GAME OFF. Sadly today’s game has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

In the last few weeks in Scottish football, these two messages have appeared more and more across our game from the Premiership to the Juniors as another long winter takes its toll.

No fan wants to see games off and it’s been argued many times over the years by a variety of people – journalists, football executives and broadcasters – that a move to summer football in Scotland would make the most sense for the game in Scotland and especially the fans.

I understand both views and I’ve tried to assess both arguments – for and against – as honestly as I can.

In favour of summer, it could be argued that such a move would take away the host of bitterly cold December and January games dominated by howling wind and rain. However; this is Scotland and in March and April those bitterly cold days dominated by howling wind and rain may still ruin many a game like we’ve seen recently.

Another argument is that a move to summer football may attract younger fans as they’d be more likely to vacate their Play-stations and Xbox’s for a live game provided they wouldn’t be soaked to the bone as part of the experience. Again, this argument has some degree of sense but it could be countered by more sensible ticket pricing for parents with children to encourage a younger generation of fan to experience Scottish football without the need for a change of schedule.

Those against summer football have argued that it would belittle our game to be playing at the same time as major tournaments like the European championships and the World Cup. This argument would present issues for sides with a range of international players but it could be argued that this issue already exists when Scottish teams play early European qualifiers and that it wouldn’t cause the chaos many have forecast in the past.

Another argument against summer football is tradition. In Scotland (and the UK in general) the Christmas football calendar is legendary with Boxing Day and the festive period traditionally being a feast for football. I must say as a fan I love nothing more than finishing work for Christmas and being able to feast on a variety of football from derby matches to lower league games with games aplenty.

It is this argument that I think many fans would resonate with as the tradition of our football calendar has long been engrained and any change to it after all of these years would be a monumental change for many and arguably a change too many.

To conclude, the notion of summer football never seems to gather much momentum here in Scotland and even though this winter has been particularly grim and robbed us of many a game so far, I doubt it’ll gather much momentum this time either – whether that is sensible or not – as we are creatures of habit when it comes to football.

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Greenock Morton 4 – 4 Alloa

To quote the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson: Football. Bloody hell.

Today’s game at Cappielow wasn’t so much a game of two halves but a game of ever-changing moments: a Yo-Yo encounter for me.

Morton started the game very well and were in control from the offset. This was shown with them immediately having a chance through centre half Sean McGinty in the first few minutes from one of Lewis Strapp’s long throws. This continued for the first 20 minutes as Aiden Nesbitt continually harangued Alloa full back Liam Dick and had the beating of him every time they came up against each other in a one vs one.

From an Alloa perspective those first 20 minutes were terribly sloppy and they were penned in their own half by Morton who deservedly took the lead from a Kyle Jacobs opener. His 3rd header of the season converted from an Aidan Nesbitt corner on 15 minutes.

From there, I fully expected Morton to kick on but that wasn’t to be the case. Alloa equalised through the run of play with a goal from former Morton striker Alan Trouten after sloppy Morton defending.

That goal sparked Alloa and Peter Grant into life – Grant continually barked instructions at his side and encouraged them okay football on the ground and they responded with some very impressive football over a 15 minute spell that saw them take the lead through a Kevin Cawley wonder strike from 25 yards. The game and the first half by 35 minutes had swung to Alloa. Or so it had seemed…

Amazingly, in a bonkers first half Morton were to respond by scoring a delightful goal that saw Aiden Nesbitt beat Liam Dick with some nice trickery before passing the ball down the right channel to Reghan Tumilty who whipped a lovely cross into the path of Luca Coalville who headed home from inside the box to equalise.

Tumilty wasn’t done there either. Just 4 minutes later he rifled in a “thunderblaster” of a volley to quote the Greenock Morton Twitter feed. A thunder-blaster it was as well! Very impressive from Tumilty. Now by 40 minutes, it was 3-2 Morton and the momentum of the game had swung from one side to the other again.

Copyright of @GBRphotos

The swing in momentum towards Morton was further solidified just over a minute later when Bob McHugh deftly finished from an impressive Nicky Cadden cross.

Half time 4-2 Morton and game over surely?

That’s what I thought and most of the fans in the stadium – both home and away – must have thought ahead of the second half.

However in this crazy game anything is possible as the second half showed. Morton started well and had a few clear cut chances that would surely have out the game well beyond Alloa’s reach through Bob McHugh (header off the bar from a Nicky Cadden cross) and Kalvin Orsi (shooting narrowly wide after an impressive mazy run).

