The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

On Gambling Urges and Cravings

‘The thought of stopping frightens the **** out of me.’

The words above, read from an internet forum and regarding the troubled feelings experienced when considering stopping gambling very much resonate for many individuals I have worked with. There is an understandable fear of stopping felt by many. A significant section of clients may arrive for their initial session extremely tense and anxious (occasionally, some have even had a bet on the way there!) A part of that might be attributed to wondering what they’re going to face, will they be given a difficult time in therapy for instance etc. (absolutely the opposite is true) but much more it’s about finally facing up to a difficult problem.  This can easily be empathised with.

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People who gamble can be quite frightened of their urges and cravings, they can feel threatened by them or that the urges will always be in control of them. This is often far from the truth in actuality though. To begin with, for the majority of people the cravings last a relatively short period of time – maybe 1-5 minutes or even just seconds at a time. People sometimes feel it’s longer because they tend to arrive in waves throughout a period of time, especially during inactivity, coming and going at frequent intervals.

Some good news.

I often ask clients what they feel might create gambling urges. They may offer suggestions about certain things that trigger their urges but seldom do they identify the base reason for them. In essence, urges and cravings are simply caused by reinforced gambling behaviour – it’s the gambling itself that creates further urges to gamble and therefore a person can become trapped in a vicious cycle of gambling-urges-gambling.

An intervention is usually necessary initially in the form of a barrier or barriers to gambling. A common method is to put in place one or more of the following:

Money – (say by having your cash looked after for a period by another person

The means – (smartphone/ betting shop/casino etc.) Self-exclusion from the latter and blocking software for the former

Time/opportunity – (distracting oneself and keeping busy with other activities can help hugely).

When the vicious cycle of gambling behaviour and urges becomes halted by behavioural changes such as the above, the urges begin to decrease as the individual is not doing the very thing that creates the urges by abstaining. Statistically, this might be a decreasing pattern for say, a few months, people often tell me that the urges decrease quite drastically after about four weeks though whilst some experience very few cravings. It becomes easier and easier, there’s just a need to agree to one of those self-imposed interventions and life can quickly change for the better and the problem unravel.


February 23, 2019 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 2 Comments

Blood On The Tracks

I’m a little ambivalent about the Nottingham trams really. Perhaps that’s because I don’t use them very frequently, although at odd times I find them useful. It seems all is not well in the business though and major problems are on the horizon.


The company, Tramlink, recently filed its annual accounts – some four weeks late. They showed a loss of £18m, this loss in addition to a previous loss of £48.5m in the previous year. Those losses are said by Tramlink to reflect the cost of new trams and the construction of new routes.

Further, debts of £24m from 2017 have risen significantly to a worrying £307m in 2018, including in excess of £277m in bank loans.

When I observe the trams in the city they are often very full – indeed uncomfortably so with people crowded into them like sardines in busier periods, which can be quite protracted. Unlike during quieter periods, they can be overheated, overcrowded and arguably dangerous to a degree. They most certainly are unpleasant at those times of day. Just last week saw major disruption in services practically most days due to power outages and servicing of trams.

So what is going wrong, with the apparent business and customers being evident and plentiful? Many feel that a large amount of individuals actually don’t pay to use the service. That if detected they are merely asked to leave the tram in which case they simply wait for for the next one along in just a few minutes. In my experience ticket inspectors appear rare though that may not be a true overview I’m not sure. What does seem certain is that negotiating the length of a busy tram in order to inspect tickets is a problematic affair with fare dodgers simply alighting when they spot an inspector approaching from a distance. Gone are the days when conductors were employed on the trams – arguably as a cost-cutting measure that has very much rebounded. This is to say nothing of the issues of security and safety on this form of public transport.

Part of the city’s landscape changed and was disrupted greatly when areas were ripped apart to lay tramlines and their associated street furniture, stations et al. Many people, including myself for some time, paid and still pay a Workplace Parking Levy charge within the city boundaries to undoubtedly fund this major project. It would be simply disastrous for it to fail at this point – so much has been invested in it in all sorts of ways. Perhaps the companies that have run the service have been a little penny-wise and pound-foolish I don’t really know. The days of free tram rides for those not qualified for them really have to end for the system to flourish, it appears to me though

February 1, 2019 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | | Leave a comment

Gambling ‘Obscene’ Profits

A somewhat heartfelt posting this evening. I was alerted to a news story today regarding the owner of the Bet365 betting company declaring a huge personal income from profits of the company.

Bet365 founder paid herself an ‘obscene’ £265m in 2017

I’m not particularly here to change anyone’s opinion but here’s a little insight into the other side of things which may or may not be of interest. I am employed by a registered charity as a psychologist, counselling gamblers and their families.

Each and every working day I see broken lives coming through my office, gamblers and their loved ones too who are innocently experiencing the fallout of a family member’s addiction, children very much included. Outcomes for many include bankruptcy, loss of relationships and children, homelessness and prison sentences. Suicide is the ultimate tragedy occasionally and I have to say I have counselled many individuals who have attempted to take their own lives. General symptoms can include:

Criminal Activity
Feeling Isolated
Mental Health Problems
Domestic Abuse
Financial Difficulties
School/University Difficulties
Drug Misuse
General Health
Alcohol Misuse
Family/Relationship Difficulties
Housing Problems
Work Difficulties

These symptoms are not rare but everyday.

Gambling companies not only feed addiction but actively create and enhance them, often surreptitiously in my view, by carefully considered psychological strategies that induce people to gamble and relapse. It is not enough to only say that people are responsible for themselves (which they are). People are often only as ‘good’ as they can be in difficult circumstances. We may consider here unconditional positive regard for an individual. We have possibly all found ourselves doing inadvisable things in our lives and so judging on that is not appropriate in my view. Perhaps one of the greatest ironies is that a significant section of gamblers bet simply because they don’t have enough money to live on – which of course never works and there follows an inevitable slide deeper into addiction and its negative effects on their lives. In what must now be approaching thousands of clients I’ve treated I have never witnessed one single client bet their way out of trouble permanently. Not one.

What help is available? Well the casinos in the city I live in make huge reported profits and fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops contribute approximately fifty per cent of the gambling industry’s profits. Ever wondered incidentally why there are just so many betting shops on the high street these days? It’s because the law regulates each shop to a maximum of four FOBT machines only. They therefore open shop after shop with four more machines in each. In the meantime and by comparison, currently, I am the only individual in the East Midlands of England and parts of Lincolnshire (approx. four million people catchment area) offering free funded help. You may imagine that many gamblers, deep into their addiction become unable to afford other professional treatment at around fifty pounds per hour. A classic catch-22 situation.

You can possibly understand what my attitude to the Bet365 owner making such huge profits might be – at the expense of much human suffering and even deaths – most often not just by the gamblers themselves but their innocent families.

Should anybody require free help and support they can contact Gamcare’s Helpine or Netline which can be found at:

For those finding things getting out of control with their online gambling I can thoroughly recommend self-exclusion via a scheme that began in May 2018 called Gamstop.

The scheme is completely free and takes around ten minutes to register to it online from their website.

As we say, if you should have a problem ‘the worst thing to do is nothing’.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Nottingham Railway Station Alight

Sincere thanks to the wonderful firefighters and other agencies of Nottingham and neighbouring areas that bravely fought the devastating fire at Nottingham Railway Station today for fully twelve hours. The fire is thankfully, now extinguished.

The ‘Midland’ Station as we used to call it is a fine and historic building which serves 16,400 commuters every weekday. Barely four years ago it was the subject of a £50m refurbishment which left it looking better than I’d ever seen it. So sad to see some of this work cruelly undone.


As the fire began early in the day, reputedly in a ladies toilet, there were few commuters around and we can be thankful that no one is reported hurt.

The latest report indicates an arson attack. I hope the people of Nottingham hold together against the kind of element that causes this disruption and destruction of what is still a fine city with a great and storied heritage.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 5 Comments

Homeless at Christmas

Interesting twist in the tale of a local news story. A local good Samaritan, asked to pay a hotel for Christmas hotel rooms for homeless people but was refused by the Britannia Hotel chain.


Just as an aside, it’s what might euphemistically be termed a ‘budget’ hotel, often with crowds of stag and hen parties in residence and all that entails. it was noted that even dogs are allowed in the rooms. Fair enough.

Yesterday, at 11.45pm an eighteen year-old was stabbed inside the same hotel.

Maybe the Britannia hotel chain need to vet their guests a little more diligently. Say, a few decent people who are unfortunately down on their luck and find themselves homeless…

Stay classy, Britannia.

“They have no heart”: Woman who offers to pay for hotel rooms for the homeless at Christmas has gesture refused

December 22, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , | Comments Off on Homeless at Christmas

Snow Days

Image may contain: one or more people, snow, tree, outdoor and nature

What is going on with this snow reaction these days,really? Tuning into to a local radio station today, they are issuing ominous warnings and instructions similar to if there is going to be a war on or a disaster zone tomorrow. They provide a ‘hot line’ to the travel companies, the utility companies, school closures and so on.

The local newspaper too warns us that along with the normal disruption:

There’s a ‘good chance’ that rural communities could become cut off.

There’s a ‘potential risk’ to life and property

Along with an extensive emergency kit in our cars we are to take sunglasses due to ‘winter glare’

I do take heavy snow seriously and also understand full well its dangers, particularly to the more vulnerable who I have great sympathy with, having spent plenty of winter stretches in Canada with serious blizzards and snowfall (by the way, there is no adequate and full preparation to the type of winter conditions they experience in my humble opinion, as people elsewhere always seem to think). I feel though that there is a certain amount of sensationalising these situations here in the UK which helps nobody.

