Stewart was an amazing person - A wonderful husband, a fantastic brother, a loving son and an adored uncle. He was also a brilliant friend and colleague and is missed by so many people. His family are determined that his death will never be in vain and are doing their part to beat bowel cancer for good. We are fundraising for the Bobby Moore Fund which is part of Cancer Research UK and specialises in research into bowel cancer. If you wish to donate to the fund, you can via https://www.justgiving.com/Geraldine-Smith3 .
If you haven’t already done so, please read the article which appeared in the Daily Record and learn from Stewart’s story that you must never be complacent. It makes grim reading for us, his family, even though we were beside him throughout his ordeal, or battle; call it what you will. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/heartbroken-widow-geraldine-smith-raises-3452997
Similarly, if you haven’t heard it, please listen to Geraldine’s moving radio interview which was on Radio Scotland recently.
Stewart began writing The Grambler when he was between procedures and hoping for some form of recovery. He loved all aspects of football and was a lifelong Motherwell supporter. His wish was that The Grambler should continue after his death and I have been happy to oblige. Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see. Read on and enjoy…
Welcome to 2016. It being a new year, I thought I should begin with that little greeting. And if it is anything like 2015 with all its depressing stories of crazy weather, crazy events perpetrated by a few crazy individuals and crazy world leaders wanting to retaliate by bombing the sh*t out of any country where someone has dared to look at them the wrong way, you are certainly welcome to it.
New year isn’t what it used to be. [Uh oh, Hovis time. - Ed.] In Scotland, it used to be the main celebration at this time of year; Christmas day was a poor second. When my family moved up to Scotland from Derby in nineteen frozen to death, it was a real shock to the system. My dad couldn’t work out why he had to work on Christmas day, but got a day’s holiday a week later.
This emphasis on new year, rather than Christmas, was not because Scotland was a non-religious country. Far from it. Perhaps it was due to the fact that Scottish people were actually more religious and took the spiritual side of Christmas more seriously. Christmas was always celebrated, but maybe not in the same commercialised way that it was down south.
Any road up, it didn’t take us sassenachs long to get into the groove and there followed some great new year parties after that initial surprise.
We never got into some of the odder traditions of new year, though. Yeah, we did the first footing bit where you go and visit friends armed with plenty of booze. However, we did not give our friends a piece of coal. Sorry pardon excuse me? Apparently, you should take three things when you go first footing; booze (preferably whisky) for cheer, food (usually shortbread or black bun) for sustenance and fuel (coal) for warmth. Something like that, anyway. As I said, we didn’t bother with the latter two and, after mumble mumble years, I have yet to taste black bun. In fact, the only place I have ever seen it is in the Broons and Oor Wullie cartoons.
Another tradition we never took to was a sit down meal as the bells rung in the new year. I recall going to one party where, after wishing everyone a happy new year, I was presented with a plateful of steak pie, potatoes and peas. I was in no mood to eat it, but I felt obliged to rather than cause offence. I suppose it put something into my stomach before I started a night of boozing but, come on, steak pie at midnight? No thanks. I coped with that, but later on the same night I went to a second party where the same thing happened. Another plate of steak pie and accompaniments was handed to me. This time, I didn’t bother about causing offence and handed the (still full) plate back. I did explain and offer apologies, but the lady who had given me the food was not happy, thinking her cooking abilities were being questioned.
Over the years I have been to many great new year parties; I have also been to some stinkers. One I recall was when I was aged about 19, the age when any party involved plenty of bevvy. The party I went to that year started off with the usual shaking of various hands and lots of kissing as I was wished a happy new year by all the folk gathered. The host asked if I would like to help myself to a drink. Great, thinks I as I was directed to the kitchen to get one. There was plenty of choice - coke, lemonade, irn bru, orangeade, limeade, American cream soda - but no ‘drink’ drink. Somebody explained to me that this was a party run by Methodist people. Methodist? I thought that was the kind of acting Marlon Brando did. Need I say that my group of mates and I left that particular party rather quickly and, in hindsight, rudely, to seek out another party where we might get a proper drink?
Another hogmanay I recall was, perhaps, a year or two later and I found myself at a party where there was plenty to drink, but the only music on offer was provided by those gathered. It was one of those awful parties where these would-be chanters were expected to sing their party piece. That is, the song that they sing at every party they ever go to, whether anyone wants them to or not. I hate those kind of gatherings. There are those who cannot sing for toffee and know it but, gamely, give it a go and there are those who cannot sing for toffee but think they can. These are the ones who hog the limelight and nothing will stop them singing. After five or six songs they might give someone else a go. There are also those people who can’t sing, know they can’t sing, so won’t sing. Me. This particular party had everyone sitting in a kind of circle and nobody hogged the limelight, because everyone was expected to give a song. I really, really, really hate those kind of parties. I just do not like singing in public, but there was no escape; I just had to do my party piece. This was extremely difficult for me as (apart from wishing the ground would open up to swallow me at that moment), having never sung in public, I just didn’t actually have a party piece as such. I had to think quickly. What did I sing? This
Not surprisingly, I didn’t get invited to sing again.
