From Kingston to Glasgow: Mickey Mouse Cups & Mickey Mouse Hacks

by | Apr 9, 2016

This week, Kingstonian won an oddly-named trophy after an odd game on an odd night. And, oddly, though Mark Murphy wasn’t as pleased as some, he was more pleased than he thought he’d be. Meanwhile, the linguistic contortions of an award-winning Scottish journalist’s Rangers coverage get odder still…

CUPS

“I like the Alan Turvey,” said a Ks fan younger than me (as most are these says) in response to my apathy towards the concept. If ever a five-word sentence needed a context, and quick, it was this one. Kingstonian reached the Isthmian League Cup Final recently…or the “Alan Turvey Trophy sponsored by Robert Dyas,” to give the silverware its proper, frankly barmy, title (and provide that much-needed context). And on Wednesday, they won it…FIVE-nil…despite being second-best for about 65 minutes.

Wednesday’s triumph was rather lower-key than their previous four cup wins; the 1999 and 2000 FA Trophy triumphs at Wembley in front of about 20,000 people each, and League Cup and Surrey Senior Cup triumphs in front of about 4,000 people each against current Football League teams (Aldershot and AFC Wimbledon). This victory was against Ryman Division One South play-off contenders Faversham Town. At Carshalton Athletic. On a Champions League Wednesday. In the middle of a busy league programme at a vital stage of tight play-off races in which both finalists were involved. Attendance? 488.

The crowd was an unfair reflection on Faversham, on whom the evening was unfair. Carshalton are among Kingstonian’s nearest Isthmian neighbours (we even played two “home” games there in 1988). If there had been extra-time and penalties, some Faversham fans might have struggled to make it home for breakfast, despite an unusually early, and plain unusual, kick-off.

Isthmian League evening games are set for 7.45 but, annoyingly for many, “7.45” usually translates into about 7.49 after all the preliminary hand-shaking and general faffing around. This final, set for 7.30, kicked off at…7.25. The good pre-match atmosphere had in part come from Kingstonian fans spotting long-absent friends from Ks’ better-supported days and gossiping merrily about the intervening years. So, many fans failed to notice the advanced start until two minutes’ stoppage-time was announced at 8.10 and the half-time whistle duly sounded at 8.12.

The timing hadn’t seemed quite right when I looked nervously at the time at 7.48 and thought the 18 minutes had dragged a bit. That I was counting the minutes so early was an accurate indication of Ks’ on-field struggles. Yet, somehow, we led two-nil at the early interval.

Carshalton play at the “War Memorial Sports Ground,” in memory of Belgium in World War One, to judge by past pitches. Now Carshalton has a “3G” pitch (“or is it 4G…or is that a phone?” asked one confused Ks fan). And Faversham looked like they’d played on it before (although they lost 3-0 in the league there last October). Whereas Ks looked like they thought 3G WAS a phone.

Ks clearly believed it was a good surface for one-touch football. But it was little speedier than a good grass surface. And with Ks’ five-yard passes travelling three-and-a-half yards, Faversham dominated large swathes of first-half possession. They certainly dominated it for the first goal. Defender Ashlee Brown bundling a corner goalwards and a colleague applying the final touch on the line on 12 minutes. Unfortunately for Faversham, it was a Ks corner.

At the right end, Faversham’s shooting boots were set to “night-sky” as a number of goal attempts sailed high towards Sutton. Ks’ 94th-choice centre-back Max Hustwick was not so much off the pace as a lap behind. Faversham did eventually find the net after Hustwick’s dross back-header, only for scorer Dean Grant to be flagged offside. And if you think that doesn’t sound quite right, imagine how Faversham felt. Especially when Ks finally got it right in the final third in the early 44th minute, Aaron Goode and Andre McCollin setting up Dan Bennett to sweep the ball home.

Time-zones were straightened by a 19-minute half-time. And it should have been 3-0 after McCollin was clumsily felled by Matthew Bourne in the penalty box on 58 minutes. But McCollin was clearly still in shock at the weapons-grade stupidity of the challenge when he bulleted his spot-kick a yard wide, with keeper Will Godmon heading in an unconnected direction.

A Faversham goal anytime in the next 20 minutes and extra-time would surely have beckoned. George Monger, with hair long enough for him to be nicknamed “Terry Hurlock” by Ks fans of a certain middle-age, liked a shot more than most in the first half. And these proved valuable sighters as he clipped the crossbar with a 20-yard free-kick, with Ks keeper Rob Tolfrey watching from a distance. Tolfrey was as distant when Grant’s lob went horribly wide before John Scarborough struck the post. However, Ks were by now having their moments too. And on 79 minutes, Faversham FINALLY entered plucky territory via a long-threatened Bennett masterclass.

Bennett can be inconsistent within dribbles down the flanks, let alone matches. But he curled in the clinching, flattering third goal before setting up the terrific, grossly unfair fourth goal five minutes later and the p**s-taking fifth in stoppage-time. Five-nil wasn’t so much harsh on Faversham as an abuse of their human rights. And it was to their credit that neither heads nor discipline dropped. Until Charley Robertson…there’s no other word for this…flounced to the ground under limited off-the-ball pressure from McCollin. The ref booked both players. But the incident soured nothing not already soured by ill-fortune for Faversham…and soured nothing at all for a, very eventually indeed, rampant Kingstonian. “Premier League class” told in the very end. But 2-0 would still have been flattering, let alone five.