Time to calm this stuff down, report the facts and stop spreading panic

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | | 3 Comments

Kev Crowley (Fynger Cooper)

I am so very sorry to hear the news of the sudden loss of a friend, I met Kev ‘Fynger’ Cooper some years ago and had the pleasure of being regular online friends too. To say I am shocked is an understatement.

I post below, as a tribute to him, an image of one of his great interests, the fabulous Medieval gateway into Nottingham that was Drury Hill, Nottingham’s ‘Shambles’. Something that Kev’s research and modelling gave us a great insight into.

God bless you, Kev and my heartfelt condolences to Martine and loved ones. xx


drury hill

Drury Hill, Nottingham

(courtesy Picture The Past)

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

Nottingham: Wollaton Park Deer

Here’s a fair example of pond life behaviour and general stupidity in Nottingham.

The city is fortunate in having an attractive park within its boundary named Wollaton Park which red and fallow deer inhabit. The deer is a symbolic animal in Nottingham quite literally, forming part of the city coat of arms and so it’s particularly satisfying to to see these fine animals, happy and accessible to view from a safe distance.


Today’s local newspaper has some quite disturbing images of people approaching the deer in rutting season, perhaps the worst one of a young child with an adult who should really know better. Another with a young fool manhandling a red deer.

Excepting the child, I would have no sympathy if these people came to grief for antagonising the animals. It occurs to me though that if they were attacked, sadly, the animals themselves would come under scrutiny.




(Pics Nottingham Post)

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

We Are Hibs

It’s a half after midnight, I return home. There’s a wee beetle scrambling across the floor in my bathroom, skittering about happily. It’s just me and the beetle – together.

I’m happy too. My beautiful Hibs have overcome their rivals today, strongly, assuredly and with a new vigour that we can hardly believe. We destroyed them, we own them…

So lad, I’m going to take you out into the garden and you can run around freely, pal. I sincerely hope you do. Tell your little beetle pals that the Hibees are back – with a vengence.

The only way is up.


August 13, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

Hibernian FC 2017/18

I’ve just had the privilege of watching Hibs 2017/18 vintage via BBc Alba. And I am wondering what it is that has come over my club?.

That was a performance.

I’ll say it again, that was a PERFORMANCE..


Professional, resilient and combative, every player looked like they knew exactly what their job was out there. They looked confident, aggressive, determined and not least, skilled. They carry the steel and know-how of their experienced manager with them. A little piece of his in will each and every one of them.

It’s easy to state that this squad of players is the strongest in some years at Easter Road. That is quite evident before a ball is kicked in anger. What is even more noticeable is the utter change in attitude which has engulfed the whole club and it’s now-packed stands of supporters since that staggering day back in May 2016 and the following convincing Championship flag. The self belief which speaks of great portents for the winter ahead. It is wonderful to see. It truly is. I love this club.

God Bless The Hibs

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

Grenfell Tower

When one first set eyes on the horrific and harrowing scenes of Grenfell Tower engulfed in flames it was hard to imagine how hundreds of people could not perish. Figures for the fatalities have thus far however, remained relatively modest, albeit one life lost is one too many.

Suddenly today, that number catapulted to 70. Now word abounds that fire services are advising that more than 200 bodies have been removed so far and that the media is being gagged.

This I believe. My belief has been, from the first dreadful and sad embers, that a wholly sinister cover-up is being implemented. Politicians and others culpable are running scared. They are undoubtedly working away furiously in the background attempting to save their own skin from the blame they have.

There must be justice for the victims and families of Grenfell Tower and more broadly, the missing respect and care restored for the poorer people of this country.


June 16, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 2 Comments


A random email arrives from a family research site that I merely dabbled with around five years ago. It shows quite some information about my Scottish family that I previously knew little of.


Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Drysdale Archibald. Born: 15 February 1893 – Died: 22 June 1922

Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Drysdale Archibald, my grandmother who I was never destined to meet, died in my father’s infancy, leaving husband Henry Frew and two young sons, my father, John and his older brother, Alexander ‘Sandy’. She lived in Musselburgh, East Lothian and died in Edinburgh where she had worked in the North British Hotel as a head seamstress, that I knew. It seems that Betsy came from ten children, just like my mother and father did. Her father, John came from all of eleven children too. So many, many children. I have never known the cause of her death.

Place names in the family tree linked in the email are most often solidly East Lothian: Gladsmuir, Elvingstone. Tranent, Haddington, as well as Musselburgh.

I have just one picture of Betsy. the only one in existence to my knowledge.

Although never having met her, I have a lot of love for her.

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 2 Comments

At Night

Returning home, late in the evening to my nice Nottingham suburb.

Dad brought us here. So many years ago.

Midnight approaches…


A dark night as the heart of summer approaches. Comfortably warm temperatures and the night time air has that familiar sweet scent that is reassuring. A sense of knowing and of continuity.

Through the darkness, the pavement walk alongside the daytime busy main road, yellow tee roses peer out, smelling sweetly. There is a Weeping Willow.

Home and The Smiths’ clarion call…

‘Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people
And I want to see light’

This is how it feels.

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | | 2 Comments

Byron and Boatswain

Seldom can such an epitaph have been written to a faithful friend. Byron was no ordinary poet though and nor seemingly was his loyal, Boatswain an ordinary pet in his eyes and heart.

‘Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.’


When Byron wrote his moving words in 1808, he had deep financial problems. His beloved Newfoundland dog, Boatswain, had died after being bitten by a rabid dog in nearby Mansfield Market Place. The poet concluded to a friend that he had now lost most everything.

Despite his acute pecuniary problems, Byron was driven to demonstrate his love and affection for his dog by commissioning an impressive marble monument at the poet’s ancestral home, Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.

Boatswain was buried in an elaborate tomb, which was indeed larger and more impressive than that erected for Byron himself in St Mary Magdalene’s Church at Hucknall, after his passing in Missolonghi in Greece in 1824.

I have many times, when wandering and dreaming through dear Newstead’s remains, admired this monument and its fine and devoted words, many of which were faded over the years. I am very happy to read today of its refurbishment.

Dedicated to the memory of my late friend, Alistair Tait. The kindest and warmest dog lover it was my great pleasure to know.

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 3 Comments

The Cockle Man of Nottingham

I like this man. Dave Bartram, The ‘Cockle Man’ has been a familiar sight and local character around Nottingham’s pubs since before my first student steps into the city’s many and varied hostelries in the mid-seventies. Dave’s cry of ‘cockles, mussels’ often bringing a response of ‘alive a live-oh!’ in the likes of the Elizabethan Bar in the Bell Inn where I would often see him and the many other public houses where Dave can be found doing his rounds, as he has been since the 1960s

Additionally, each pot of seafood sold to people in Nottingham’s bars these days sees a donation heading towards the Rainbows Hospice for young people and children.


Dave Bartram, Nottingham’s ‘Cockle Man’

I applaud these fabled great characters of the city like the Cockle Man, people such as Sally the ‘painter girl’ and the late Frank Robinson, also known as ‘Xylophone Man’. In a bland generally characterless modern society these individuals bring colour, fibre and identity to a city.

At the age of 70, Dave, walking along a precinct from The Thurland Arms to The Old Dog And Partridge, was jumped and attacked. As he has professed before, he tried to protect himself with his big basket, what a man. After the incident, whilst being examined by doctors at the Nottingham City hospital, Dave was found to have a cancer diagnosis. Crucially however, a very treatable one that was fortunate enough to be found in its early stages.

I’m happy that some somewhat unlikely good has come out of this story.

Long live ‘The Cockle Man’.

‘The show must go on’ for Nottingham’s famous cockle man after mugging attempt and cancer diagnosis

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 2 Comments

On A Hillside Far Away

I’ve no idea where this is, or is supposed to be, more accurately but I’ve decided that I’d really, really like to live there, especially if there is a beach to walk on nearby too.

World: ‘(Knock knock) Hello, are you in there, Stuart?’
Stuart: ‘No, go away’.

Image may contain: people sitting, tree, grass, sky, plant, outdoor and nature

January 22, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 4 Comments

Ice Bars

PAH! NOTHING new about ‘ice bars’ in Nottingham. As a lad doing my drinking apprenticeship in the late 1970s, several pubs here were absolutely freezing in the winter. I even recall a portable calor gas heater being wheeled into one hostelry, The Wilberforce Tavern, as the landlord fought valiantly to stop friends and I from entering an extreme hypothermia induced coma. (It was either that or the local, infamous Shipstones bitter which owned an over-optimistic anagram of ‘honest p*ss’.)

Video inside Nottingham’s first Ice Bar – what the punters are saying



The former Wilberforce Tavern, Wollaton Street, Nottingham – several Trent Polytechnic students may have perished on these premises in the 1970s. At least there was a good chippy next door for the wake.

December 21, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 7 Comments

‘Reviewed by Shilpa Shetty’

Actress, Shilpa Shetty has an interesting conception of book reviewing. I had never in fact realised that George Orwell’s classic political satire, Animal Farm, written in 1945 was about animal husbandry.

I’d like to offer a one line book review of my own too and would like to encourage you to do the same…

‘Oliver Twist – a book about a young boy named Oliver who invented a dance craze popular in the early 1960s.’


November 28, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

‘We Must Always Love Our Own, Stuart’

Nottingham Goose Fair memories: Big George, The Gentle Giant and my dad.

