This excellent review of the fanzine by Easton Thain appeared in the Highland League match programme for Forres Mechanics v Huntley on 15th August. Enjoy.


I feel I must point you, dear reader, in the direction of a fairly new magazine which, in my humble opinion, is a MUST for all Scotland fans. Entitled ‘Scotland: Epistles, Bullshit and Thistles’ the magazine for Autumn 2015 is Issue 3 and I have to say every mag so far has been nothing short of superb as Scotland fans reflect on their experiences or air their views on subjects relating to the national side. These articles have been witty, interesting and thought provoking in every issue so far (back copies can be found on e-bay, as will this issue probably) and the latest rendition is no different. Before reflecting on all that I urge every Scotland fan out there to track down this magazine for that could be crucial to its survival and, trust me, you will not be disappointed! The cover of the latest mag depicts various album stickers of Scotland players over the years (relates to article inside) but below that the legend says it all – ‘The third in a short series of unofficial, but highly collectable souvenirs for Scotland supporters produced in tandem with a successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign…Oh God please’.

Edited by Robert Marshall (of Dark Blue Anorak Productions) the balance of stimulating reading and humour is there from start to finish in a series of brilliant articles. The magazine has had some notable supporters viz this part of the Foreward by the Ed, which instantly gave me the first of many chuckles when reading the mag. ‘A special thank you to journalist Stewart Cosgrove for giving the fanzine a couple of mentions on his BBC Radio Scotland Show Off The Ball. To those other individuals in the media and retail industry that did not even give us the courtesy of a reply, I hope your next one is a hedgehog….’. Oh come on you must know what Robert means by that last quip! There is actually some reading before the Foreward as inside the cover under the heading ‘Since You Last Held Me ‘(an innovative heading in its own right!) there are short reviews with programme covers of the Scotland games vs. Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Qatar and away to Ireland. And so to this issues motley collection of articles and a diverse selection it is but all fascinating in their own way. Briefly they are as follows –

‘Echoes From A Foreign Country’ – This looked back to the World Cup Finals of 1950, 54, 74 and 78 and the reflections of the writer, Andrew Stuart, a former merchant seaman who was docked in Brazil in 1950 hence mention of these finals which Scotland were not at despite an invite, whose son, David is a member of the magazines crew. The one-page article was originally written in 2000 and Andrew is sadly no longer with us but what he wrote was fascinating especially in regard to 1950 when he had to tell others on that voyage ‘Soy Escoses, No Inglez’ (I’m Scottish not English) after the earth shattering result Estados Unidos 1 Inglaterra 0 (USA 1 England 0).

‘The Auld Enemy’ – This superb article by Alan Nelson was written before the World Cup draw was made but reflects on how games with the ‘Auld Enemy’ have/ are and should be perceived where he basically has a go at us spending our time sniping at the English whilst still wanting any team playing them to win though, as he says ‘I am not devastated if they don’t’. The ‘old friend’ of the Scotland fans, Jimmy Hill, also gets a mention mainly about his passion for his country and, as the writer brilliantly puts it, ‘He [Jimmy Hill] has the cheek to wear a bow tie with wee St George’s crosses on it and meanwhile the guy lambasting him is wearing a Scotland top, kilt, pipe majors jaiket, Glengarry hat and spouting on about how we were ‘Unofficial’ world champions for the day we beat England 3-1 at Wembley a year after they had become ‘Official World Champions’… I concur with everything in the article although I still hate the media of their coverage of England games, does my t**s in!

‘Scotland Managers: Their Part In My Downfall’ – another superb article this time by the editor himself on how various Scotland managers unwittingly shaped his footballing life going from the manager of Scotland when he first saw them, Tommy Docherty through to the fair-haired one now in charge. The waxing lyrical he does about his favourite boss, Ally MacLeod, is one highlight of some brilliant writing – wish I was as talented!

‘Between A Rock And A Hard Place’ – Scott Cockburn reflects on the match against Gibraltar, a no win situation for the Scots against a country, as he says, is the size of Wishaw but the main gist of the fascinating article is the problem with ‘minnows’ playing in international competitions and the problems Scotland have had against them!

‘Hanging Around: Georgia 2007’ – In this article Kevin Donnelly reflects on the first visit to Georgia in 2007 and the feeling is that despite the result (Scotland lost 0-2 in that stupid kit albeit that is positively brilliant compared to the fruit salad away strip of now!) it was a memorable trip for him and I can assure you it is a bit of an eye-opener.

‘Back To The Sixties’ – Here the aforementioned David Stuart reflects on Scotland’s record in the ‘swinging sixties’. It was a time that is reflected as being a ‘golden era’ of great players and great Scotland teams (probably because of some results v England, 67 anyone?!) and yet, as he astutely points out, in that decade Scotland failed to qualify for any finals. A smattering of important stats backs this up but near his conclusion he does feel players of that era do deserve the tag of ‘cult hero’ due to the way they played.

‘World Cup ’74: Two Dimensional Heroes’ – This time David Stuart reflects on Scotland stars portrayed in the collectors football cards that abound in 1970’s and later the sticker variety. His opening salvo to when he got ‘hooked’ on cards after the famous win over Czechoslovakia took us to the 74 finals in West Germany (hence the title) contains some brilliant humour and he goes on to wax lyrical about various sets that appeared and who was depicted on them with some real puzzlement as to why some players were featured.

‘Erza Free Tickets’ – Alan Nelson again this time reflecting on a bit of a farce regarding tickets for the Gibraltar game and the recollections of a phone call to the SFA says it all.

‘Money To Burn’ – I will wager when you attend a Scotland match at Hampden you are wowed by all the pizzazz before-hand notably the pyrotechnics, well this time Alan Nelson asks you to think about the costs associated with all of this and what he feels would be a better alternative!

‘Odd-Shaped Balls’ – When I saw that Robert Marshall had penned an article on Rugby my initial thought was ‘what?!’ What’s this doing in a footie mag? It actually turns out to be a very good article reflecting the two codes of football and how they can relate to each other, having followed both he is qualified to do just that. You will be surprised how the article grips you and is thought provoking!

Ah now then I have forgotten the one other article that comes after Back to the Sixties and is entitled ‘When The World Cup Came To Scotland’, hmm you may have heard of the writer, a chiel called Easton Thain! Here he reflects on when the U-16 World Cup came to Scotland in 1989 and his personal memories of the young Bravehearts run to the final where they eventually lost out to the Over-45’s from Saudi Arabia – you will need to get the mag to understand that last reference! Of course this is the most brilliant article of the lot he says modestly! I am joking of course, was just delighted that Robert allowed me to contribute to a superb mag that deserves your support so what are you waiting for!

Easton Thain

First posted on Facebook August 25th, 2015