How odd that on a day when social media was awash with references to a movie made in the eighties, that I spent most of the day reflecting on what I witnessed only the previous evening.
I refer to the Petrofac Cup tie last night between Rangers and Livingston at Ibrox. I was unable to attend the match due to ill health, so I settled for watching it on BBC Alba. Only seconds into the match, I bore witness to a sickening assault on young Tottenham Hotspur loanee Nathan Oduwa by Livingston player Keiron Gibbons. Making no attempt to play the ball, this coward in a yellow shirt instead chose to go through Oduwa in a way that could easily have broken the talented young players leg. With the referee Andrew Dallas only feet away and with a clear view of the incident, I expected the Laws of the Game to be applied properly and the Livingston player to be sent from the field of play for serious foul play. To my utter disgust, not only was the Livingston player allowed to remain on the field; in the eyes of the match officials, his horrific lunge was not even deemed serious enough to merit a caution!
For that incident alone, Andrew Dallas must surely be removed from refereeing senior matches in Scotland until such time as he learns how to properly apply the Laws of the Game. The match continued and it was blatantly obvious that the Livingston players had been instructed to focus on stopping Oduwa using any means necessary. I witnessed further assaults including dangerous lunges, body checks, and strikes to the young mans' neck and face. All punishable by either cautions or dismissals according to the Laws of the Game. The match officials are the only people who would be able to explain quite why they did not apply the Laws, however it is unlikely that we will ever receive any such explanation. The first half ended with Oduwa limping up the Ibrox tunnel.
I took the opportunity to nip out in my car to a local shop and switched on BBC Radio Scotland so I could listen to the half time analysis. I was shocked to hear a former Rangers player, Derek Ferguson, not only condone the actions of Keiron Gibbons in the first minute of the match, but then go on to say that he should expect attention like that. Ferguson then went on to say that Oduwa had done nothing in the first half! Maybe if he hadn't been assaulted almost every time he had the ball, he may have been able to entertain the paying customers who paid their money in order to attend the match, despite the inclement weather! To hear an ex - professional footballer seemingly excusing assaults on one of the leagues finest young players saddened me, and it highlighted to me just why the Scottish game lags so far behind the rest of Europe and the world, and has done for years now.
Derek Ferguson and the other so - called media experts in the Scottish mainstream media have spent a lot of time recently poring over the wreckage of yet another unsuccessful qualifying campaign for a major tournament by the Scottish national team. They moan about Scotland not producing exceptional young players and entertainers. They debate at length about what could be done to try and create generations of entertaining, talented players, while at the same time condoning brutal assaults on the very type of player that the Scottish national team would love to have at their disposal. It's football from the Dark Ages! Until the Fergusons' of this world change their whole way of thinking, then Scotland will continue to wallow among the also-rans of world football.
I got back home in time to see that Oduwa had not been fit enough to continue for the second half of the match, and I wasn't surprised. Instead I just hoped that he hadn't suffered too serious an injury and that he would be back fit again sooner rather than later. The second half continued in a similar fashion to the first. Yellow shirted Livingston players lunging at Rangers players and in the main going unpunished. Luckily we managed to win the match with a well taken goal from Nicky Clark and without any other Rangers player suffering serious injury.
I logged online and onto Twitter to see what post-match thoughts were from other supporters. I noticed a comment on Twitter which had been made by a Berwick Rangers player and which stated that Oduwa was like a clown and deserved what he got. Now I have no idea what kind of person would post something like that on social media at all, other than a brain dead moron, but to read something like that from a fellow footballer further highlights that there are even deeper rooted problems in the Scottish game than poor performances and poor entertainment on the field. In Scottish football there are presently players plying their trade who have an obvious deep-seated hatred for Rangers and the players who play for our club. Until the SPFL compliance officer starts taking action against those players and managers who bring our game into disrepute, then our senior game will continue to be regarded as a Mickey Mouse set up by people beyond our borders.
Things took an even darker turn tonight when the Livingston manager, former Celtic player Mark Burchill, made comments on a radio programme in which he defended his player Keiron Gibbons, stating that because Gibbons was Scottish, and Oduwa was English, it was acceptable for Gibbons to assault the young Tottenham loan player. This isn't just a disgraceful remark to make, it is racist and it brings the Scottish game into further disrepute. It is just yet another example of what is wrong with Scottish football.
Back to the Future? We need to drag Scottish football out of the Dark Ages first!