Some would suggest that great ideas come in waves, and there’s a shared consciousness that lets people tap into the same strand of thinking. We’ll go with that.
This week’s SPL wrap was well underway by early Sunday evening, and was all set to be an uncharacteristically upbeat take on how many talented young players were coming through at SPL clubs.
Then it appeared that Sportscene had claimed the theme too. And they’d highlighted the same players, and made some of the same points. And they’d done it all with moving pictures and sounds so you could see the action, rather than two dimensional words that you had to use your brain to decipher.
Still, we weren’t perturbed that time we re-wrote Fern Gully with giant blue smurfs only to discover Avatar, or that time our lady-porn scribblings were beaten to the punch by Fifty Shades of Grey. A good idea is a good idea and we shall persevere for two reasons.
One, it is true that there are a raft (the proper collective noun) of talented youngsters in the SPL, and two, we’ve started writing it and there’s deadlines to meet.
The first match of the weekend looked to be a tricky return to the Highlands for Celtic, where they would face Inverness Caledonian Thistle on the back of a fortuitous point at Ross County and going all Jean-Luc Picard by beating The Borg. The hosts were unbeaten, while Celtic had lost Scott Brown, Anthony Stokes, Rogne, Gorgeous Georgios, Ledley and Kris Commons to assorted ouches, aches and maladies, while Ki Sung Yeung had been traded with Swansea for a briefcase full of a cool five million. Such was the length of Celtic’s injury worries there was even the possibility that Mo Bangura might have to start.
Instead it was left to Celtic’s youngsters. Not only does Tony Watt have arguably the best initials in the world, he looks every bit the confident striker. The 18-year-old scored two, alongside goals from Victor Wanyama and Charlie Mulgrew, to put Celtic 4-0 up with half an hour to play. Ross Draper managed a couple of late goals to add the kind of respectability to the scoreline that a novelty tie would on a tuxedo.
When Watt was born Mr Blobby had just replaced Take That at the top of the charts and DOOM had just been released. At this point you let out a sigh that says “yes, I am that old”. You ain’t no kid no more, innit. As the young people say.
But wait! There’s more! St Mirren managed to get a deserved point against Motherwell thanks to 17-year old Thomas Reilly. Michael Higdon had given Stuart McCall’s team the lead only for Shaun Hutchison to get his second red card in five days and Reilly to put down his Power Rangers and Ben 10 to score a final minute equaliser.
Reilly was born in 1994. Repeat, 1994. He wasn’t around when Diana Ross missed the first penalty of the US World Cup, and was brought into the world just early enough to catch the eon-long run of Wet Wet Wet’s Love is All Around at number one. 1994? I’ve got tins in my cupboard older than that. Sigh.
While Dundee United’s hip young gunslingers have been making headlines, it was Kenny Shiels’ Kilmarnock that picked up their first win of the season. Ever the diplomat, the spiels o’ Shiels this week included the suggestion that Dundee United were effective rather than attractive. Kilmarnock successfully managed to stop them being either. Rarely will you see a more bizarre opening goal, as Barry Douglas casually skipped along his own six yard box, blissfully unaware of the presence of 18-year-old Rory McKenzie (who had Boom Shake the Room by Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince at number one on the day of his birth), who threw himself at the comically abandoned ball. Borja Perez’s penalty doubled the lead, before Jane Austen’s very own Jude Winchester got a third. Jon Daly – who amongst this company serves to remind some of us that “there’s still time to become a professional footballer” - got one for United, but rather too late for it to mean much.
While producing talented youngsters has never been a problem for Hibernian, having level-headed veterans has been slightly more of an issue. Despite a shoeing on day one, Hibs have rallied and beat St Johnstone 2-0 to move into second place in the early table. Paul Hanlon and Eoin Doyle scored the goals, giving Hibs back-to-back wins for only the second time since March 2011.
Hearts had spent most of the last week having their faces patronised off by English commentators dishing out condescending pats on the back for their plucky 1-0 defeat to Liverpool. Now I’m not one for glorifying losses, but Hearts were hugely unfortunate not to get at least a draw against a team that cost £50,000,000 to put together.
Okay, that figure does include £16,000,000 for Jordan Henderson, but still…
Things didn’t get any easier at Pittodrie, where a seemingly rejuvenated Aberdeen side did everything but score. Again, Aberdeen’s main danger was provided by Jonny Hayes and 18-year-old human Kinder egg toy, Ryan Fraser (Mariah Carey – Without You). The only feasible way Marius Zaliukas could find of stopping the youngster was to kick him six feet into the air; always a backhanded compliment. Somehow the match ended 0-0.
Just a single goal separated Ross County and Dundee in their first SPL tussle since being promoted together in the summer. Richard Brittain (Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon) scored the only goal from the penalty spot, which means there are probably SPL players younger than their unbeaten run (Cher Lloyd – Swagger Jagger).