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Should Scottish football go back to go forward?

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Jim Spence | 10:29 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

As Scotland prepare to meet Brazil, the country which produces arguably the finest and most gifted players on the planet, I found myself wondering whether we could ever again go some small way to producing players of the highest calibre, as we once did.

If not, who or what is to blame and do we need to reinvent the wheel to change things?

In recent weeks, two ex-professional footballers who played the game at the top level have said to me that we should scrap the current pro youth set-up in the Scottish game.

How to get Brazilian talent in Scotland jerseys? Swap shirts! Here, Brazil celebrate a 2-0 win over Scotland at Hampden in the Rous Cup in 1987. Photo: SNS

How to get Brazilian talent in Scotland jerseys? Swap shirts! Here, Brazil celebrate a 2-0 win over Scotland at Hampden in the Rous Cup in 1987. Photo: SNS

Both have had kids involved in the system.

They would like a return to the days when young players came through their school teams and Sunday league teams.

They felt that the old ways, when a club took three or four boys on at the start of every season as apprentices, would serve the game better.

Are they right?

One former scout at one of Scotland's very top clubs told me the current set-up was producing robots.

Is he right?

Where are the flair players like the greats of yesteryear, like Jim Baxter, Jimmy Johnstone, Denis Law and Kenny Dalglish?

One senior figure at the SFA some time ago said the clubs at pro level were full of "jersey fillers".

He meant boys attached to professional clubs from an early age to make up the numbers, but who would never make it at the top level with those clubs.

I have sympathy with the view.

Many youngsters who have spent five and six years at senior clubs drop out of the game all together once they realise they won't play full-time for a living.

Is it they who are at fault for not loving the game enough to be prepared to play at a lesser level?

Or is it the game which is at fault for encouraging them with false hopes and promises?

Would the old ways of schools football, Sunday league and even the Boys' Brigade teams be a better breeding ground for new talent?

Could going back to the future be the answer to providing better players and more balanced individuals?

Answers on a postcard, please, because I'm off for a week.

But I'm sure that'll not stop you coming up with the answers.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This is purely opinion and speculation, but I think times have changed and not as many kids play football any more.

    The area where I grew up used to constantly have 1-3 kick abouts on the go in the communal playing fields, ditto the local parks and the school grounds. Now I go past these places and they're deserted. I think too many kids now are distracted by FIFA and Football Manager, their parents are scared to let them out to play cos of media fear of paedophiles.

    If someone has the desire, commitment and fitness to take themselves into the football system, fair enough. They might be "robots", but the sport is more athletic now, than the "Glory Days" of Jimmy Johnstone (of the Largs Boat Incident fame) and Jim Baxter (who drank like the proverbial fish). Raw talent was enough in those days - now it isn't, there are lifestyle considerations too. That raw talent is still out there - I've played fives against some wizards in my time - but those wizards are involved in clubbing and drugs and they'd never make it in the sport, no matter how well they can dribble or shoot.

    So times have changed, so has the game, so must the players and the system that produces them. There is no "going back".

  • Comment number 2.

    Nostalgia is a powerful thing - we are pre conditioned to remember the better aspects of our history and review them with our rose tinted specs. I agree with Percules about the diminishing number of kids playing all sport - not just football and they have too many other distractions. In a way it links to some of the previous blogs about perceived value in football in any case. Families can derive more personal satisfaction at a fraction of the cost in dozens of other pastimes.

    In every walk of life the bar gets higher every year and professional sport is the same. That's not to say that there were not some truly gifted talents that were honed through endless hours of playing football in the street or at school. But the notion we can some how retreat to the past doesn't stand much scrutiny. What is needed is some new ideas...

    For example - fitness classes were all the rage for a while but has been falling for ages. Along comes Zumba which is a dancercise class and everywhere you look there is a Zumba class springing up. Why? because its different, interesting and build on the i-pod generation who are much more into their music etc. It has a fashion element and its fun.

    So guys - when you are heading off to fives this week or training, get on the bright yellow togs and a few pumping tunes and have a laugh

    ps Jim - another holiday! people will start to think you have a cushy number with the BBC

  • Comment number 3.

