THERE is something wonderfully surreal about Scottish football; a smattering of unprofessionalism that paves the way for a gloriously tinpot spectacle for us all to enjoy.

Sure, the beautiful game is what we’re really here for but the silly pantomime that surrounds it all on these shores is a huge attraction, too. Below, we celebrate the weird and wonderful world of the SPFL with an end-of-season awards ceremony that observes and honours everything to do with football – bar the game itself, of course.

NEIL LENNON AWARD FOR STRANGEST MANAGER OUTBURST – MARK McGHEE

HeraldScotland:

Few coaches will ever misread a room quite in the way that Neil Lennon did when he unleashed a defensive tirade upon Celtic’s return from Dubai in January 2021, furiously defending the decision to fly halfway around the world in the midst of a pandemic for a jolly. But then, few coaches possess the demented logic of Mark McGhee.

When the former Aberdeen and Motherwell boss was appointed at Dens Park, fireworks were bound to follow. Not on the pitch, mind – Dundee were doomed to relegation before the ink on his contract even dried – but because of his, ahem, unorthodox management style.

One wonders what Dundee’s owner, John Nelms, made of it all when McGhee announced that he would go on a diet that would leave him permanently hungry and refuse to put the heating on at home, all in a bid to guarantee three points against St Johnstone at the end of the week.

Sadly, there was only madness to McGhee’s methods as Dundee were held to a draw, eventually relegated and he was removed from his post. We hardly knew ye.

RANGERS AWARD FOR PETTIEST STATEMENT - RANGERS

HeraldScotland:

No one quite writes a silly statement quite like Rangers. Often presented in the style of a jilted lover where the author has leaned a little too heavily on their thesaurus, official decrees from the boardroom at Ibrox are typically hyperbolic, argumentative and filled with unusual words.

At least, they were for a time. As Steven Gerrard’s side marched to the title in the 2020/21 campaign and things were going well on the park, Rangers’ statements became less and less ridiculous. Sane, even. Until a terrific return to form in March as supporter anger grew over the club’s decision to join in with the Sydney Super Cup, a friendly tournament billed as Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou’s Australian homecoming.

Club 1872, the fans’ group that own a significant stake in Rangers, made their feelings known with a release before Scotland’s masters of the statement game responded in kind. It had all the hallmarks of a classic Ibrox statement: strange language (Club 1872 were described as a ‘small rump of supporters’); childish accusations (they were claimed to be jealous of Rangers executives); and, of course, hyperbole (the club deemed the incident a ‘propaganda war’).

Oh, and the result? Barely a month after the s***-slinging, the Ibrox board performed a U-turn on their decision.

SFA AWARD FOR WORST EXCUSE – LEIGH GRIFFITHS

HeraldScotland:

I, for one, will never forget when the Scottish FA were tasked with holding a review of a red card for Inverness’ James Keatings and decided to uphold the forward’s ban for a completely innocuous incident in the Challenge Cup semi-finals. When there was an incredulous reaction from all those who clapped eyes on the footage, the panel conceded they hadn’t even watched it before deciding to stick with the original decision.

It was a nadir in our game’s governance in my eyes and a truly abysmal excuse. But Leigh Griffiths is apparently insistent on giving the SFA a run for their money.

When playing for Dundee during the first half of the season, a smoke bomb was launched from the stands onto the turf at Dens Park from the travelling St Johnstone support. Now, that shouldn’t have happened in the first place but what followed was genuinely jaw-dropping as Griffiths returned the firework from whence it came by booting it into the stand.

The defence from this professional footballer? “It was regrettable that the pyrotechnic ended up back in the stand as my intention was just to remove it from the pitch.”

For someone who’s made a career out of leathering objects over 40-yard distances with pinpoint accuracy, it’s an excuse that doesn’t really hold much water.

WILLIE COLLUM AWARD FOR MOST BIZARRE REFEREEING – WILLIE COLLUM

HeraldScotland:

The standard of officiating Scotland isn’t great. It’s no secret. We, as fans, adjust our expectations knowing that any number of inexplicable decisions could unfold across the weekend’s fixtures. But then there’s Willie Collum who is, quite simply, a law unto himself.

The second leg of the Premiership play-off final isn’t one that will live long in the memory for the free-flowing football on offer. Truthfully, it was eye-bleeding stuff. But Collum didn’t let a little thing like a lack of meaningful events stop him from being the star of the show.

Observers quickly lost count of the mystifying calls from the man in the middle. A player would commit a hasty challenge, a nailed-on booking, only for the poor soul on the receiving end to be flashed a yellow. Inverness’ Danny Devine was shown a red and he didn’t do a thing wrong. Both assistant managers received bookings, and just about the only thing the two sets of fans could agree on was that Collum was a ‘w*****’.

MICHAEL OWEN AWARD FOR MOST INANE COMMENTARY – JOHN HARTSON

HeraldScotland:

Thankfully up in Scotland, we are spared from Owen’s moronic mutterings on a regular basis but there are a few pundits seemingly determined to inherent his crown as the lord of laughable statements and the anointed one of the absurd.

This category was more closely contested than any other but there is a standout winner: former Celtic striker John Hartson, who was working in his role as co-commentator on his former club’s Scottish Cup tie against Alloa earlier in the year.

Alloa striker Connor Sammon was afforded a rare sight of goal in the second half and decided to try his luck and have a go at hitting the target. Unfortunately for him, the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar. “Celtic should be one down,” Hartson lamented. “Connor Sammon should be scoring there.”

The problem? Sammon hit his shot from inside the centre circle.