - could never be.

In the very moment of his sweet triumph, within seconds of the full-time whistle against Dunfermline, he was dedicating Falkirk's arrival in the final to the memory of Craig Gowans who died four years ago in a tragic training ground accident, aged just 17.

It was a much needed moment of dignity and style because our little world has gone stark raving bonkers.

And the busiest asylum of all may be Almondvale.

What on earth is going on there? Answers on a postcard, please, to Paul Hegarty.

That West Lothian question suddenly makes the B game, relatively speaking, look like a right good idea.


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  • 1. At 5:53pm on 27 Apr 2009, Glenny_is_a_Wanderer wrote:

    I'm not really sure what the point of this blog is.

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  • 2. At 6:22pm on 27 Apr 2009, ClubDeckBlade wrote:

    The point is that it cinfirms my growing suspicion that the SFA is not fit for purpose......

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  • 3. At 6:23pm on 27 Apr 2009, mattgeordiecat wrote:

    good blog chick i liked it

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  • 4. At 6:27pm on 27 Apr 2009, borofan wrote:

    Glenny, if you're not sure of the point of the blog why make a comment?

    Actuallly, it's the first Chick blog I generally agree with.

    Why play a B international during the most important part of the league season for many players who are likely to be involved?

    Why play it on the same night as a Champions League semi-final?

    My only criticism is the remark regarding Paul Hegarty. Chick, if you don't know what is going on (and who does?) why make a comment?

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  • 5. At 6:45pm on 27 Apr 2009, Bye Bye Badman wrote:

    Chick we get it, you hate the SFA, you don't need to write about it every blog. You even managed to have a dig at them after the Ferguson/McGregor situation

    The B game is pointless, and you are right to draw attention to its pointlessness. To devote all of the blog to it though??

    To be honest I thought it would be more interesting to know what is going at Livingston. Just mentioning it with no information - Whats the point in that?

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  • 6. At 6:56pm on 27 Apr 2009, mm1971 wrote:

    I must agree, a strange time to have a friendly - I can't see it being a crowd puller. As for Falkirk, good luck to them in Europe next season, but, wouldn't it be better for Scottish football if the 4th placed SPL team entered instead of the ( more often than not ) Scottish Cup runners-up ?? Surely the 4th placed team would have a better chance of progressing to the later stages of the Europa Cup ?? And therefore, gaining Scottish teams more UEFA points and recognition ??

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  • 7. At 7:31pm on 27 Apr 2009, neonlickspittle wrote:

    I agree with Glenny, a pointless blog. The only reason for writing was to include the "Barry Ferguson" dig. Let it go Chick, your obsession has become unhealthy.

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  • 8. At 7:36pm on 27 Apr 2009, river_pines wrote:

    What is going on with Heggie and Livi is football losing the plot !!

    Great player and man deserves to be treated better than this...

    AS far a Runners-Up getting through to Europe farce, scottish football struggles enough without losers going into Europe !!

    I have turned my mobile of silent as think i might get picked for the B game...

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  • 9. At 7:51pm on 27 Apr 2009, Ticocity wrote:

    I love your blogging style Mr Young! A series of loosely connected statements that flow like the river Farg during that sweltering summer of '75.

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  • 10. At 9:09pm on 27 Apr 2009, spartans11 wrote:

    Good blog covering a range of pertinent points

    Obviously the B International is taking place because the SFA think wee George needs to put the lessons he's been learning into practice, before they let him loose with the big team again.

    Cup runners up in Europe is a joke as we saw with Queens and I doubt Falkirk will be much better. If they actually win, fair enough they've deserved it but not for losing

    Wow, Livi are still going?

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  • 11. At 9:32pm on 27 Apr 2009, beavso2005 wrote:

    chick,i bumped into paul hegarty in monifieth one day couple months ago.the guy is a gentleman,stood talking about football,mainly glory days at tannadice mind you,but the guys integrity not up for debate.a football man and a legend he is

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  • 12. At 10:09pm on 27 Apr 2009, NoGBfootball wrote:

    PLEASE can we amalgamate the SFA, SFL and the SPL. Why, oh why are these un-elected, mostly tired men of football (exception Smith at SFA) systematcially destroying our game - (EPL Celtic/Rangers concept and GB 2012 team aside!).

