Well, I got the news I was expecting on Wednesday- F–kin’ Cancer -no’ even Lung Cancer, in which case I would’ve thought ‘aye, nae shock there’ – but, naw -I’ve got one that I didn’t see coming. The last Two weeks have been shite- I feel as if I’ve never been away from the Hospital- bits of tissue cut out of me, bone marrow painfully extracted, blood samples, low blood pressure, heart scans. I’m a bit sick of it all – and all that before the real fun begins at mid day on Tuesday with the Chemo F–kin’ therapy. I thought about asking the Doctor how long I’d have without the Chemo. I was thinking that if he said a couple of years I’d have taken that- The European championship in France next year wi’ Davy – Thirty Two years after we were in France for the 1984 tournament – what a nice way to go full circle. They seem to think its important that I begin the treatment as soon as possible- without it I wouldn’t have long. I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet- I expect reality will hit home big time on Tuesday. A good and long time friend has told me ‘soup, soup and more soup with nice healthy bread – so, it’s onwards and soupwards for me.
The magpies, which had been a great source of entertainment at the beginning of the Month, building their nest- making sure to vary their route to the nest every time- and cackling away at my window box getting the food I’d left them, seem to have abandoned their home. It’s a blustery day and near the top of the tall tree just outside my window I can see the nest as the top branches are being pushed and pulled by the wind – but there are no Magpies to be seen. Before I left for Bordeaux I did see a crow near the nest and I reckon he’s chased them off. A farewell of a different kind last Saturday in Bordeaux as the fans of Girondins de Bordeaux FC said ‘Adieu L’Escure’ and watched their team play and win their last match in the stadium. To say I was lucky enough to be there would be a bit of an understatement. Six of us made up the GIRONDINS D’ECOSSE – Hamo, who had been the Agent provocateur of the trip back in January, Stevie and I made up the old guard, veterans who’s third time together in the stadium this would be- we were there in 98 for the Scotland Norway world cup match and again in 2010 for the Bordeaux v Lorient league match. Hamo’s son Andrew and his pal Allan made five and last but not least was Davy Broon, my brother who Thirty years previously had been in the stadium along with me to see Marius Tresor play his farewell match for the club. Hamo pulled off the equivalent of a Giresse hat trick in a European cup final when he got T shirt felly to make the GIRONDINS D’ECOSSE T shirts. If the six of us got a Euro for every time we were asked to have a photo taken we’d still be in Bordeaux now – it was amazing. Between us all we got interviewed by newspapers, radio, made it on TV and on to the official Bordeaux FC website. The Ultra marines- the hard core fans- had organized a farewell party in the Place de la Republique and the old legends were up on stage- Marius Tresor, Allan Giresse and Patrick Battiston who all played in the match that Davy and I watched almost Thirty years ago. We just got bombarded with photo requests until the square was so full you could hardly move. After the farewell speeches and a sing song it was ‘le marche’ to the stadium. Between six and Eight Thousand fans started on the march and in no time there were bottle necks and tail backs – but everyone was in party mode and never let it become a problem. I was struggling a wee bit by now-my leg was so painful and I began to get a bit claustrophobic feeling like a sardine in a tin when we came to a building with wide steps. We managed to break free of the crowd and climbed the dozen or so steps to the top and then Davy unravelled the big YES flag -YES as in ram yer Britain up yer arse and not the 1970’s rock band. The Six GIRONDINS D’ECOSSE then stood in a line and clapped the Bordeaux fans as they marched by in their Hundreds and they reciprocated with chants of Scotland and Ecosse and they were applauding us and taking pictures and it was all quite surreal. We arrived at a bar near the stadium with no tickets and within no time Davy, like James Garner the scrounger in the great escape came back with Four – ya beauty. The atmosphere inside the stadium was fantastic. Hamo and I were in amongst the ‘ultra marines’ who rolled out the gigantic flag that covers almost everyone behind the goals – it’s quite weird being under a flag with Thousands of other people- especially when half of them seem to be smoking the Bob Hope. Davy was behind the other goals which like the rest of the stadium was a sea of flags and scarves and the carnival atmosphere continued for the ninety minutes of the match. What a day.
Pumpherston Fitba writer Huge Mucklefanny has uncovered evidence that proves Spartacus lost the battle of Brindisium to Laurence Olivier on account of a fatal tactical decision. Up until then Spartacus and his stunt double, Kirk Douglas-who’s no’ deid yet- had been winning battle after battle sticking to a Four Two Four formation and using his tricky wingers to terrorise the flanks. However, against Olivier he changed to a Four Four Two and this confused his army and rendered his tricky wingers ineffective and so the slave revolt led by Spartacus was crushed. It was a sad day but at least the lucky Bastard got to shag Jean Simmons.