UP UNTIL THE EARLY NINETIES, ‘George the Gentle Giant’ was a Scotsman who would visit the fair each year who I remember as a youngster being a travelling attraction. Big George Gracie was a Lanarkshire man who measured fully 7ft 3ins tall, weighed 28 stone and stood in size 18 shoes. His size was caused by a brain tumour in his pituitary gland, as I understand.


Gentle Giant – George Gracie

The big man’s living was to allow people to come and stare at him on a fairground sideshow stall for a few pennies. People would pay their money and file around his pen. The big man was a most affable fellow, in spite of it all.

I recall dad took me to the Goose Fair one early October Saturday afternoon. After the various round of coconut shies, rifle ranges, Waltzers and confectionery, dad decided we would go and see George after spotting a garish ‘Scotland’s Tallest Man’ sign.

What followed was extraordinary to my young eyes. Dad walked in with me trailing behind him, hand in his huge strong hand and greeted George like he had known him all his life – just as he did everyone in fact. Big George instantly recognised dad’s very strong Scottish accent and they began talking like two brothers…far from home. It should be remembered that this was the 1960s when distances had a different conception and where having family 300 miles apart in England and Scotland, as I did, felt like having relatives on the moon.


George was from the village of Forth in Lanarkshire whilst ma daddy and me had family just a few miles away in Uddingston and Bellshill. The two men sat and talked and talked for what seemed like a very long time, maybe an hour passed instead of the prescribed two or three minutes, everyone else, the sightseers, filing past and being ignored, These two ‘brothers’ from the auld country, talking of young days, people, places. In a world of kinship and brotherhood, of blood being thicker than water. Two Scots lads who had found themselves meeting in strange circumstances.

I learnt something that day from this extraordinarily tender scene between that giant of a man and my big rough, tough dad.

‘We must always love our own, Stuart’ John said as he bade a fond goodbye to a newly met friend in George,

And I always have…


In 1993, after having mobility issues from an overworked heart, gentle George passed away from cancer, the same illness that had made him so large claiming him at the age of 53 years.

God Bless, George.


October 8, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 5 Comments

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

I WAS GLAD TO HEAR that Jeremy Corbyn won his ‘re-election’ today. It had seemed totally unfair to me that he had to go through this process after his resounding win to become leader just a short while ago – just because some Labour people didn’t agree about what he had to offer and weren’t prepared to accept him. Or the fact that the media and to some degree the electorate, seem to believe that owning a somewhat unkempt beard and not dressing in power suits are relevant political portents in a leader. We rue the fact that Jeremy is not a ‘smart young man’, like Blair and Cameron for example. Excuse me while I rid the thought of them out of my mind… Jeremy Corbyn however, appears a thoroughly decent, fair-minded and scrupulous individual by comparison. That will never do in 2016.

What’s noticeable is the miserablist attitude of the losing Labour side today who seemingly would happily like to see him hung out to dry in a General Election as they were unable to divorce him from his position – by quite some margin actually. Albeit, I do agree with reservations regarding Jeremy’s leadership abilities. Another of the many reasons why the Labour Party is heading nowhere –  apart from oblivion, sadly.

I’m afraid though, after being a solid Labour supporter all my life and a member in the past it all leaves me somewhat cold these days and it is unlikely they will ever receive my vote again. Their duplicitous attitude, when they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories over the Scottish referendum has seen to that. Many of us will not forget talk about armed border controls between England and Scotland by the ridiculous Labour leader of the time and the sickening deceit and lies of Gordon Brown. I have family in both countries and this is unacceptable to me. I actually spoiled my voting slip for what it is worth at the last General Election, scribbling the candidates out and adding SNP – this in Gedling Borough constituency in the heart of England.

Good luck Jeremy, you’re going to need it, my friend. Far from being the raging lefty you are presented as, you merely represent what a mainstream Labour Party should be all about. As distinct from the red Tories they have scandalously become Labour died in this decade I’m afraid. They are sadly, no longer.

‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’

September 24, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , | Leave a comment

The Strange Saga of Hughie Green

IN THE 1960s, when game shows were king, perhaps one man stood out for the sheer bulk of presence on our television screens. Hughie Green a Canadian born in London, UK hosted Double Your Money a show that ran for fully 260 episodes until 1968. Based on the US 64,000 Dollar Question the programme was the required viewing on ITV when there were but two and latterly three channels only to choose from as many families would gather to watch Hughie’s antics.

His popularity went from strength to strength as a household name and celebrity as he then hosted Opportunity Knocks the classic talent show which then ran on Thames TV up until 1978 with Green at the helm.

Green, at times, displayed a less savoury side to his character and many were the stories regarding his heavy drinking and generally obnoxious behaviour. The former was said by some to have been the reason that the popular show took a hiatus and he lost his position heading it. Green complained bitterly, even to the degree of a remarkable display of self interest on-air at the end of the final episode when he waxed lyrical, boasting about his wartime service as a veteran.

He was central to something of a scandal at the time when it was revealed that he was the biological father of TV presenter, Paula Yates – a fact she found out through the press.

I recently came across a recording of Green making a personal appearance at the Cavendish Woodhouse furniture store in Nottingham at the time, when he had recently had his show taken off the air and was not at all happy about it. I recall it being reported at the time in the local press that local radio station, Radio Trent, had been there to cover the occasion but refused to air the recording made of journalist, John Darby, also a Canadian, as Green rounded on him in bizarre fashion. The recording can be heard here and is transcribed below.

Green seemed to take umbrage straight away at being corrected on the name of the radio station. He then pounced on where interview Darby hailed from:

Green: Hey listen, we’ve got John Darby from Radio Nottingham, is that right?

Darby: No, it’s actually Radio Trent.

Green: Oh, it’s Radio Trent so…It’s Radio Trent we’ve got John Darby from…and we’ve got some special customers here this morning, John.

Darby: It’s rather fun to be here but one thing I was just thinking about and that is that we’re both Canadians.

Green: Well that’s great, where are you from?

Darby: I’m from Toronto.

Green: You’re from Toronto, well I’m from Montreal so let’s fight. We’ll have a fight right now and have a fight between Montreal and Toronto. So go on, what else have you got to say?

Darby: Well, we want to know what you’re doing now?

Green: What am I doing now? Well look at me, I’m surrounded with beautiful women. The most beautiful women in the world of course come from Nottingham and we were really having a marvellous time, are we having a marvellous time? Come on over here madam (interviews an onlooker).

It was at this point that Darby, unintentionally or not, somewhat hamfistedly admittedly, found Green’s achilles heel when he mentioned the loss of the presenter’s show:

Darby: Hughie, do you think that now that the show (Opportunity Knocks) is now over you may be forgotten?

Green: I couldn’t care less whether I’m forgotten or not, I mean that’s that, doesn’t matter, you can see all the people (shouts) have you forgotten me? Have you forgotten me? I mean that’s the kind of a snide remark you would get from someone from Toronto. That’s why people in Montreal hate Torontonians. They all say you know (affects voice) ah so and so, you’re all so and so. And we’ve got a much nicer city in Montreal than you have in Toronto. Now go on, ask something else nasty.

Darby: Well what are you going to be doing now?

Green: That’s none of your business. Now ask another smart question.

Darby: You must have some future plans?

Green: Never mind. Now may I ask you a question?

Darby: You certainly may.

Green: Why don’t you shave? Ladies and gentlemen, we have just been talking to the four-eyed interviewer from Radio Trent and it has been a delight. We are all enjoying ourselves, now why don’t you go back to your morgue and bury yourself. Thank you very much indeed.

Hughie Green spent his latter life as a recluse in his Baker Street flat. After a life time of heavy drinking, pipe smoking and a latter recreational barbiturate habit he was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in 1997 at the age of 77.

September 19, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , , | Leave a comment

Focusing on Suicide Prevention

Today marks the first day of Suicide Prevention Week 2016 in the US and World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. Much is said about talking to people who are in difficulties and appear in need. I’m going to add to that the suicide survivors – those who survive the suicide of a close one, whose life changes forever and who are dropped into a strange and frightening world of self-survival, grief, trauma, guilt and anguish.

I unfortunately, became a member of that group over two years ago and the attached article from that time illustrates just some of the myriad ways it affected my life.

The Twenty Truths of Losing Your Partner to Suicide


The only benefit I understand is that in my work, it has allowed me to talk to people who have suicidal feelings, clearly, concisely and without judgement.

I kindly ask you to talk similarly to these people. Please help them the best way you know how.

In those momentous days afterwards, I called The Samaritans – not primarily because I wanted to die but because I wanted to understand how to live. You can find them on:
Tel: 116 123

Suicide Prevention

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 3 Comments

The Left Lion and Nottingham’s Old Market Square

NOTTINGHAM’S OLD MARKET SQUARE has been central to the city’s life and times for approximately a thousand years, formerly as a large outdoor market as the name suggests, home of the historic Goose Fair each October and a meeting place renowned over the city and wider county. The wide area, arguably the largest market square in Europe reputedly, now changed from it’s last design of a handsome processional way with trees, fountains and plentiful seating for the public was much-loved by Nottinghamians but is now comparatively sterile and bland in appearance. The re-design, reputedly ordered to allow more freedom and capacity for the various events that are held in ‘Slab Square’ as many local people have called it over the years and a is somewhat controversial decision some years later still.

council house

The lions, known perhaps most commonly as ‘Leo and Oscar’ are also known by some, more grandly, as ‘Menelaus and Agamemnon’ and also ‘Lennie and Ronnie’, take your pick . They were sculpted by Joseph Else, the Principle of the Nottingham School of Art at the time. His name is now commemorated as the name of a public house nearby in the Square.

