Frank Sidebottom appeared on behalf of Manchester United in this FIFA 10 ad, although his favourite club was Altrincham actually.
Morton are away to Livingston. This is a must-win game for both teams. Both seemed like legitimate title contenders before the season began, but at the moment Morton are in eighth place with four points and Livi are dead last with but one. To judge by the two clubs' online fan forums the fault in both cases lies with the directors, the manager, the players, and the rest of you bastards on this fan forum.
Still, it's early in the season. If Morton win by a large margin and Falkirk, Dundee and Alloa lose, and Raith and QoS play to a draw, Morton could wind up in second place. Conversely, if Livingston win by a large margin, Morton could end the week in last place.
Livi's Kyle Wilkie played for Morton last year.
[2 - 2. Morton goals by Hands and Cham. Morton remain in eighth place.]
It's also Round One of the Scottish Cup, featuring 36 non-league sides. Matches we're watching today: Edinburgh University v Spartans (an Edinburgh derby); Threave Rovers v Rothes; Brora Rangers v Vale of Leithen; Inverurie Loco Works v Burntisland Shipyard (trains versus boats). [Spartans, Threave, Brora and Inverurie advance.]
Yesterday in Iceland ÍBV visited Fram and won 0 - 1. However, the Westmanislanders are out of the title race. Boulogne hosted ES Uzès Pont du Gard and tied 2 - 2. Uzès is in Provence, and in fact goes back to Roman times, when it was called Ucetia. The soccer club only goes back to 2005.
Tomorrow Sapporo visit Tochigi. [Tochigi win 4 - 3.]
To Somerset Park in Ayr today for the season's final meeting between Greenock Morton and Ayr United. Both clubs are in the bottom half of the division, but whereas you'd have to say it has been a lacklustre year for Morton, it's been not so bad for Ayr. The Honest Men have reached the quarterfinals of the Scottish Cup, the semifinals of the League Cup, and have been out of the relegation zone a good bit of the time, all this from a club expected by most to occupy tenth place the year through. Having said that, the Ton have won the three previous meetings with Ayr.
Tomorrow is the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in England, between Chesterfield and Swindon Town. [Chesterfield win 2 - 0.]
I'd completely forgotten I was going to follow Altrincham FC this season, in honour of Frank Sidebottom. There are a few matches left, any road. Today Altrincham play host to Solihull Moors at Moss Lane. It's the only pitch in England with artificial moss installed. You know it is, it really is. [1-1.]
In Japan Mito HollyHock host Matsumoto Yamaga. Yamaga was the name of a cafe where Matsumoto footballers hung out in the 1960s, so Matsumoto Yamaga is a bit like Greenock Morton in that respect. [FT 0 - 0.]
Last night UCD paid a visit to Dundalk and lost 2 - 1.
L'Impact de Montréal visit the Columbus Crew in Ohio. [Columbus 2, Montréal 0.]
Morton approach today's match in seventh place with 35 points. In recent years how many points have been enough to avoid the relegation zone? 2006-07: 41. 2007-08: 38 (although Morton squeaked in with 37 points and a better goal difference than Clyde). 2008-09: 43. 2009-10: 34. 2010-11: 36. This season it might require a point total higher than any of those.
While the Ton are away this week, Cappielow is being used for the UEFA European under-17 championship. On Tuesday Denmark and Iceland tied 2 - 2. Tomorrow Scotland face Denmark. [Scotland 2 - Denmark 3.]
Morton have next weekend off due to Falkirk's participation in the Ramsdens (or Challenge) Cup. Falkirk and Hamilton are to meet in the final on April Fools Day at Braidwood (or Almondvale) Stadium in Livingston. The Ramsdens Cup, you might say, is Scotland's answer to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Note: Braidwood is not to be confused with Broadwood, which is where Clyde play.
So is Almondvale (or Braidwood) the Hampden Park of the SFL? No. In fact this is the first time the Challenge Cup final has been staged there. The final has been played eight times at McDiarmid Park in Perth, four times each at Broadwood in Cumbernauld and Fir Park in Motherwell, twice at Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie, and once each at Dens Park in Dundee and Love Street in Paisley. You'll notice that these venues are not all SFL parks. You'd need a big stadium to contain all those rabid Challenge Cup fans, I suppose. Except that the Challenge Cup final has only drawn as many as 10,000 fans twice, in 1990 and 1993.
