Ally McCoist. Ain’t he a charmer? Ain’t he a cheeky chappie? Everybody’s buddy, is our Ally. Everybody’s pal.
A man who says the occasional silly thing, but hey, we’ve all done that from time to time. Haven’t we?
Yes, of course we have, and it doesn’t matter that the majority of our own little ignorant utterances are done in private, where they can hurt no-one, whereas his are in front of a bank of cameras, all his mates, who are ready to spread his words far and wide.
After all, this is Ally. There is no malice in Ally. Not Coisty. One of the boys is Coisty. A nice man. He carried Tommy Burns’ coffin, and that shows he’s a nice guy. Cause the character of the man inside the coffin had nothing to do with that. This is Coisty we’re talking about here. It’s all about Coisty. Ally. Super Ally. Or just Super. Good lad.
You get the drift, and if you’re sitting there right now thinking “I don’t know exactly what James is about to write, but I’m betting this is the last nice thing we hear about Ally McCoist in this article,” you’re not 100% right, but maybe 75 – 25.
I don’t like Ally McCoist. Except as Rangers manager. As far as I’m concerned he can have that job as long as he likes. It suits him perfectly. The old club’s liquidation saw the new club start from a position of utter weakness, and it’s only fitting they should have a guy in the manager’s office who symbolises that. Rangers once appointed Dick Advocaat and Paul LeGuen, and had ambitions to conquer Europe. The Newco is led by a guy in his fifties, doing his first managerial job, who needs a thirty man squad of highly paid players to win Scotland’s third tier.
Ally McCoist, or Coisty as his pals in the press prefer to call him, has visited calamity on Rangers and its successor club like nothing we’ve seen since the Ten Plagues of Egypt. At the end of those plagues, of course, the cry was “let my people go!” At the end of this one, I suspect the cry will be “we don’t do walking away … they sack us so we can leave with a settlement.” Especially, and this is true friends and neighbours, especially when it’ll probably be his last job in management … at least at his current level. Of earnings I mean. If he can’t do better, frankly, than a Scottish third tier team the next time round he’d be as well chucking it …
For the moment, however, he’s at Ibrox, where he belongs, right there where I like him. When I say he’s visited calamity on the club I mean it, with everything from his domestic cup record to his blowing a league lead which the old club thought would carry them over the finish line in the second half of a season where most people knew they were going to experience the hammer blow of administration at best. McCoist’s dismal domestic record has seen Rangers websites call for his sacking, and has pretty much nailed down the views of large swathes of their support.
Yet his domestic record pales next to what he did to the club on his European adventures. The damage he did there was truly Biblical. In football terms, it was the visiting of death on the first-born. Craig Whyte walked into Ibrox fully intending an administration event – almost everyone who’s examined the issue agrees on that – but it would not have been the out-of-control spin out of the sky and crash that befell the club. Those plans were obliterated, utterly, when the full time whistle blew at Ibrox on the night Maribor knocked them out of Europe.
Malmo had already beaten them in the Champions League, ending Whyte’s hopes of bagging tens of millions in the top competition. But that night, against the Slovenian’s, hammered the first nail into the coffin of the club.
At the time, McCoist had a first team squad brimming with talent; everyone from Jelavic to the captain, Davis, and a top class goalkeeper in Allan McGregor. It made no difference. I said at the time that you could have given McCoist the Real Madrid Galacticos and he would have struggled to get anything out of them.
Some have got it, and some ain’t. Coisty would have been better off staying on the telly, although the way he looks now you’re more likely to see him on Celebrity Fat Club than you are back on Question of Sport.
I find Ally amusing. Not funny, or warm, or the bestest buddy I will ever have. I am not a member of the Scottish press, like the indomitable (aye okay) Hugh Keevins, who has said, live on the air, on a show where he is paid money to be impartial, and offer a critical and honest appraisal of the major issues in football, that he considers McCoist too much of a friend to view him objectively and doesn’t care who knows it.
That would be cringe inducing hero worship from a supporter. For a journalist it should be a termination offence.
No, I find Ally amusing, in the same way you’d find a drunk man trying to get his house keys into the lock amusing. I snigger sometimes when I read him commenting about buying players until the board tells him to stop, knowing he could have an 80 man squad before long, sucking money out of the club like a vampire draining a fresh kill, and still not put an attractive team on the park. I find him mildly entertaining, like picking up the Metro on the bus.
But I don’t like him. I have the luxury of distance, and objectivity, having not spent fan-boy evenings in his riveting company, listening to him regale the audience with his witty repartee and that brilliant smile which once turned the knees of many of the Scotsport team to jelly. (Men as well as women, based on the way some of them still lust over him.)