This quite severe looking chap below is the ‘Left Lion’ and whilst both lions have been used over the decades as traditional meeting places it is the Left Lion that holds the greater popularity. ‘See you by the Left Lion’ a (or the lions) has especially been a place to meet a romantic date. I’m told it’s ideal to check out a blind date from a distance and it has been my observation that people circling in the nearby vicinity are occasionally apparent. Other than that I couldn’t possibly comment…

Another piece of historic Nottingham folklore was that the lions roar when a virgin walks past. i couldn’t possibly comment on that either.


The ‘Left Lion’

In the 1920s the former Exchange Building overlooking the Square was replaced by the current Council House construction designed by architect, T. Cecil Howitt, with its 200 foot high dome housing the ‘Little John’ clock, weighing in at over ten tons, which chimes throughout the day as a backdrop and part of the soundtrack to Nottingham city life. Outside the building, two large stone lions stand sentinel, guarding the grand old building opened by the Duke of Windsor in 1929.

Nottingham’s Old Market Square has seen much activity and a few joyous occasions in its history. The annual Goose Fair, so named due to poultry being walked to the event from deepest Norfolk and Lincolnshire was and is a huge landmark on the Nottingham calendar, continuing as it does on the Forest Recreation Ground around a mile away and now over 700 years old. ‘Gooseh’ must have been quite some occasion in the old days as not only did it have such ground breaking innovations as the early travelling cinemas but one could buy practically anything there – even a wife! I think the latter custom has discontinued now.

Football and other sports celebrations have always been a nice feature as the Champions are paraded on the Council House balcony. Notable were celebrations for Nottingham Forest’s European Cup winning teams and, before my time, their great 1959 FA Cup success after they had won their Wembley final with nine and a half fit men on the field. Perhaps Slab Square’s greatest celebration occurred on May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe was over and the people of Nottingham let heir hair down in grand style.

Walking through the square these days I am always disappointed at it’s bland, grey appearance – which cost the council an awful lot of money incidentally. There is a water feature but it isn’t handsome as the previous fountains were – even when students chose to create a bubble-a-thon with washing up liquid emptied into the originals! The seating is at a minimum and the vegetation that saw the Square win awards for its attractiveness is no longer. Instead there are ‘events’ which leave the area looking a little forlorn when they move on.

Other random memories of Old Market Square come to mind of Mods and Rockers gathering there in the 1960s in their two factions at either end of the Square, shepherded apart by the local constabulary. One of the latter’s number was ‘Tug Wilson, a formidable and well known character, standing some 6ft 8ins and fully 7ft 2ins in his policeman’s helmet!

The fabulous mosaic of the Nottingham heraldic crest has disappeared and the ‘feel’ of Nottingham’s Old Market Square appears long gone and spoiled. In balance, there are some good points though. A German Christmas Fair appeared some years ago and was a pleasant winter addition. These days the ‘German’ has been taken out of it and, to my eyes, ears and taste buds has unfortunately become not only expensive but mediocre too. A great plus though is the outdoor ice rink which adds significantly to the winter atmosphere.

Conversely, each summer now, the Square welcomes the ‘Nottingham Rivera’, an urban beach constructed for some weeks in the high season with its sandy beach, padding pool, funfair rides and popular beach bar along with special events throughout its duration.

nottm on sea

As a visitor to Nottingham, it is difficult to become lost in it’s concise city centre as all roads lead to the Square and its dominant Council House dome. Unlike many cities, it is easy to discern exactly where the centre of ‘town’ is and for that reason and a few others, wherever I roam in the world, the Council House and it’s lions will always symbolise Nottingham to me.

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns, Times Gone By | , , , | 8 Comments

And Now For Something Completely Different

I really want to like some of these Monty Python reunions and various documentaries that keep getting aired on the Gold channel and elsewhere. but I’m struggling with them. I loved these guys and grew up with their amazing humour and sketches, recited the lines with pals in the school yard religiously and carried it through the teen years and beyond, like so many people.

Now it feels as though it should just be left alone. Like telling the same gag over and over but it just doesn’t ‘fit’ or feel fresh any more. Nor perhaps should it after all these years.

The re-runs are classic, ground breaking and wonderful and I’d like to make the distinction there – they always will be, the reunions though with the troop on stage in their dinner jackets hamming it up for a late pay day (and who can blame them)  seem to amuse the Python members more than me, sad to say. It feels tired and the laughter forced. There’s no shame in that I suppose – they are arguably the greatest and most innovative comedy group of all time. Indeed, it is difficult to comprehend that those genius sketches are the best part of fifty years old.

Luxury…when I were a lad…

August 20, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | | 6 Comments

Lasse Viren – ‘The Flying Finn’

CONGRATULATIONS GO TO Mo Farah on a ridiculously good run to retain his Olympic 10,000m title in Rio de Janeiro.

Mo actually hit the ground after being accidentally tripped, picked himself up, controlled the race and won it in style and with absolute class and qualty. With a few hundred metres to go the experienced Brendan Foster commentating, was urging Mo not to look around over his shoulder at the possible threat from the runner in third place but rather concentrate on the man leading him in first place. Mo kept a cool head however, trusted his great ability and reeled the leader in, in classic style to finish a comfortable winner.

There were emotional scenes for Mo afterwards, understandably, as he was obviously recounted in his mind the long hours away from his family whilst training.


Lasse Viren

His performance reminded me of my own middle distance hero, the ‘Flying Finn’ Lasse Viren who fell in the same 10,000 metre event in the Munich Olympics in 1972. Lasse defeated Australian, Ron Clarke’s seven year-old world record although falling heavily during the twelfth lap when getting tangled up with Belgian, Emiel Puttemans. Mohamed Gammoudi additionally fell over Lasse’s legs during the incident.


Lasse falls on the way to his classic win

In under 150 metres, Virén raced back up to the leaders however, after losing approximately 20 metres to them. With around 600 metres left, Virén initiated an amazing and totally unprecedented one-and-a-half lap ‘kick’ that only Puttemans could respond meaningfully to. The great Lasse Viren ran through the tape to win the classic event in 27:38:40, still the record for the Olympiastadion München forty-four years later.

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns, Sporting Tales | , , , | Leave a comment

Rest in Peace, James Murtha

THE SAD NEWS reached me from Burbank, California this week that a much-revered old friend and correspondent of mine had passed away.

Jim Murtha was a man like no other – totally unique. A good man, an intelligent man – and one who possessed the heart of a lion.

His genuine, raw courage was a sight to behold in the way he faced cancer on more than one occasion. I recall him reporting to me that the cancer had returned in his little finger, if I recall correctly,, and his saying to the doctor, ‘just cut the f*cker off, doc, I don’t need it’ – as if it was an absurdity for the cancer to challenge him in such a ridiculous way.

Jim brought a different way of thinking about things in general, to read his words was absolutely inspirational.

I can barely believe that cancer had the temerity to return to his world but it did and for that I shall be eternally sorry. I guess Jim had already had his fun kicking it’s ass on several occasions and ‘opening a can of whoop-ass’ to it as he would tell us.

What a man. What a great, great man. He will be sorely missed but never, ever forgotten.

My deepest condolences go to his family, friends and all those who loved him, of which there were many.

Rest in Peace, Jim. The memory of your courage will live on.


A few words I wrote back in 2008 about Jim’s story and in particular, his Marathon in Dublin:

A Special Day: James Murtha The Tears of a Clown

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 2 Comments

Remembering Ali Tait

More than two weeks on and I have barely known what to say about the passing of my friend Ali Tait, so shocked was I at his death. it seems so many feel the same way and during these recent days there has been an avalanche of love and respect for him like non I’ve seen in the Hibs community and wider social media among people that knew him.



I called Ali a friend and met him a few times. Like many others we talked and shared comments online frequently. One evening we were pondering our shared background with both our families originally having people from Fisherrow. We mused that, living very close together, our grandfathers couldn’t have failed to know each other and be friends – just like we had become a couple of generations on. I couldn’t have been prouder or more happy at that thought because I loved the guy.

Ali’s politics, football favours and music tastes are documented widely and it’s perhaps for those things that many people will remember him. They were certainly all things that bound he and I together. Those of us who were fortunate enough in life to have met him and known him will remember his tremendous warmth and intelligence. He was an entertaining man and one you always wanted to listen to at length, so much did he have to say.

The next time I’m in Musselburgh I’ll raise a glass in his favourite, Staggs, to our old friend.

I’ll sink another one to you in our favourite Cafe Royal too if that’s alright, Ali?

God rest and keep you pal. There’s none like you.

Deepest condolences to his dear wife, Tiina, his family and friends and all who knew him and loved him.

God bless
Stu x

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

Free Sister Mary

I do enjoy the scarecrow competitions around the local villages in the summer. This is ‘Sister Mary’ from Caythorpe  Nottinghamshire who was abducted two years ago. Last seen with her feet ‘poking out the back of a grey car’. Sister Mary’s owner offered free cupcakes to anyone with information, which seemed quite appropriate…

sister mary

Sister Mary

It’s recorded that although the ‘nun-nappers’ had taken Mary away she still finished a creditable joint second in the competition alongside a ‘zombie scarecrow’. First place went to a witch stuck in a tree, accompanied by a sign saying ‘Don’t drink and fly’.

Bless you, Sister Mary.