    Year after year, terrible Scottish football decisions go unpunished and unheeded. In all other careers, people would lose their jobs, but not in Scottish football - examples: several years ago, Partick versus Inverness for the premier position, Hibs Cup replay against Dunfermline at an empty Hampden beamed throughout the world, instead of a smaller neutral venue, the current SPL new fixtures, when added to the existing SFL fixture pairing the Dundee clubs both at home on the same day, Scotland playing Macedonia at 3pm on a hot Saturday afternoon in the summer, Ross, Dundee and Dunfermline kicked out of reserve football for felonies similar to unpunished SPL clubs - these are a few horrific, unprofessional, ill thought-out decisions by highly paid so-called professionals who can't find a job anywhere else.

    PLEASE let common-sense prevail and remove these idiots as soon as possible. Start by creating one body...Chick you have the power! - If people can bring down the Berlin Wall, then lets start the campaign to root out the quango Peats of this world.

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  • 13. At 01:00am on 28 Apr 2009, dpd1973 wrote:

    Chick, do you honestly think Barry Bl**dy Ferguson, Barry 'as useless as the day is long' Ferguson is any loss to the Scotland team? Why constantly joke about the situation along with references to McGregor?

    Its no joke but its over now - let it go. Seriously there are many up and coming players ready and better able to offer something of value to the national side. So stop moaning about the 'loss' of these 2 muppets and move on.

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  • 14. At 09:14am on 28 Apr 2009, jamieba wrote:

    Given the level of Scottish football, whether its a div 1 side that were cup runners up or the 4th placed team in the premier division that enters the Europa Cup, they're still gonna get knocked out first round!
    And i'm sure that Falkirk appreciate the vote of confidence (not), they might win the thing you know.

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  • 15. At 09:43am on 28 Apr 2009, Dennistoundon wrote:

    Not bad blog chic, and a fair whack of what you write is dross.
    A chance to moan about the clueless SFA is more often than not welcome by your regular punters and not to dissimilar to shooting fish in a barrel. Also the prospect of Falkirk getting relegated and getting to Europe is ridiculous as they won't even make the 1st round.

    Though Paul Hegarty and the goings on at Livingstone are the real story this week. Whilst it's unclear what’s going on there it would be nice if there was someone in Scotland whose job it was to investigate what’s going on and tell people the story, I think people do this job in other countries and call themselves Journalist. Though it’s ok we understand that Livingstone is a bit far east for you.

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  • 16. At 10:15am on 28 Apr 2009, wherewhywhen-com wrote:

    Pointless time for a game, to be honest Scottish footbal is that bad if I was offered a free ticket and travel to any spl game (outwith a hearts v hibs or celtic v rangers game) I would turn it down in favour of Barcelone v Chelsea on STV :) Actually I would turn the offer down for Coronation St.

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  • 17. At 10:30am on 28 Apr 2009, badseedadam wrote:

    #6 & #14 - the 4th placed team in the SPL does still get into Europe. Scotland have got three places in the Europa League, meaning 3rd and 4th in the SPL and the Scottish Cup runners up get in.

    So the question is whether 5th place is more worthy of a European spot than losing a cup final. Personally I think finishing 5th in a league of 12 is equally undeserving - it would be like the team finishing 9th in the English Premier getting into Europe.

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  • 18. At 11:08am on 28 Apr 2009, SkigerstaBear9 wrote:

    Article no 12 - good article.......the game is so fragmented.

    The B international seems like a pointless exercise - there is hardly a team in the league that can spare a player between relegation fights, and chasing places for Europe........

    Get a proper winter shutdown, or simply switch to a summer playing programme like our Scandinavian cousins, but just scrap the league split.

    Gordon Smith always seemed like a sensible enough chappie when he was on Sportsound, but his time in office so far has generated mostly negative vibes........we critisised of the Ernie Walkers, Jim Farries and David Taylors, but truth be told, they were relatively better

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  • 19. At 11:16am on 28 Apr 2009, j_devil wrote:

    i play for an 11 a-side amateur team and i got a call from george burley for the squad, but i can't play because i've an important league game for my sunday night 5 a side team and can't risk getting injured. that's how important and exciting a B side clash in cumbernauld at this time of the season is. I'll be watching the champions league semi final in the pub with ferguson and mc gregor.

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  • 20. At 12:23pm on 28 Apr 2009, capetrib wrote:

    "All right, maybe I've taken that too far. But this is a pointless exercise."

    Surely you dont mean this blog (and all previous) Chick?

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  • 21. At 12:33pm on 28 Apr 2009, Matthew wrote:

    Who within the SFA is accountable for this fixture? I would like to hear what justification there is for such a fixture?

    It seems rather random and without much point, if we could get some feedback as to why the fixture is being played I may be able to understand the thinking behind it.

    I would of thought that Burley could see any of these players on a regular basis.

