First, let me say how tremendous it was to see Jim Spence talking to one of the blogs, on the record, over the weekend.
That’s what I predicted when he left the BBC and I’m delighted that one of his stated reasons for doing that was that he wanted to be less constrained in what he could say.
A guy like Jim, with integrity and passion, and who understands the fans, is a voice we should have articulating his views without fear or favour. He will be a supreme asset to our national sport debates going forward, and I am looking forward to his next intervention.
With other journalists, I have less sympathy and less desire to offer praise or support.
I refrained, at the weekend (although only just) from posting a full-on rant over Neil McCann’s latest spitting out of the dummy, over whether Craig Gordon should have been sent off against Ross County, this time complete with pamphlet waving as if he was holding the Ten Commandments.
McCann isn’t my favourite person. He can’t hide his dislike of Celtic (and yes, I know he grew up a Celtic fan; King Kenny and Danny McGrain grew up Rangers supporters and neither has a whole lot of love for the blue half of Glasgow) and that’s an appalling thing in a so-called impartial reporter.
I let it slide because there’s not much more to say on the subject. I’ve ranted about him a couple of times in the past and most people have a pretty clear idea of how I regard him; I would not let him into Celtic Park even if he was paying at the gate.
The club has, to the best of my knowledge, done nothing to keep him from our door and that’s up to them. Perhaps it’s not wanting to piss off Sky and perhaps it’s just that they don’t regard a torn faced hack and his ludicrous opinions as more than a minor irritant and they probably don’t want to give him the oxygen of more publicity, which a ban would do.
I can get behind that view and I can only imagine the squealing he’d do if he was given martyrdom to wrap himself in.
When we banned Keevins I thought it was about time, and his own wailing was sweet music. He, too, has had an odd seven days. I didn’t listen to Clyde myself last week (I never do unless there is an expanding crisis on or off the park at Ibrox, because then it is just beautiful; at any other time it is a hellish drag, so pro the Ibrox club it would make you sick) but I heard about it afterwards from numerous friends, most of whom were incredulous.
Apparently the “poor man’s Gerry McNee” (and you can have no concept of just how low that standard is unless you once endured that eejits writing) thinks Warburton is a proven quality who will lead Sevco to the Championship title by ten points at least.
Let’s forget for a moment that he thought his mate Coisty (he freely admits this) was of similar skills and made exactly the same prediction last year … let’s focus on this one.
For one thing, he like many of his hack mates has been impressed by Warburton’s track record although none of them have been able to say just why. I’ve gone over that subject here before too, but in case any of the hacks is reading here’s a wee refresher course.
He’s in his fifties and has exactly eighteen months experience as a coach. He has won nothing in that time, save for a couple of manager of the month awards. He came from Brentford, not AC Milan, and only then because their ambitious and brilliant chairman made a decision halfway through last season not to renew his contract. Get that? He was let go and out of work and there was not a queue of clubs at the door, enquiring about his services.
If we contrast that with the way Keevins and others reacted to Celtic’s appointment of Ronny Deila we see the old familiar pattern; we aren’t a million miles away from the days when Jo Venglos and his signings were being slated without mercy.
Deila, apparently, “had to prove himself” and was seen as a huge risk. Despite being in his mid-thirties, with a national league title and cup to his name already.
These kind of “expert opinions” from lickspittle gutter grabbers are why Scottish sports journalism is viewed with such absolute and utter contempt. You don’t ask for much more than consistency, than some intellectual integrity, some basic honesty. What you get instead is spiteful, wilful idiocy designed to earn controversy points.
It’s because of people like Keevins that there’s very little sympathy going around for Chris McLaughlin and Graham Spiers, in light of their ban from Ibrox.
Now, as a guy who has called for Keevins’ ban from Celtic Park to be extended to everywhere within 100 miles of the stadium (or any stadium where we are likely to play) and who wants McCann to do his next Sky commentary at Parkhead from the carpark, it would be somewhat hypocritical of me to criticise Sevco for handing out bans to hacks they don’t particularly like.
Yet there is a difference and you don’t have to be a genius to see it.
Just take off the blue tinted glasses.
I do have some residue of empathy with Graham Spiers. I’ll get to him in a minute. But I find what happened to Chris McLaughlin almost painfully funny even if the club is disgracing itself in pandering to its lunatic fringe with the move.
All McLaughlin did on this occasion was to highlight that a number of the vermin who follow that club and who keep on shaming it had been arrested following the match at Easter Road and that the match delegate had noted sectarian singing in his report.
Now whether some Sevco fan sites and groups like it or not, that is news. It’s a big story and I was glad to see that the BBC was acting responsibly by covering it and not simply ignoring it and hoping that it would go away. McLaughlin was right to highlight it and the ridiculousness of the reaction from the Blue Room puts the writing on the wall for every hack in the land.
And it will work too, because most of them, and most of their papers, are gutless frauds. Not everyone has the integrity and courage of Jim Spence.
What laces this with deadly humour is that McLaughlin has been one of the most sycophantic pro-Sevco, pro-King supporters out of all of the BBC’s resident line animals. He is mocked almost constantly on Twitter for the way his nose is constantly pressed against the backside of whomever occupies the Ibrox boardroom at any one time.
He was entitled to better than this, he really was. The Dave King Medal of Honour at the very least. In my view he has been treated abysmally considering the services he’s rendered over the years, all of it whilst working on the taxpayer’s tab too.
Spiers is a different ballgame entirely, and his being singled out is significant and should be a big flashing warning light for everyone who believed, for a second, King’s claims that he wanted to run a more transparent club.
We’ve said from the start that you can’t believe a word that comes out of King’s mouth and it not greatly surprising to see the notion of openness go by the boards. These people, for whatever reason, are determined to avoid scrutiny of any sort, even when, as McLaughlin has done, all the hacks are doing is reporting the facts.
But Spiers has simply been critical and asked some questions about the club and how it’s being run. He’s asked the questions a lot of the supporters of the club would want a good journalist to ask. The decision to ban him reeks of fear and suppression of dissent.
It is the behaviour, frankly, of people with something to hide.
Sevco fans ought to be grievously concerned by that, instead of stupidly dancing on the tables at the purging of “enemies of the club.” Haven’t they ever heard the phrase “sunlight is the best disinfectant”? Do they not know what it means?
They are only following a NewCo In the first place because Whyte was able to bamboozle some of the media and silence the rest whilst he got on with running them into the ground. Murray only got away with his own disastrous policies because he was doling out the succulent lamb.
The media has been the club’s most effective ally in keeping the truth from the supporters for many, many years now … and every journalist who has broken ranks in that time and delivered the facts to those who needed them most ought to have been a hero amongst the fans.
Instead … they get this.
Witch hunted by the websites and the supporters groups.
Madness. They just never will get it.
In the meantime, the dearth of good sports journalism in Scotland has taken a battering and a half over the last seven days … with only Spency emerging with much credit.
It was ever thus, though.
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