I prepared myself the other night no less diligently than the players who would take part in the Real Madrid V Barcelona match live from the 85 ½ thousand seater Bernabeu Stadium in the beautiful city of Madrid. I was of course only watching the match on TV but such is the occasion that it becomes a serious business to only spectate. As the kick off approached I had been to the toilet, prepared refreshments, double checked the time and spent some time thinking about Barca heroes like Cruyff; Maradona; Ronaldo; Figo and our own Steve Archibald who was gallus and unfazed enough to accept the No. 10 worn by the little genius Diego Maradona (maybe Steve didn't know who Maradona was) I am old enough to remember Madrid greats Gento, Di Stefano Del Sol and the mighty Hungaraian genius Ference Puskas an ex Army officer they called "The Galloping Major" our family cat was called 'Puskas' can there be a greater honour? I saw this Madrid line up live. The contrast with the match I watched previously the other night between Dunfermline and Inverness Caledonia Thistle was cruel and without pity, the Bernabeu is another world and the Scottish League is not to blame for that.
I have watched Barcelona over the last 4/5 years and seen them become the greatest club team in history even better than the Madrid of Di Stefano and Puskas that is of course only my opinion. I have watched them with delight and as often as possible and invariably seen them play Madrid often and these games have destroyed my youthful innocence. I believe that to be called a great football club or any other sporting institution requires more than winning trophies it requires the ability to meet with "triumph and disaster and treat these two impostors the same" to paraphrase Kipling, Sadly Real Madrid have failed badly at this test. Over these last couple of years these games have become toxic and brutal due to Real Madrid's inability to accept defeat by their greatest rivals who are clearly now superior to them by a long way. In these matches when Madrid look to be in trouble the atmosphere becomes poison and you can feel the hatred sweeping down from the stands at the Barca players.
The violence is awful and I believe that Madrid's power is still such that the authorities are afraid to tackle the problem. This game saw brutal tackling and one of the Madrid players 'Pepe' put on a display of viciousness rarely seen before; culminating in him stamping on the hand of Lionel Messi whom he had just kicked to the ground, he also threw himself around feigning injury at every opportunity, a revolting exhibition by a revolting cynic of a player. The players are not the ones responsible entirely for this state of affairs.
Prior to a couple of years ago I regarded Alex Ferguson as the worst thing that ever happened to football, his dubious achievement in turning Manchester United from one of the world's favourite teams in to one of the most hated is a sad tale of poisonous ambition. I sum him up as follows, there is nothing he will not do legally or illegally do to win a football match. One thing only can stop him, the question "can I get away with it" if the answer to that is yes he will not hesitate to do it.
Real Madrid Boss Jose Murhino is a match for Ferguson in every way, his smouldering malevolent presence on the touch line is a focus for violence and hatred. At one of these games last year he was caught on camera sneakily walking past one of the Barca coaches and deliberately poking him in the eye with his finger. These people are a blight on the 'Beautiful Game' Ferguson thankfully is drawing toward the end of a disgraceful career where the damage he has done to the game will take years to put right. Mourhino seems to be determined to make himself even worse than his sinister English League Teacher, the power that Madrid still have will probably help him achieve that. When the blood soaked fascist thug Franco ran Spain the poor guy who was to referee Real's game in Madrid was invited to dinner with the old brute (an offer he could not refuse) on the evening before the game, I wonder why? When I was a football mad kid Real Madrid lived in a dream world as did Man. Utd. I will never forgive them for destroying that dream.
Today the sun did not shine on St. Mirren Park; the wind howled like a banshee out of hell the rain fell like horizontal stair rods as St. Mirren and Celtic attempted to provide a game of football and incredibly enough provide it they did. It wasn't pretty, it rarely is in Scotland in January but both sets of players worked their socks off and displayed honest endeavour for the whole 90 minutes. Celtic won 2-0 with 2 very good goals and they also have their giant goalie Forster to thank for stopping St. Mirren from taking at least a point. It was a cleansing experience in more ways than one after watching the repellent display of one of the richest and most famous clubs in the world Real Madrid just the other night, well done Scottish Football.