Yesterday: not good for the mental health.

Last updated : 04 January 2010 By The Govanhill Gub

Time was, for a fleeting spell in the 90s, the Ne’erday match at the cesspit was a splendid affair. The first footings of 1990, 1992 and 1994 were a joy to behold, with Rangers, especially in 90 and 94, taking the game warmly by the throat in the first half.

Games like these and say, April Fool’s Day 1989, and of course the league clincher a decade later have drearily been the exception to the rule. Now I might have missed some others but the OF games at Yahooville seem to follow a particular fashion: we defend too deep, our first touch is shocking and our passing even worse. The outcome more often than not, is that we find ourselves under the cosh before the game is but twenty minutes old. More often than not, the die has then been cast.

Of course those who followed at CP in the Laudrup and Gazza era, will forever tell you these were Walter’s finest hours at Planet Timbo. You know the old 'let the yahoos come at you and then break them with pace and no little skill' routine.

I disagreed with those tactics back then even with three genuine world class talents in our side and a commanding centre half in Richard Gough. My opinion is that we should have always been dominating the fixture back in the day given our superior skills in every department. I have even less time for this set up given the comparative poverty of talent these days.

Of course, our club came into this fixture reeling from a double whammy in the shape, firstly, of Boughera fecking off to Algeria. This must be a salutary warning to our club in future. Do not buy players from countries who will use FIFA to enforce their rules in the middle of our own domestic season.

There was also the farce that was the Miller sending off. If Collum and the SFA’s cobbled together lies to make sure that he missed the OF game isn’t a watershed for our club in our dealings with the game’s authorities, then we deserve every shafting we get.

But I digress; the warm up to the match came after New Years Day dinner at my parents’ house, when my old man, my brother and yours truly were discussing just how hard the blow of missing Boogie and Miller would be, given our recent, sparkling run of domestic form.

We all felt that Boughera was going to be a hard one to contend with as he is the one defender with the pace, and more importantly, physical presence to confront whatever Timbo was going to throw our way. We also acknowledged how much Miller’s pace would be missed.

Oh, and don’t think for a moment I’m going soft on Kenny Miller. The thing is he is a prime example of how we view Walter’s signings second time around. Miller, like Thomson, like McCulloch, like Broadfoot, like Whittaker, like Mendes, like Davis (to a lesser extent) and like Lafferty can be very poor for an extensive run of games, then they hit a wee purple patch of spell and (all of a sudden) this is proof positive that Walter’s forays into the transfer market have to be trusted implicitly.

Anyway, my brother, my cousin, a couple of mates and myself had made arrangements to meet up in a certain hostelry on Paisley Rd West to watch the game. Come yesterday and I couldn’t be bothered wandering out into the bleak mid-winter.

Not having Sky these days this meant trying to get it on either the internet or listen to the bams on Radio. I plumped for Radio Scotland and the commentators were Murdo McLeod, the Dungster and Billy Dodds. So to my jaundiced peepers, that made it a jump the dyke, a muppet (who I wished would jump a dyke, a 200 foot tall one at that) and an ex Ranger, who panders to west of Scotland yahooery at every turn. Not good for my karma, let me tell you.

Mind you, we didn’t have long to wait for Rangers to fall into their usual ploy at the cesspit, which is surrender territory totally. It is one thing watching it, another thing entirely going by the words of people you have no time for. Then there was a big moment of controversy when the yahoos had a goal disallowed. The panel agreed it should have stood. You will pay for this Steven Conroy, I am warning you now.

Next up we were then told that Lafferty had a shocking tackle on Hinkel, which could have been a red card. When it is Chic Young telling you this, the cynic in me tends to disbelieve it.

We got to half time and by this time I had a stream whereby I could watch the second half. Anyway, I phoned my bruv at half time and asked about the two ‘controversial’ moments. He agreed with the Dungster on the first one, but was more cagey about the Lafferty incident.

I din’t see the incidents - still haven’t in fact - but am aware of the aftermath in the press regards that tackle (okay I looked over the shoulder of a guy on the bus reading the rhebel) .

Here’s how I see it; A few years ago, McManus could have been red carded for two yellow card offences in the first seven minutes of an OF clash at CP. He wasn’t booked for either.

In the two cesspit back-to-backs in April/May 2008 both Robson and Vinegar of Castlemilk should have been red carded, (Vinegar, maybe even in both games) and they weren’t, but I sure as hell don’t remember such stern criticism of their behaviour. Get over it Timbo. Of course maybe the ref was trying to make amends for his ludicrous sending off of Mendes at Rugby Park earlier in the season.

As for the yahoos’ disallowed goal? Well legitimate goals by Trevor Steven and Davie Robertson certainly spring to mind as well as a Rodders goal at the cesspit in August 2000 in recent times. Again, I do not recall the press throwing much of a strop on our behalf regards those occasions. Certainly, Robertson’s disallowed effort is as diabolical a decision as you are likely to see.

Anyway, depending on how you look at it, my luck was in as I was able to watch the second half via one of those internet streams. Watching what unfolded in front of my eyes I quickly came to the conclusion my luck was out.

Quite frankly, we were an utter shambles and absolute disgrace in every area of the pitch. Half hearted in the tackle, misplaced passes, too slow in going for the ball, no hunger and when we did on the odd occasion threaten, and that was rarer than a TV programme that doesn’t feature Davina McCall, the final ball was an embarrassment.

I’m sitting there watching the clock count down but also thinking if they get a goal, their tails will be up and there’s no way we can then go on to launch a fightback and gain an initiative we never had at any time in the match. The fat Aussie comes on, scores, and the rest as we say is history. Lee McCulloch steps up to the plate and blaam, a Happy New Year to bears everywhere. After that it was a case of watching the match through fingers that are glued to your eyes, fearful of what might happen.

So in the afterglow, what have we to make of yesterday’s game, but also our performance? Well, the thing is there will always be occasions when one team completely controls a match and the other side score way, way, way against the run of play.

Older bears for instance will tell you of two finals in the ba' face era, the League Cup Final of 1966 and the Scottish Cup final of 1971. Both games should have been won and won in a canter by Rangers but missed chances put us to the sword. The bottom line is the history books will show that lot won those two trophies, not Rangers.

That is but two such ‘injustices’ and there will be many, many more that can be cited on both sides of the OF divide.

However, what irks me is that here we have a side that has been playing some stupendous stuff recently. A side who prompted a Rangers fan at Easter Rd last week (caught on youtube) who was two parts Fred Astaire, two parts Gene Kelly and the remaining six parts ecstasy to put on a show that reminded us of the Copland Nutter in his pomp. Yet they had us squirming all through yesterday.

What worries me is that here we have a team that can go from 60 to naught because of the loss of just two players, and can lose all shape and control in just ten minutes of actual play. That is what worries me most of all.

Of course the upside of yesterday was the demoralisation of Timbo. He has just watched his team walk all over the top of a weakened Rangers side, go in front and still they couldn’t beat us. And if that isn’t enough of a jolly wheeze, the other good thing is that the yahoos will now HAVE to release funds to a manager in this transfer window, a guy who hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his dealings thus far.

Anyway, that was a hard slog for all of us yesterday. Let us hope we can resume not just a return to winning ways soon, but also a marked upturn in performance.