Well, that’s me-Fifty Two and how the hell I’ve got this far ah don’t know – well, I do and it’s mainly my Family, who, since my early adulthood have been there at the critical moments in my life to help me out and bail me out of some shite situations. To Linda ,Chris and Davy ah would say that John Martyn’s ‘May you never’ says it all. Good pals have been a factor- I’m lucky that I’ve still got them and am relieved and grateful that I’ve still got them. Anyway, I’ve been lucky this week- I’ve been on holiday and the early April weather has been great – March was F–kin’ Baltic and coming home to the freezin’ flat after a night shift is now a distant memory. I’ve been going to bed about Nine or Ten at night and getting up about six in the morning, enjoying the sun rise and watching the Starlings eat what I’ve left them- they’re noisy Bastards but really entertaining. I’ve had one of those Tivo boxes for a month now and never used it – never watch telly much, maybe Family Guy or the news and that’s it. I’ve been devoting a bit of time to getting my favourite music on the Computer – from ‘Ramblin man’ by the Allman Brothers to ‘I’ve seen all good people’ by Yes- via Borodin, Dave Brubeck,Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Santana and Stevie Wonder. I’ve been eating a lot more – in fact if I’m being totally honest some of the jobbies I’ve let loose lately probably weighed more than I did in January. So, all in all a good wee week and I’m not back at work till Tuesday.
Unfortunately I’ll not be able to attend ‘Bingstock’ -the concert for bands that used to hail from Pumphy.I’ll miss not seeing ‘Pumpherston Airplane’- ‘Gladys Knight and the Tips’ and Bruce Bingsteen. Also really gutted about missing out on seeing Pumphy’s very own husband and wife porno stars-Monty Fuck and Fanny Sayer attend the premier of their new film ‘Bings,rings and lubricants’. Still, I have the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra performing Vaughn Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending’ to look forward to – it’s a beautiful piece of music and a long time favourite of mine.
Well, that’s the first month over with and all in all it’s been a no’ bad wee journey so far – F-ckin Baltic though but now that spring, theoretically, [at least] is here the cold should be the last thing on my mind. People at work have been great and very kind and my family have been out of this World as always. It’s a funny thing but when I’m eating my scrambled eggs or Bacon sandwich or whatever when I get in from work in the morning I get a great view of the Pentlands from Scald Law to Hillend- ish but right in front of me, maybe Three or Four Hundred yards away is the wee Bowling club[Letham] and next to that is what remains of the old road which before Livingston was built used to come out onto the Pumphy to Mid Calder road near to the entrance of Dandy’s farm. I can’t remember but when Davy B and I were bairns that old road was a favourite walk of my mothers and she used to take us for walks along it- sometimes starting at Harrysmuir Road and on down through what is now Pine Grove and the Mall and eventually out at the wee junction on the Mid Calder road and sometimes she would take us in the opposite direction. I remember her telling me once that one day as she was starting out on the walk, Mr Porteous, the local bobby told her that it would probably be the last time she’d be able to take us that way as the heavy machinery was about to move in and start building what is now Craigshill- and here I am Fifty years later able to look out at where I used to go as a toddler. ‘That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain-the happy highways where I went, and cannot come again’ .
I can’t forgive UEFA and FIFA for destroying the game that I love[d]. Having the Eight Champions League Second round ties spread over a Fortnight is the height of nonsense.Of course,it’s all about money,now, and sponsors and TV – common sense has taken a back seat and it looks like it’ll stay in the back seat for a long time to come.The last Sixteen of the ‘Champions’ League has Four teams each from England and Germany and Three from Spain-that’s almost Three Quarters of the draw from just Three countries.Why don’t they re-name it the ‘We’re no’really interested unless you’re a big team from an elite League in Europe with a Billionaire chairman’ League. If you go back to March 1984 you’ll find that Dundee United were preparing to meet Rapid Vienna in the Quarter Final of the old ‘European Champion Clubs Cup'[Thankfully, from day One, it was known simply as ‘The European Cup’]-not Two of Europe’s richest or most glamourous clubs by any means,but Two clubs that had earned the right to compete in the Champions cup by winning their respective domestic League titles. In those days,the UEFA Cup would have Four clubs from England,Spain Italy and West Germany-making it like the Champions League of today.It would have made more sense to play the Super Cup between the winners of the European Cup and the UEFA Cup-the Cup Winners Cup was always thought of as being a poor mans European Cup-alot of the bigger Countries either didn’t take their Cup competition seriously or never had One at all and if you look at the Finals down the years you’ll notice that the bigger clubs of today, or back then, never dominated the trophy. Sadly,since the formation of the Champions League, the oldest Cup competition in the World[the FA Cup],has become a pale shadow of it’s former self.Gone are the days when a lower or non League team could draw one of the Giants and expect to see all the top players in action-now,a non League side drawing Man City or Chelsea or Arsenal would be lucky to see a couple of First team regulars on the opposite side-and all because The Champions League has become so lucrative.An FA Cup win pales into insignificance beside a top Four League finish-changed days indeed.
