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Scots duo pay dearly for mistakes

Chick Young | 17:29 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

It was a tough enough shift for Barry Ferguson and Allan MacGregor looking on at Hampden on Wednesday.

It's going to be sheer hell for them if Scotland make South Africa.

It was meant to be one for the road at Cameron House. It turned into the end of the road. Oh, boys what have you done?

Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor at Hampden on Wednesday nightTwo careers in disarray, Rangers in a mess and the Scottish FA in utter shambles.

It started as a molehill and turned into a seething volcano.

Scottish football, the greatest soap opera in the sporting universe, has done it again. Walter Mitty couldn't have made it up.

Let's analyse this chronologically.

Several Scotland players start a drinking session on return from Holland, albeit around 4am when they splice the main brace. More morning than nightcap.

They make two big mistakes. They keep bevvying in the bar rather than the privacy of their rooms - and they get caught.

At this stage, it's an error of judgment by several of the squad, but it's the Ibrox pair who are hung out to dry - in not quite the required way - by the tabloid press. In fact, it turns into a witch hunt.

There is a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou savaging by self-appointed spokespersons of various backgrounds and the two players are left out of the team to face Iceland, having apologised to the manager.

In my opinion, George Burley arrived at the right compromise, albeit by a circuitous route. Why ostracise players who may yet have a role to play en-route to Cape Town?

But then came the V-sign madness. Not even a full blooded get-it-right-up-you job, but rather a wee camouflaged effort with fingers either side of the nose as if to suggest "honest, I was just scratching my cheek".

It was directed at the photographers - of course it was. But, in a heartbeat, the Tartan Army - many of them Rangers fans - took it as a personal slight. Well, they had already booed the players.

And don't tell me that is always right. They were bang out of order when they gave it tight to Gary McAllister - a marvellous player and servant to his country - who consequently quit playing for the dark blue jersey.

But, from that second, the booze brothers were adrift without a lifejacket.

It was a moment of utter lunacy by Ferguson and McGregor and at that point I resigned from their defence council.

Actually it was just about then that Walter Smith, who had telephoned the players and told them to apologise and keep their heads down, went off on one...and all hell broke loose.

But don't think it's just the players who have gone down for the last time.

While Rangers moved swiftly and decisively to take action against their own players, SFA president George Peat and his crew are adrift on a sea of confusion.

First, they say they want to draw a line under the affair and move on - that's Thursday afternoon - before Peat blows his top at the statement issued by his organisation.

Excuse me, but he's the president. Shouldn't he actually know what his organisation are doing?

And, if he wanted the players sent home, why didn't he do it himself when the story broke on Wednesday morning?

Like Ferguson and McGregor, the bungling SFA were all over the place, but at least the players had an excuse - they were mortal.

I am actually beginning to feel sorry for Burley, who, amid all this insanity, did salvage three points that keep us on course for Cape Town until the new season at least, and who now is being undermined by a president who appointed a chief executive and a manager to handle these very matters.

Meanwhile, the SFA ban the players but fail miserably to look in the mirror at their own miserable inefficiency.

Curious, is it not, that the association could not act efficiently when the players were on their watch but waited until they were returned to Walter Smith, who hesitated not a heartbeat.

What an embarrassing, unholy, undignified, shocking mess.

The demon drink has taken our game on the road hell.


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