August 8, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

In and around Lambley village, Nottinghamshire

THOSE WHO KNOW ME will understand that I have a special affinity with some of the pretty villages local to me. This relationship has been formed over many years of running, walking, cycling, eating a drinking around those villages which I have a I have come to think of as my ‘playground’ since being a youngster.


Early days in and around Lambley village meant a cycle with schooldays pals to the Lambley Dumbles. A dumble is a local word for a steep-sided stream. We would play in the dumbles – and my favourite, the ‘Little Dumbles’, making dams, rafts, climbing the overhanging trees, wading, fishing and generally getting lost in those hazy 1960s endless summer days as they seemed to me. The limited sustenance taken on these all-day country safaris tended to be a jam sandwich and some fizzy water. Our bikes consisting of all shapes and sizes – mine had just the one pedal – were the only things we needed to transport us to this heavenly weekend delight. We usually arrived home at dusk, exhausted and hungry. Muddied, sometimes bloodied, unbowed.




This very afternoon I took myself in my car down to lovely Lambley, beginning at a favourite tea-stop, Floralands garden centre, ‘Wickes’ as we used to know it. These days, as is the way of garden centres generally, there is modern decking to sit outside and take tea and a bite to eat. What remains the same though are those beautiful emerald green rolling hills of my youth to look out to.

Today there is a petting zoo for the children and not-so-young children right here! Goats, ducks, chickens, lamas. A peacock is screeching insistently in the distance.



Descending the intriguingly named Catfoot Lane, I entered the pretty and ancient village of Lambley, ‘Leah of the lambs’ by origin and named in the Domesday Book. Nestled in its cosy valley are a church built around the 13th century and the Woodlark and Robin Hood inns. I pass by the footpath to the Lambley Dumbles, perhaps less known to the cars that cruise steadily past in 2016.

Further on in years, I used to walk these hills as a young teenager, with my favoured notebook and pencil, to settle in one of the many sweet-scented grassy meadows in the sunshine and write my early young poetry. I yearned to be a Byronic figure, writing romantic poetry as Lord Byron had done a century before, leaving his indelible mark on the Nottinghamshire landscape and around the world.

August 6, 2016 Posted by | On The Road, Ripping Yarns | , | 4 Comments

Tolerance and Acceptance

THIS WEEKEND HERALDS the annual Nottinghamshire Pride march through the city and its surrounding festivities. The March began at Castlegate in the city at 11.30 am and concluded a short distance away on Broad Street in the ‘Creative Quarter’ of Nottingham around and about the nowadays, trendy Hockley area. Along the way, near Thurland Street, a minutes’ silence was held for the victims of the recent sad atrocities in Orlando, Florida. A street fair and entertainment is part of the celebrations in a day for everyone that chooses to let their hair down a little.

In my view, these types of events add a significant and vivid splash of colour, energy and vitality to the city centre and should be welcomed. I observe at times though that this particular event draws some mixed reactions which extend across the full spectrum of tolerance and acceptance. I occasionally despair for the state of humanity when we cannot manifest those qualities to any degree, to understand and acknowledge diversity in all its hues, to open our minds and, where necessary, build bridges between older thinking and new conceptions.

A couple of days ago, I read an internet forum thread which focused on the subject of Nottingham Pride’s annual March and festival. Among the highly predictable, monumentally unfunny and ignorant, 1970s stand-up comedian terminology and general ‘Angry of Tunbridge Wells’ bristling was one splendid individual who actually ‘hoped it would rain all day’. How very, very bitter. That someone should actually wish the participants’ special day and celebrations to be ruined by bad weather.

Homophobia, racialism and a wide range of other general bigotry are unfortunately part of our daily lives to some degree but this single comment really struck me for it’s ultimate sadness and lack of generosity of human spirit. I feel that, especially in a world clouded by hate, fanaticism and animosity, love – in all its forms – can never, ever be a bad thing.

Peace, love and understanding.


July 30, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , | Comments Off on Tolerance and Acceptance

Good Luck, The Hibees

When I was a very young boy, barely old enough to understand, I was informed by my dad and my granda that there really was only one team worth supporting, that it was the only true way. This especially applied in my family where tradition lay strong and was not in any way to be tampered with.

Not in the least.


All these years later that feeling remains strong and true. Down through the decades those colours green and white have woven themselves through my life. That makes me happy.

I love this team and all it has stood for, both widely and personally for me. I will always love this team, especially for the reasons it was formed which are dear to me. I love the people that support it.

I’d like to wish all my Hibernian brothers and sisters a wonderful day out tomorrow and the best of all incredible conclusions to it. As my good pal likes to say to me, ‘I hope your team win’.

Dedicated to the bravest Hibby I know, Shaun McKinley. Keep your chin up, pal. I’m thinking of you.

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 2 Comments

Arise You Gallant Sweeneys!

ON OCCASION, I mentally register a subject to write about and file it away until a window of opportunity and the inclination to explore it arises. This might be some record for me as I began writing these words some five years ago, for what it is worth. These years later and with much water having flowed under the bridge I still feel it is a subject worthy of talking about.

At that time, in October 2011, I attended a function for Mental Health Awareness Week which was being held in the excellent, independent Broadway Media Centre in Nottingham. The film, Arise You Gallant Sweeneys! had been organised as a private showing for the Framework charity’s 10th Anniversary celebrations at the cinema and I was fortunate enough to receive an invite due to my research work in the area of mental health. Framework, should also be commended here for the excellent work they carry out with the homeless and the vulnerable.


Arise You Gallant Sweeneys! was a small budget documentary film that told the story of four elderly Irishmen living in a hostel in Nottingham, who left their home shores for economic reasons during the United Kingdom’s building boom of the 1950s and 1960s. None of the men, for disparate reasons, had ever returned home to Ireland since migrating all those decades ago, living the rest of their lives in exile for different reasons in different parts across Great Britain.

The four now-elderly alcohol-dependant men whose tale was documented were Sean Lynch, who was but ten years old when he left his home, Tom Coffey, who departed at just eighteen years, Tom Sweeney, who was of similar age and lastly, Pat Kelly, aged twenty four when he bade farewell to his home country.

The story documents a road trip to their original homeland for the four men and relates a poignant tale of homelessness, penury and alcoholism against a background of exploitation as ‘navvies’ creating the roadways of England, Scotland and Wales with its hard labour and equally hard drinking. Tangentially, folk singer Ralph McTell told an echoing lamenting story in his beautiful and haunting ballad, From Clare to Here:

‘There’s four who share this room as we work hard for the Craic

And sleeping late on Sundays I never get to Mass

It almost breaks my heart when I think of Josephine

I told her I’d be coming home with my pockets full of green

And the only time I feel alright is when I’m into drinking

It sort of eases the pain of it and levels out my thinking’

In the Broadway Cinema as I took my seat, an Irish fiddler played at the corner of the auditorium. Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s because of my own origins but there is something that seeps into one’s very soul when the strains of Celtic music sound, it’s lilt, it’s sadness, sometimes it’s pure joyousness too. Presently, after a , heartfelt and dignified spoken introduction, the film began and we saw the inception of the road trip – men who after a drink or two would always talk about home – how they’d perhaps like to see it for one last time before it was too late and they met their maker. To the good people who organised it, great credit, including Framework I understand. Soon, a small party including the four men set sail with a provided mini-bus, back home to Ireland after all those years.

One might be forgiven to imagine this to be a sentimental story but this is not the case. The men’s humour and character serve to make it not so.

Of course things had changed for the men over many years. Families had become fractured and information was hard to find in some cases, even to the point of one of the group discovering that the brother he had thought was long passed away was in fact still very much alive, leading to some emotionally draining scenes. The returning brother showed little love for his long-lost sibling, even claiming he should be ‘drowned in the Atlantic’.

‘Come all ye loyal heroes and listen on to me.

Don’t hire with any farmer till you know what your work will be

You will rise up early in the morning from the clear day light till the dawn

and you never will be able for to plough the Rocks of Bawn.

Rise up, gallant Sweeney, and get your horses hay

And give them a good feed of oats before they start away’

(From The Rocks of Bawn by Patrick Kelly)

The little film, whilst roughly-hewn was extremely moving as we were taken through the decades and on the road, explored each of the men’s home towns. It engaged and yet was disturbing at times, even by turns wickedly funny. As a viewer, I had the feeling that I wanted to somehow ‘make it right’ for the men and to understand the real reasons they had never returned home before.

Many men of this ilk worked their hearts and guts out in those days, they took their pay, often drank it and lived from week to week or from day to day. The men in our story it is explained now lived in supported accommodation in Nottingham. One is no longer with us, God bless him. The others’ road will most likely end here. Thankfully though, after this one final visit of their roots.

It would be true to say that there was little sentiment in the film. It was nevertheless, an engaging one, at times unsettling and more than anything, ultimately a moving one.


Watch the original trailer here:

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 1 Comment

On Heroes

I WAS CONSIDERING THIS subject recently after reading the question on an internet forum, ‘Do we live in an unheroic age?’. In answering this, I suppose it all depends to some degree on your conception of what constitutes a hero. Acts of bravery, selflessness, possessing a special talent etc. Maybe manning a lifeboat, fighting for a just cause or quietly going about the business of being an unsung hero, helping others.