Celtic were Champions this season-after an indifferent opening Quarter they lost only Two of the next Twenty Seven matches.They were top by mid December and never looked like losing the League.They scored a record number of Premier League goals and failed to score in only Three matches.Glavin,19[5 pens],craig,16,Dalglish,14[2 pens] were their top scorers.Thirteen different players scored their goals and One opponent scored for them.They also set a new points record Rangers battled it out for the Runner up spot for most of the season with Aberdeen,before pulling away in the last few weeks of the season,finishing on 46 points,Three ahead of The Dons.Rangers scored 62 times in the League[12 different scorers],including Seven pens.Parlane,16 and Johnstone, 15 were the top scorers. Aberdeen scored 56 times in the League[14 different scorers],with Joe Harper their only player to hit Double figures,18,including Three pens. Dundee Utd scored 54 League goals[scored by 11 Utd players and 1 Hearts player],including Two pens by Goalie Hamish MacAlpine.Sturrock,15 and Wallace,13 were there double figures goalscorers.They finished on Forty One points,Two behind The Dons. Partick Thistle’s great form at home certainly helped them to a comfortable 5th place[35 pts]-only relegated Hearts and Killie and Motherwell had poorer away records.Losing only Four of Eighteen home matches,however,kept them safe from the threat of relegation.They lost 1-5 v 4th placed Dundee Utd, 2-4 v Champs Celtic and strangely Twice 0-1 and 0-2 v Ayr Utd.They won both Home matches against Rangers 4-3 and 2-1.They scored 40 goals[scored by 11 players]including an og.Four were pens-Two scored by Alan Hansen.Doug Somner netted Eleven goals[2 pens]. Hibs finished in 6th place on Thirty Four pts.They won Eight,lost Ten and drew Eighteen matches,scored 34 goals and conceded 35.Ten different players scored the goals and One og made it 34. Motherwell finished Two points behind Hibs on 34 and ,like Partick Thistle, had their fine home form to thank for keeping them safe from the drop.They lost only Three of Eighteen Home matches-2-4 v A yr Utd 0-2 v Rangers and 1-3 v Aberdeen.They scored 57 League goals[Nine different scorers],including Two by Celtics Andy Lynch in one match[3-0 Motherwell] and another og scored by Hearts.Willie Pettigrew scored 21 goals and former Hibs legend Jimmy o’Rourke,who was relegated St Johnstone’s top scorer the previous season with Eight goals was ‘wells 2nd top scorer this season with Nine goals. Ayr United finished in 8th place on Thirty points and in contrast to Partick and Motherwell it was their Away form which saved them from relegation-only Champions Celtic and Runners up Rangers won more points away from Home than Ayr.Ten players scored their 44 League goals[Three pens]McCall was their top scorer with 16 goals. Two wins in their last Fifteen matches helped to relegate Hearts-they finished on 27 points-Three behind Ayr.They scored 49 League goals,Willie Gibson scoring 15 times. Killie finished bottom on 17 points and failed to win a match away from home.They only managed 32 goals[Ten different scorers] but Fallis did score Ten of them.
