Scottish Football is a weird and wonderful place. Anyone who regularly watches and keeps up with the sport needs no explanation as to why the statement is so truthful, but in case you needed further convincing, here are five reasons to be excited about Scottish football right now!
The Social Media
You can have your arguments as to if social media has made life overall better or worse, but it has certainly added another level to Scottish football.
For a start you have plenty opportunity for a laugh, the meme’ing of the sport is top notch – be it the trend of players standing over an injured opponent laughing and in many cases, pointing too. Or of course anything that Craig Levein says. The best example of this is without a doubt the twitter account oldfirmfacts – which for those unware (How can you be at this point) isn’t actually a twitter loading you with facts about the old firm.
A little bit of unintentional comedy the results from Scottish football’s access to the web is the absolute nonsense you see spread around regarding transfer rumours. With little regard for anything that is actually factually, the worst part of this horror comedy is that the worst offenders are folk who actually get paid to do it.
One amazing side of social media in this area right now is the impressive bank of writers, podcasters and videographers. Just look at the success of ‘The Terrace’ with their very own TV show set to be broadcast on the new BBC Scotland channel.
There is a strong core of websites and journalists so you can immerse yourself in the talk of the day – and one major highlight being that many of the journalists support a wide array of clubs, giving good insight into a further reaching element of the game. Plus, with analysis into stats becoming bigger in football fandom, Scottish football is slowly following suit, with some excellent observations available online.
The If it can happen, it will happen
There is a (Very cliché) saying in football that something is ‘written in the stars’. Player is up against his old club? Well it’s written in the stars that they’ll score.
Thing is, in Scottish football you could sometimes be forgiven for thinking there is an actual script being passed around. Cup draws often seem to throw up those games where you think (imagine if that game happened). Greg Stewart moves to Aberdeen, with Steve Clarke raging about it? Well of course his second home game back at Pittodrie is against Kilmarnock.
It’s simply standard of Scottish football that Jordan Jones would score against Rangers just weeks after signing a pre-contract with the club. Kris Boyd will almost certainly either score or as we saw last weekend, get sent off when he plays Aberdeen. In-fact, Aberdeen to always be on one end or another of these situations that just make you think “Well that’s typical”. Johnny Hayes scoring against them and Ryan Jack being sent off on his return to Pittodrie come to mind.
The simple rule in Scotland is simply that if you tempt fate, Scottish football will normally deliver.
The Young Talent
Everyone loves to see some young players emerging, it makes a great story. It’s even better when those young talents could potentially strengthen your countries national team for years to come.
Players like Lewis Ferguson, David Turnbull and Ryan Porteous have been getting regular minutes for their clubs and none of them have been linked with any moves away anytime soon – in fact Turnbull has just signed a new contract with Motherwell. Not only does this help the league, by continuing to have young talents plying their trade here – but the players certainly will be aided in their development by receiving such fantastic amounts of game time.
Other young players such as Mikey Johnston at Celtic are receiving less game time but still continue to be carefully developed, and remains a large potential talent. Loans can of course not only benefit the players as they receive greater time on the pitch, but also aids clubs that might otherwise not get such talented young lads in. Rangers are developing two highly talented youngsters in Ryan Hardie and Zak Rudden at the moment. Ryan Christie is a good example of both patience and that merits of loan deals – as well as a fantastic young talent that could star in the national team for years to come himself.
There has also been an exciting development of a couple of young goalkeepers this season. With the national team’s keepers in the later years of their career’s, aspiring talent is required to fill that void in the years to come. Liam Kelly of Livingston is 23 and having an impressive campaign. Zander Clark at 26 is of course older but as a goalkeeper he could still easily have at least 10 years of similar or better class goalkeeping to come.
The Thriving Lower Leagues
Having immersed myself further into the deeper reaches of the Scottish League system since starting this website, I’ve developed a real appreciation of the lower divisions in Scotland. Starting with the Championship which is just an all-out battle with combinations of one or two overachievers like Alloa Athletic, clubs that seem to have been there for an eternity such as Queen of the South and Morton and other clubs that seem constantly between the stages of re-build and meltdown – like Dundee United and Partick Thistle.
Go deeper and you find some fantastic footballing sides like Arbroath and East Fife, promising young managers such as Stewart Petrie of Montrose and James McDonaugh at Edinburgh City and incredible grounds like Brechin City’s Glebe Park and none other than Hampden Park where Queen’s Park play in front of minimal crowds.
Interest in these leagues seems to be on the up and that is in part due to the fact that you can find a gem or two playing especially in League One and League Two. The Play-Offs are always an exciting time and I’m sure this season will be no different. This includes the Play-Off that allows the Highland and Lowland League Champions to compete with League Two’s bottom side for a place in the pyramid – which of course produced the carnage that was the after math of Cove’s loss to Cowdenbeath last term.
Dig even deeper into the Juniors and Amateurs and you find even more to get excited about, with venues often just out your front door – with minimal cost or free entry. I’ve certainly learned this from covering the fortunes of the sides local to me in ‘Mearns Football Weekly’.
Not only does that level of football provide some fantastic stories on the pitch, but it has the same level, if not greater, patter as you’d find in a Craig Levein presser. Just these past few weeks we’ve seen Facebook scraps and a Christmas night out in Perth ending up in a gnome finding itself headless in Stonehaven.
The development of women’s football
There will always be a group of people that won’t want to accept that Women’s football is growing and is something that will continue to grow. Nonetheless, if there is one thing that is true of Scottish people, it’s that no matter the sport or the people involved, if someone Scottish is doing well, they are a fan. How many people suddenly became tennis fans when Andy Murray came on the scene?
That is the reason why Scotland will get behind their Women’s National Team and Shelley Kerr as they head into the World Cup this summer. Finally, Scotland will get to see one of their football teams involved in a major international tournament again.
This isn’t just at national team level, it’s club football too. Clubs are taking their womens sides seriously and investing. Just earlier this week I had the chance to head to Pittodrie as Aberdeen FC launched Aberdeen FC Women. The city has had a ladies team for years but this was marking the team officially coming under the banner of the Pittodrie club (More on this on our home page via Northsound).
Some exciting talent is coming through the ranks in Scotland. This includes Robyn McCafferty who has this season signed for Spartans and will play in the top league in Scotland at the age of 15, we’ll have an article including an interview with Robyn coming in the next week via Scottish Women’s Football.
That’s five reasons to be positive about Scottish football right now. What are you loving in this crazy world? Let us know @NE98FT on twitter.