The Fiver’s Scottish cousin, Shortbread McFiver, isn’t answering calls at the moment, which is very out of character for him. We called him a lucky bampot, a spawny bawbag and a jammy wee lavvy heid, but we didn’t hear a peep back from the uncommunicative roaster. When Shortbread McFiver eschews a bout of sweary fitba banter, it’s time to worry.
We have three working theories: (a) Shortbread has lost his voice after spending 85 minutes bawling at Steve Clarke on Tuesday night, when Scotland forgot everything that had made them so dazzling against Israel and instead seemed intent on turning the Faroe Islands into the Nordic Brazil; or (b) Shortbread has been struck dumb by Lyndon Dykes, the Australia-born Scot, known as Crocodile Dumfries, who showed his unfamiliarity with recent Scottish football tradition by scrambling in a late winner against the Faroes.
Suddenly, Scotland are flying to the metaphorical moon, on the verge of reaching the World Cup for the first time since Frank Sinatra played at Ibrox. It seems they’re not doing it their way at all. Hurrah! “He made a good choice, didn’t he, coming to play for us,” tooted Clarke, after Dykes got him out of a hole. “I’m pleased with Lyndon. I know what I get from him, what he brings to the team. Sometimes he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but this run and the goals and important points he’s winning us is just part of the whole set-up. Patience and belief were key. This game was nervous, it was about showing a different side to the team.”
Absolutely nothing could go wrong now. Because all Scotland need to do to be sure of finishing second in their group and clinching a playoff berth is win away next month to Moldova. And that country’s last 16 competitive results look like something written down by a giddy Tin-swiller trying to count his chickens with a sketchy knowledge of Roman numerals: LDLLLLLDLLLLLLLL. Which, coincidentally, is (c).
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He was firing them off like a rocket. We went over and hugged our boys. That’s what was needed. Their hearts were bleeding. It has no place in high school athletics” – Heather Bartelmay, whose son was Kingsley’s goalkeeper in a 17-0 USA! USA!! USA!!! high school shellacking by Benzie Central, gets fresh and funky about sporting spirit after striker Kevin Hubbell helped himself to 16 goals.
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“Can I be so bold as to make a suggestion to the incredibly brave players of Denmark, Germany, Norway, Netherlands etc? If you truly opposed the HRWC Finals being held in Qatar then instead of wearing T-shirts with slogans or stating they were happy for their respective FAs to deal with the ‘political struggles off the field’, why don’t they unify and advise that they will boycott the event unless it’s moved. If fans can do it, so can they …” – Flavio L’Abbate.
“What chance a wildcard entry into the HRWC for the Republic of Newcastle?” – Kristian Karamfiles.
“Re: Ben Fisher’s piece (yesterday’s Still Want More?). In 1972 Brighton’s youth team played a league game against Eastbourne Town reserves for whom I was then playing. My main recollections are that the much older, bigger (perhaps slightly overweight?) centre-forward on the day ran the game from start to finish getting the young lads around him to do all the running while he encouraged and coached while spraying the ball around effortlessly. His name: Fred Pickering (ex -Blackburn, Everton and England). Or Fiery Fred as we dubbed him in awe. I think we lost 5-1. Pickering got maybe two of them but he turned our defence inside out so often it could have been many more I recall. Total class. So Brighton perhaps started the trend a lot earlier than Mr Fisher’s piece suggests” – David Pugh.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The Human Rights World Cup qualifier between England and Hungary was a less than edifying spectacle on and off the pitch. Off it, Hungary fans fought with police and booed the taking of the knee again. On it, England struggled to create in a 1-1 draw after which Gareth Southgate found himself having to defend Harry Kane again. “I don’t think singling out players is fair because we’re all responsible for that,” he sighed.
Elsewhere, Norn Iron’s HRWC hopes are over after a 1-2 defeat in Bulgaria, Denmark have qualified and Cristiano Ronaldo got a hat-trick in Portugal’s leisurely romp against Luxembourg and there was more bother in the crowd when Albania played Poland.
Amnesty has called for a meeting with Premier League chief suit Richard Masters over the controversial Saudi takeover of Newcastle.
Manchester United’s Anthony Elanga was allegedly subjected to racist abuse while on duty with Sweden U21s.
England have recalled Hannah Hampton, Katie Zelem and Alessia Russo to their squad for the World Cup 2023 qualifiers against Norn Iron and Latvia.
Tottenham’s supporters trust has gone public with a list of questions it wants answered by the club’s board after its request for a meeting was turned down last week. “As key stakeholders in the club, it is our view that supporters have every right to ask these questions, to expect a level of transparency and to hold directors accountable for their decision making,” roared a statement.
And Cuddly Claudio doesn’t give a flying one about the turnover of managers at Vicarage Road. “In Italy it is normal,” he tooted. “I just have to do my best for Watford.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Tomasz Mortimer explains how Hungary’s ultras have become impossible to control, while Barney Ronay reflects on another dark and bruising night at Wembley.
Olivier Giroud gets his chat on with Paul Doyle about faith, the friend who told him to give Everton a swerve, his highs and lows with France and his relationship with those other strikers.
James Nalton on the sparky young trio who have taken Canada close to their first World Cup finals since 1986.
Ben McAleer charts the rise of Monaco and France’s Aurélien Tchouaméni.
And if the Knowledge doesn’t win a Pulitzer for this exposé on lorry-driving footballers then The Fiver might just give up.
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