    I "took" a school team for 20 years . It was great to have top players add their skills to the school team each Saturday ...and we had some great games and experiences.Then the time came when the clubs "forbade" the top players to play for their school . I felt then , and still do .that both lost out . The ethos of the school diminished ,,,the "ordinary" players didn't have the thrill and learning experience of playing alongside quality players .The top players lost out in fun , team work , and growing up with peers . There are plenty other chances for youngsters to get "coached" . There were so many quality players in my school teams who got up early on Saturday morning , put up the goal nets , filled the juice bottles , took part in an exhilarating game of football , sung songs on the school minibus back from the game ( and yes ,stopped for chips ...was that so bad ?) . So many youngsters who learned not only football but wider aspects of life . I ask the question ..has Scottish football improved since the new approach was brought in ?

  • Comment number 4.

    I have mixed views about the pro-youth/academy system. I think it's a good way of generating a mass amount of players each season but the real factor is whether or not these players are actually good enough to play regularly in the first teams. There is little evidence that many teams have actually benefited from this system on both a performance and financial level. The only teams that spring to mind are Hamilton ( 2 players) and probably the most successful being Hibs.
    The term "Robot" is probably the correct term. Each academy will have their own mandate for the type of players they want/need to produce and will train the players accordingly. The ones that don't fit in end up on the "soccer scrapheap" never to kick a ball again. When i was at school, most of the guys that played football had an idol and tried to play that way and had their own personality on the field. These academies are creating brainwashed mass produced tripe that are to the detrement of Scottish Football.
    I don't know enough about the inner workings of an academy to understand what coaching methods are being used but clearly they aren't working. Do we need a new approach to the way we coach our kids? I think we should be encouraging the schools to get more involved as the kids are already there anyway so an extra couple of hours a few nights a week won't hurt.
    I agree that we live in different times and a new generation of youth is evolving. The minute a kid sees rain these days it's straight onto the Xbox. I'd like to see better facilities available to entice kids to play. Nothing worse than trying to motivate a 10 year old to train on a cold, dark and wet November night. I understand part of it is self motivation but i think more needs to be done to entice these kids to come out the woodwork and play football again.

  • Comment number 5.

    ^The minute a kid sees rain these days it's straight onto the Xbox.
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    That's what I was trying to get at. Me and my mates used to be out, rain or shine. We used to cop hell for coming in "like a drowned rat", covered in mud from slide tackles. Just don't see it any more.

    See also: playing until it's so dark you can hardly see your hand in front of your face.

    We used to play before school, morning break, lunch, after school and then all evening after tea. It was in our blood, all day every day. Then again, apart from Subbuteo, the only competition was my ZX Spectrum! FIFA it wasn't...

  • Comment number 6.

    I hear you Percules.

    We had a triangular patch of grass with a few 10-15y/o trees and bounded on two sides by roads with street lights. When it got dark, this became an excellent area for passing, running into 'space' between trees etc.

    Was back up there a year or two ago at my mates' old boys house and he was bemoaning the lack of kids on the park - he couldn't remember the last time he saw anyone playing football across from his house. Thirty years ago we had several games of World Cup going on at any given time, jackets for goal posts elsewhere and our impromptu triangular passing training sessions. Every night.

    That's the crux of the problem - not enough time playing; no football at schools is but a small part of this.

    It's often quoted that to become 'Elite level' at any given pursuit, sport, art, otherwise, one needs approximately 10,000 hours of progressive training. Whilst our small games of World Cup or pass and shoot aren't explicitly progressive training sessions, they are however time working with the ball, building spacial awareness etc, so by default they did improve you as a player. You then went for three training sessions and a couple of games each week to get the 'proper' coaching one requires.

    All in, we probably played 20 hours a week. Much more in summer time. Now? If you're not part of the academy teams, there's little chance you do more than a short handful of time with a ball each week. This, to my mind, is a massive problem - the net has become very narrow (academy teams).

  • Comment number 7.