Goals – and missed opportunities- change games as we all know and that was evidenced today in a hectic last 10 minutes. After failing to put the game out of Alloa’s reach, Morton duly paid the price with yet more chaotic defending. Firstly, the impressive Tumilty let a ball bounce over his head on the left touchline that helped Kevin O’Hara get in behind the Morton defence to slot the ball home under Danny Rodgers to make it 4-3.

Tension in the stands at Cappielow was evident after that goal as Morton fans have read the script too many times over the years when it comes to Morton throwing away leads in games that they don’t deserve to lose.

That ever familiar script was written in the end for Morton and their fans by Alloa centre half Robbie Deas who scored a very impressive looping header to make the game 4-4 in the 92nd minute.

Even at 4-4 the game was far from over and both sides could have won it at the death with Liam Buchanan missing a clear cut chance for Alloa and Sean McGinty heading wide with the last hit of the ball for Morton.

Full time. Morton 4 – 4 Alloa. The Yo-Yo had stopped bouncing and a point a piece was to be the final result on a day at Cappielow when all four seasons of our climate were showcased over the course of 90 pulsating minutes.

For Morton and David Hopkin, complacent defending cost them dear in a game that simply put they should have won – no ifs, no buts no maybes. On the other hand, for Alloa and Peter Grant, a point bourne out of resilience, a commitment to playing football their way and a never say die attitude will please their fans immensely as they battle to stay up this season.

Ultimately, both sets of fans leave Cappielow today feeling that today should have been there day and I left with that same quote from Sir Alex replaying itself in my head: FOOTBALL. BLOODY HELL.

For me this was our game in Scotland at its best. Goals, passion, never say die attitude and as always in Scotland utterly mental weather. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reaction from both managers HERE.

David Hopkin – Post match reaction

David Hopkin’s post match thoughts here

Peter Grant – Post Match reaction

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I am a self confessed football fanatic and the reason I started Football CFB is because I watch a silly amount of football each week and consume a crazy amount of football content each week online, by reading books and watching documentaries.

In this article, I have picked out my top 10 footballing reads from over the last year or two.

1. Done Deal by Daniel Geey

If you are looking for an insightful, enlightening insight into the inner workings of Modern football then this is the book for you.

Whether it is a manager being sacked, the signing of a new star player, television rights negotiations, player misconduct or multi-million-pound club takeovers, lawyers remain at the heart of all football business dealings. Written by leading Premier League lawyer Daniel Geey, who has dealt with all these incidents first hand, this highly accessible book explores the issues – from pitch to boardroom – that shape the modern game and how these impact leagues, clubs, players and fans.

Featuring insider anecdotes and expert contributions, Done Deal provides football fans with a fresh and authoritative perspective on all off-field football matters. One of my favourite reads in recent years.

2. The Manager by Mike Carson

If you are a fan who loves the insight of top coaches from the footballing world talking about how they’ve achieved and sustained success as well as battled back from failures then this is the book for you.

The Manager features 30 of the biggest names in football management who reveal what it takes to success in a management role. In The Manager they explain their methods, offer lessons they’ve learned along the way, and describe the decisions they make and the leadership they provide.

Managers featured in the book are: Roy Hodgson, Carlo Ancelotti, Arsène Wenger, Sam Allardyce, Roberto Mancini, José Mourinho, Brendan Rodgers, Harry Redknapp, Sir Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith, Mick McCarthy, Gerard Houllier, Tony Pulis, Martin O’Neill, Neil Warnock, Howard Wilkinson, Kevin Keegan, Dario Gradi, Andre Villas-Boas, David Moyes, Alex McLeish, Hope Powell, Martin Jol, Glenn Hoddle, Chris Hughton, David Platt, Paul Ince, and George Graham. An excellent read and incredible insight.

3. Sir Matt Busby: The Definitive Biography by Patrick Barclay

Sir Matt Busby is one of the icons of world football. He took Manchester United to unprecedented glory before seeing the club through their most painful tragedy and helped create the global entity that Manchester United is today.

A player with Manchester City and Liverpool before the Second World War, Busby remained at the forefront of football through four decades and made an extraordinary contribution to the game in terms of both style and substance. In this definitive biography, Patrick Barclay looks back at Busby’s phenomenal life and career, including the rise of the Busby Babes in the 1950s, the Munich disaster that claimed 23 lives and the Wembley victory ten years on that made United the first English team to win the European Cup. Denis Law, Pat Crerand and such other members of that great side as Alex Stepney, David Sadler and John Aston are among the host of voices testifying to the qualities that set Sir Matt apart.

This is the story of one of the greatest figures in football history, and of the making of a legacy that will last for ever from one of the best footballing writers in the game Patrick Barclay.

