Civic war centres on Simpsons star

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WITH his unkempt auburn beard, cantankerous disposition and predilection for coarse Caledonian oaths, he is unlikely to be a credit to any civic reception.

Despite this, two of Scotland's biggest cities are engaged in a bizarre tug-of-war over the provenance of Groundskeeper Willie.

Both Glasgow and Aberdeen claim to be the true hometown of the belligerent Scottish janitor, who has tormented Bart Simpson for nearly 20 years.

Last week Scotland on Sunday revealed that Glasgow City Council has claimed the legendary wizard Merlin as one of its sons. Now the authority has added the fictional caretaker to its list of Famous Glaswegians.

The formidable animated icon appears in the online hall of fame alongside luminaries such as Billy Connolly, Donald Dewar and Lulu.

However, the entry dedicated to "Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons " is followed by the caveat "allegedly".

The city's claim to have spawned the grouchy custodian of Springfield Elementary School appears to stem from a 1997 episode where the gruff Scot finds himself falling for English nanny Shary Bobbins.

After his amorous advances are rebuffed, Willie laments: "Suddenly the ugliest man in Glasgow wasn't good enough for her."

However, the claim is strongly disputed in the Granite City.

Aberdeen Football Club spokesman Dave McDermid insisted it was significant that the handyman had nailed his colours to the Reds' mast, rather than Celtic or Rangers.

He said: "Anyone who has watched The Simpsons in any detail over the years will know that Groundskeeper Willie is very much a fan of the Dandy Dons and always will be.

"As much as it may disappoint people in Glasgow we are in no doubt that Willie is a proud Aberdonian."

The city's case is strengthened by the 2003 episode 'Scuse Me When I Miss The Sky when Willie is shown awakening from a football-based dream bellowing: "Go Aberdeen!"

In the later episode The Dad Who Knew Too Little the broom-wielding emigrant admits that in his youth he was frequently mistaken for the "Aberdeen Strangler".

Scotland's oil capital made another appearance in the Highlands-based episode Monty Can't Buy Me Love where the phrase "Stomp Aberdeen!" is found inscribed in the mud of a drained Loch Ness.

Much to Willie's delight an affronted Homer Simpson then shouts: "No way! Aberdeen rules!"

However, municipal chiefs in both cities may end up disappointed as the episode Lard of the Dance showed the pugnacious Scot claiming to be from "North Kilt Town".

Willie was originally meant to be Swedish, but Simpsons creator Matt Groening decided he would be much funnier as a Scot.

Groening has admitted basing much of the character on Angus Crock, a ferocious kilt-wearing chef from Eighties cult Canadian satire show SCTV.