Scottish football can be a completely bonkers place sometimes. These are just 10 examples.
10. Livi v Raith keygate
This has got to be the most Scottish football thing on the list. Two clubs, arguing over the length of time and reason why a dressing room door was locked via contrasting statements to the media.
It was all over a delayed start to the second half in a match between the clubs last season. To cut a needlessly long story short, Livingston accused Raith Rovers of locking the door to the dressing room and the employee with the key of taking too long to open it, while Raith claimed Livingston were exaggerating how long for and that it was their own fault they locked themselves out.
It was petty. It was funny. It was lower league Scottish football.
9. Lincoln Red Imps infographic
Celtic’s loss to the Gibraltan side was crazy enough. Scottish football clubs have not fared well in European competition in recent years, but this was the most minute of minnows. Lincoln Red Imps had part-time players and dominated a league in which every club played on the same pitch. The 1-0 away leg defeat was bizarre and few could have envisioned the outstanding season Celtic would go on to enjoy.
Despite all of this, the defeat itself does not make the top 10. Instead, it was the fake graphic made up by a Twitter user for comedic purposes... which was then used by Sky Sports News.
Presenter Mike Wedderburn said in a interview with ex-Celtic striker Andy Walker: “Andy, let’s put this into perspective. Celtic’s opponents play to an average crowd of 28 and can’t train on Tuesdays because the pitch is taken up by the local metal detecting society.”
Those were two of the five pieces of “information” made up by @WeahsCousin. The other three credited Red Imps with hiring their manager via a competition (not true), never scoring before against a professional side (they did in the previous round), and having a striker who’d spent time in prison for selling class A drugs (he was a policeman, which was widely reported after he scored against Celtic).
It left Sky Sports with a red face, Lincoln Red Imps threatening legal action, and an angry Mrs @WeahsCousin chiding her son for spending his spare time trolling people on Twitter.
8. Ross County’s website deleted
Just a few weeks after nabbing their first ever trophy, Ross County found themselves without a website. Though it was not County’s fault, it still left them a little embarrassed as fans tried to secure briefs for an upcoming all-ticket match with Celtic. Turns out the company that hosted County’s site “effectively deleted” all of the websites controlled by one of their servers. Whoops! It was finally restored three days later.
7. Albion Rovers Twitter meltdown
It was just a random Saturday night in February when, all of a sudden, things went a little haywire with the official Albion Rovers Twitter account.
First, a post simply stated: “Let me see that thong.”
It was at this point, as Shaughan McGuigan of the Terrace Podcast put it, that we all knew “something was afoot”.
From there they tweeted: “Sniff my big hairy toe Cowden.”
It was soon followed up with a tweet directed at Livingston, instructing them to “stick your fingers in my smelly linguine”.
And finally, things were rounded off with a tweet to Kim Kardashian herself, which read: “wuu2” [translation: what you up to?]
Now, obviously, this seemed to be a “hacking” of the official account by a rather blootered (or bored) fan. However, if it was, Rovers didn’t do a very good job of changing their password, as just a couple of weeks later the account was at it again. This time a psychedelic image of Phil Mitchell in the shape of a, erm, lady part, with the words “I dreamed a dream” above it.
6. Chris Sutton v Derek Johnstone
In football, we’re usually subjected to bland patter between ex-professionals who, even when they are disagreeing, don’t actually seem to disagree with each other. There’s no debate. No entertainment. In that regard, Chris Sutton is a breath of fresh air, even if it does spoil it sometimes by being overly negative or insistent in his own beliefs.
He’s also not afraid to give it both barrels to someone he doesn’t like, as evidenced by this radio conversation with former Rangers star Derek Johnstone. There’s nothing I can say which will do the mutual dislike justice, so I’ll let the words speak for themselves.
Sutty: “I work in the media now and you’ve got someone next to you [Johnstone] who’s an embarrassment to the media profession. He’s an apologist, he’s a charlatan, he’s a Rangers puppet. He’s a cheerleader, that’s what he is.”
