Andy Bollen

WITHIN minutes of visiting the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden, I sensed something was missing. Where’s the good stuff? Where are the items that underpin the true story of Scottish football? Is there a below the counter alternative museum for the controversial moments that define our flawed but wonderful game?

Where's Frank McAvennie's Diving Suit? Jim McLean’s Boxing Gloves? Chic Charnley's Traffic Cone? Willie Johnston's prescription? Jimmy Johnstone's oar? The police horse who upstaged Alex Cameron on live TV? Where’s the blue nookie plaque for Puskas?

So I decided to set the record straight in my book A History of Scottish Football in 100 Objects with my alternative football museum.

Modern objects are covered too, like the daft shaving foam the refs use, hair weaves and tattoos. So you have the biggies but I also focused on modern life…the Jihadi Seagulls in Aberdeen, Rod Stewart's Drunken Football draw, VAR, Twitter, and iPhones. All designed and curated to discuss Scottish football from a different perspective. Once I had the idea for the book, it was about how I framed and put it together. At the time I was listening to repeats of Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World In 100 Objects, where he would discuss a two million-year-old stone chopping tool or a West African drum on a slave ship bound for Virginia. I was also reading art critic, John Berger. How would he discuss a couple of Roman scud books or the versatility of the pie? Finally, I tell everyone with an interest in football to visit, it’s a great museum.


It was just another Saturday. We were waiting for the results to come through. BBC Scotland reporter John Barnes is interviewing Dundee United chairman Jim McLean. McLean was trying to protect his manager Alex Smith, whose side were struggling and on a desperate run of form. The fans wanted blood, and McLean was the scapegoat. Few chants cut to the bone more effectively than the dreaded three-word killer, "sack the board". When the frustration got too much, McLean punched Barnes. He immediately apologised and stood down. McLean was a coach who almost took a provincial side to European glory. He went out with a bang though and Scottish football doesn’t forgive…Forget UEFA Cup Finals and European Cup semis, he will always be remembered for punching a reporter.


As Scotland's boss, Craig Levein looked at the beautiful game and decided to suffocate it. Inspired by watching the mighty Barca play Ruban Kazan, Levein chose to ignore the wizardry of Messi and the elan of the Catalan giants, preferring instead to get excited by the must-not-lose-at-all costs plucky efforts of the Russians. Forget flare and flamboyancy, he decided to park the bus. Perhaps it's something to consider when we employ future Scottish coaches. Levein, Gordon Strachan and currently Steve Clarke all seem to be intelligent guys with too much time to think about the game between International games.


Traffic cones have become something of a familiar motif in the cultural fabric of Glasgow. They are seldom used to help with traffic. They are used as hats for statues, goalposts and as a weapon. While at work with Partick Thistle, Chic Charnley was insulted by two neds and a devil dog. The neds he could take but the devil dog crossed the line. Being a professional, he invited them to come back once training was finished, to take up the offer of a square-go. They did. They brought the Maryhill tool which was au rigueur at the time, the samurai sword. Chic had a traffic cone he was carrying from training. Well, he was a maverick – he didn’t play by the rules.


The press and fans love a class war but when you throw in a bit of David and Goliath, everyone’s juices get flowing. It’s 1991 and following a draw, with St Johnstone, Graeme Souness goes mental and rattles a treasured piece of Aggie Moffat’s crockery off the Rangers dressing room wall. Aggie does something many refused to do, she faced down one of Scottish football’s most ferocious players and brought him down a peg or two. This quickly escalated into a tabloid sensation. This was Scottish football at its ridiculous best, this was working-class tea lady taking on a millionaire. This was Blur v Oasis. Aggie quickly realised how it worked and in articles started to sound imbued by the spirit of Muhammad Ali meets Liam Gallagher. All from a milk jug. After a second altercation, Souness would quote the incident and the petty nature of the Scottish game for his move to Liverpool. But a milk jug though?


You would expect a player with such balance, poise, and trickery would be quite the nautical whiz. The fact Jimmy Johnstone was steamboats and without oarlocks didn’t help. The inclusion of this infamous tale is more than just high jinks at sea, or to be more geographically specific, the Firth of Clyde. Forget the Coast Guard having to be called, being forced to face a baying press pack by Scotland manager Willie Ormond and then playing out of your skin against England a few days later. This story works on a bigger level. Here were ordinary men, flawed men, who did incredible things. But, despite their fame, they were still men of the people, they walked and lived among us. They weren’t like Ronaldo, Neymar or Messi, who are locked away and cosseted from scrutiny for fear of it being bad for PR. Jimmy Johnstone and his friends at Rangers won major European trophies but still would kick a ball with kids on the way to the bookies or the pub.


It’s difficult to convey the palpable excitement generated when the BBC or STV came to town to film a game. Airdrie, my hometown team, were playing St Mirren. Paul Hawthorne, my pal, said his mum had been down the street and the BBC cameras were there. We were both at Broomfield for 1pm. It would be churlish to miss out on any of the build-up. Alex Ferguson had won the old First Division and was heading for the Premier League. Airdrie applauded them on the park. We decided to stand behind the side St Mirren were attacking, as this would improve our chances of seeing ourselves on TV. Just to make sure we would be spotted, we turned our Parkas inside out and there we were, bright and orange. Life was simpler, and happier then. Mark Cowan scored a great goal for Airdrie and it finished 2-2 but that didn’t matter. We were on the telly.


Straight forward reportage was abandoned – this was football’s JFK moment and 9/11 combined. It was seismic. Pandamonium. Bedlam. Journalists sauntered to Ibrox convinced they knew the next big name Rangers signing was going to be John Sheridan of Sheffield Wednesday. When Mo Johnston walked out it must have been like waiting for the reveal of the next James Bond and out walks a nonchalant Allan Carr. Celtic fans were devastated, Rangers fans, initially, irate. No one was happy with the signing. In 1989, the journos would have been fumbling through a well-thumbed thesaurus. Available clichés were scarce. It was a strange and earth-shattering event and up there with the classic season ticket and scarf burning moments for the cameras.


Frank McAvennie’s extracurricular activities and post-career decisions overshadowed his wonderful ability as a footballer. It did, though, ensure his rightful place as one of the bona fide characters of our game. He has had what could euphemistically be described as an eventful past. One such occasion saw him stopped by Customs officials at Dover, bound for the Netherlands with a bag with £200,000. When in court, Macca took the big boys did it and ran away plea…half the money was his and he’d been duped by business associates. One of his business associates claimed the money was to buy a boat to salvage treasure from a sunken ship and Macca was cleared.


Poor Willie Johnston went to the 1978 World Cup in Argentina in the form of his life for West Brom. When he touched down at Heathrow airport it was like watching the arrival of Pablo Escobar. Johnston’s crime? He took two antihistamine tablets for hay fever which contained the banned substance, Reactivan. His reputation was left in tatters, hung out to dry by Ernie Walker and the SFA, desperate for a scapegoat to take the focus off Scotland’s woeful performance and the SFA’s preparation.


Footballers are ones for mirroring and copying behaviour. The modern player will copy the pack, tattoos, hair weaves, and ridiculous white gnashers. In the 1970s they went for the full Burt Reynolds moustache. The moustache was usually worn by the mental cult figure or hatchet man, so no one would ever slag them off.

A History of Scottish Football in 100 Objects, by Andy Bollen, is published by Arena Sport Books, at £9.99