    It may not be useful to return completely to the old ways, but this much is certain:

    There are far too many facilities for training too few genuinely talented youngsters by too few genuinely talented coaches.

    A number of clubs are training such large numbers of youngsters, primarily for the grants, or as mollification to their support, whilst the OF waste is bordering on wanton.

    I have been making some of these points, eg. jersey-filling for some time now in other places, to absolutely no avail; I feel that this sensible POV will be demonised by the youth-is-the-future, claptrapivores, whose diet of footballing "conventional wisdom" will be threatened by this sensible viewpoint.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am an old timer and the biggest change I have seen over the years is that football is no longer enjoyable. It is all only about winning. Over the years the smaller flair player has tended to be the more skilful. But jersey grabbing means that small players are stopped from playing by their larger opponents. My favourite team to watch is Barcelona whose forward line is the smallest and most successful and entertaining team in modern professional football. Jersey pulling and diving destroys skilled players and leaves a very bad taste. Not nice to watch or give a good example to kids. The most exciting thing in football is to watch a player gliding past three opponents time and again. Alas modern football concentrates on physique before skill, all to the detriment of the game as a player and as an observer. Modern coaches and football authorities have de-skilled the game by concentrating on allowing all the advantages to the tall athletes rather than having rules that protect, encourage, and produce the skilful flair player.

  • Comment number 9.

    Jim,

    Some telling comments from other contributors highlight the failings of the coaching system and other negative aspects of the modern game which I wouldn’t argue with, but your blog also highlights the alarming drop out level, even amongst those who do make it through the system.

    As you said:

    “Many youngsters who have spent five and six years at senior clubs drop out of the game all together once they realise they won't play full-time for a living”

    What many people may not realise unless they are involved at playing or coaching level, is the calibre of some of these youngsters and the undeveloped potential that is being lost to the game.

    In my view you can have as high a standard of coaching and facilities as you like, but if there is nowhere for this developing talent to play then you might as well not bother in the first place.

    One young lad I know, capped at U.16 and U.19, playing highland league and shown the door at the end of the season for no reason other than he would pass 20 during the next season.

    The lack of reserve team football and a lack of willingness to blood youngsters is destroying prospects for aspiring young talent and until our footballing set up reflects a tiered structure representative of different playing standards then this trend is likely to continue.

    Everyone needs to find their own level whether for career ambition or simply playing enjoyment and if looking back means a return to a sensible blend of full and part time players, then surely the present day finances dictate this course of action.

    Many a Scottish team once had this blend and if you were good enough, was the determining factor, not the full time qualifier.

    Looking to the past is fine as long as you don’t dwell in it.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the problems we're facing are serious but I do believe recently we have been making headway. I think one of the major problems is money. The increase of money in the game has led to The Old Firm in the 90's and early 00's to go out and buy than look to their own when in need of a player. However recently more out of force than preference, Rangers have been turning to their youngsters to play in the squad and I feel this has benefited the club and a good few players are coming out of the Rangers academy now into the first team.

    However, to achieve the greatness and the level of player we once had I think the solution is really easy. Theres no need to try and think of ways to improve our young players - just copy other nations! Look at the Brazilian model, Spanish, French or even Italian or German to an extent. If we could use their methodologies and try to use their idea's and incorporate into ours then we could solve all the problems. The solution is easy I feel, however it depends if we can be radical enough and strong willed enough to go through with the changes required to replicate these countries. Perhaps we as a nation have our own cultural problems that may get in the way but there are always ways around this if you work hard enough.

  • Comment number 11.

    The problem with Scottish football is they do not appreciate how far they have fallen.
    1998 was the last time the national team qualified for tournament and both Scotland and Belgium were only two european teams who did not make it out of the group stages in France.(Scotland and Belgium were both in the same poor European qualifying group for the 1998 world cup, so they had an easy qualification).Scotland will not qualify for a major tournament for the next 12 years.