‘Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished’ – Madiba

In a looser sense, where we might think in terms of simple admiration, I have many ‘heroes’ if you may term them that way. Sporting heroes such as dynamic Scottish football legend, Denis Law, Canadian, Terry Fox and his beautiful and heart-rending ‘Marathon of Hope’ and Finnish middle distance running phenomenon, Lasse Viren. Then there are the musicians, the likes of Otis Redding, Peter Green and so on. There are revered literary figures to me too such as Oscar Wilde, Dylan Thomas and Byron and perhaps most significantly, the inspirational figures that, in my belief, are/were an unstoppable force for good, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. but then we’re moving into a different area in my humble opinion, that of sainthood.

It is interesting to note that some of these people and examples no longer walk among us – but that their legacy lives with us and affects our lives. Perhaps that legendary eminence is part of the necessary make-up of a ‘hero’, I’m really not sure.

For me personally though, my real heroes were my mother and father. For their selflessness, courage, principled ways and strength in what were at times life threatening situations in their own acutely difficult situations at times in their years. In addition, for all the lessons in life they taught me which were many.

I’m going to suggest that there are countless other mothers and fathers out there all over the world, doing the same for their children, every day, doing those things for their children out of selfless and pure love.

For that reason alone, yes, for me, we still do live in heroic times.

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 8 Comments

Nottingham Football Report: March 2016

SO CURRENTLY, we have the world’s oldest league football club, Notts County negotiating stormy seas by way of the club being for sale and the team toiling somewhat in the lower reaches of League Two, it’s play-off hopes diminished to a practical state of no return. Unpopular Chairman, Ray Trew has been quoted as saying that ‘oh so brave keyboard warriors’ and their comments on social media about him and his family have finally drawn the conclusion that he wants out – at a price.

On the opposite bank of the River Trent, Nottingham Forest flounder listlessly mid-table with perhaps greater concerns over the ownership of the club than on the pitch. My understanding is that £70m is still owed to former owner, Nigel Doughty’s estate and that a sum in excess of that is owed to the current ownership in loans. I stand to be corrected. Court appearances for non-payment of debts are now becoming a way of life for the City Ground club with the latest set for March 14th for an unpaid tax bill. Only last week Forest were in the media for late payment of their staff which chairman Fawaz claimed was due to a Bank Holiday in his home country of Kuwait. In addition to this, the club still find themselves under a transfer embargo with no guarantee of emerging from it at the end of the season, or if they do, to no great avail.


On the pitch, Notts County have a huge squad of players, particularly at that level of football, who have underperformed and not gelled by all accounts. It would be easy to suggest that it is a case of ‘quantity not quality’ but the truth is that the club acquired some useful signings for this campaign. They have though shipped goals consistently throughout the season and are now struggling manfully under new manager, Scot, Jamie Fullarton’s stewardship. The ex-Forest coach is arguably the least popular manager in County’s long history whilst the atmosphere at Meadow Lane is absolutely poisonous.


Angry scenes as trouble erupts between the Notts bench at spectators during Bristol Rovers’ visit

Forest’s quite recent unbeaten run, characterised by many uninspiring draws is now a memory and the support appears increasingly unhappy and disgruntled about manager, Freedman’s cautious ‘style’ of play which encourages teams to come on to them and take majority possession of the ball whilst the Reds sit back and wait for a break.

This is clearly not Nottingham Forest football.

Back at Notts and one thing about this whole sale matter that appears to have emerged is that although chairman Ray Trew claims it is personal abuse that has driven him out of Meadow Lane (and I have no truck with that) it appears emphasised that this kind of thing has become much more apparent since his appointment of Fullarton as Notts’ Manager which is a deeply unpopular decision among the support. We see from reports though that Trew was actually in negotiation with a ‘Danish billionaire’ before Christmas. to take over the club.

Trew has done some good things for Notts County, especially initially when he basically rescued them from administration and possible oblivion and that should be recognised but his apparent arrogance and inadvisable decision making has since caused the club great harm. I do believe, for example, that a great number of the support have viewed the appointment of Fullarton as a ‘two fingers’ at them and this is one of the reasons for the angry ructions at Meadow Lane since. There is a huge gap between the ownership and the support causing a divided and aimless club.

What’s more, I wouldn’t particularly trust Trew as far as I could throw him the way he is conducting business to sell the Magpies. Only when he finally leaves can that club turn a corner and begin rebuilding this great damage sustained. Hopefully a sale will happen sooner rather than later.

What with the happenings on the black and white side of the local football community and Forest’s apparent inability or refusal to pay their bills on time and now the delayed payment of their staff due to a Bank Holiday in Kuwait. I have no confidence in the state of the way either of our city clubs are being run. I particularly felt for the rank and file staff at Forest, in ordinary jobs, waiting to be paid what they have earned last week. In Forest’s case I think the owners are beginning to make a fine old club look a little disreputable and it’s not good to see. On a practical note, potential signings for the club too will make themselves aware of what is happening in terms of the financial irregularities at the City Ground and be much less likely to sign for Forest.

Sad stuff then from both sides of the Trent. Let’s hope both clubs can turn a corner at some point in the near future.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns, Sporting Tales | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hibs: The Famous Five Documentary

MINORITY CHANNEL, BBC ALBA recently excelled themselves once more after other excellent documentaries about Scottish football legends, Jim Baxter and Jock Stein when they produced a beautiful step back into post-war Edinburgh and five of Hibs’ ‘greatest men’.

These were some of my personal thoughts on an emotional viewing of it to my good friends on the Hibees Bounce website:

‘I recorded the documentary last night, went out for a drink and sat down to watch this alone when I got home around midnight.

It’s a little while since I have been touched by anything about Hibs so much – even though I am used to a great emotional closeness with the club since being a young boy.


I understand the criticisms (in the true sense of the word) regarding the production but for me they were easy to put to one side as I was given the privilege of an insight into some of the sights and memories of people intrinsically wrapped up in my club. Who could not feel for ‘Nicker’ Johnstone’s daughter, Nicola as she lovingly spoke of her father and his teammates and suddenly and obviously in front of the camera, felt a sense of loss for her dad. The word ‘Family’ is occasionally an overused one when referring to this wide and disparate group of people we are that follow this club down its generations and enjoy it’s meaning. It’s in brief moments like that though that I really understand and cannot deny it.

The background of Meadowbank was not significant for me. A great story can be told anywhere and I really liked the way the young team assumed a fun and youthful swagger as they emulated our old heroes. I thought they looked great and played their part well. Well done lads. The simple and striking kits were a thing of beauty too against the sepia backdrop. Hibernian kits are invariably a thing of beauty.

So, as you can see, I’d rather celebrate this documentary for what it was – a loving and affectionate glimpse into a time before many of us knew. Yes, it was one or two things short of the full and complete story but much more significantly, it carried and nurtured with care the deep feelings that we all have about this club and yet sometimes have difficulties explaining why.

I’d a tear in my eye before the strains of Sunshine on Leith were gently introduced. I sat there remembering exactly why I bleed green and white, why I am a Hibernian supporter and why this thing matters so much to me so a ‘thank you’ to the programme makers is offered.

As the credits played out on a look back into a golden Hibernian era, an era inhabited by my father and grandfather and other family members, it was all I could do to not desperately want to be there, at Easter Road at that very moment.

These are the ties that bind us. Hibernian Football Club.’

January 29, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

New Term – Hopes, Dreams and Lifetimes

THE END OF SEPTEMBER 2015 is nigh and this means that the streets of Nottingham around the Nottingham Trent University city campus are once again thronging with ‘Freshers’. The areas including Shakespeare Street and Goldsmith Street adjacent to the Arkwright and Newton buildings being particularly awash with new students, locating their accommodation and general whereabouts for the coming academic year.

Trent uni

Nottingham Trent University

With my own place of work being quite close, a saunter through the area on Thursday brought the sight of a teeming group of young intakes to the streets, identically dressed in a uniform of bright orange t-shirts proclaiming the legend ‘FRESHERS CREW across the chest and personalised names on the back, football jersey style. The faces were those of young people principally just having left home for the first time, expressions of excited expectancy, underlined in some cases with a slight etching of self-doubt and apprehension as they settle in to making new friends and locating their place in various groups and pecking orders.

Next week will probably see the beginning of the processions of large groups of students in fancy dress, heading along Mansfield Road and other main thoroughfares, congregating in the city centre and its clubs, pubs and inevitable ‘student nights’. It’s a familiar sight each year and brings a knowing smile to my face

Trent uni 4

Nottingham, being a city that boosts the two places of learning, Nottingham Trent University and the older, illustrious University of Nottingham, is very much a university town these days. Sometimes, there have been reports of the city’s students bring problems to inner-city residential areas where they have tended to colonise and indulge in boisterous, noisy and non-neighbourly behaviour as young people often inevitably do. It should be said though that, for me at least, the city is breathed new life when they return each September. Apart from economic factors alone, I feel they bring something to the modern culture of Nottingham and of course, I have walked a mile in those shoes years ago and therefore don’t feel so far removed from them and what they are experiencing, although my own home was in Nottinghamshire.

Trent uni 2

Nottingham Trent University, Arkwright Building, Shakespeare Street

A happy thought is that many of these young people will be making friends for many years or even a lifetime. They’ll form new allegiances with the city’s sports teams, visit places with friends that they’ll recall fondly as long as  they are able to remember.  Some will meet their life partners and some may even settle that well they never leave the city again and call it ‘home’.

Autumn term beckons, good luck to the returning and new students of the Queen of The Midlands.

Work hard and play hard.

