Kitting up. Morton Castle was used as a location for the 1978 version of The 39 Steps.
It is at this point in the season that our soccer coverage descends into magical medieval fantasy. Four years ago I designated the second league match at Palmerston Park between Morton and Queen of the South The Battle for Morton Castle. According to me the winner of today's game assumes ownership of this strategic ruin. Two previous battles have taken place, on January 28, 2012 and March 29, 2014. QoS won both. Morton must win today, as in the event of a draw the castle will remain with the incumbent QoS. To my mind it is intolerable that Greenock Morton should not have custody of this historic fortification which has their own name on it.
Normally you would expect this match to occur sometime from January to May 2016. It was originally scheduled for Boxing Day 2015, itself a little bit too early, but then they bumped it forward to the vacant October 10th international weekend slot.
How did Morton fare in the first quarter of the schedule? They earned 2 wins (Alloa and Livi), 4 draws and 3 losses, with 9 goals for and 12 against, for a goal difference of -3. They are in 6th place with 10 points, ahead of Dumbarton, St Mirren, Alloa, and Livingston, and just behind Queen of the South who have 11 points. QoS have 3 wins (Alloa, Livi and Dumbarton), 2 draws and 4 losses, with 9 goals for and 14 against, for a goal difference of -5. They have not won a match in any competition since August 22nd. Both clubs have mid-table written all over them.
[QoS win 1 - 0 and retain the castle.]
It's the Challenge Cup quarter-finals: Peterhead [3 - 0] Stenny; St Mirren [4 - 0] Dunfermline; Queen's Park [2 - 1] Elgin City. Rangers vs Livi goes in ten days, owing to Rangers' international call-ups. Elgin City have made the quarter-finals once before, in 2009-10. Queen's Park made the semi-finals in 2002-03. Of the eight quarter-finalists only three are from the Championship.
UEFA Women's Champions League this week: Chelsea 1 - 0 Glasgow City. Scotland ranks 12th in Europe in women's football, which means Glasgow City got to enter the competion after the group stage was over. Tomorrow is the semi-finals of the women's Scottish Cup. Rangers vs Glasgow City. Hibs vs Celtic.
It's the two-legged J League Nabisco Cup semi-finals this week. On Wednesday it was Albirex Niigata 2 - 1 Gamba Osaka; and Vissel Kobe 1 - 2 Kashima Antlers. Tomorrow Gamba vs Albirex; Antlers vs Vissel.
Gamba Osaka officially open their new stadium today. The old one, Osaka Expo '70 Stadium, was built in 1972 on the World's Fair site. Gamba have had a busy year, including a Super Cup win, eleven AFC Champions League matches to date, a good League Cup run, and the Emperor's Cup yet to come.
Yesterday: UCD 1 - 0 Cabinteely. UCD qualify for the promotion playoffs, and Shelbourne don't.
West of Scotland Cup: Troon [2 - 0] Largs Thistle.