Why lower league Scottish fitba’ is the best sport in the world – Kevan Christie

What an ‘amazing’ summer of sport, says Kevan Christie as he impatiently awaits kick-off in the Central Taxis league.

Ben Stokes holds his hands up after the ball, thrown by a fielder as he ran for the crease, hit his bat, then went out for four runs in the World Cup final against New Zealand (Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Ben Stokes holds his hands up after the ball, thrown by a fielder as he ran for the crease, hit his bat, then went out for four runs in the World Cup final against New Zealand (Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Ben Stokes holds his hands up after the ball, thrown by a fielder as he ran for the crease, hit his bat, then went out for four runs in the World Cup final against New Zealand (Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Anyone for cricket? Or is it tennis? It seems everyone’s for cricket this past week or so – but it won’t last.

In fact we’ve moved onto golf already with The Open set for ‘Moving Day’ at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland where players jockey for position ahead of the final day tomorrow.

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Last Sunday was the acid test for skilled televison remote control, ‘il telecomando’ operators like myself; this was button-pushing at the highest level our very own World Cup Final if you like. Judgement Day.

Not exactly a duel in the sun to rival Jack Nicklaus versus Tom Watson in the scorching heat of Turnberry in 1977, given that the curtains were closed and copious amounts of Maltesers had been taken – but you get the picture. A veritable feast of summer sport.

It was a case of judging the breaks for Robinsons Barley Water in the Wimbledon Men’s final contested by Novak Djokovic and hunky slab of Swiss Toblerone Roger Federer, while switching between the cricket with Sky Sports providing a handy idiot’s guide as to how many runs England needed to win the World Cup.

The tennis finished just in time for us soon-to-be-heartbroken Scots to skip channels to witness the spawniest of spawny occurrences at the cricket.

The ball, thrown by a New Zealand fielder skudded off Ben Stokes bat as he was diving to get back to the crease, hurtled towards the boundary and England were awarded six instead of five runs by mistake. Aye right.

This eventually ‘tipped the balance in their favour’ as the commentators on the telly are fond of saying and Lord’s exploded in a sea of ruddy-faced emotion.

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At this point, I must confess to knowing absolutely hee-haw about cricket so type “Ben Stokes and lucky bar steward” into Goggle and accept my sincere apologies if the above explanation makes no sense.

I’d compare this controversial incident to the Russian linesman deciding that Geoff Hurst’s shot had crossed the line in the 1966 World Cup Final against Germany, which as you might have heard led to England winning the football World Cup. But like the Murphys, I’m not Bitter ... (ahem).

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Cue references to not needing Europe to win from serial twit Jacob Rees-Mogg and Piers Morgan goading the Americans who are as passionate as the English about cricket but call it baseball.

The Formula One racing was also on for those of you who like watching guys with giant necks drive round in circles and our very own Lewis Hamilton sped to glory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

I’m aware that there’s also something called the Tour de France going on at the moment but that’s more of a transport issue than a sporting one.

It beats me why anyone would want to cycle round France when they’ve got a perfectly decent state-owned railway system the SNCF, which takes all the hassle, what with chains coming off and having to swap your blood for different blood, out of the equation.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed this momentous summer of sport – and a nod to the Women’s World Cup as well which caught the imagination and created new global stars like Megan Rapinoe, who stuck two fingers up to Donald Trumpet while sparking furious debate around the issue of equal pay. OK, that covers the ‘white, middle-aged man pays token appreciation to women’s sport’, part of the column.

However, enough of this phoney war nonsense – the Iceman Cometh for such folly and frippery. For the Devil sends the beast with wrath. I am, of course, referring to the Scottish football season.

Now when I say football season, I don’t mean the snobby fitba’ that they play in the Scottish Premiership awash with bevvy and betting sponsorship offering all you can drink corporate hospitality to Billy the Builder who’s done “awfy well for himself”.

No, I’m talking about real football, the stuff in the lower leagues where the teams will be playing for the magnificently named Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup. How wonderfully Scottish is that?

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I’m praying this provokes a reaction from garden furniture and traybake giant Dobbies who finally decide to flex their considerable financial muscle to sponsor the whole of Scottish football. One can only dream.

The Dobbies UEFA Champions League. I love the relationship between Scottish football and food. It’s a central tenet of the game.

Stuff like how we like to add salt to our already rather salty Bovril. Pass the salt again, will you.

Then there’s the pies. I remember going to Sauchie a few years back to watch a junior game, nipping down for a half-time pie around the 18-minute mark only to be asked if I’d ordered one.

Turns out they operated a booking system similar to the theatre where you might tell the bar staff to put your gin and tonic on ice for the interval. I think this was to ensure the local supporters got their ‘meat’ and pastry content with monthly salt allowance in a oner.

I’m all for forward-thinking but I don’t think it caught on – nearly caused a riot. Bless.

I’ve already got the date pencilled in the calendar – Tuesday, 30 July. I will dutifully head to Dundonald Bluebell to watch them play Bo’ness Utd in a Central Taxis league match. The Saturday after that I will take in my local team Crossgates Primrose. They’re big on flower power names in Fife.

Alas, the bright lights of Methil or Cowdenbeath, where a higher standard of footballing fayre is on offer, are not for me folks. I’ll see you behind the goals – mine’s a steak and gravy.