On the terraces, meanwhile, Ks fans were semi-tunefully honouring Turvey, who we all knew to be present (yes, he has had the trophy named after him while he is still alive), and Robert Dyas, whereabouts unknown. Pictorial proof emerged afterwards that Turvey spent some of the second half among Ks fans behind the goal. Presumably Ks were three-up before Turvey could reach the knot of Faversham fans by the halfway-line, or he could have been accused of bias. Turvey reached the Trophy presentation, possibly because he wanted to grab “his” silverware before anyone else could get their mucky mitts on it; the time he took to release it to Ks captain Alan Inns suggested a reluctance to present it at all.

Ks received the Trophy as the winners were announced as “Faversh…er…Kingstonian.” But this mistake part-defined the match. Ks scored four goals of a quality Faversham could not replicate. But Ks wouldn’t have been anyone’s guess as five-goal winners until well after nine o’clock. Throughout the evening younger Ks fans showed a delight in advance of the actual achievement (although, to be fair, Ks overcame Premier Division opposition right up to the final). There was nothing wrong whatsoever with tearing up multi-copies of the Daily Express before the game. But to attempt a ticker-tape-style reception as the teams came out onto the pitch was excessive and, on such a windy night, unwise. That the torn-up Leo McKinstry and Nick Ferrari columns blew back in fans’ faces hopefully represented a lesson learned.

Older lags were more concerned with the on-going promotion race (when it was suggested that McCollin’s surprising substitution during the previous league game was “to save him for Wednesday,” my considered response was “f**k Wednesday!”). And we all hope Ks are unable to defend the trophy…from the confines of National League South. I had to admit to myself…and now to all of you…that I enjoyed the evening more than I expected. Still a Mickey Mouse Cup, though.

HACKS

Rangers’ 1-0 win over Dumbarton on Tuesday was, in itself, unremarkable, with, as the BBC website noted, “some (Dumbarton) players having been working at their other jobs earlier today.” But the party line was that, after their triumphant four-season journey, Rangers were “back”…both “where they were in 2012” and “where they belong” and have always “belonged,” despite what the relevant league tables have said.

Fans of other Scottish clubs (and, I repeat, far from exclusively Celtic) have questioned how a club formed in 2012 could be “back” where they have never been. But amid the journalistic kow-towing to Rangers preferred version of events, there has been some truly “special” coverage, and treatment of the English language. If the Daily Record newspaper’s award-winning journalist Keith Jackson has heard of me (unlikely) or cares what I think (unlikelier), he might believe that I have it “in” for him. Well…I do. His claims to have been “all over the Rangers story from day one” dissolve under the merest scrutiny (the “Resolution 12” issue is but one example of this). And this week, his grasp of basic English dissolved under the pressure of telling it like Rangers want it to be.

Jackson is not the only current culprit. A BBC Radio London sports report said “Rangers have won promotion to the Scottish Premiership, four years after they were liquidated.” Now, however old you believe Rangers to be, that is a nonsense. How can anything do ANYthing after being liquidated? But Jackson leads the way. Last September, Jackson tweeted that “Hearts were saved from admin by a successful CVA. Spared from liquidation as a result. It’s really not that difficult to understand.” Except that, Hearts were in admin and saved from liquidation “by a successful CVA.” “Dear God this is tedious,” Jackson tweeted, after the twitterati highlighted his mistake.

Jackson evidently learned nothing from this, or was unable to find a linguistically-acceptable way to avoid the finality of Rangers’ liquidation. In an obsequious Record interview with Rangers vice-chairman Paul Murray this week, Jackson asked if Murray had ever feared Rangers’ “situation had become completely unrecoverable.” Given Rangers’ liquidation “survival,” it is difficult to know how Jackson defined “completely unrecoverable.” But so tangled in the narrative are Jackson and others that they cannot detect demonstrable linguistic nonsense, let alone the general nonsense which passes for football journalism in Scotland…Glasgow, especially.

Does this matter? Is it not “tedious”? Well, when such small linguistic failings, by an award-winning journalist, fundamentally change their reportage then “Dear God” it matters greatly. The April 5th 2012 report to Rangers creditors by administrators Duff & Phelps revealed that then-owner Craig Whyte had told HMRC in June 2011 that Rangers could not “trade in the medium term without…third party funds or shareholder support.” This at the very least approximates to the current financial position at Ibrox, which you would scarcely believe if you relied on Scottish football’s press-pack which consigns such realities to the small-print of annual accounts.

Jackson and others were guilty of similarly misrepresenting Rangers realities before they were placed in, not “saved from,” administration in 2012. In November 2010, Jackson’s name infamously topped some PR-guff about “billionaire” Whyte’s “off-the-radar” wealth, while social media bloggers did the research aspect of Jackson’s job and revealed the truth. And if they can misrepresent “liquidation” as “recoverable” (or, worse, genuinely believe it to be so), then they remain an embarrassment to themselves and their profession.

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