They say that although growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional – well I choose not to. So whilst a Christmas present from the Ann Summers shop is all fine and well, I will be very disappointed if there are not some footie-related gifts in my stocking – [which incidently, is sheer black nylon with perfumed red love-hearts] – be they Panini stickers, trading cards or a hard-back annual.
I must admit though, I still miss going along to the old Lewis’ Department Store in Glasgow’s Argyle Street, sitting on the knee of a someone dressed in a tight-fitting red and white outfit then reciting a Christmas wish list which included replica football jerseys, football books, a Jim Farry snowglobe and various Subbuteo accessories. All good things must come to an end however and as I was thirty-five at the time of my last visit and ‘Santa’ was the wife’s sister you could say I had a good innings.
Anyway, this Christmas what I want, what I really, really want is for Scotland to be given a last-minute, wild-card entry to next year’s Euros. [Let it go, Robert – equally depressed Editor]. Failing which, I’ll settle for the re-introduction of the Official [ie SFA authorised] Scotland Football Annual. As far as I am aware only three were produced- for 2009, 2010 and 2011. The content often ranged from the childish [wordsearch games] to the cringeworthy [Tartan Army tributes] but I enjoyed them anyway.
In the 2009 annual there was an A-Z of manager George Burley. Z was for Zero – the number of SPL matches he lost during his time as Hearts manager. Other ‘highlights’ included a review of our near-miss 2008 Euro qualifying campaign – apparently we were ‘A team re-born’ and Questions and Answers sections with several players in which it was revealed that if they hadn’t become footballers Barry Ferguson would have been a roofer, Stephen McManus a Fireman and Scott Brown a Bin man.Meanwhile an interview with Julie Fleeting reminded us that she scored over 100 goals for the Scotland Women’s team – kind of puts Law, Dalglish, McCoist etc in the shade doesn’t it?
By the time the 2010 annual came out Scotland were not going to the World Cup Finals in South Africa and as such the publication went heavy on a nostalgic look at great players and matches from the past including Alan Morton, Billy Bremner, Gary McAllister and Scotland’s 3-1 win over Spain in a World Cup qualifier in 1984. Looking ahead, there was Billy Stark’s next batch with special mentions for James Forrest [Celtic], Paul Hanlon [Hibs],Callum Booth [Hibs], John Fleck [Rangers] and Alex MacDonald – the Burnley striker who was on loan at Falkirk at the time. There was also a spotlight on five supporters so if anyone wants to ‘fess up’, now’s your chance.
When the 2011 annual appeared Craig Levein was manager and so the pages were numbered four, six, zero….A photograph of the then SFA President George Peat was a bit of a bonus. It was the usual formulaic content though whilst this time we were told that the ones to watch were Murray Davidson [St.Johnstone], Kevin McDonald [Burnley], David Goodwillie [Dundee United] and David Wotherspoon [Hibs].
Anyway, Joyeux Noel – as they say in a country that I won’t be visiting next year.