    Good shout # 12

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  • 22. At 1:03pm on 28 Apr 2009, rossco1973 wrote:

    Nice blog Chick, a lot of things to pack into it this week & I can't disagree with any of your points. Well done Yogi, here's hoping you can do the double by keeping Falkirk up - & I'm a Jambo!

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  • 23. At 1:13pm on 28 Apr 2009, Reynox78 wrote:

    I'm a West Brom fan & we have a young Scot's midfielder just breaking into the side called Graham Dorrans who is getting rave reviews.

    We picked him up last year from Livingston for 150k which looks an absolute steal.

    ully expect him to be making headlines next year, is he on the radar of the scots management yet?

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  • 24. At 2:18pm on 28 Apr 2009, Shy Ted wrote:

    Northern Ireland will win anyway. Chic stop yer moaning!!

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  • 25. At 3:18pm on 28 Apr 2009, Andy wrote:

    A talking dog at Broadwood? Who'se been on the white cider, Chick or the dog?

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  • 26. At 3:40pm on 28 Apr 2009, ScottieMcD wrote:

    Ah DennistounDon, bitter tears from an Aberdeen supporter because his team failed to beat Dumfermline in the quarter final.

    I'm sure all Aberdeen fans would love to be in the Scottish Cup final and qualify for Europe via a runners up spot, as for Falkirk being relegated lets not count our chickens just yet.

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  • 27. At 4:31pm on 28 Apr 2009, malkys large oversized novelty comb wrote:

    why do you talk about rewarding falkirk for failure when they havnt even failed yet chick???

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  • 28. At 4:48pm on 28 Apr 2009, hallda wrote:

    i love how people criticise and ask questions when he obviously won't read or reply to the comments....

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  • 29. At 6:52pm on 28 Apr 2009, The Squiggler - 10 points clear (but it's only really 10) wrote:

    I feel short-changed. The author of this piece is neither young nor a chick. Who do I get in touch with to demand a refund?

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  • 30. At 02:07am on 29 Apr 2009, quijibo81 wrote:

    The guaranteed Europa League spot for the Cup Winners/Runners up is just about all that keeps interest alive in the Scottish Cup these days.

    You only have to look at the League Cup ever since the European place was taken away from it to see how interest has slumped - if there isn't an Old Firm match involved in it, then nobody cares, and teams often field understrength sides in it.

    It's the only chance some of these sides will have to have a "day in the sun" in Europe, especially since the abolition of the Intertoto Cup, and we're certainly not the only country that does it.

    In the fairly likely scenario that we qualify for a bonus Europa League place next season through the Fair Play system, will you be arguing that the place should go to the highest available league side rather than the team who have earned it through a good disciplinary record?

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  • 31. At 12:48pm on 29 Apr 2009, markrp wrote:

    Reynox78, if you're still around, Dorrans is in the squad for this game.

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  • 32. At 12:49pm on 29 Apr 2009, lordlucanismissing wrote:

    Nothing against Falkirk, but Scotland's European reputation is dropping fast.

    We need our best teams in Europe. Simple as that.

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  • 33. At 1:06pm on 29 Apr 2009, StennyHFC wrote:

    Falkirk may still win the cup, lost before the game even kicks off in Chicks eyes

    Marshall, Barr, Clarkson - have all been in the recent Scotland squads, so surely have a chance of playing at a high level for Scotland.

    Gallacher & Naismith - been in previous Scotland squads and have a chance to get back in.

    Bad timing for a game, i agree, but no need to have a pop at the players, when a few do have a good chance of playing for Scotland in the coming years.

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  • 34. At 1:06pm on 29 Apr 2009, minuend wrote:

    The basic premise to "B" internationals is to give players on the fringes of national selection and those better U21 players international experience. This is known as forward thinking when dealing with depleted squads in future games and for future international tournaments.

    Obviously, such a notion is beyond Chick's ken, because all he would do is pack the Scotland team with Rangers players and pick BF as captain.

    If you can't make to Cumbernauld Chick then true-blue Scotland fans will no why.

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  • 35. At 1:30pm on 29 Apr 2009, rossy-celtic wrote:

    sir,once again a little team from the preimer league has reached scottish cup final. congrats to falkirk, but as a celtic fan,with no alligance to rangers or falkirk the usual problem, cup final tickets, rangers,who have 50,000 supporters,falkirk have less than 20,000,each week,but suddenly falkirk have 30,000 new fans,cup final scrooges.dont follow,dont go to game,but cup-final,here they come.give rangers the most tickets,loyal fans follow gers,every week,falkirk cant get fair to loyal fans,hand out ticket.yours rossyceltic.