The Ally McCoist I see on TV bears little resemblance to the one I hear about constantly; the genial host. The life and soul of the party. The funniest man at the table. I look at the sneering, contemptuous, arrogant, wide-boy, and I dislike him intensely. I listen to his demands, to his gurning litany of complaints and I hear a wannabe hard man, with no respect for, or regard for, other people. I believe he’s one of the most contemptible people in the game.
I’m betting (pun intended) most of you know why I’ve chosen him as the subject of tonight’s piece. He’s been running his mouth off today “in defence” of Ian Black. It’s the way he’s chosen to do it that sticks in the craw, turning it into another SFA witch-hunt against his club, demanding “clarification” on the rules for the 100th time this year.
Honest to God, I think there must be an entire department at the SFA who’s sole responsibility is to clarify sections of the rule book for Rangers and McCoist.
I know a lot of Celtic fans joke about “blaming the schools”, but Rangers do employ an awful lot of highly intelligent people. Are we honestly to believe that none of them can do something as simple as pick up a rulebook and learn the finer points in it? Is there any rule they do understand?
What makes tonight especially distasteful – although not on a par with his disgraceful demands for the names of an SFA committee who had imposed deserved sanctions on his club – is his suggestion that he personally has the names of 100 “players and officials” who have laid bets on matches. It is a not very veiled threat. It is a shot across the bow of the SFA, but this time he has severely over played a bad, bad hand. This time he might just pay a high price.
His paper-waving posturing today was utterly abominable.
Hiding behind 100 people he will not name (because most of them would sue him from here to Kingdom come) is one thing … but the allegation is deadly serious, especially in that he has talked about “officials.”
What officials? Club officials? Match officials?
Is he talking about referees and linesmen here? Is he honesty saying that he possesses evidence that the men in black have been betting on matches their colleagues and friends are officiating on? Is he – god damn it – suggesting that there are officials who have been placing bets on their own games?
It is not enough to use those comments and then try to hide behind some integrity that you will not name names. If he’s posturing and doesn’t have that information he is dragging the whole of Scottish football into the gutter with his player, smearing all and sundry just to deflect blame. And if he does have those names and will not disclose them he is complicit in a scandal that could dwarf anything we’ve seen previously in European football.
McCoist cannot hide behind those weasel words. It is time this man was held to account for his dangerous behaviour. What he’s done today is to step over a line people in our game have been at pains for decades not to cross. Hugh Keevins (again) once said, live, on national radio, that if the game here was bent he would not dig for the dirt because it would be better not to know it, because of the damage it would do. I found that statement then, and now, to be beneath contempt, but it reveals a mind-set I can well understand, and believe is prevalent at the top levels of the SFA.
There are things we know and things we don’t. There are also what Donald Rumsfeld once ham-fistedly called “known unknowns”. And there are unknown unknowns too, and for years a lot of people in Scotland have been perfectly content to keep it that way.
Today McCoist has popped off the lid on a can of worms and scooped the contents out all over the table, in front of the Scottish media. Will they even dare suggest he be called to answer for, and explain, what he’s said today?
I don’t know how they can avoid it.
McCoist is alleging corruption on a grand scale, and waving the papers he says prove it. On Monday morning Vince Lumney has to demand that he appear in front of an SFA committee and explain, and expand on, those remarks, and either withdraw them, sit down and shut up or be subject to the full force and effect of SFA regulations. This cannot go unanswered.
The Cheeky Chappie has gone too far this time. The media can line up behind him if they want, but this time they’ll be lining up behind a man who’s either lying and smearing the whole of the game or they’ll be lining up behind a corruption cover-up of epic, game changing proportions.
The supporters of every club in this land are entitled to know if what this man has said is true. All of us can point to staggering displays of refereeing ineptitude over the years that defy all and any rational explanation other than us saying our officials are the worst in the game. But what if they’re not?
What if those disallowed goals, bizarre red cards, shocking penalty decisions, rank offside calls and shameful moments of sheer blindness are actually calculated? What if they were inspired by a desire to make profits? What if players, clubs, fans and the bookies themselves were cheated?
I don’t like Ally McCoist. He has proven himself to be craven, underhanded, vindictive, reckless and frankly dangerous in his conduct. He has inspired hate mobs to vent their spleen. He has played to the worst traits of the Rangers support with such naked inspirations to hate that it takes my breath away that anyone can defend him.
But tonight he might just have unleashed the dogs of war, in a stunning example of over-reach.
This Pandora’s Box will not close easily.
It’s time to get him on the record, instead of kissing his arse in the Record.
McCoist has to be called to account here.
The remaining integrity of the game depends on it.
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