Aidan Smith: Fifty years on from Turnbull's Tornadoes they've really Hibsed it this time

Stephen Robinson said it was inevitable. A cast-iron certainty that after a spell away he would return to “the madness of Scottish football”. But you’ve got to wonder: did he ever think it would be as mad as this?

As mad as four top-flight bosses probably wishing they were still on their summer hols and even prepared to take their chances amid the raging wildfires of France, Greece and Spain.

As mad as these guys managing to irritate sizable chunks of their clubs’ fanbases by the middle of July. As mad as polls being organised for the likeliest sacking before the new campaign has properly begun.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was a 1963 American movie comedy about the slapstick pursuit of a ton of money buried somewhere in the deserts of California.

The Rocky road for Bushiri at Hibs continued with the player being fielded in the Premier Sports Cup despite being banned, ending the club's involvement in the competition

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad season looks like being the story of 2022-23 in Scotland - and that’s before the juddering introduction of VAR and the juddering interruption caused by the World Cup.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World starred, among a host of madcap stars, the Three Stooges. The four poor schmucks are Robinson, Callum Davidson, Lee Johnson and Graham Alexander.

It only seems like yesterday that St Mirren fans were grudgingly and grumpily allowing Robinson the chance to rip it up and start again; that Davidson’s St Johnstone escaped relegation by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins with the promise that next time it would be different; that Hibernian after sacking two managers within four months were telling their supporters they’d finally got it right with Johnson; that Motherwell’s players were somersaulting across Fir Park having qualified for Europe.

It only seems like yesterday because it more or less was. There’s been virtually no time between one season ending and the next one beginning which may partly explain Motherwell’s defeat at home to a Sligo Rovers team with many more games behind them. But it can hardly be an excuse for the dismal performances and results recorded by the other three in the Premier Sports Cup when the likes of Falkirk, Airdrieonians, Queen of the South and Annan Athletic coming from two or three divisions below have had no more preparation and subsist on fewer resources.

If these ties have been used as warm-ups for league action, to try out different formations and find settled sides, then the plans have backfired. Memo to those brave fools striving to manage in Scotland and stay in their jobs: the serious stuff starts next weekend. There’s no more time to fiddle and faff. And you’ve just brought extra heat upon yourselves.

Maybe the beleaguered bosses can hide behind the summer heatwave and blame it for the fans getting so het up. The last heatwave in 1976 officially began on 23 June when football had stopped for a proper break, largely burning itself out before games resumed in late August.

This time, though, it’s almost as if supporters have been taking their cue from Tory MPs. The past couple of weeks have been like a reverse party leadership contest. Instead of a race to No 10 and the premiership, our Premiership bosses are desperate to avoid becoming the quickest casualty of a new football season. None of them wants to be Nadhim Zahawi, the currently two-and-a-half-week-old and surely doomed Chancellor.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I’m pretty sure St Mirren, St Johnstone, and Hibs didn’t set out to muck up their involvement in what some of us will always call the League Cup, but that is what they’ve done. St Mirren, after all, won it recently and St Johnstone very recently.

Hibs, meanwhile, have lifted it three times in the last half-century and only Aberdeen outwith the Old Firm have bettered that. December will mark the 50th anniversary of the Turnbull’s Tornadoes triumph and those fairly new to jobs at Easter Road should know that the Hibee faithful are rather fond of the old three-handled bucket - and aren’t taking kindly to the manner in which the club have just exited the competition.

What a cock-up the other night when Rocky Bushiri played the whole match against Morton when he should have been in the stand, sitting out a suspension. Some fans saw the funny side - that fabled gloomy humour endures - by admitting they were nervous about signing up for a season ticket in case some clot sent booked them into Ibrox for the whole of 2022-23.

Others weren’t so forgiving, wondering why they wouldn’t get their money back for the farce of a fixture and suggesting, with the punishment ending participation in the tournament, that in the long and inglorious history of their club Hibsing it, a new low had been plumbed.

What an eccentric little career Bushiri is assembling for himself in Leith. Erratic performances last season were best summed up by that deliberate hoof into the North Sea up at Gayfield. He was then thanked for his services only for another club oversight to land him a surprise three-year deal. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World threw together a rum crew: a honeymooning dentist, a seaweed tycoon, an alcoholic pilot, an obnoxious mother-in-law. If the film was ever to be remade, maybe Bushiri’s backstory would qualify him for a part. Or rule him out on the grounds of being just too silly.

For the bold Rocky, the only way is up. Same with Hibs and the others who’ve made false starts. St Mirren begin in the league against Motherwell, Robinson’s former club, while Hibs travel to St Johnstone hoping that a trio of old boys, undistinguished in green and white, don’t bite them on the collective bum. Something, and maybe more than one thing, has got to give.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.