At approx. 12.45 pm today the greatest sport in the world; “the beautiful game” football, suffered a sad embarrassment witnessed by millions. The SPL gallops to a close in one of the closest races ever and it makes for exciting games and incredible tension, exactly what the purists want. One of the things which can and often does spoil things is also one of the things it can’t do without; players. In this regard consider the behaviour of one Kyle Lafferty of Glasgow Rangers.
About 15 mns into the game at Ibrox between Rangers & Aberdeen the Aberdeen player Mulgrew made a “bread & butter” clearance along the touchline only to be clattered by a late tackle by the aforementioned Lafferty, not much to comment on really a simple foul? well; not quite actually. What followed was a car crash of an incident which will haunt Mr. Lafferty for a long time, Mulgrew rose angry and remonstrated with Lafferty who stepped up to him; foreheads slightly touched and Lafferty clutched his face and fell pole axed to the ground, apparently unconscious, Mulgrew stood horrified wearing the expression of the first guy in the film to see the monster as the referee; to the amazement of everyone in the stadium and the millions watching at home sent him on the “walk of shame” with a wave of the red card.
Make no mistake Kyle Lafferty brought shame on himself and his club with this outrageous display of cheating; everyone agreed about that except presumably the perpetrator Lafferty; Rangers boss Walter Smith took the very unusual step of referring to the incident in the post match interview where; to his credit he condemned his players actions. He should be heavily punished for this ugly mess, this was IMO worse than the mess made by the hapless Barry Ferguson; this was more shameful to Rangers and the game itself. He compounded the felony by recovering his health quickly and offering a “wink” to one of his team mates, clearly pleased at getting his opponent wrongly set off. Perhaps the SFA will look at this and deal with him; I think they should; so should Rangers, so should any team who has a player guilty of such conduct, which brings me to a similar incident.
For the sake of balance, Davy Provan was a talented player for Celtic some years back; he now writes a football column for the “News of the World” quite apt really. You see some years ago he played at Parkhead against Hearts who had on the left wing one of Scotland’s best known characters the ageing and almost retired wee Willie Johnston ex rangers star. As Johnston tried to take a throw in Provan stood on the touch line to prevent him getting any purchase as he tried to make it a long throw, he threw the ball and as he did so their foreheads brushed, down went Provan; was there a sniper in the crowd we wondered; no; it was a dive by Provan who shamed himself and Celtic with his underhand behaviour wee Willie Johnston did the “walk of shame” and retired that night from football, he had a chequered career and was no stranger to trouble. Provan’s despicable behaviour was the last straw for wee Willie, it did not end there however, perhaps a year or so ago Willie Johnston published a book in which he recalled the incident in a way which did not flatter Provan.
Provan; as unprincipled as ever decided to use his privileged position as a newspaper columnist to retaliate, his reaction was the act of a complete charlatan, displaying the counterfeit nature which his employers are known for; he invited readers to compare Johnston’s record which included many red and yellow cards as well as his sending home from the world cup for failing a drugs test with his own which was spotless, implying that his version of events where he claimed that Johnston head butted him was the right one, he talked down to Johnston in a most patronising way, a real nasty piece of work.
I discussed this at the time with my brother who was with me at the game and he said a very true thing, “”Davy Provan had a good disciplinary record because his number one priority on the pitch was not to gain victory, it was to avoid getting hurt” is what he said, and he was right. This cheating coward now grinds out pious articles about what is wrong with football from a sleazy tabloid paper.
I was there and I was not supporting Willie Johnston but I can say this; Johnston’s version of events was the correct one; Johnston for all his faults and disciplinary problems was twice the player that Provan was and judging by Provan’s behaviour all these years later he was twice the man as well.
These people should be kicked out of the game.