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  • 36. At 1:35pm on 29 Apr 2009, tappingman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 01:25am on 30 Apr 2009, varikvavisol wrote:

    You don't play a B international at the most important part of the season for every league in the world. The argument of promoting under-21 players(#34) is false. The players in this game won't be competing against a higher skill level than they are already used to.
    The only answer for Scottish football is to form a new league that does not include Celtic or Rangers. Both teams have always been dominant but not like they have been the last 20-30 years. They must either be kicked out of the league or any money they earn through European football (other than gates) must be divided amongst the entire SFA or just the SPL teams.

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  • 38. At 09:08am on 30 Apr 2009, Mark wrote:

    Chick's obviously got a bee in his bonnet as not enough St Mirren players in the squad! After all Scott Cuthbert only on loan. Surely Andy Dorman's got a Scottie dog that would make him eligible?

    Perhaps Chick would like to suggest an alternative date on the intl calender that this should be played? Although i'm in agreement that many of the players will be unavailable because of play-offs/split games in SPL surely the positive should be that young boys get the opportunity to make a step up- B intl or not?

    Or like I said to start is Chick's main gripe that there's not enough St Mirren players in the squad?

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  • 39. At 10:31am on 30 Apr 2009, Genghisridesagain wrote:

    Looking at the positive, this match is probably the safest place to go if you want to avoid picking up swine flu as it is unlikely that you’ll come into contact with anyone else on the otherwise deserted terraces.

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  • 40. At 4:29pm on 30 Apr 2009, Cover2 wrote:

    That blog was like a wooden spoon. It has no point. I understood what you were driving at then lost your way on but come on Chick focus!!

    Scottish football is a joke, as much as i love it i cant help loose interest on the game.

    Too many leagues and offical bodies. Too many cooks anyone.

    What we need are 2 not 3 leagues.
    Change it up.
    Should you be last in the bottom league you start with extra cash from the SFA,SPL S whatever to try and build you team.
    Think of it like the NFL the worst team get a hand to build up to be competative for the next year.

    Should we have a Euope qualifing situation like this year with Falkirk then regardless of who wins the final the winner of a semi final round robin plays for example falkirk to have the place in europe. More competition, more fun.

    and thats what the game should be FUN!!!!
    I think thats been forgotten.

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  • 41. At 12:52pm on 01 May 2009, paulmc_hfc wrote:

    no disrespect to falkirk, but how can the teams in this league expect to get anywhere when a club that is currently holding everyone else up is put into Europe. This should be (an am i right in thinking its taking place next year) allocated to the 5th placed team in the SPL. that would mean either Dundee Utd/Aberdeen/Hibs would go into Europe alongside what looks like Hearts and the 4th placed team.
    Thus giving the teams that have been there, or there about for last few years more income in attendances, and a chance to build upon this country's declining European stature, as well as a higher attraction to foreign based players.
    Lets be honest, if falkirk go down to the second tier of what is a poor scottish league system, regardless of being in Europe, their not really going to attract the players to even compete against the minnows that they will face in the opening rounds of qualification.

    rant over...

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  • 42. At 11:07am on 04 May 2009, caluminoz wrote:

    What most of you - including Chick - don't realise is that UEFA run European competitions and they give criteria to each association on who can qualify for them. There is a fair bit of flexibility given to the SFA but thing must remain the same - a European spot HAS to be allocated to a Cup competition. This is a UEFA rule. We aren't in a special position - they do the same in England.

    Take last season - the big four qualified for the Champions League due to their league positions, Everton went to the UEFA Cup by finishing 5th, Aston Villa went to the Intertoto by finishing 6th and Portsmouth, who finished 8th, went to the UEFA Cup thanks to winning the FA Cup. Blackburn finished 7th - but went nowhere.

    Had Portsmouth lost the FA Cup then England would have ended up sending CARDIFF to the UEFA Cup - a club in the second tier of English football (and playing in Wales!).

    I understand this idea that Falkirk will probably lose the Scottish Cup final (as Gretna and Queen of the South did), and that is "rewarding failure" - but we only see this because we have a smaller league and dominance by two major clubs, meaning the Scottish Cup final almost always involves one of the Old Firm. Even when it didn't when Gretna got there, Hearts had qualified for Europe through their league position. When was the last time we had a Scottish Cup final where a team needed to WIN to get to Europe?

    This is a UEFA rule and has nothing to do with the SFA. The English allocate a European spot to their League Cup winner, but this isn't an option for us - then we'd have no European spot allocated to the league!

    Perhaps Chick should do some research?

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