Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see.
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. Read on and enjoy…
Well, the new football season is well underway now and I attended my first game last Saturday: the Mighty ’Well against Celtic. I would love to tell you that the Steelmen came out on top, but the 5-2 scoreline suggests otherwise.
The pundits who spoke after the game used expressions such as ‘Celtic blew Motherwell away’. That wasn’t the game I watched. Motherwell were well on top for the first part of the match and scored the first goal. Sadly for the ’Well, the players in the Celtic team are quicker and stronger and it wasn’t long before those qualities began to show.
I won’t say we should have won the game; Celtic are a better side and deserved the win. However, I will say that they should only have won by, say, one goal rather than the three. Why? The referee, that’s why. He made many decisions that helped Celtic on their way to what looked as if it was an easy win. For example, a Celtic player went to ground just outside the box and the ref immediately awarded a free kick. I'm not saying it was a dive... Anyway, Leigh Griffiths took the free kick and scored an absolute belter, but he really shouldn’t have been given the opportunity.
Later in the game, a Celtic winger received the ball and it was obvious that he handled the ball to bring it under control. I say handled, juggled more like. It was pretty blatant, but the ref turned a blind eye and a goal was scored from the move that followed.
The Celtic support weren’t very sporting either. Just before the goal, there was an incident where the ball went into the crowd and they refused to give it back. A new ball was sent on. As soon as our goalkeeper received it, the original ball was thrown at him. Not funny, Celtic fans. He was just clearing away the extra ball when another was thrown onto the pitch. Come on, a joke’s a joke and all that...
It was while he was retrieving that ball that the move that resulted in the goal began. The officials really should have stopped play until everything had been cleared away. But they didn’t. The goal stood.
Again, the referee chose not to intervene while all these shenanigans were going on. There were many other incidents of... cheating... there I’ve said it... from Celtic players that the ref either didn’t see or thought it better to ignore. One such saw a Motherwell player tackled to the ground in a move that was more suited to all-in wrestling than football.
All this must seem like sour grapes from a disgruntled Motherwell fan. I’m not disgruntled, although I’m not exactly gruntled. (Thanks to P.G. Wodehouse for that one.) My old gripe about Scottish football referees hasn’t changed since the last time I had a right old grumble about them. The problem with many referees is that they grew up with the Rangers vs Celtic mentality. Every kid growing up in Scotland, with an interest in football, will be asked this same question... Who do you support, Rangers or Celtic? That is the choice. Such is the ‘us and them’ mentality in Scotland (certainly west central Scotland) that, from an early age, children have it drummed into them that they must be firmly in one camp or the other.
Am I suggesting that referees are biased? There is a retired referee called Bobby Tait who has made quite a career out of after-dinner speaking at masonic clubs and the like. When he was a ref, he had a reputation for favouring Rangers. Whether it was the case or not, his after-dinner routine now plays up to the fact totally. It is, incidentally, hilarious.
That is (allegedly) one reason for the predominance (That’s a good word; wonder what it means.) of Rangers and Celtic winning a lot of games by the odd penalty or three being given in extra time.
Another, more sinister, reason for favouring the big teams is fear. Sadly, many football fans take losing a game very seriously indeed. Fan is short for fanatic, after all. Do you remember the cup final incident of 20 years ago when referee Hugh Dallas was treated for a head wound after being hit with a missile (possibly a coin) thrown by an angry fan? Other incidents have included referees having their house windows smashed or their cars damaged.
Would you want to upset a mob of thousands of angry supporters by making decisions against their beloved team?
I still hold with my assertion that the way to deal with such matters, which would keep both sides happy, would be to import referees from England and elsewhere to take charge of matches involving Rangers or Celtic.
Further ammunition for my views was provided on Tuesday when Celtic were bundled out of the Champions League qualifiers. I would suggest that having a neutral referee, favouring neither side, meant that at least the result was a fair one. I really wanted Celtic to succeed... when it comes to European competitions, I want my local team to win... but had to concede that they were beaten by the better team.
Without any dodgy decision-making from the ref.
A lot of balls
[You said it. - Ed.]