pld won Dr lost F–A won Dr lost F–A Pts RANGERS 36 15 2 1 38-12 8 6 4 21-12 54 CELTIC 36 10 5 3 35-18 11 1 6 36-24 48 HIBERNIAN 36 13 2 3 37-15 5 5 8 21-25 43 MOTHERWELL 36 11 4 3 29-18 5 4 9 28-31 40 HEARTS 36 7 5 6 23-19 6 4 8 16-25 35 AYR UTD 36 10 3 5 29-24 4 3 12 17-35 33 ABERDEEN 36 8 5 5 27-19 3 5 10 22-31 32 DUNDEE UTD 36 9 3 6 27-20 3 5 10 19-28 32 DUNDEE 36 8 5 5 31-26 3 5 10 18-36 32 ST JOHNSTONE 36 3 4 11 19-34 0 1 17 10-45 11 So ended the very First Premier League season in Scotland.Rangers,the last team to win the old League title in 1974/75 became the First team to win the new Premier League title in 1975/76.On August 30,1975 the Glasgow rivals began their League campaign against each other at Ibrox in front of a 69,000 crowd,which,to this day,is still the Premier Leagues biggest ever attendance.Rangers scored Fifty Nine goals[by Fifteen different players,Four were own goals-Two in One match and Two were Penalties.Two of their players reached Double figures in the League,Derek Johnstone,15 and willie Henderson,10.Twenty Three players were used that season. Celtic scored Seventy One goals[scored by Eleven different players],including Five penalties and Three players reached double figures with League goals-Kenny Dalglish,24,Dixie Deans,15 and Bobby Lennox,10.They used Twenty Four players that season. Hibs scored Fifty Five goals,Fourteen different scorers,including Two own goals and Five penalties[Four of them scored by ex Pumphy Juniors and Scotland legend John’Onions’ Brownlie].Arthur Duncan scored Thirteen League goals. Hibs used Twenty Three players. Motherwell scored Fifty Seven League goals[by Twelve different scorers],including One o.g and Five penalties.Willie Pettigrew scored 22 League goals and ‘Well used Nineteen players. Hearts scored Thirty Nine goals[Nine different scorers],including Two o.g’s,and Three penalties.They used Twenty One players. Ayr United scored Forty Six goals[Ten different scorers] including Five penalties-John Graham scored 16 league goals and was One of Twenty Two players Ayr used in the League. Aberdeen scored Forty Nine League goals[Nine different scorers]including Four penalties and One o.g.Jocky Scott was their top scorer with Fourteen goals they used Twenty Seven players. Dundee United scored Forty Six League goals[Twelve different scorers]including Four penalties-One scored by the Goalkeeper,Hamish McAlpine They used Twenty Four players.Top scorer Tom McAdam. Dundee scored Forty Nine goals[scored by 14 players]including One o.g and Nine penalties[Gordon Strachan scored Three of them].Gordon Wallace was their top scorer with Twelve goals and they used Twenty Four players. St Johnstone scored Twenty Nine goals in the League[Ten different scorers] including One o.g.Top scorer was former Hibs legend Jimmy o’Rourke with Eight goals.They used Twenty Four players. At the end of the First Premier League season [1975-76] Two Hundred and Thirty One players were used and One Hundred and Sixteen of them scored Four Hundred and Ninety One goals.Forty Two penalties were scored, with Dundee scoring Nine and Twelve Own Goals were scored-Celtic and St Johnstone scoring Three each.The Top Five League Goalscorers were Dalglish[Celtic],24-Pettigrew[Motherwell],22-Graham[Ayr Utd]16-Johnstone[Rangers]15 and Scott[Dundee]14. Twice,in the course of the season Nine goals were scored in a match-Motherwell winning 6-3 at Dens Park and Celtic winning 7-2 at Somerset Park.In the Four League matches between Ayr and Celtic,Twenty Four goals were scored.Celtic winning 7-2 and 5-3 away from home,and winning,3-1 and losing,1-2 at home.The 1976-77 stats will follow soon.
The story of Fitba’ in pumphy begins with the great Paraffinikos team of the 1880’s.They were the Queens Park of West Lothian,spreading the beautiful game to out of the way places like Fawhoo and Threemiletoun-the spark that lit the flame. In 1885 they won the fore runner of the Champions league when they beat the Ivan the terrible Biscuit factory 3-1 in the final of the European Industrial cup.As a reward for winning the Trophy the team were taken on holiday to Greece.Some of the curious locals turned up to watch the men from Pumphy play this strange game and in time formed their own team calling it Panathinaikos,in homage to the great Paraffinikos. With the expansion of shale mining in Pumphy there was room for another Fitba’ team and,so,in 1896,the year that ‘Auld Scud’ was born,so too were the famous Bingfica.Originally called Bingfecal on account of their fans throwing shite at the opposition from the top of the Bing,they changed the name when they were voted into the West Lothian Shale mining League.By the turn of the century they were recognised as the best team in Britain.In 1902 they emulated the great Paraffinikos by winning the European Industrial cup,beating the Vladivostok Fish Factory 2-0 in the final.As a reward for winning the Trophy the team were taken to Lisbon on holiday.Once again curious locals turned up to watch them play Fitba and in time formed their own team,and in homage to the Pumphy legends. Part Two to follow soon.