Who would be a Manchester United fan? They are having a tough time of it; although supporting them does seem to offer a (somewhat expensive) cure for insomnia. It’s official - Man U have been the most boring side in English league football, in December. How so? In the month of December, they scored fewer home goals than any other side in the senior leagues. One. One goal, that’s all. Zzzzz.
Any birthdays to celebrate this Saturday, the 2nd of January? But of course. At least some, if not more. Isaac Asimov 1920 (Man with gravity defying sideburns. Aka Paul French.), Dabney Coleman 1932 (The Commodore.), Roger Miller 1936 (Composer of godawful songs... Dang me, dang me, they ought to take a rope and hang me. Jeezo!), Ian Brady 1938 (Not a member of The Brady Bunch.), Jim Bakker 1939 (Evangelist/rapist.), Kerry Minear 1948 (Gentle Giant.), Cuba Gooding Jr. 1968 (Rod Tidwell.) and Maxi Rodriguez 1981 (Footy bloke.)
Let’s move on to grambling matters. What happened last week? We won. Yay! Yes indeedy, £2.47 back from our £2.20 stake. Whoop de doo, 27 pees profit (he said without a hint of sarcasm). What happened? All is revealed below, fair reader...
Manchester City vs Sunderland - Prediction Home win
Result - Man City 4 Sunderland 1
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring by heading in Kevin de Bruyne's cross.
The lead was doubled through Yaya Toure's low 20-yard drive before Wilfried Bony headed in another de Bruyne delivery.
The brilliant Belgian calmly scored before Fabio Borini's consolation, as Bony skied a penalty later on.
Derby vs Fulham - Prediction Home win
Result - Derby 2 Fulham 0
Johnny Russell was the source of the second-half opener when his cross created confusion in the penalty box and found the net via centre-half Tim Ream.
And Jacob Butterfield's cool late strike sealed the win late on.
Plymouth vs Yeovil - Prediction Home win
Result - Plymouth 1 Yeovil 0
Argyle dominated the first half with keeper Chris Weale making a number of saves, but the Glovers came closest when Matt Dolan's effort from 25 yards struck the bar.
Plymouth took the lead when Weale parried a Craig Tanner strike to Ryan Brunt, who slotted in from close range.
Forfar vs Dunfermline - Prediction Away win
Result - Forfar 2 Dunfermline 4
Faissal El Bakhtaoui struck to give the Pars the lead, but Iain Campbell levelled with a penalty after Shaun Rooney had fouled Danny Denholm.
Another El Bakhtaoui shot regained the lead for Dunfermline and the striker then set up Joe Cardle to score.
Michael Travis headed one back before Ryan Wallace fired the Pars' fourth.
Queen’s Park vs Berwick - Prediction Home win
Result - Queen’s Park 0 Berwick 1
Darren Lavery's stoppage-time strike gave Berwick Rangers all three points against Scottish League Two rivals Queen's Park at Hampden.
There you have it; four out of five correct and we won hardly anything thanks to some dreadfully short odds. Any road up, what has The Grambler randomly selected for us this week?
Game - Result - Odds
Arsenal vs Newcastle - Prediction Home win - 2/5
Manchester United vs Swansea - Prediction Home win - 8/15
Crewe vs Coventry - Prediction Away win - 8/11
Portsmouth vs Crawley - Prediction Home win - 4/9
Kilmarnock vs Hearts - Prediction Away win - 8/11
If the bets (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) all go as predicted by The Grambler, the Bobby Moore Fund will benefit to the tune of… fanfare please…
Like last week, it isn’t a huge amount thanks to some very short odds. Let’s hope The Grambler has made a good start to the new year.
Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked which team Norwich had taken the most Premiershit points from (19 from 15 encounters). The answer surprised me - Everton.
One for this week? A question that can only be asked at the beginning of a new year. Which club drew the most Premiershit matches (15 from 38 played) in the calendar year January to December 2015?
Once again, let’s finish with a mention of the main reason for continuing to publish this blog – to raise awareness about bowel cancer. If you have any bowel problems, don’t be fobbed off with the line that you are too young for bowel cancer to be a consideration. Just point your doctor in the direction of http://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/campaigns-policy/latest-campaigns/never-too-young-campaign .
And finally, Cyril? And finally Esther, I am indebted to a Mr D. Macrae who provides a little blast from the past. I mentioned earlier that Scots, at one time, celebrated the new year more than they did Christmas. This is evidenced by the number of Scottish programmes the Beeb Beeb Ceeb chuck at us at Hogmanay. Currently, we are ‘treated’ to the likes of Only an Excuse or Still Game. In the past we were given Scotch and Wry. In the very early days of TV the standard fayre was a ‘typical’ Scottish new year party. Lots of singing (courtesy of Andy Stewart or Kenneth McKellar) and dancing were provided. However, I used to love the novelty items provided by the likes of Finlay Currie (Yes, I am old enough to remember him) and John Grieve. My absolute favourite moment was when Duncan Macrae appeared, because I knew he would give us his 'party piece. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I were a nipper.