DJ: “When I’m watching the television and I’m watching a game on BT, I’ll turn the sound down because I get absolutely nothing from yourself except negativity. You have no respect for your fellow footballers whatsoever.”
5. Scottish Cup final pitch invasion and subsequent fall-out
You can’t say this wasn’t crazy, regardless of whether you felt the whole thing was blown out of proportion or a thoroughly shameful incident in Scottish football’s history (or both).
There was the pitch invasion itself, with thousands upon thousands of Hibs fans pouring on in a manner we hadn’t encountered in Scottish Cup finals since the 1980s. Then there were the idiots who thought the best way to celebrate ending 114 years of heartache was to attack Rangers players. Then there were the Rangers fans who came on the pitch to fight. Then there was the guy punching the horse on the backside. Then there was the Rangers statement. Then the second statement that took swings at everyone from Rod Petrie to Nicola Sturgeon. Then there was the inquiry and the charges against both clubs that were eventually dropped. And finally, the arrests upon arrests that are still happening now seven months later.
4. Hearts fans charter a plane
“No style, no bottle, Neilson out”
That was the message that circled Tynecastle prior to a March meeting with Partick Thistle. A small plane, chartered by a group of fans, displayed the protest. In fairness to those behind the stunt, it certainly made their point known. The story made national news, which likely wouldn’t have happened had the taken the usual route of standing amidst thousands of other fans with a barely legible sentence painted on a white bed sheet.
Aside from the execution, the protest didn’t make much sense. Hearts had won the Championship at a canter under Neilson and were comfortably in the running for a European spot when the plane was hired. In hindsight, it makes a little bit more sense, seeing as thousands of others would join the “Neilson Out” brigade following the Birkirkara defeat and some inconsistent form at the beginning of this season. But, overall, his time at the club was a positive, and it was a massive overreaction to the disappointment of losing to Hibs in the Scottish Cup.
3. Three penalties saved in one half
Step forward Cammy Bell. Previously infamous for his feeble (and hilarious) attempt at punching clear a Marvin Johnson shot in Rangers’ play-off loss against Motherwell, the goalkeeper produced a much more positive moment to remember him by when he repelled three spot-kicks in one half against Dunfermline.
It is thought to have been the only time in the history of professional football that this has happened. Unfortunately, he was denied a place in the Guinness Book of World Records because it was a lower league match, which seems a bit uncharitable.
In the end, he had to make do with helping his side win three points and the Championship player of the month award, which he insists was more than just those three stops.
Sure it was Cammy, and we’ll definitely remember you for this over the play-off final.
2. Joey Barton
Just in general. All of it.
All of the madness that followed Joey Barton’s transfer to Rangers: the constant trolling of Scott Brown; the nutmeg on his Rangers debut; his distinctly average performances; the possibility he’d miss a game due to a book signing event; his suspension from the club; his phone call to TalkSport; his extended suspension from the club; his ban for betting offences; his continued suspension from the club; his return to the youth team; the doctor’s note; his insistence we all thought he was going to be like “Messi or Neymar”, and his eventual, merciful, inevitable exit.
Every single second of it was absolute box office. Come back Joey. We miss you.
1. Gavin Gunning picking the ball up
It is both the craziest and greatest moment of the year. Of any year, in fact.
During the second half of Dundee United’s home game with Inverness CT, another miserable match during a miserable season, Gavin Gunning decided he’d had enough. The ball was getting played from midfield to defence and Gunning, calm as you like, bent down and picked up the ball, before walking directly off the park.
Anyone who played football with their friends as a child would have seen this behaviour before. It is the classic “I’ve had enough lads, I’m away home”. And that’s the end of it, because he holds the power. It’s his ball.
This was not Gunning’s ball and he was no longer an infant. He was a professional footballer during the middle of a match. The official reason was that he was injured and needed treatment, though it doesn’t explain why he didn’t just knock the ball out of the park.
It soon became a saga when United tried to sack him, only to realise they didn’t have grounds for it and invited him to come back to train with the youth team if he wished. Needless to say, he was released at the end of his contract.