    The national team is ranked 50th, the SPL is ranked 16th in Europe (behind countires like Turkey who are ranked 11th).Rangers and Celtic are now ranked 31st and 53rd in Europe.
    A major overhaul is now required and Scotland should form a 'Celtic' league with Welsh,N Irish and Irish teams.This has worked in Rugby where the minnows can improve.
    Other countires with small populations e.g. lUruguay,Denamark,Slovenia.. etc have qualified for tournaments because they have quality players, unlike Scotland.

  • Comment number 12.

    #11
    Nonsense

    "Scotland and Belgium were only two european teams who did not make it out of the group stages in France."

    Spain, Austria, Bulgaria, Scotland and Belgium were the five (count 'em, one, two, three, four, five) European teams that did not qualify for the second round in France.

    Scotland qualified for the finals from a group including Austria and Sweden; Belgium from a group including The Netherlands and Turkey.

    The SPL is not ranked 16th in Europe (although I understand your erroneous perception of the Uefa co-efficient rankings - what position is the Liechtenstein league, you know, the one that for Europa League purposes, doesn't exist?)

    I'll treat the rest of your contribution with the contempt the first part equally deserved.

  • Comment number 13.

    Not sure if it is 'back to the future' as the competition for kids will only get harder. Kids have to be able to try things, learn and just enjoy the game whatever structures we put in place. There also has to be more emphasis on the technical side of the game and developing youngsters who are comfortable with a passing game and having the ball at their feet.

    #12
    Don't feed him. Best to ignore a wind up.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree that kids don't play football, or many other sports, outdoors in the manner that we used to 30 years ago but I feel that things should have improved not gone backwards because we have better facilities for them to use nowadays with lots of 5-a-side arenas available for use.
    Where we have gone wrong is in not allowing them to play for fun without over-coaching. Let natural ability flow, they can always be taught tactics later, and skill will come to the fore.

    It's been said that there is too much emphasis on size well I remember Tony Green being rejected because he was"too wee" and the same with Pat Nevin, both of whom had excellent careers,sadly in the case of Tony curtailed by injury, so that emphasis has always been there.
    We should also let biys who are attached to clubs play for their schools.

  • Comment number 15.

    Re #6 Solomon_Pain
    You are so right re the park football - and, I'm sure you did it too, it wasn't about increasing ball skills or spatial awareness - it was FUN!
    And that's why in the evenings/holidays etc, it was (in my case) down to the Westburn Park, where there was always a game of some description going on - be it 20-a side, world cuppie, or simple 3 and in! And everyone got stuck in, and had a good time - and rarely an adult in sight!
    Where and when did the fun go out of it? Are kids these days too scared to get their expensive replica kits dirty? Back in the day it was divvied up on what colour t-shirt you had on!
    Reintroduce kids to the concept of fun - let them get dirty, skin their knees, make their own rules etc - it's all part of growing up!
    And as for the argument that the little darlings will get snatched by a paedophile or some such - would you argue with 20 kids all playing together??
    And statistically kids are as safe - if not safer - these days, it's just that incidents are given wall to wall media attention not that there are more of them!

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh and despite it being fun - we also learned some skills and a sense of cameraderie too! And no one ever abused the ref - cos we policed ourselves!! (Mind you that prob helped the debating skills too - arguing it was prob over a non existent bar!!) lol

  • Comment number 17.

    I disagree with many of the comments above. I played football most nights from the age of 5 or 6 until i was 16 or 17, for several hours at a time, and i'm still crap!

    One comment on the "Robots" being produced mind you. One of the guys who regularly took part in the games above has wound up a pro and plays at a good level(Not naming him out of fairness). He was a decent player as a boy but of the 20 odd or so who turned up on occasion he was definitely in the lower half in terms of footballing ability. When the rest of us hit 15, found alcohol and started chasing girls, he didn't and ended up becoming a professional. Credit to him for his attitude, as i think that is why we don't produce top players in todays game. Someone hinted on it above, you could get away with being the Scottish stereotype in years gone past, nowaways you get embarrassed.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re # 12

    You are a bit picky, but here are UEFA League co effiecients used for UEFA places

    1 England 2 Spain 3 Italy 4 Germany 5 France 6 Russia 7 Ukraine 8 Romania 9 Portugal 10 Netherlands 11 Turkey 12 Greece 13 Switzerland 14 Belgium
    15 Denmark 16 Scotland.