September 27, 2015 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Hibs: The Feelgood Factor is Returning

It’s great to sense the early days of the feel good factor reappearing and people with more reason to be positive. I’m heartened generally by the relative calibre of player being brought into the club. I do wonder if there is some kind of injury ‘problem’ going off beyond pure bad luck, notwithstanding that some players are being brought in when not fully fit.


John McGinn – midfield strength

I hear a lot of concerned comment about the amount of chances that are being created and the relatively low strike rate from them. It’s a fair point of course but I’m not necessarily worried. I do feel it’s much more worrying when chances aren’t being created. That’s a bleak landscape and one we witnessed particularly under Fenlon for example, arguably. I was schooled on a team in this city that people would complain incessantly about them trying to ‘walk the ball into the net’. It never got tiresome watching them win practically everything available while doing so though. Patience is required.

Regarding goal scoring I often find it interesting the comments about Jason Cummings. He’s maybe a limited footballer in some ways but who really cares? He does what he’s paid to do – put the ball in the back of the net – with monotonous regularity. I hear some talk of the need for a ‘twenty-goal striker’. We already have one. Possibly more than one given a clean bill of health.
It’s going to be another long fight this season to get the club where it should be and that is slightly hamstrung by an understandably disenfranchised section of the support staying away from Easter Road. I’m afraid the club has to suck this up at the moment. Many old and new fans will be back with a higher status restored and winning ways returning. Expect a few more three and four wins at Easter Road during the coming months as this useful squad gels together. It’s strength is based on some very good performers in the middle of the park.

There are really only going to be a couple of outcomes to this season aren’t there. Hibs either finish as champions, and they have begun a little off the pace, or a play-off situation at the season’s death which we’ll either lose – or more likely, considering the form we’re likely to be in then win. Importantly, at that time I think Hibs will show that they have proven goal scoring power – always important in one-off ‘cup’ type games and that in my view would likely see us through. The usual disclaimers apply.

Get on for the ride, Hibees, it’s going to be an interesting and entertaining season.

Glory Glory

September 14, 2015 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

August in Woodborough – ‘Making Hay’

The end of August 2015 beckons as I write, leading to those days of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ of Autumn that can be so stimulating, atmospheric and enjoyable. Enduring sun and crisper days.

I’d an enjoyable and familiar run from nearby Woodborough, Nottinghamshire yesterday which took my friend and I through the pretty and adjacent Epperstone village and return. Grateful for a pleasant, sunny and warm late Summer day, we afterwards headed to a local garden centre cafe for our customary and welcome sandwiches and tea for lunch.


Lowdham Lane, Woodborough

Just as we were setting off on our run, it was good to see the bright green tractors with massively stacked healthy-looking hay bales piled on trailers heading to their destination along Main Street. It brought back memories of school days and cross-country running afternoons where a certain couple of class members hitched a lift aback to travel up one of the steep local hills!

There probably aren’t many better places to be than lying atop a haystack with big blue skies above, the sun generously blazing down on you, recharging you.

Yesterday’s run was a marker towards the end of the Summer as it is likely there will be a change of destination on Saturday mornings in the future. Next week will be a drive down to the Vale of Belvoir ‘the Beautiful Vale’ for a run along the Grantham Canal and a crossing of three counties, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. It has been my custom to run and walk through all four of God’s good seasons since I have known how and that will continue. Onwards and upwards

You can play this as an accompaniment if you would like.

August 30, 2015 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 5 Comments

Hibs: Scott Allan

A few final thoughts on the Scott Allan-Hibs situation. Hibernian Football Club did very much all they could in a challenging situation and played out business (or lack of it) with great dignity, as they have always tended to do in their dealings with other clubs. Well done, Hibs.


Scott Allan

I can’t join in the general triumphalism over the situation regarding thwarting the new Glasgow club as the Easter Road side has lost its most talented player. There are early indications however, that more than adequate and importantly, motivated replacements, will develop in the youthful Henderson and McGinn.

I think most Hibbies will be happier if and when the excellent and committed Dylan McGeouch signs on the dotted line.

For the player the furore has surrounded, Scott Allan, I do believe that by signing for Celtic he has potentially placed himself in a whole world of trouble regards his career but more likely his off-field life. He has some quality, that is not in doubt (though not proven consistently at this point, albeit a sublimely skilled 23 year-old midfield player. Hi notorious Rangers allegiances will see him reviled by his boyhood team’s supporters for not signing for the Ibrox club after expressing a wish to do so. To magnify that issue he has defected to the hated ‘other side’, perhaps almost unbelievably. It’s always a possibility that Celtic’s supporters may turn on him for those same allegiances should Scott not perform.

We should of course remember that Allan is first and foremost a professional footballer and the sport and his earnings from it come first in what is a short career, as we always told. I can’t help feeling though that implementing one of those body swerves and sidestepping both Rangers and Celtic to pursue a career at a quality club in the English leagues at an appropriate point would have been much more beneficial to him for career development, earnings and a relatively sane life away from the field of play. For me he has manifested a parochial and short-sighted attitude towards his career and a lack of insight into how his lifestyle is going to be in the pressure cooker atmosphere with all it’s side issues that is Glasgow football.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

Happy 140th Birthday, Hibernian Football Club!

WHEN YOU BLEED GREEN AND WHITE and your famous old club celebrates its 140th BIRTHDAY, what better to do than recount its past?

A Short History of Hibernian Football Club

Welcome to a short history of Hibernian Football Club, the Green and White side of the Edinburgh professional football scene. ‘The Hibees’ play at Easter Road Stadium in Leith and have a proud, honourable and intriguing history stretching all the way back to 1875.

Hibernian Football Club has been part of the fabric and culture of Scotland’s Capital since its early inception. The club’s name is most usually abbreviated to ‘Hibs’ by fans and media alike. The club sports an impressive 20,421 seat facility in Easter Road Stadium where they play their home games.


Standing sentinel over its local community – Easter Road Stadium

Hibs have traditionally played in green and white strips since their formation, a pointer back to the Irish origins of the club. These origins emanate and embrace Irish emigration into Scotland and its Capital during the dark days of the Irish potato famine when many were displaced into the country and further afield around the world. The club badge has had several incarnations and its most recent one refers inclusively back to history and to the geographical placing of the organisation in its emblem of the Irish Harp, the castle depicting Edinburgh’s garrison and the ship signifying the port of Leith, respectively.

The club enjoys something of a high-profile fan base amongst its regular faithful fans. Notably, author Irvine Welsh has featured the club in his novels on many a memorable occasion, even hitting celluloid in the case of Trainspotting. Singing duo The Proclaimers contributed a modern-day and much-loved theme to the Easter Road terraces in their emotional ballad ‘Sunshine on Leith’ – recently also transferred to film in an excellent musical production. Further regular literary mentions also abound in Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus stories in which his assistant, Siobhan, is depicted as a ‘Hibby’.


Charlie and Craig Reid -The Proclaimers

So who are this team then?  What is the lifeblood that has characterised this enigmatic green and white phenomenon since its inception? Let’s take a leisurely and enjoyable stroll through the history book to find out a little more about the team’s rich past.

The club was originally formed, largely by the efforts of Canon Hannan, an Irish priest originally hailing from County Roscommon, and Michael Whelahan in the environs of St. Patrick’s Church in the heart of Edinburgh’s ‘Little Ireland’ of the day. The church still remains in the historic Cowgate area, now a world heritage site. The club’s famous name, ‘Hibernian’ was chosen for its reason of being the Roman word for Ireland, Hibernia. The initial and very laudable aim of the early club was to keep young Irish Catholic immigrants on the ‘straight and narrow’. To play for the Hibernians in those days entailed membership of the Catholic Young Men’s Society and an adherence to an abstemious lifestyle and regular attendance at Mass.


The Cowgate, Edinburgh

The early days of the club were also characterised by the club’s ceaseless work in aid of charitable causes – looking after and tending the impoverished of the community from which the club rose.

Hibs became an early power in Scottish football despite much prejudice and suspicion shown towards them by the authorities and within a few years were instrumental in the formation of the Celtic club in Glasgow and indeed myriad other teams of Irish heritage throughout Scotland.

Early mismanagement of the football club saw a temporary demise and hiatus in Hibernian’s history in 1891 when they ceased to exist for a single season. Before this however, the club had managed to become ‘World Champions’ by defeating the mighty English giants Preston North End! Hibernian re-emerged a very different club, open and inclusive to all, masterminded by the drive, ambition and loving care of Philip Farmer (ancestor of present owner Sir Tom Farmer), and his associates.

In 1892, Hibernian Football Club moved into its present home, Easter Road, often known as ‘The Holy Ground’ from those early years and traditions, and the club never looked back. Hibs enjoyed some moderate success on their reformation but it is perhaps the 1950s that most ‘Hibbies’ would claim as the club’s golden era and undoubtedly the club’s most successful and romantic period. The Hibees helped revolutionise attacking forward play in this glorious decade with their world-famous and revered forward line ‘The Famous Five’, comprising of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond. The ‘Five’ were renowned for their brilliant and dynamic attacking play which would often employ the five stars interchanging positions mid-game – unheard of in the rigid tactics of the time. The ace in the pack was undoubtedly right-winger Gordon Smith – who many rate as the best Scottish player of all-time, his mercurial talents exciting the big crowds of all persuasions of the day. The present day Easter Road Stadium still has a stand named in ‘Hibs’ greatest men’s’ honour.