4. Barca – The Making of the Greatest Team in the world by Graham Hunter

If you love Spanish football then Graham Hunter’s books are the ones for you. For me this is his all time best work.

In my view this book is simply one of the best books about football you can read if you love the beautiful game and are in awe of the level that the Pep Guardiola Barcelona team operated at. It is far more than just a superficial, breathless account about a remarkable set of players and an equally remarkable coach, it is an in-depth and stunningly insightful book that reveals a deeper story that includes the club’s philosophy and values, its education of young players and its executive leadership. It is a story that can only be told by someone with exclusive access to key personalities in the club over an extended time and Graham is that man.

5. Saturday Bloody Saturday by Alastair Campbell and Paul Fletcher

I’ll be very honest – I am not a great reader of novels as I am more of a factual reader however this book CHANGED everything for me.

The book focuses around football manager Charlie Gordon who is struggling with one defeat after another at the club he loves. Only a decent Cup run is keeping him in work, but tensions are running close to the surface ahead of the next round: Chelsea away.

Footballers fall into two categories: artists or assassins. Soon Charlie is going to find out which players can deliver – and just how much pressure they can all stand.

Meanwhile, as the country prepares for a general election, one of the most dangerous political assassinations in the IRA’s history is being planned in London. An active service unit await the critical signal to proceed…

Both sides will converge on the capital for a result that will shake everyone’s lives, with consequences far beyond football.

Trust me when I say this, it is a MUST READ.

6. How Not to be a Professional Footballer by Paul Merson

Paul Merson has his critics but what an amazing footballer he was and what a great story teller he is. This book is arguably the most honest account of the ups and downs that a career as a high profile footballer in the limelight brings.

Merson was a prodigiously talented footballer in the 80s and 90s, gracing the upper echelons of the game – and the tabloid front pages – with his breathtakingly skills and larger-than-life off-field persona.

His much-publicised battles with gambling, drug and alcohol addiction are behind him now, and football fans continue to be drawn to his sharp footballing brain and playful antics on SkySports cult results show Soccer Saturday.

The book delights and entertains with a treasure chest of terrific anecdotes from a man who has never lost his love of football and his inimitable joie de vivre through a 25-year association with the Beautiful Game.

The DO NOTs include:
DO NOT adopt ‘Champagne’ Charlie Nicholas as your mentor
DO NOT share a house with Gazza
DO NOT regularly place £30,000 bets at the bookie’s
DO NOT get so drunk that you can’t remember the 90 minutes of football you just played in
DO NOT manage Walsall (at any cost)

How Not to be a Professional Footballer is a hugely entertaining, moving and laugh-out-loud funny story that I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.

7. Be Careful What You Wish For – Simon Jordon

There is no denying Simon Jordan splits opinion among football fans but I admire his no nonsense approach to radio broadcasting and writing.

Like him or not, you can’t dispute that he has a unique story.

Multimillionaire at 32. Youngest Premier League football club owner at 36. His club and a fortune lost at 42.

His book focuses on the premise of owning your childhood club – that’s the dream, isn’t it? Simon Jordan made his fortune building a mobile phone company from scratch. When he sold it for £75 million, he bought Crystal Palace FC, the club he’d supported as a boy, and led them into the Premier League.

Ten years later Palace was in administration and Jordan had lost nigh on everything. Be Careful What You Wish For lifts the lid on being the owner of a football club and how the game really works. Hopes and dreams sit alongside greed, self-interest, dodgy transfers, boardroom fights and dressing room dressing downs. Throughout no one is spared, least of all Jordan himself.

8. 5 League Titles and a Packet of Crisps – By Stevie Nicol (And Mark Donaldson)

Stevie Nicol. A boy from Troon made good. 5 league titles and a European Cup isn’t bad is it?

He became a mainstay in the record-breaking Liverpool sides that steamrollered their way to trophy after trophy. From the teams of Paisley and Fagan to Dalglish, he played dream football with the likes of Rush, Barnes, Beardsley, Aldridge, Whelan and McMahon. He topped it off with a Player of the Year award and represented his country in a World Cup.

It was laughter and glory all the way. Then he hit a brutal turning point in his life. It was hard to take. He drank too much. Kenny left. Souness arrived. He wore the captain’s armband and won an FA Cup… but it felt like the end.

Stevie Nicol: 5 League Titles and a Packet of Crisps is the entertaining autobiography of a man who took the good, bad and ugly of his football life on the chin, shrugged it off and ended up having the last laugh.

9. Pep Guardiola – Another Way of Winning by Guillem Balague

Any book with the foreword written by Sir Alex Ferguson is a must listen as is any book on the genius that is Pep Guardiola. The best coach in the modern era in my opinion (definitely the best post Ferguson).

Pep’ Guardiola has transformed Barcelona into arguably the greatest club side of all time, and this entertainingly perceptive biography explains how.

Guardiola spent the majority of his playing days with Barca and was an integral part of Johan Cruyff’s European Cup-winning ‘dream team’. But it was on retiring from playing that he really made his mark on the club. After travelling the world, he became a coach of the Barcelona reserve team, and a year later, in 2008, he was appointed the first-team manager. The club went on to win an unprecedented 13 of the 16 competitions they entered under his leadership, and he became the youngest ever manager to win the Champions League. Then, at the end of the 2012 season, after having been awarded the FIFA WORLD COACH OF THE YEAR, he resigned following four years of unprecedented achievement. He immediately became the most sought-after free-agent in football, and his next move was keenly anticipated.

Some call Guardiola’s influence on Barca revolution, others evolution. Whatever the answer, the impact he has had goes beyond football. He represents a style, a club, a country and even old-fashioned values, at a time when they seem so scarce. Guillem Balagué’s insightful book reveals how Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona played the ‘Beautiful Game’ – and won.

10. Pep’s City – The Making of a Superteam by Pol Ballús and Lu Martin

As I said Pep Guardiola for me is the best coach in the modern era.

So far, in just over three seasons in England, Pep Guardiola has built something the Premier League has never seen before: a team that dominates games like no other, scoring goals and collecting points and trophies at record-breaking pace.

Throughout that journey, the Spanish journalists Lu Martín and Pol Ballús have been embedded with the club, reporting this inside account of how a phenomenal team was constructed: from the recruitment of Guardiola himself, to the backroom staff that provide the platform for his team and the superstar players that have set a new standard in British football.

No other sportswriter has had this kind of access to Guardiola and his team during their three seasons in Manchester. The result is exclusive, in-depth interviews and profiles of every key figure at City, and the inside stories on the decisions that have shaped the team, including the defensive transformation that saw Guardiola change his goalkeeper and full-backs ahead of his record-breaking 100-point season of 2017-18; the dinner date with Sergio Agüero that changed the course of the City striker’s career; and close-ups on every big game in the thrilling finale to the 2018-19 title race.

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The football CFB logo designed by Sean Davenport and @SDDesign2019

I have always been incredibly passionate about football across all levels in Scotland, England and Europe. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I never shut up about football.

I always aspired to be a sports journalist and I had the grades at school to go for my dream but I was warned against it by many who said ‘if you don’t know anyone in the industry, don’t waste your time.’

I listened to that advice and ditched my dream and thought I’d never ever come back to it. I set off on a different path as a teacher – a job that brings me immense happiness and joy. However, football has always been my main passion and the dream for me since I was a child.

Two men within the game and broadcasting in particular helped inspired me to finally at long last give football broadcasting and writing a go. Those men are sports lawyer Daniel Geey and Manchester United fanatic and BTP media host Phil Brown. Both men took the time to reply to an email I sent them when going through a tough time last year thanking them for producing work that kept me going through the dark days and incredibly since then both men have become close friends of mine who I speak with regularly. If it wasn’t for them and the support of my close friends and family, Football CFB would never have existed.

Daniel (top) and Phil (bottom) with Romelu Lukaku

Football CFB ( @Football_CFB on twitter ) is 5 weeks old & has over 6k listens. Can’t thank my guests enough for their help. So far on the podcast I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Christian Nade, Kerr Waddell, Darren Young, Frazer Wright, Derek Rae, Rory Hamilton, Roger Mitchell, Andy McLaren, Robbie Crawford, Brian Graham, David Cox, Brian Wake David Hopkin, David McKinnon and I have many others lined up over the next few weeks and months.

I also have to thank everyone at Greenock Morton and in particular Dave McKinnon, David Hopkin, Anton McElhone, David Timmins, Brendan McEleny, Ewan Boyle & Gerry McDade for their help & support as I’ve worked alongside the club to produce the Morton weekly podcast series. Big news on the Morton weekly SOON.

To have sponsors of the podcast so far in @StadiumPrint and @OSFshop – has been beyond my wildest expectations and I thank them for their support too.

And last but not least to the clubs who have allowed me access to their grounds as part of the press list to cover a game – Hamilton Accies, Greenock Morton, St Mirren and Clydebank.

I hope that this is just the start for Football CFB and that I can one day achieve my dream of working within football but I felt that now was the time to thank everyone for their support do far at the start of my journey.

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Clydebank Football Club have a rich history in Scottish football. Over the years they’ve had Scottish football icons like Davie Cooper and Terry Butcher on their books as well as many cult hero’s of the Scottish game such as Owen Coyle, Chick Charnley, Bobby Williamson among many others.

They also spent three years in the top flight of Scottish football all and were the first club to play in all three Scottish League divisions after the reconstruction of the league in the year of ‘75. The club also reached a Scottish cup semi final in 1990 such was their pedigree at the time.

The club were last in the top league in Scotland in the year 1987 and since then they’ve had arguably more downs than ups following multiple ground sharing arrangements and financial decline which ultimately led to them leaving the professional game in Scotland in 2002 to be replaced by Airdrie.

Since then Bankies fans have had to face up to supporting their club in the junior reaches of the Scottish game but that hasn’t diminished their passion for the club. They have a loyal following who have supported the side passionately since their new inception in the junior game and we have now reached a point where a return to the senior ranks of Scottish football for clubs like Clydebank (and many other junior sides in Scotland I must add) is becoming closer to being a realistic possibly.

How you may ask? Because of the proposal for more Junior clubs in the west of Scotland to follow in the footsteps of the Highland, Lowland and East of Scotland leagues in joining the SFA pyramid as early as next season as part of a newly created West of Scotland League.

This is exciting news particularly for Bankies fans and the club alike as in March 2018, they made it clear through the United Clydebank Supporters Trust that they had voted overwhelmingly to pursue a route back into the Scottish FA pyramid.

That statement is getting ever closer to becoming a reality for the Bankies and many other junior clubs alike the dream of joining the pyramid and setting their sights on the senior game can’t come quick enough.

Added competition in Scottish football is healthy and the introduction of the pyramid system has been long overdue. Hopefully the pyramid shake up can come into fruition for the start of next season so that teams like Clydebank can dare to dream of the glory days coming back.

I attended their match against Benburb yesterday and I have to say that I was very impressed by Gordon Moffat’s team and in particular the class of Aaron Miller who scored a brace to put Benburb to the sword. Credit to all the fans who attended the game and both sides for playing the game to the best of their abilities as the conditions were absolutely awful. Hopefully the next time I visit Holm Park, the sun will be shining and by then the Bankies hopes of returning to the professional set up will be even closer to reality.

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Some say he’s too ‘old school’. Some say he is just another ‘long ball manager’. Some say that is just ‘an angry man’.

However, my view is that Dick Campbell has to be the most underrated manager in Scottish football bar none. Yes at times he can be angry, yes at times he’s maybe played direct football in the past and yes he is old school – whatever that means anyway.

But most importantly, he has – at the time of writing – managed 7 clubs within Scottish football over 20 seasons and has an average win rate of 41% with 6 promotions from the lower leagues to his name so far. That win rate alone is something that most managers especially in lower league football would snap your hand off for.

Without doubt, Campbell is a very successful manager at the levels he’s worked in so far.

But for me for whatever reason he hasn’t received the credit he deserves. Although, that tide is quickly changing.

Campbell took over Arbroath in 2016 and he took over a club who had played in League Two of Scottish football far more recently than Championship football in Scotland. Arbroath aren’t a club you would call ‘a Championship club’ by nature but boy do they deserve to be a Championship club now.

In 2019/20, Campbell assembled a team that not only played attractive football but won the League 1 title by 7 points. A feat even more impressive when you consider that one of the clubs main title rivals was full time Raith Rovers who would be considered ‘a championship team’ by nature. The manner of the success raised eyebrows in a positive way as Campbell’s side led League 1 from the off and were relentless in their quest for Championship football.

After celebrating the impressive league win, Campbell appeared on Off The Ball with Tam Cowan and Stuart Cosgrove. He was asked the question – ‘How tough will the championship be for a part time team and is staying up the priority?’

As quick as a flash without needing even a moment to think, Dick Campbell responded passionately with the phrase ‘I’m tell you know we won’t be going to the championship just to make up the numbers.’ Some may have laughed at that statement and thought no chance but Campbell was serious and Arbroath have went from strength to strength in the Championship as he was adamant they would.

This season the club have well and truly held their own impressing fans of all clubs with their never say die attitude and big scalps in the division so far including beating big spending Dundee United away at Tannadice as well as defeating Inverness Caledonian Thistle home and away.

Arbroath and Campbell, now sit 4th in the Championship in the Premiership promotion play offs and only a fool would laugh at the possibility of Campbell keeping his team there.

For as Dick Campbell passionately said on Off The Ball ‘we won’t be going to the championship just to make up the numbers.’ He’s been proven correct on that front and just maybe come what May he’ll be saying the same again only this time about the Premiership.

Why shouldn’t Campbell and Arbroath dare to dream? Stranger things have happened before in football…

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