    Scotland have to trawl through ancestory now (Great grandparents) to search for new talent.That is how desperate your national team are.

    My proposal for a 'Celtic' league should be examined.If the national teams have the Carling Nations cup for the minnows, why not merge the top league teams in the Scottish,Welsh and both Irish leagues.Scotland should not be so arrogant to look down on the other leagues.Inverness CT v St Johnstone, 4 times a season in the SPL, in front of 3,000 fans is not a good product or does it promote youth talent to blossom.

    I stand by my prediction of another 12 years in the wilderness for the Scottish national team

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry to sound ancient, but the move away from ALL games starting at 3pm on Saturday is more than a little to blame.

    Before Sky came on the scene, every day other than Saturday, you could expect to see kids playing to be like their footballing idols (the ones they went to see on a Saturday, or even just watched on Sportscene/Scotsport highlights).

    Now, rather than getting out and playing football - waiting for the next opportunity the following weekend to see the professionals - kids (and their dads) can sit and watch the game on telly almost every night.

    Football is no longer special, and Keith Rupert Murdoch is to blame.....

  • Comment number 20.

    there are a lot of fair points in these posts

    as a young(ish) coach who has been involved in football coaching for 12 years and having visited countries such as Finland and Holland as well as having worked with some really experienced coaches from Scotland, Spain and England i feel that the problem is not with the current setup but with some of the people who are employed to work with youth performers at a developmental age.

    On the continent coaches rave about repetition being the route to success in terms of development but all too often coaches here are content to put on a session which looks fantastic but is lacking in any real quality when addressing the idea of developing skills, or that panders to the request of the kids they are coaching in terms of just playing games! i have lost count of the number of "coaches" i have seen turn up in their new tracksuits having attended a course or 2 and sit in a corner while the kids run around aimlessly.

    a few of the previous posts talk about playing in the park for hours on end, which in theory would have developed some great games players but cetainly not the "stars" people remember or would like to see. I would argue that these types of player from that era were born through striking a ball off a brick wall and learning how to manipulate it using different parts of their feet. (just my opinion)

    There is also the question of player pathways which arises from this article where it should be the job of the SFA to ensure that players at the top "pro youth" level have a defined pathway to follow when it comes to player development. This should encorporate how players progress from youth performers right through to 1st team players and also have methods of re-integrating players who dont quite make the grade so they are not lost to the game - this could mean offering a vast array of alternatives from finding other clubs interested, to training them up to be coaches etc.

    in theory this would mean that people who are working with youth performers at a developmental age have a level of experience at that level which can help young people develop at a reasonable pace and who can also identify faults in the current system for improvement.

    to finish, the issue of the mecurial winger or flashy striker is one which i looked into in great depth and found that the modern youth performers accross all sports are more likely to be motivated by "avoiding failure" rather than "achieving success" which is where the idea of the "Robot" may come from. Occaisonally as a coach i see a shining light who is a joy to watch so they are still out there. My main worry is that more often than not these players are berated for trying something extrodinary which will in time blunt their attempts to express themselves with a football.

    A couple of boundries to youth development at basic level which i have noticed

    increase in "no ball games signs"

    best facilities are too expensive and kids cannot just "jump on" when not in use.

    massive increase in pressure from parents

  • Comment number 21.

    I have coached school football for the last five years and the main thing that is wrong with it is the attitude of a fair % of the coaches.

    I have been at SFA meetings where good ideas for helping develop players are introduced (exclusion zones for example) and within seconds there are dozens of hands up offering ways that these ideas can be exploited by a team to gain an advantage. I know full well that 8,9 and 10 year old kids don't sit at home thinking how rule x can be used, it is the adults "coaching" them that do.

    I see teams in good close games sending their best player back to recieve the ball and they just lump it up the park. I see coaches barking at their players to stay in position and to kick it the way they are facing. All this and worse in what is meant to be a development league, all friendlies no competition (I'm not anti-competition either it has a role too I think).



  • Comment number 22.

