Some things just date you. They mark you out as belonging to a generation that is past its prime.
No point in dwelling on it too much I suppose.For example I know that I am approaching the elderly years of life because of what I can remember.
I remember good Scottish football players.
That is Scottish football players who were good at, well, football.
See I told you I was old!
The gene pool that produced, Baxter, Bremner, Johnstone and Law now gives us Kirk Broadfoot and Scott Brown.
There is still the graft, but none of the guile.
Kenny Dalglish ,the last world class player from Scotland, has recently turned sixty.
Yet Glasgow was once an open air factory of nippy inside forwards, hard man half backs and wonderful wingers.
Even those football designations hark back to an earlier age.
Told you I was old…
Now instead of fitba players the sink estates of greater Glasgow produce clinically obese X-box experts.
Scotland is not unique in any of this as the same social malaise could be found in any of the great cities of England.
However in Scotland the relatively impoverished clubs cannot import the best foreign talent in the English Premiership they can.
Indeed some of the mighty teams of England could often field a side with hardly a single native born player.
A Scottish equivalent of Arsenal is financially unthinkable.
England’s problems apropos their soccer natural resources can be seen whenever the national team take to the field with predictably calamitous consequences. Only the English media seem oblivious to the reality.
During the last world cup their one nil victory over mighty Slovenia was cheered to the rafters in Ingerlund is an indicator of their own soccer poverty.
The Spanish look on in polite astonishment at a country that would consider Peter Crouch to be an international class footballer.
England has, to some extent, benefitted from large scale Afro Caribbean immigration in the 1950s.
Scotland doesn’t have that gene pool to draw on hence there in no Scottish equivalent of Rio Ferdinand or Ian Wright.
There was a time when that didn’t matter.
As a nine year old I watched eleven players from the West of Scotland take on the champions of Italy and batter them into exhausted, bewildered submission with inventive fluid football.
Celtic’s triumph on May 25th 1967 in Lisbon was, as Inter’s Argentinian Coach Helenio Herrera remarked, “a victory for sport”.
The sixties was a decade when Scotland brimmed with talent in almost every area of the field.
Perhaps Scotland’s swinging decade should be viewed in the same way as the 1950s for the “Mighty Magyars”.
Since Puskas how many world class strikers has Hungary produced?
Now so bereft of native talent and running on a shoe string budget Scotland’s “Big Two” are easily bested by the likes of Maribor and Sion.
Can it get any worse?
Of course it can.
I actually feel for members of my trade who are tasked with “talking up” professional soccer in Scotland.
That’s quite a challenge for any group of journalists.
Rangers have still to learn of the verdict for their tax efficiency strategies designed to give them a financial edge over rivals Celtic a decade ago.
During that period both clubs borrowed unsustainable amount s of money to import quality foreign players.
One thing is sure that neither side of Glasgow’s soccer feud can spend their way out of the mediocrity into which they have both slid into.
The answer to this malaise lies in the housing estates where dangerously rotund boys sit motionless for hours and fixate on getting to the Champion’s League final on FIFA11 at the most difficult setting instead of experiencing the thrill of putting the ball past the keeper down the road at the park.
How do we get wee Jimmy away from that screen?
Well answer that question and the Caledonian football factory might start to produce the goods once more, but maybe that ship has sailed for good and that possibility really does make me feel very old.