In an entirely predictable fudge, the Scottish Football Association today postponed its decision on which venue will host future Scottish internationals and Scottish Cup finals. Whether Hampden or Murrayfield, we know not what the SFA thinks as it needs more information. Site visits and a long meeting couldn’t break the deadlock. The press and social media have given their opinions, Glasgow City Council has weighed in for Hampden, the SRU have done a lavishly produced video, still the SFA couldn’t make its mind up.
I’ve thought about it and to be honest I don’t have a strong view either way. Where Scotland plays doesn’t bother me much unless there’s a Hibs player in the squad. The only way I would bother was if Hibs were involved in the Scottish Cup, either in the semis or the final. Hampden is closest to where I live. I have walked home from there before, beating supporters’ coaches to the motorway. For my own convenience, it would have to be Hampden. It is where Hibs won the Scottish Cup after 114 years. For sentimental reasons, if it was my call, it would have to be Hampden.
Having said that, Edinburgh is our nation’s capital. Murrayfield is the biggest sports stadium in Scotland and most certainly in Edinburgh. It is impressive, well connected with transport, plus it looks good on the telly. Hibs play in Edinburgh so a big Hibee following would go to a Scottish Cup game there. It doesn’t have the faraway ends that Hampden does, or at least not as bad.
In short, I would be happy either way. Hampden should be modernised. The ends should be brought in. They could charge less for pies. If it remains our National Stadium, it should change. But it won’t. If Murrayfield gets the gig, they should do away with the foie gras pieces. Police Scotland and the relevant clubs will have to work very hard to avoid carnage if the Gruesome Twosome are in town. Personally, it would be interesting to see Murrayfield get it. I don’t think it will happen, though, because of The Rangers and Celtic and the Glasgow-centric media. It will be Hampden. Either way hardly anyone will be happy.
On Saturday I will be off to Livingston and the delights of the Tony Macaroni Arena, Almondvale to the rest of us. The TMac, if you prefer. Livingston beat St. Mirren 2-0 at the weekend and while St. Mirren were by all accounts mince, Livi weren’t wonderful either. The showing against Aberdeen was promising, frustrating at times but the team came through and held their own against a very defensive and aggressive Sheep side. Set up the right way and Hibs can go to the TMac and absolutely destroy Livingston. Ryan Porteous, Sir Dave, Hanlon, Horgan, Mallan, Lewis and possibly even the much-maligned Steven Whittaker should be in the team on Saturday. Porteous particularly deserves his place in his side while Horgan has been excellent since his arrival.
Of course the Match of the Weekend will be at the TMac, not at Celtic Park. Who cares about Stevie G versus Brendan Rodgers? Livingston versus Hibernian is where it’s at. While I’m on the subject of the Gruesome Twosome, I absolutely loved the spectacle of the Green Brigade having a banner describing Dedryck Boyata as a waste of a jersey then said Boyata scoring. Celtic fans need to get a life. Their team is still in Europe. They’ve just won a double treble. They could be watching Livingston or Falkirk every week. Slagging off Boyata in such a public way is disgraceful. I can’t comment on how good a footballer Boyata is, since I genuinely couldn’t pick the guy out of a lineup, but that won’t give the guy any confidence or probably his teammates.
Finally, it has been nice to see the goodwill for Craig Levein from many, many people online, not least Hibs and many Hibees. Mr Levein is hardly my favourite person on the planet but I hope he gets well soon, for himself, his friends and family but also because he makes derbies entertaining. He is Hearts in human form, a pantomime villain, a rival but not an enemy. Hopefully he will be back in the dugout for the first derby of the season, down at Tynecastle Park on Halloween, where the real natural order will be restored.
In the meantime, the Hibs are at Livingston on Saturday. What the squad will look like, who can say? It looks like Danny Swanson and Scott Martin will be out the door by the transfer window’s close on Friday night, maybe Scott Allan or someone else in. Scott Allan would make Hibs a force to be reckoned with, bringing pace and quality, probably working well with Horgan and Stevie Mallan. Beyond that, I trust in Neil Lennon and the scouting team at Easter Road to bring in the right players. It will be interesting, these next few days, far more than the Hampden vs. Murrayfield debate, the backdoor politics a lot less interesting than the men holding a scarf aloft and donning that green and white jersey making memories and hopefully lifting cups, wherever those big games might be played.