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we? Were any famous or notorious individuals born on the 10th of August? Of course there were. Here are some I’ve even heard of. Henri Nestlé 1814 (Founder of what is now the world’s largest food company.), Aleksandr Glazunov 1865 (Composer. A clip? Why not?), Laurence Binyon 1869 (Poet. Here is his most famous work, For the Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Wise words there Larry mate.), Herbert Hoover 1874 (The well-known president.), Charles Darrow 1899 (Inventor of the bored game Monopoly... Did I tell you I don’t enjoy playing it?), Jack Haley 1897 (Actor. Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.), Norma Shearer 1902 (Actress.), Leo Fender 1909 (Guitar designer and manufacturer. Factoid: Leo Fender couldn’t play the guitar.), Noah Beery Jr. 1913 (Actor. Played James Garner’s dad in The Rockford Files although he was only 15 years older than him.), Rhonda Fleming 1923 (Actress.), Eddie Fisher 1928 (Chanter. Have a clip.), Keith Duckworth 1933 (Engineer. Founded Cosworth.), Tony Ross 1938 (Author and illustrator of children’s books.), Kate O’Mara 1939 (Ectress, luvvie.), Bobby Hatfield 1940 (A Righteous Brother. Have another clip. Nice suit, Bob.), Sid Waddell 1940 (Sports commentator. Suff’rin’!), Anita Lonsbrough 1941 (Swimmy bloke.), Jimmy Griffin 1943 (Musician. Co-wrote this.), Ronnie Spector 1943 (A Ronette. Have another clip. All together now... The night we met...), Ian Anderson 1947 (Musician.), Alan Ward 1947 (Crickety bloke.), Dianne Fromholtz 1956 (Tennisy bloke.), Rosanna Arquette 1959 (Actress.), Antonio Banderas 1960 (Actor. El gato con batos.), Julia Fordham 1962 (Singer-songwriter. Here’s her biggest UK hit.), Charlie Dimmock 1966 (Gardener.), Riddick Bowe 1967 (Boxy bloke.), Roy Keane 1971 (Grumpy footy bloke.), Lawrence Dallaglio 1972 (Ruggery bloke.) and Bernardo Silva 1994 (Cara de futebol.).
And now... August the 17th... Davy Crockett 1786 (King of the wild frontier according to the song.), Monty Woolley 1888 (Actor.), Mae West 1893 (Actress. First to use the line, ‘Is that a gun in your pocket?...’), William Rootes 1894 (Businessman. Founded the Rootes Group. [There’s a surprise. - Ed.]), Maureen O’Hara 1920 (Actress.), Ted Hughes 1930 (Poet.), Robert De Niro 1943 (Actor. Are you looking at him?), John Humphrys 1943 (Broadcaster.), Hugh Baiocchi 1946 (Golfy blake.), Gary Talley 1947 (A Box Top. A clip? Here is their biggest hit.), Julian Fellowes 1949 (Writer and English milord don’t cha know.), Nelson Piquet 1952 (Racey car bloke. [Didn’t he invent chewing gum? - Ed.]), Guillermo Vilas 1952 (Tennisy bloke.), Kevin Rowland 1953 (A midnight runner for Dexy. Another clip? Geno Geno Geno Geno Geno Geno Geno...), Robin Cousins 1957 (Skatey bloke.), Belinda Carlisle 1958 (Chanter. Have a clip.), Fred Goodwin 1958 (Banker... I said banker. Known as Fred the Shred.), Sean Penn 1960 (Actor.), Maria McKee 1964 (Chanter. Another clip? Go on... show her heaven.), Donnie Wahlberg 1969 (An old new kid on the block. Let’s have a clip. This is Hangin' Tough or looking like a right tw*t, if you prefer.), Jim Courier 1970 (Tennisy bloke.), William Gallas 1977 (Footballeur.), Thierry Henry 1977 (Footballeur aussi.) and Phil Jagielka 1982 (Footy bloke.).
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Mr Drambuie,
Thank you for giving a link to a New Kids on the Block song. I wasn’t a fan, but I am writing on behalf of someone who was. They want me to ask you, what was NKOTB’s top ten hit immediately prior to Hanging Tough?
Albie Luff-Ingyu (for F. Verr).
Let’s move onto grambling matters. What happened two weeks ago? We lost. Big time. Not a pee back. How did that happen, I hear you ask. Read on.
Blackburn vs Charlton - Prediction Home win
Result - Blackburn Rovers 1 Charlton Athletic 2
Lyle Taylor's improvised finish earned Championship newcomers Charlton Athletic a battling victory over Blackburn Rovers.
Taylor flicked the ball in for the winner, from Jason Pearce's powerful header following a corner, with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The Addicks had to withstand strong Rovers pressure before then, but led just before the break thanks to Ben Purrington's close-range finish.
