Classic Football Moustaches!
I've been asked to re-issue last season's bizarre article concerning the distinct lack of top quality moustaches on display on football fields around the country these days. Admittedly this was written when my disillusionment with the situation at Tynecastle was at its worst, so please take this into consideration in your criticism! Anyway without further ado.....
It's often said that football does not have the characters it once had and that most of its participants are faceless clones, only interested in earning offensive sums of money for as little effort as possible.
I wouldn't agree totally with that, as I feel that other sports have suffered over the years far more than football has in that respect.
However there is no doubt that the comedy value in the game seems to lack a certain something that we used to experience when standing on the terraces of Scottish Football grounds of yesteryear. My question to anyone daft enough to have gotten this far into this ludicrous article, is this: are we suffering from a distinct shortage of top quality moustaches on the football field?!
I think the answer to that question is a resounding 'yes', both in relation to the aforementioned comedy value of Scottish Football and even the success of Scottish clubs in European competition.
Anyone still with me? If so, just cast your mind back to the '80s, which was probably the last time that football in this country boasted some true furry gems in abundance.
Think Willie Miller at Aberdeen, the best 'referee' in the league! Think Alan Sneddon of Hibs scuttling up and down that left flank. Think Bobby Connor of Dundee, who was like Paw Broon in his younger years! Think Bobby Smith of Dunfermline. In fact come to think of it, it seemed that anyone called Bobby (or 'Boaby' as these names tended to be pronounced) who played professional football in this country had a comedy tache at one point or another! Did Bobby Williamson ever have a tache? Must have.
Another fine mention must go to Neil Orr who signed for Hibs, probably in the late '80s/early '90s. If this guy's facial fuzz didn't earn him '70s Porn Star status with the fans, then legend has it that there was something else in Neil's anatomy that most certainly did, hence regular yells of 'show's yer hose, Neily' from the Easter Road terraces at around that time! Even if it's not true, it's classic stuff.
It wasn't just the players that sported some corkers either. Managers, referees and pundits all did their best to out-do each other in the tache stakes, with arguably Jim White's being the worst of all time, closely followed by Dougie Donnelly and Derek Johnstone! I also remember a referee called Alan Ferguson from Giffnock staking a reasonable claim for that title.
Going slightly off-topic for a second, why is it that you can ALWAYS associate referees' names with where they are from? If you know the ref's name, you just KNOW where he comes from - you just do. Brian McGinley from Balfron, Kenny Hope from Clarkston, etc. I'm sure it used to be Hugh Dallas from some place called Bonkle and strangely changed it to Motherwell for some reason. Some of these places you'd never know existed if it wasn't for referees. I've no idea where Balfron is, or Kilbarken for that matter.
Anyway back to the main subject. I feel it's about time that taches made a return to the Scottish game. I feel that some of the humour between players and referees could be instantly restored if this happened. Let's face it, how could the likes of Dougie McDonald or Iain Brines keep that straight face of theirs if they had to go up to someone with a massive ginger handlebar effort like John Watson of Dunfermline did? It would surely lighten the mood and bring the banter back between players and officials alike.
Also, just look at Scotland's record in European competition since the death of the Scottish Football tache. What have we seriously achieved there in the last 20 years? Not a lot. One UEFA Cup final appearance each for Dundee United and Celtic, with the former including Iain Ferguson and John Holt, both of whom boasted top notch taches in their heyday! Need I go on?
The last tache of note I can remember in our game was Sieb Dykstra, the big Dutch goalie who had a spell at Motherwell and then Dundee United. He was a genuine character and one of the few players in the league who was popular with opposition fans. It's time we had more of these guys in the game.
Before I go back to the mental ward, let me sign off with an All-Star XI of Scottish Football taches, in their correct positions of course, playing 4-4-2:
Hamish McAlpine (Dundee United)
John Holt (Dundee United)
Willie Miller (Aberdeen)
Peter Godfrey (St Mirren)
Brian Whittaker (Hearts)
Bobby Connor (Dundee/Aberdeen)
Neil Orr (Hibs)
Graeme Souness Rangers)
Ally Mauchlen (Motherwell/Hearts)
John Watson (Dunfermline)
Willie Pettigrew (Motherwell/Hearts)
Bobby Smith (Dunfermline)
Alan Sneddon (Hibs)
Tony Fitzpatrick (St Mirren)
Peter Van De Ven (Aberdeen/Hearts)
Feel free to mention any classics I've missed out. There are sure to be many. Couldn't think of any that played for Celtic strangely enough but there must have been!
Anyway, that's enough of this......