HAVING filled in for my esteemed colleague Matthew Lindsay in his regular back-page slot on Monday, I fear I may have channelled the famously cantankerous tone with which his regular readers will be all too accustomed, so allow me to round off the working week (such as it is) for you with a slightly more upbeat take on Scottish football and those who operate within it.

It is fair to say that those who run our game and our clubs have come in for a fair kicking over the last wee while, and most of the criticism has been deserving in nature despite the difficulty of our times.

But while some haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory over the past few tumultuous weeks, others have quietly continued to use their position to make a positive impact on both their local and broader football communities.

In a wider sense, there have been worthy initiatives such as the Thistle Trust delivering 9000 meals to vulnerable communities in and around Maryhill, Aberdeen running a similar scheme in their own city, Motherwell attempting to ‘sell out’ Fir Park by way of online donations in order to raise money for three local causes, the Rangers charity backing free tuck shops for patients at Glasgow hospitals and the Celtic Foundation working with FARE Scotland to distribute 70,000 meals around the East End of Glasgow.

These are but the tip of the iceberg. Each of these clubs and almost every other in Scotland – during hugely uncertain times for themselves and their own futures – are going above and beyond on a daily basis to help out the communities which they are at the heart of.

So, if the politics of football and the public bickering has left a hugely bitter taste in your mouth, there is a welcome counterpoint to consider too. Football clubs are almost always a positive influence on our society.

On a smaller scale, much of the invaluable work done by clubs and indeed, individual footballers, is often overlooked.

Sadly, my own family has been going through a rough time of late after my eldest son fell ill with a spinal disorder. He is still in hospital and will be for some time, but while the real heroes in his recovery so far have of course been the incredible team of surgeons, doctors, nurses and other staff at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, there have been others whose own contribution to keeping his spirits up has also been invaluable.

Like a lot of boys his age, he is football daft, and the messages of support that have poured in for him from his favourite club, Motherwell, and so many more besides have been overwhelming in both their volume and their sincerity.

A friend of mine kindly reached out to a number of players and Scottish football personalities on social media to see if they would send a small message to keep his spirits up, and the response was incredible.

I don’t want to embarrass any of them here by naming them individually, but I hope that any player, manager or pundit who sends out these messages to children are aware of just how much of a positive impact it has on the recipients. And make no mistake, they do so on a regular basis, and for no other reason than for the benefit of those who need that little lift when the going gets tough.

I am sure there will be many families out there who have also been on the receiving end of such kindness in dark moments, so allow me to use this platform to say just how grateful our own family is to all of these individuals and clubs for this generosity of time and spirit that usually goes sight unseen.

There are undoubtedly tougher professions out there than being a footballer, but while players are no doubt fortunate to be in such a position, my own experience is that almost all of them are grateful for it, and look to give back to their supporters whenever they can.

In ‘normal’ times, this doesn’t just come in the form of messages of support for the ill or the annual photocall when clubs visit hospitals at Christmas, but also in the more mundane and unheralded actions of turning up at a youth team’s player of the year event to hand out the medals on a Friday night, or taking questions from punters at a supporters’ function.

It is easy after weeks of seemingly interminable tumult in Scottish football, with all of the distasteful mud-slinging and acrimony abounding, to lose sight of the fact that the sport at its heart plays a much simpler and purer role in our local communities and wider society. It provides hope.

If you needed a reminder of its power for good, I hope this column does for you what the actions of those individuals mentioned above did for me.


Sadly, one of the great nights of the year - at least for the profit line of the bar at the Doubletree Hilton in Glasgow - the Scottish Football Writer's Association Player of the Year award night will not take place due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Thankfully though, the chain of footballers honoured in this way, stretching back to the first recipient Billy McNeill way back in 1965, will remain unbroken, with voting forms distributed to members earlier this week.

Given the season was not played to a normal conclusion makes the choice even more difficult than usual this term. There have been many individuals worthy of recognition, with the likes of Callum McGregor, Scott Brown and James Forrest again outstanding for Celtic, Sam Cosgrove battering in the goals again for Aberdeen, and Alfredo Morelos having an outstanding first half of the campaign for Rangers.

Indeed, it looked for a good while as though he would be the one to beat to the award, but the form and consistency of the brilliant Odsonne Edouard earns him my vote this year.