Rovers continued to dominate possession in the second half and equalised when debutant Bradley Johnson's header was cleared off the line but rebounded off goalkeeper Dillon Phillips for an unfortunate own goal.
Brentford vs Birmingham - Prediction Home win
Result - Brentford 0 Birmingham 1
Again I say... Boo!
Blues defender Kristian Pedersen powerfully headed in the winner against the run of play in the first half, with Birmingham's only notable effort on goal.
Brentford struck the woodwork three times in the first period and controlled possession throughout the game, but could not beat Blues keeper Lee Camp.
Stoke vs QPR - Prediction Home win
Result - Stoke City 1 Queens Park Rangers 2
And again... Boo!
Jordan Hugill's debut strike and Eberechi Eze's fine solo goal gave QPR a win against Stoke.
Hugill steered QPR ahead from close range early on after goalkeeper Jack Butland's decision to rush out and challenge Bright Osayi-Samuel went awry.
Eze sauntered through a static Stoke defence to double Rangers' lead after the interval.
Stoke later managed to pull one back when Sam Clucas fired home from close range.
Doncaster vs Gillingham - Prediction Home win
Result - Doncaster Rovers 1 Gillingham 1
Almost another boo, though definitely not a yay.
The visitors made the better start against a disjointed Rovers outfit, with Regan Charles-Cook and Brandon Hanlan both twice going close to breaking the deadlock.
But Gillingham finally got the breakthrough on the half hour when Hanlan's flick-on put Mikael Ndjoli through on the right and he squared to Alex Jakubiak to slam home.
Doncaster had struggled for opportunities throughout the first half but changed the mood at the Keepmoat in stoppage time.
James Coppinger clipped an excellent ball forward which Kieran Sadlier caught sweetly on the volley and rifled past Jack Bonham.
Rovers were the brighter side in the second half with Alfie May going close on several occasions but deadlock remained.
Lincoln vs Accrington - Prediction Home win
Result - Lincoln City 2 Acrington Stanley 0
A belated yay.
Accrington almost took the lead just past the half-hour mark when Sean McConville's free-kick skimmed the top of the bar.
The Imps responded by taking the lead when Jorge Grant's corner was met by Michael O'Connor, whose header looped over the defender on the line.
City almost scored early in the second half when Harry Anderson's cross was met by Tyler Walker, who was denied by an incredible save from Dimitar Evtimov.
Evtimov made another stunning stop to deny Michael Bostwick as the Imps pressed for a game-clinching second goal.
That finally arrived when substitutes Bruno Andrade and John Akinde combined. After Andrade was bundled over in the box, last season's top scorer Akinde sent Evtimov the wrong way with a typically cool spot-kick.
Oh well, not a very good start to the new footy season. Things ought to have picked up with last week’s predictions which were...
Game - Result - Odds
Bournemouth vs Sheff. Utd. - Prediction Home win - Evens
Watford vs Brighton - Prediction Home win - Evens
Fulham vs Blackburn - Prediction Home win - 4/5
West Brom vs Millwall - Prediction Home win - 17/20
Swindon vs Carlisle - Prediction Home win - 10/11
If they had all gone as The Grambler predicted, the Bobby Moore Fund was due to receive a whopping...
Unfortunately, The Grambler got things slightly wrong [There’s a surprise. - Ed.] and the return from our £2.20 bet was a mere 70 pees. What happened? Read on...
Bournemouth vs Sheffield United - Prediction home win
Result - Bournemouth 1 Sheffield United 1
Ooh! ’It the bar!
The visitors nearly took the lead inside the opening 30 seconds when David McGoldrick's powerful strike was well saved by 21-year-old Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Ramsdale again did well to deny Callum Robinson a goal for the Blades, before McGoldrick shot another chance narrowly wide.
Those missed opportunities looked to be costly when Chris Mepham put the hosts ahead. Sheffield brought on Oliver McBurnie and then, with eight minutes left, Billy Sharp.
The Blades were rewarded with 33-year-old Sharp's first ever Premier League goal.
Watford vs Brighton - Prediction Home win
Result - Watford 0 Brighton 3
Wowee! That is bad.
Abdoulaye Doucoure's first-half own goal gave the visitors the lead.
Then, substitute Florin Andone, with virtually his first touch of the game, doubled their lead.
Just minutes later, Neal Maupay scored, calmly finishing after rounding Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Not much else to say about that one.
Fulham vs Blackburn - Prediction Home win
Result - Fulham 2 Blackburn 0
Tom Cairney spectacularly opened the scoring as his left-footed effort from 25 yards nestled into the top corner.