    I see coaches barking at their players to stay in position and to kick it the way they are facing. All this and worse in what is meant to be a development league, all friendlies no competition (I'm not anti-competition either it has a role too I think
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    One explanation may be the coaches informally treat the games as 'competitive'! I've heard of this issue before!

  • Comment number 23.

    morning , my son plays 7 a sides at the moment their season has been changed to "summer" football from May to November a very giant step forward IMHO his team plays in a league where every one gets a medal at the end of the season whether you have won all or none of your games . the rules of 7's are easy to understand but we still come up against other teams with the win at all costs mentality, never going back to the half way line to allow the other team to pass the ball up the park and instead of passing the ball up the park getting someone to hammer it to no one up the other end of the park being 2 examples .
    the kids are there to enjoy and learn , you learn of course by making mistakes , some coaches are there for the wrong reasons, how many coaches have you seen close to cardiac arrest because a wee 8 year old hasn't passed the ball to the "right " player???
    Sid

  • Comment number 24.

    National youth strategies for sports tend to end up investing in mediocrity. Scottish rugby and cricket are good examples of that, where determination of adult ability is done at a very young age. The inevitable result is that the long term investment in potential is never realised and that as a consequence the sport suffers at the highest level.

    What is required for youth development is a local/district/regional highly competitive environment - forget national youth squads and national youth coaching that is a waste of resources.

  • Comment number 25.

    #22

    Spot on Rob. Jack Ross has an interesting strand.

  • Comment number 26.

    macsport you hit it on the head about youngsters learning about wider aspects of life by playing with players of lesser abilty.

    I wonder whether the current system where pro clubs hoover up the supposedly best talent at a young age, simply makes footballing snobs of those kids.

    They then don't want to play at what they might deem a lower level when it becomes apparent that they are not going to progress at the senior club

  • Comment number 27.

    Looking at the length of some replies, that's a big question Jim. The Celtic manager made the same point last year in a newspaper article. He questioned the hunger the young players had when he was starting out and should clubs revive apprenticeships. To the main question I don't I know either. Yes Scotland has gone through a bad phase (not from a team view)for the last few years with the lack of quality players coming through. I think seeing how many Scottish players are in the Premier League is a good indication about how good our players are or can be (as most of them in the EPL are young players). Should we go back to YTS? No I don't think so. Change the way we coach young players? Yes absolutely. What is wrong with following the Dutch model? A country as small as ours but produces world class players. Another reader said times have changed and that is true. Kids don't have any real interest in playing football anymore, but by the same standards, kids don't have anywhere to play anymore either. You can't play on the streets anymore because of rat runs and boy racers. Any patch of grass has a sign saying "No Ball Games". So where can kids play in an unstructered way and try to emulate the Dalglish's of this generation?

  • Comment number 28.

    Garry, You make good points.

    There is nothing in the Scottish water supply or gene pool that means we cannot produce players of significant talent.

    Other countries still manage to produce players of quality who excite and are innovative.

    There are still players coming through in Scotland who do the same. Danny Swanson is one example.

    So we can get it right, but I'd like us to get it right more often.


  • Comment number 29.

    The only decent Scottish player is Daren Fletcher.No other major team in big four European leagues (English,Spanish,Italian or German) has a Scottish player on their books.Playing for the Old Firm in the SPL is as good as it gets for the majority of Scottish players.
    A major re -structuring exercise of the SPL involving the other 'Celtic' nations would improve the poor standard.

    12 years in the wilderness,and maybe 12 more if nothing happens?

  • Comment number 30.

    I think it is all about the motivation of the children. Schools need to encourage children to be a lot more active and help in as many ways possible to develop there own talent.

    You cannot really change the system which you were making about school teams as all clubs have a better coaching system which will help there youngsters develop which either way will help if they do go onto play first team football or drop back a few leagues.

    But the major thing is: you watch countries like Brazil on tv and see children kicking a ball about a street. That shows that it is not down to the coaching of professionals alone it is done there motivation of the children and that if the children are not wanting to go out and play, there is not a lot of hope.

