After last night’s incident at Hampden, Craig Fowler reviews the ongoing conflict between Scottish football and the white scavengers which patrol our pitches
Let’s face it. If seagulls wanted to take over the world they could.
They’re the biker gang of the avian world. While pigeons flutter away at the first sign of trouble, a seagull will only retreat as far as the invisible line representing imminent danger, and not a centimetre further. All the while they stare you down with those furious, cold eyes; the kind of eyes that could only belong to a creature with terrible atrocity in its history, which they would repeat without a second thought or smidge of remorse.
They’re not afraid to attack humans when food is involved. And despite the obvious size advantage, we scurry away like startled mice when they come swooping. Therefore we should be afraid, very afraid, that there is escalating tensions between these birds of prey and the men and women of Scottish football.
For years both lived amicably in each other’s company. We provided discarded pie crusts and they kept their distance. Now the treaty appears to have been broken. And things are showing little sign of improving.
On the contrary, it’s only getting worse.
Aberdeen fans sing “seagulls, seagulls, get to f***”
Most battles are the wish of politicians, but some are started by the people. And when the remaining few of us are hiding underground following a Planet of the Apes-style takeover by the gulls, we’ll have the Dons fans to blame. Tired of shouting at their players in the late noughties, the Pittodrie faithful instead turned their ire to the birds circling around the stadium and congregating on corners of the pitch. “Seagulls, seagulls, get to f***” they chanted. Little did they know what was to come.
This could have been an olive branch; an act of goodwill from the club to its feathered tenants. ‘Sorry about the song, lads. No hard feelings, eh?’ Unfortunately the fans refused to waver from the rebellion. The song was instead directed at the mascot. The seagulls, watching on, knew there could be no reconciliation. If man could not accept a human/seagull hybrid - walking around in a jolly fashion, entertaining children - then what chance did they have?
The first shots were fired on July 15, 2014. Hibs’ Callum Booth, pushed to the brink by the escalating tensions, let out a rogue blast. Standing in his own 18-yard box with the entire East End Park pitch to aim for, he launched one into the sky and struck the bird, casually flying past the stadium on its way to the Firth of Forth. The bird was able to regroup and hurriedly flap its way to safety. But it would be telling his friends all about the unprovoked attack.
Gulls hit back (sort of)
Like an army going into an unfamiliar culture, the gulls had a hard time differentiating football fans (bad guys) and non-football fans (good guys) as they launched their counter-attack in the summer of 2014. People on the streets of Edinburgh were “terrorised” as swooping birds gave them a nasty fright and ruffled their hair a bit. It was carnage.
Aberdeen hire a hawk
The Dons, having exhausted every avenue in the hope of finding peace, instead entered the world of avian politics by recruiting the hawks as an official ally, even going as far as to hire one to patrol the ground and keep seagulls away. The local bird residents were furious. The area around Pittodrie has been their home for many years, too many to remember. Now they were being threatened, and not even directly, they at least would have respected that. No, Aberdeen got someone else to do their bidding for them.
The final straw. After this incident any hope of peace was gone, possibly forever. At least Booth’s shot was panicky. This was measured. Alloa keeper Neil Parry lined up his goal kick, took a few steps back, found his sight-line, and blasted it straight and true. Incredibly, the seagull was not killed. He barely even felt it; was more annoyed than anything.
Keeping a close eye on one of their enemies, a large group of seagulls swirled around Ayr United boss Ian McCall as he talked to club media about the season ahead. Unfortunately for one bird, the mundanity of “the boys are working hard” and “we’re looking to bring in one or two more” was too much to take. He died there and then, tragically plummeting to the Somerset Park pitch as the rest of his flock looked on in a mixture of anguish and horror. They knew aerial warfare. They were familiar with chemical and land warfare. But this was a new type they were not prepared for: patter warfare.
Scott is s**t on
Of course, birds have their own unique type of weapon they can call on, and they did so callously at the end of Kilmarnock’s opening Betfred Cup match with St Mirren earlier this month. As Steve Clarke stood talking to Chick Young on the sidelines, the infantry charged and release their toxic mix in the direction of the pair. Instead of hitting their target, however, they were left with the second place prize of defecating all over Killie comms manager Scott McClymont.
It’s approaching 90 minutes of a fairly uninspiring football at Hampden Park as Queen’s Park and St Mirren battle it out in the Betfred Cup. Then, without warning, a seagull comes soaring into the ground and drops a dead carcass into the penalty box. Some thought it was a squirrel but it was later identified as a pigeon (either that or it was a squirrel with wings). The bird had been decapitated. The message was simple.