Aidan Smith: Scotland played like bawbags and bamsticks

Woe in Kazakhstan. Were they wearing baffies? Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Woe in Kazakhstan. Were they wearing baffies? Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire
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See us? We’re different. Dead different. Our water tastes different, more like water should be. Our mountains are not pretendy ones but proper peaks. Our capital city is a jewel and a place of artistic expression, rather than a centre of excellence for rapacious money-making. Those who come and live in Scotland like it for these reasons and many more. We vote differently, too, and have our own language which floats through our cleaner air without official recognition but neither needs this or seeks it.

Last Wednesday, though, official recognition came. Eighteen determinedly Scottish words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Though I like that our language is wild and free, it was quite a thrill to see the dignity of print conferred on these words – almost as big a thrill as the first time I heard “radge” uttered in a Pakistani accent, which itself was almost as big a thrill as hearing it spoken in a Sussex accent.

Radge is not one of the 18 and I don’t know whether it already has a place in the OED although I’m not going to go radge if it hasn’t. But I did think that beyond the short sentences of explanation, examples of how to use these words would have been useful for the uninitiated. Then, on Thursday, the 18 got just about all the elucidation they needed from Alex McLeish’s Scotland…

Bowfing, adj: Foul-smelling, stinking. Also more generally: unpleasant, horrible.

Maybe the discovery of a dead animal or a forgotten lump of cheese would prompt us to use bowfing but isn’t it also the ideal way to describe that epicly bad performance by the national team in Kazakhstan? Against a team ranked 67 places below us even though you didn’t know there were 67 places below Scotland? Against opponents who’d only won once in 20 qualifiers? In a game where three points were an absolute must?

Bawbag, n: The scrotum.

Sometimes reports of games mince their words when they should be saying: “This was mince.” Sometimes they beat about the bush when they should be beating everyone with a stick in the player ratings. Other times they go radge with the euphemisms and if anyone gets criticised it’s usually one of the imports. But here were 11 Scots or mostly-Scots and they all played like bawbags. Graeme Shinnie, pictured, talking about his own lousy performance and how he fully expected to be booted for today’s game against San Marino, seemed to be straining for the right word to sum up his hapless performance at left-back only he wasn’t sure his preferred option had official clearance. It does now, Graeme: bawbags one and all.

Baffie, n: A slipper, esp. one that is old and usually worn out.

Was Liam Palmer wearing baffies for his international debut, possibly believing this was the traditional induction for all new boys? But then he must have spotted that Scott McKenna was similarly shod, and David Bates and Callum McGregor and everyone else. Have you ever seen a Scotland team make fewer tackles in a match of this importance?

Bam, n: A foolish, annoying or obnoxious person.

Who was the biggest bam? No one was obnoxious but there were plenty who were foolish and/or annoying …

Bampot, n: A foolish, annoying or obnoxious person.

See above. I mean, have the team just re-written the rules for Hobson’s choice? Instead of the illusion of choice there’s the illusion of a performance where, invited to select the worst player, you’re presented with almost too many options. Perhaps the scoreline would have been different if Hobson had been playing.

Bamstick, n: A foolish, annoying or obnoxious person.

OK, enough. The team may have been bamsticks on Thursday but they were our bamsticks, the bamsticks who turned up willing to play. The bamsticks who got on the plane and didn’t stay home “managing an injury”.

This new phrase will soon be on a par with the likes of “He drew the foul” and “He was entitled to go down” in its attempt to bowdlerise and sanitise sharp practice, if it’s not already. It popped into the football vocabulary too late for inclusion in the latest edition of the OED but hopefully next year.

Rooked, adj: Deprived of money through fraudulent or underhand means; swindled, fleeced.

Was this how the Tartan Army felt? That old soldier in the pink top looked cheated at the final whistle, no matter that he’d been able to travel to a new land and show off the many badges on his Glengarry.

Bauchle, n: A mess, a muddle (hence) a source of ridicule or derision, or laughing stock.

The Scotland midfield. Or, if you like, the defence.

Hee-haw, n: Nothing at all, absolutely nothing.

The attack. Also, the response from the players when at half-time McLeish referenced possibly the greatest comeback in Scottish sporting history, albeit that it didn’t quite extend all the way to a victory. The rugby boys’ second half against England last Saturday will be eulogised and romanticised for years; no opposing team had ever scored six tries at Twickenham before. But in Kazakhstan the inspiration it offered was a demoralising and depressing hee-haw.

Jotter, n: To give [a person] [his or her] jotters and variants, to dismiss from a job or position.

Considering Kazakhstan changed the name of its capital between the Scots arriving there and kick-off on Thursday, there seemed a faint hope that the president would interrupt the match via loudhailer to announce that his country were ceasing football with immediate effect and thereafter competing in a revived It’s a Knockout! for transcontinental countries only. Big Eck must have wanted this. After that shocking start it seemed his only way out. But from a Scotland perspective the bigger shock was the lack of a response, of the kind the team in which McLeish played would have summoned, no bother.

Bawbagery and bampotery have rampant expression right now and it’s tragic.