  • Comment number 31.

    macsport - good post, it's always good to share our own experiences. I totally agree about the importance of school football, it's crucial. Nobody benefits from stopping kids playing at secondary school age. However, what else would you say is there to this 'new approach'? ...and taking kids for chips... I ask you! Scotland has lost more talent through poor habits than anything else!!! You should feel at least a little bit guilty!

  • Comment number 32.

    21 - Safka. I agree and it's worse than ever. Even in national competitions and festivals. It's a terrible indictment that there are national initiatives like 'Postive Coaching Scotland' designe to cajole coaches, parents and helpers to become less focussed on results and more on development. We can't even trust adults to do that for themselves! I'm afraid that we are at the end of the road with football and we should really rip it up and start again with a simpler governing body who should, simply, govern instead of trying to persuade and do things half cocked.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Sean (30)
    I was about to totally disagree with you, your first two points are quite far from the truth: schools do lots of work to enourage children to be active (not that it is anyone else's responsibility than that of families) and club absolutely are not best placed to develop youngsters, sometimes the opposite actually.
    Then I tend to agree with you in your final bit, it's all about motivation... and a helping hand and encouragement along the way.
    I wonder how many 'no ball games' and 'no cycling' signs are present now compared to 10 or 20 years ago?

  • Comment number 34.

    Tomslaford must be ignored at all costs!

    Lots of good points on here, this has been spinning round for years! Follow the Dutch model, the Danish, Spanish, French etc etc. A good start would be to not follow the Scottish model. Get rid of the win at all costs mentality, (which is different from not recognising success) and provide coaching methods that are subtly repetitive but also fun! kids wont play in the parks again, unfortunately those days are gone so we have to move with the times. Something we are notoriously bad at.

  • Comment number 35.

    Post 28, absolutely Jim, nothing in the water, Danny Swanson, what a legend, they should just engrave his name on the next Ballon d'or now and get it over and done with. Think there might be something in the water up Birkhill way though!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Rangers are 31st in Europe? What an achievement!

  • Comment number 37.

    1998 was a long time ago and there is no sign of any improvement in Scotlands performances.The root cause is the poor standard of the SPL. Inverness CT playing St Johnstone 4 times a season.The SPL is League 1 standard only.The Old Firm do not need to perform to a high standard to win this lowly ranked European league

  • Comment number 38.

    Gee, who rattled your cage tom slaver? Let's blame the troubles in Ivory Coast on the poor standard of the SPL too. Lots of things have caused poor standards, not just in the SPL. Try the silly money being thrown around, go back to the guy who bankrolled Blackburn to the English title, Jack someone. Don't tell me the english premiership is as good as it was - I hardly watch that league now... Chris Samba, Dickson Etuhu, Kevin Davies, John O'Shea, I have more names if you need them. Physically impressive, deeeeeeee-readful footballers at that level though... the game is on it's knees in the UK as a whole, it's all relative. Question for you: any idea who is the top three in the GErman Bundesliga at the moment? Now that is a league: wage caps, affordable(ish) to get in etc.

  • Comment number 39.

    38 .....

    Calm down the Scottish national team are ranked 50th, the SPL is ranked 16th in Europe, and Celtic and Rangers are now ranked 53rd and 31st in Europe.Mickey mouse teams like Inverness CT have dragged your league down.Do you not want to improve ?

    If you play poor teams you become poor yourself ..... simples

    Oh by the way the Premier League is ranked 1st in Europe,England are ranked 6th by FIFA,and Man U,Chelsea,Arsenal and Liverpool are ranked 2nd,3rd,4th and 5th by UEFA ... These are facts not ignorance

  • Comment number 40.

    Tam - what does any of that have to do with Scotland? Still, I guess it's nice to have attention eh?
    I don't disagree with your first point though, but it's not the only reason why the SPL is poor, see previous posts.
    However, have a bash at some of the point I make, try to answer the questions - if you don't then you are missing the point. The point is -it's all relative. Why pick on Inverness Caledonian Thistle (far though that may be) when there is an equivalent in most other leagues. The game has changed and not for the better.

 

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