[Ayr 0 - 0 Morton. Raith also tie, so Morton remain in seventh, six points clear of ninth.]
Next Saturday's soccer post will be the final installment of The Red and The Black.
For many years I was under the mistaken impression that Stendhal's novel Le Rouge et le Noir was about Communists and Anarchists, such was my ignorance. Now, despite still not having read the book, I understand that he was of an earlier generation, concerned with the politics of French bourgeois liberalism and its pillars the Army and the Church. Stendhal is a central figure in the formulation of the nineteenth-century world view and was the first to describe what came to be known as Stendhal Syndrome, a nervous condition afflicting those who encounter the beauties of the city Florence for the first time.
Back in February I suggested that Stirling Albion (the Beanos) will never amount to anything until they have adopted the red and black outfit of Dennis the Menace as their own uniform. Specifically: red and black hooped jersey; black shorts; red socks. Such a kit would necessarily strike terror into the heart of any opponent, and I'm a bit surprised that no club in the higher tiers of Scottish soccer has adopted it. Surely those who tremble with Stendhal Syndrome before the beauty of a well-executed tackle must acknowledge that every league has a place for a team kitted out in the colour of blood and bruises.
So this is my telos, to find a football club somewhere that wears a red and black hooped jersey, black shorts and red socks, and to support it, if only from afar. Bonus points if it is nicknamed The Red and the Black. Here are a few possibilities:
AFC Bournemouth The Cherries. They cycle through colour schemes of red and black, red and white, and red, white and black. Stripes, though, not hoops. They are active in England's Football League One.
AC Milan The current Italian champions wear red, black and white. This fabled club is known as i Rossoneri (The Red and Blacks). Yes! Also il Diavolo (The Devil) and Casciavit (Screwdrivers). Yes! Yes! This is exactly what I'm talking about! Again unfortunately stripes not hoops.
Bohemian FC Not Czech but Irish, Bohemians are one of the Republic's older and more successful clubs. Their kit leans toward the black, with flashes of red. The shirt is striped black and red. Sharp, yet not exactly what I was looking for. Still, the Republic of Ireland league plays through the summer so Bohemians might be the club to follow while the Ton are fallow.
Clube de Regatas do Flamengo Hoops! Absolutely! But white shorts. Nicknamed Rubro-Negro (The Scarlet-Black), this illustrious club from Rio de Janeiro are six-time Brazilian champions.
Altrincham FCThe Robins aren't bobbins, but they did lose 24 games in 2010-11. Red socks, black shorts, red and white striped jersey. But their vintage centenary jersey has red and black stripes, and that's the one Frank Sidebottom liked to wear.
Unseen Academicals Red shirt with black trim, black shorts, red socks, red hat.
Partick Thistle host Greenock Morton today in a unimportant match. Neither club can be promoted nor relegated at this late stage. It's really just about kicking a football around, and having fun. It's Derby Week in the SFL but because St Mirren are in the Premier League, Partick will have to do.
A more meaningful encounter is today's game between Fife rivals Dunfermline Athletic and Raith Rovers at Dunfermline's East End Park. The two are a point apart at the top of the division. One of them will be promoted and the other will not.
Last week I said that Tuesday would see the last of this season's midweek games, but I was wrong. Tuesday's game between Ross County and Queen of the South was called off two-thirds of the way through due to a blown fuse. This is the second time the lighting has failed at Palmerston this year, a sympton of the club's financial problems, and on both occasions it has resulted in the abandonment of a rescheduled match with County, who are trying to secure eighth place and are understandably irked, especially as the score was 2 - 0 for them when the lights went out. The match has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 26th, at Queen of the South's field, after dark. [Later: the match has been moved to Stirling.]
[Partick win 2 - 0. Dunfermline win. Falkirk win. Dundee beat Ross County, and Cowdenbeath tie QoS. Ross County and Cowdenbeath are now tied at 32 points, though County have a game in hand and a better goal difference. Dunfermline are now heavy favourites for promotion. Morton cannot finish better than fourth or worse than seventh.]
[Tuesday: Ross County get their win against Queen of the South, moving them three points up on Cowdenbeath.]