It had been unseasonably warm around these parts, but events had got even hotter.
It was almost whisky-o-clock on a Friday evening when I’d got a knock on my office door. The only people I know with the courtesy to knock are the kind of guys who are not in the courtesy-extending business, if you know what I mean, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be disturbed.
But this was different. Instead it was a well-dressed man, called himself Thom, who had this case for me. This… SPL case.
I’d taken the assignment on the understanding that it was purely and observe and report job. I’ve had too much excitement this year already and I wanted to stay clear of dangerous cases, dangerous calls and dangerous curves. Some chance.
Before I even laid eyes on the targets I’d been up all night doing my homework. It might not have been Chinatown, but this was a hell of a chase. Eight targets, four towns, two days. Observe and report. First up was Dundee, where I’d get a good look at the first two.
The first name on my list was Rangers and times were obviously tough for the ol’ gal. My background check had turned up that she’d been talk of the town less than a year ago, which made the state I found her in all the more alarming.
She’d obviously gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd; owing money all over town, under investigation by the feds, and shorn of all the weapons that once made her such a force of nature. Sure, there was still fight in her, but she’d looked into the abyss and no mistake.
Luckily for her she still had her gentlemen callers, old flames and new. Would any of them be able to get her back to where she was? I don’t know - I don’t get paid enough to judge.
Rangers had been taught a lesson by the Dundee United gang; the second targets on my list. For most of the last year these guys had been relatively small-time, picking off some of the smaller fish without going after the real sharks. A few weeks back they started moving in on others’ turf and with real muscle too.
Keith Watson and Jon Daly were the ones that made their mark this weekend, and not even John Rankin shooting himself in the foot could deny their superiority. These guys are dangerous.
Then there was the battle of the Saints. A background check tells me that Danny’s Saints started out with the best possible intentions, but things have not been going to plan more recently. Ain’t that always the way?
Reports had told me that the Paisley Saints were considering a link up with Newcastle through Wise Ol’ Tommy Craig. I’d heard he’d gone down looking for a new Ba and had returned with a box-fresh Mitre Tensile.
St Johnstone had Lee Croft, David McCracken and Francisco Sandaza to thank for this one. It just goes to show, you can have all the pretty moves in the world, but when it comes down to it it’s always about who brings the most firepower.
The Motherwell Corporation have to be one of the most effective rackets in the whole of the country. They ain’t got much money, but they keep producing the goods from somewhere and look like they’ll be making a lot more coin come the end of the year.
Last weekend Aberdeen had come down to their patch, picked their pocket and pulled down their pants. Revenge was obviously on their minds and duly extracted by Steven Hammell.
The stories will say he shot from somewhere around Bellshill. He doesn’t take aim very often, but watch for the smokin’ gun when he does.
I woke on the Sunday with my head throbbing like a Monday-morning Kilmarnock fan. One more trip, two more marks. I pulled on my coat and headed for Tynecastle.
Hearts and Hibs have been battling for the soul of the capital city for well over a century. Shootouts have been known to get ugly, but there’s always a sense of excitement when the two come together. I wanted to stay out of danger, but sometimes I can’t help myself.
Hibs felt they might finally overcome their nemesis, having taken regular beatings from them in the last three years. What had once been a power struggle was in grave danger of looking like old fashioned bullying.
We saw nothing to change our minds. Craig “The Butcher” Beattie and Suso “Soprano” Santana kept Hibernian at arms length throughout.
I called it a day and handed in my notes. I’d seen things no man should try and comprehend, like Hibernian’s defence and Danny Lennon’s psyche. I picked up a bottle and headed for home.
- Celtic (75) remain 21 points ahead of Rangers (54) and Motherwell (54).
- Dundee United (43) and St Johnstone (43) are fourth and fifth and cannot be caught by sides in the bottom six.
- Hearts (39) only need another win to guarantee their place in the top six.
- Kilmarnock (34) and Aberdeen (33) are seventh and eighth. St Mirren (31) are ninth.
- Inverness (28) and Hibernian (23) are ahead of managerless Dunfermline (19)