Sport Opinion
Raheem Sterling, left, and Joe Gomez at training ahead of the England v Montenegro match.  Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty.

Aidan Smith: Emotion! Needle! Edge! Energy! Dynamic! Anger! Fighting!’

On the morning of England’s 1,000th international breakfast telly was predicting a smashing, positively dashing spectacle, just like in the song about Ascot in My Fair Lady. I thought: aren’t they even going to mention the bust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez? They did, right at the end of the report, and maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised it was downplayed because our dear friends in England love a coronation, or as close as football can get to one. Which is pretty close. Remember the big party thrown for David Beckham? I forget what it was supposed to be celebrating. Becks going five consecutive games with the same hairstyle, perhaps. Or eight games played from a standing position. Or the highest number of times he was first to jump on a goalscorer, literally piggybacking on the man’s fame to ensure his own prominence in the back-page photos. Or the highest number of times a goal was shown and bloody shown again – his last-minute free-kick against Greece.

Scotland's Declan Gallagher, left, showed up well against Cyprus on his international debut. Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Scotland analysis: Workmanlike performance but debut of Motherwell centre-back Declan Gallagher is a genuine plus

Maybe it is these feverishly political times, but a slogan of feckless former prime minister Theresa May kept coming to mind watching Scotland squeeze out a 2-1 victory in Cyprus. Hard-working families with nothing much to spare she described as “just about managing”. In ensuring back-to-back wins for the first time in Steve Clarke’s seven-month tenure, it certainly was a case yesterday of a hard-working Scotland just about managing.

Fans greet George Best as he arrives to open the Euro Exhaust Centre in Edinburgh in January 1980.

Aidan Smith: Rubbing shoulders with ‘Gorgeous’ George Best at a tyre and exhaust centre

It’s not difficult to choose the highlight of my early years in journalism. Cub reporters on weekly newspapers
in my day were ambulance-chasers and hopefully still are. They cribbed, from village notice-boards, breathless intimations of bring-and-buy sales and the names of the soon-to-be-married. If your shorthand was up to it you might be trusted with the district court’s litany of scuffles and kerfuffles which had “disturbed the lieges”. So, yes: most memorable day? The opening of that tyre and exhaust centre in Restalrig, Edinburgh – no question about it.


Neil McCann firmly in the frame for Hearts

As she continues what appears to be an admirably meticulous and far-reaching recruitment process for Craig Levein’s successor as Hearts manager, Ann Budge may have noted some eye-catching endorsements of one of the candidates.

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Former 'Rangers chairman Sir David Murray. Picture: SNS

Andrew Smith: Not so easy to rewrite history of Rangers’ downfall

A report in The Times newspaper yesterday claimed that bungled calculations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs were responsible for Rangers’ slide into liquidation in 2012. The report was novel in one respect – the arresting conclusion at which it arrived would appear, in itself, to depend on an unfortunate helping of bungled interpretation.

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Paul Heckingbottom and Neil Lennon, now both ex-Hibs managers.

Aidan Smith: Hibs fans once happy to wave Neil Lennon off would take him back in a heartbeat

The other morning Glasgow woke up in a state of delirium. Celtic triumphed stupendously in Europe and then a few hours later Rangers followed suit. In Sauchiehall Street, a member of the Copland Road cognoscenti spotted an aesthete in a hooped shirt. They sprinted towards each other, chest-bumped, fell over, picked themselves up, counted their sovvy rings, hugged passionately – then the Rangers man cradled the face of the Celtic man, stroked his cheek tenderly as he would a babe or a pitbull pup, and sighed: “I love you, you love me, whae’s like us, by the way?” OK, maybe not, but the victories in the Europa League were real, thrilling and deserving of acclaim. Meanwhile at the exact same moment Edinburgh woke up in a state of delirium but a different kind. Not the delirium of ecstasy and rapture but the delirium of dementedness and derangement.

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