Adam Armstrong almost levelled early in the second half, but his low, long-distance effort flashed past the post.
But Aleksandar Mitrovic sealed the win when he tapped in from close range late on after great work by Joe Bryan.
West Brom vs Millwall - Prediction Home win
Result - West Bromwich Albion 1 Millwall 1
Ooh! ’It the bar
After dominating possession during a goalless first half, Albion made the breakthrough when Alex Pearce headed a Matt Phillips free-kick into his own net under pressure from home defender Kyle Bartley.
But Matt Smith, having headed wide moments before, slid the ball home from close range to level when the Baggies failed to deal with Jed Wallace's cross.
Towering striker Smith then went close with an ambitious volley and Ben Thompson fired wide from 25 yards as the Lions went in search of a winner.
Albion nearly then won it themselves deep in stoppage time but keeper Bartosz Bialkowski was equal to Nathan Ferguson's curling effort.
Swindon vs Carlisle - Prediction Home win
Result - Swindon 3 Carlisle 2
Olufela Olomola (Got to be ‘Cracking name of the week’) slotted Carlisle into a 52nd-minute lead after a Harry McKirdy cutback, but Jerry Yates bundled home to level the score four minutes later.
Swindon’s Zeki Fryers headed in a Michael Doughy corner in the 70th minute.
Carlisle had substitute Canice Carroll sent off five minutes before the end. The midfielder, on loan at Swindon last season, was dismissed for a two-footed lunge on Jordan Lyden.
And Swindon took advantage when Kaiyne Woolery tucked home a third in the final minute of normal time following a lovely Keshi Anderson through ball.
Mohammed Ali Sagaf scored in stoppage time to set up a nervy finish for the home fans, but Swindon held on for their second win in as many games.
Ho hum. Not too good from The Grambler; let us hope he/she/it can improve things this week. What have we got?
Game - Result - Odds
Bradford vs Oldham - Prediction Home win - 17/20
Colchester vs Cambridge - Prediction Home win - 19/20
Northampton vs Macclesfield - Prediction Home win - 10/11
Scunthorpe vs Crawley - Prediction Home win - Evens
Annan vs Albion - Prediction Home win - 13/20
The bets have been placed (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and if they all go according to The Grambler’s Prediction, the Bobby Moore Fund stands to receive a whopping....
As whoppingness goes, that is fairly whopping.
Teaser time. Yay! Last time I asked you, prior to Harry Maguire’s record-breaking transfer fee, what was the previous transfer record between two UK clubs. The answer was Riyad Mahrez who, in July 2018, was transferred from Leicester City to Manchester City for £60 million. Not bad, Leicester; £145 million for two players.
One for this week? We saw the first games of the Premier League 2019-20 season last weekend. See if you can guess the teams from the following sponsorship deals.
Union Standard Group
As usual (at the risk of repeating myself), I remind you 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
Please, also take the time to click on this link, an informative little video from Mersh (a great friend of Stewart’s).
And finally Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am indebted to a Mr I. Anderson who is the musician a lot of people know simply as the guy who can play the flute while standing on one leg. To those of us who call ourselves fans, he is the founder, songwriter, vocalist, guitarist and, yes, flautist with the band known as Jethro Tull. To finish this week, how would you like to see the band as it was when I first went to see them playing live? It was at the Glasgow Apollo on the 2nd of February 1977 and it still rates as one of my favourite concert performances?
Footage of that show doesn’t exist, but eight days later, Tull recorded a concert for the BBC’s Sight and Sound In Concert series. An hour-long edit was broadcast in stereo on BBC2 on the 19th of February.
Hang on a mo, I hear you protest, stereo television didn’t begin until the mid 1980s, how the blibbing flip did they get stereo telly back in 1977? Well, it was a simple solution really. The Beeb broadcast the show simultaneously on TV (BBC2) and on BBC Radio 1 in stereo sound. Clever, eh?
I arranged my newly acquired stereo system speakers either side of the sarcophagus sized rented colour TV, which dominated the corner of my parents’ living room, to get the best stereophonic effect. Actually, comic effect was more accurate. The whole ensemble, with cables leading here there and everywhere looked faintly ridiculous. Still, this was the first opportunity to watch Jethro Tull while listening in stereo.
Any road up, here is what the fuss was all about... Good evening ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. It is nice to be here.
That’s all for this week folks, but remember you can read the musings of The Grambler every week by going to the blog at www.thegrambler.com