BETWEEN the covers of which book could you expect to find photos of Stalin, Churchill, Nixon, Eisenhower, Goering and Rasputin? The sensible answer would be some tome about 20th-century history. A daft answer would be a book about Scottish rugby.
On this occasion, though, the dafties have it. The book in question is The Murrayfield Experience. The gentlemen in question – Lord Lucan, Robert Mugabe, Idi Amin and Allan Jacobsen are also included – are used as satirical illustrations of the argument it advances.
Stalin we know about. For long enough now, critics of the Scottish Rugby Union have called it Stalinist. But Goering – whatever did he have to do with the game? Lucan – a bit elusive, true, but otherwise no obvious qualities which would mark him out as a rugby player.
And Rasputin – surely he would trip over his beard or long robes before he got close to the opposition try line? All right, all right, that weakness in his game would not in itself deter the Scotland selectors from taking an interest, but seriously, he’s got nothing to do with it, really.
And that’s the problem with The Murrayfield Experience. As we attended the launch of the book at an Edinburgh hotel yesterday morning and Bob Carruthers set forth the argument outlined in the book, it all seemed a little tangential.
Granted, Carruthers himself does not see it like that. Instead, the former owner of Edinburgh Rugby, who remains in dispute with the SRU, sees that argument as central to the difficulties facing Scottish rugby. That’s why he agreed to write the introduction to the book, which is credited to A.N. Alickadoo. Of the book’s 249 pages, 164 merely re-print correspondence over an old dispute.
Carruthers explained that several people had a hand in writing the book, and that they preferred to remain anonymous for fear of legal action. So they have taken refuge behind the pseudonym, an old term for a certain type of Scottish rugby worthy, related to but not completely the same as blazerati or buffers.
Then there’s the Murrayfield Blazerhood, who also make an appearance, although they are written off as things of the past. Seems the blazerati did them in, presumably while the buffers blustered from the sidelines and the alickadoos sat aghast and wrote down the gory details. Confused? You will be if you read The Murrayfield Experience.
To be fair to Carruthers, the bewildering complexity of his argument does not in itself mean he is wrong. But, when he tells you his dearest wish is for the game at club level to thrive again, it is hard to avoid the feeling that he has mis-directed his considerable energies.
• The Murrayfield Experience by A.N. Alickadoo is published by Jagdtiger (Bahamas) Ltd and may be available at all good Caribbean bookshops but I wouldn’t expect to see one in Waterstones any time soon. Priced £2.99, apparently, although there’s not a price on it and I found one on sale last night on the internet at $4.79.