In the world of Scottish football a celebration of Back to the Future Day was more akin to a re-visit of a fairly dark and dismal past. Without doubt much of the focus today will centre round the comments of Mark Burchill on Radio Clyde last night, which were rightly condemned by the Rangers Supporters Trust. To base a “plea of mitigation” around the respective nationalities of both offender and victim was never, ever, going to end well.
But Burchill’s inappropriate comments must not be allowed to dominate or overshadow this debate. The real issue at hand is the brutal treatment being dished out on a regular basis to Nathan Oduwa, which as we have all witnessed this season, was not confined to Tuesday night’s game. In this respect the comments of Berwick Rangers player Andy Russell provide a more valuable insight into the mind set at work.
One is left to ponder what is “fair” about the sort of tackle which has the potential to end a playing career. Furthermore, is the expression of flair on the pitch the equivalent of “acting the big man and playing the clown” ? Should we expect any player performing a nutmeg, exciting or entertaining the crowd during the course of 90 minutes to receive the kind of “summary justice” Russell alludes to in that tweet ? Heaven help us.
For a country which once cherished the tanner ba player it is perhaps indicative of the state of our national game that there has been so much fuss about a player arriving on the scene who has the “audacity” to serve up some flair and skill during his 90 minute outing. BBC Scotland even managed to break its self-imposed sabbatical on reporting all things Rangers with an online article as to whether the rainbow flick displayed by Oduwa against Alloa was a “Flick too far”. And not an Operation Market Garden in sight.
This is the same Scotland which revelled, and still revels to this day at Baxter’s game of keepie-uppie at Wembley in 1967. Perhaps it’s the shade of blue on the shirt which determines whether the expression of outrageous skill is appropriate. And perhaps it’s the shade of blue on the shirt and erroneous allegations of favourable refereeing decisions which prompted Andrew Dallas to keep his cards in his pocket on Tuesday night.
One thing which is certain however that is the brutal treatment being dished out to Nathan Oduwa can no longer be allowed to go unpunished and it’s up to Scotland referees to do their duty without fear or favour.
Scotland’s reaction to the flair of Nathan Oduwa is worthy of a bookmark. One we can visit when we are doing nothing else during the Euros.