The Famous Five – Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Turnbull and Ormond

In many ways, the Famous Five gave the club its reputation for open, attacking and attractive play which still prevails. At various junctures over the years, perhaps in seasons of struggle, it was difficult to justify that image but let it be said that Hibs’ most memorable teams are still those that brought great excitement, exuberance and enjoyment to the terracing faithful. It is difficult to generalise but many of the club’s dedicated supporters still adhere to the notion of the team playing the ‘right’ way – the ‘Hibernian way’.

Amidst great excitement and huge crowds, The Famous Five and their talented teammates behind them brought unprecedented success to Easter Road in the form of three Scottish Championship trophies. Nevertheless, the Scottish Cup still eluded this team of shining stars as it has done to this day since 1902, a notorious deficit in the history of the proud club.

Innovation has often been a feature of Hibs’ history and the club became the very first British outfit to take part in European Competition when they were admitted by invitation to enter the 1955 European Cup. The club acquitted themselves well in this inaugural foray onto the continent beating Rot-Weiss Essen 5-1 on aggregate before finally ending their involvement after being defeated by Stade Reims in the semi-final.

In the latter days of the 1950s with the ‘swinging sixties’ about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public, one of Hibs’ finest talents of all surfaced. English-born, Scots bred Joe Baker, a young centre forward, became the club’s most prolific scorer of all time and, unusually for the day, was eventually transferred in a big money move to Italian club Torino where he spent one stellar season alongside soon-to-be Manchester United and Scotland legend, Denis Law. The talented Baker, a player of great speed, dynamism and deadly finishing enjoyed a productive and much-loved playing career and returned to the Hibernian fold eventually as a player and ultimately, later in life, as a match day host.


The ‘Baker Boy’ – Joe Baker

Hibs enjoyed a fine reputation in Europe during the 1960s with many a famous victory for the men from Easter Road. Such giants of the game as Barcelona, Napoli and even Real Madrid in a specially arranged friendly, were unceremoniously put to the sword in cavalier style ‘down the slope’ by the men in green and white. The slope refers to the prominent dip that in those days was part of the Easter Road pitch.

Perhaps one of Hibernian FC’s most admired sides was the team of all talents of the early 1970s dubbed ‘Turnbull’s Tornadoes’ after Eddie Turnbull who returned to Easter Road as Manager after a successful period in charge at Aberdeen. The team, whilst ultimately under-achieving and being broken up prematurely, played a hugely exciting brand of football and boasted two genuine world-class talents in John Brownlie, an early overlapping full-back of the day and the great Pat Stanton. Stanton – still a much-loved and revered figure amongst the Easter Road faithful traces his Hibernian roots all the way back to Hibernian’s origins being a descendant of the important figure of the afore-mentioned Michael Whelahan, one of Hibs’ first on-field greats and a seminal figure in the formation of the club.


Patrick Gordon Stanton

Turnbull’s Tornadoes won silverware on several occasions but it is perhaps one particular day in 1973 that they are best remembered for by Hibbies everywhere. On the first day of January that year, Hibs were indeed in celebratory mood as they demolished city rival Hearts to the tune of seven goals to nil away at Tynecastle Stadium. That famous day is still very much a feature of the bragging rights between the two sets of Capital football supporters.

In the mid-1970s Hibs courted some controversy when they were again in innovatory mood in introducing sponsorship to the front of the club jersey. This gained television company’s ire – curious when one thinks of the corporate nature of the present day game.

That era was probably most notable for another story that revolved around one very special man. Towards the end of the decade Hibs famously signed an errant George Best who was already poised for a journey of self-destruction. Paid per game out of Chairman Tom Hart’s own pocket, the Irish genius scattered a little much-needed stardust around the club in a time of struggle before finally leaving the club for the United States and the next stage of his mercurial story.


George Best in the famous green and white

There have been some enduring themes in Hibs’ history. Glory and frustration, along with the benevolence of the early years being just a few. In 1990 however, the spectre of mismanagement returned to the club when they faced financial ruin and anxious times which almost lead to closure. During that year, Wallace Mercer, the Chairman of Hearts, launched a proposed merger of the two city clubs under the banner of an attempt to challenge the two big Glasgow clubs, Celtic and Rangers. The proposal however was viewed as a hostile takeover and an attempt to close down Hearts’ old city rivals. It was at this time that the pressure group ‘Hands off Hibs’ was hastily formed in order to protect the club and ensure its survival.

Local businessman, Tom Farmer, (now Sir Tom) originally a Leith native, came forward to acquire a controlling interest in Hibernian FC. One of his quotes of the time was that he was ‘tired of seeing so many miserable faces around Leith’ bearing in mind the community was nigh ready to lose its old club. Here again was another twist in Hibs history with Sir Tom’s ancestry lining back to Phillip Farmer who had performed a similar deed in helping save the club in its early years.


Sir Tom Farmer

Under the stewardship of Farmer and with a mobilised fan base, the club, after some desperate and worrying days eventually survived, being lauded as ‘The team who wouldn’t die’. For many present-day fans these were Hibs’ darkest hours until the daylight of survival was assured.

After a barren time of survival and existence for the enduring club ,save for a magnificent Skol Cup win in 1991, Hibs entered several seasons of consolidation and sometimes struggle. Former Scottish internationalist Alex McLeish was appointed manager but was unable to prevent the club dropping down a division in 1997-98. Hibs bounced back in fine style however under the on-field guidance of the talented former French internationalist Franck Sauzee and midfielder Russell Latapy. It was a return to an expansive style of play which was much-lauded from the Easter Road terraces and the springboard for where the present day club finds itself placed.

Further progress was recorded under the managerial tutelage of new appointment, Tony Mowbray and the club enjoyed an ‘upward spiral’ with a galaxy of young stars breaking through into the first team at a similar time and playing quick, attractive and controlled football on the ground as preached by the philosophical Mowbray.

Many of that team are now spread far and wide but the legacy of the financial gain they brought to the club by way of transfer fees now sees the club in a relatively enviable business position.

Another former hero eventually returned in the shape of former midfield star, John Collins. Collins’ stay was a tempestuous one in many respects but saw the club record one of its happiest days of all with a magnificent League Cup win to the tune of 5-1 over a hapless Kilmarnock at Hampden in March 2007.


Hibs Manager, John Collins celebrates with the CIS League Cup 2007

When this resume of Hibernian’s history was originally written, another former player, John Hughes, was in the managerial hot-seat at Easter Road. Early on-field signs were encouraging with ‘Yogi’ attempting to impress a passing game on the team with some encouraging results to follow. Relations subsequently soured, however, Hibs still managed a fourth-place finishing spot in spite of a disastrous run of form latterly. After his departure by mutual consent, Hughes was replaced by Former Nottingham Forest boss, Colin Calderwood to poor effect. Many fans reflected on this era being one of Hibs’ historic low points before and during his exit in November, 2011.

Irish club, Bohemians gave Hibs permission to speak to manager, Pat Fenlon who was drafted into Easter Road to make the many changes that were viewed as necessary. It is recorded that Pat, a likeable and principled character, whilst bringing a little more grit to the team, presided over some of the poorest Hibs results in several generations. A heavy loss to the team’s local rivals in the 2011-12 Scottish Cup Final, billed as the ‘Salt and Sauce Final’ in the media and a 0-7 European home debacle – a record Scottish defeat – against Malmo from Sweden in 2013 followed. The latter was particularly keenly felt due to it being the first home fixture after the sad passing of Hibs hero and legend, Lawrie Reilly. After major rebuilding work post the 2011-12 final, Hibs once more appeared at Hampden in pursuit of the Holy Grail in the 2012-13 Scottish Cup Final against Celtic. The result however, was a rather tame surrender to the ‘other’ team in green and white by three goals to nil.

Fenlon dutifully fell on his sword eventually to be replaced by the much-vaunted Terry Butcher and Maurice Malpas management team from Inverness Caledonian Thistle where they had experience moderate success. At the time of writing, Hibs are still making good after what became a disastrous, short-lived tenure under the big Englishman’s stewardship. From relative mid-table obscurity under Fenlon, Hibs, after early encouraging signs under Butcher, slipped slowly inexorably into the relegation zone which resulted in a two-leg play off against Hamilton Academicals. Hibs began with a heartening 2-0 win at Hamilton but surrendered to a late equalising goal and subsequent devastating penalty shoot-out defeat. Hibernian FC now face the immediate future in the Scottish Championship with some tough-looking competition from Glasgow Rangers and once, again Hibs’ local neighbours. After the dismissal of Butcher, former Celtic player and Everton coach, Alan Stubbs has been installed with the job of bringing some pride, style and success back to Easter Road. Early signs appear encouraging. There is however, much work to do.

A major change in the club also occurred in the close season before the big kick-off in 2014, that of new CEO, Leeann Dempster being installed from her previous position at Motherwell FC. Ms Dempster appears to have big plans for the old club, notable amongst that is a ‘return to the community’ feel about her approach. During this period, former player, Paul Kane has headed a pressure group to oust former CEO Rod Petrie from the club and subsequently wrest ownership from Sir Tom Farmer and Petrie towards a fan-based ownership model. At the time of writing, negotiations remain in progress.


Perhaps the bigger picture to be seen at this time is Hibernian Football Club’s relative financial surety – a feature that has not always been so during the Leith institution’s history. With the final piece of the Easter Road redevelopment jigsaw, the replacing of the East Terracing complete and the construction of a magnificent new dedicated training complex at East Mains – the envy of many a club and a development that will see the club’s future progress for the coming decades – the infrastructure for future success certainly appears in place

One might say that Hibernian Football Club’s greatest days are yet to come…

‘Glory Glory to the Hibees!’

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment