Friday, April 27, 2007

Lennon's Old Firm fairytale (Sorry Neil, not you)

Old Firm games always matter or so I’ve been told – often quite forcibly by Old Firm supporters.

Celtic fans might well be willing to argue with that today after their team’s annihilation in the Scottish Youth Cup final yesterday.

But how the Rangers fans will revel in the irony that a young man named Lennon scored a hat-trick against the old enemy.

I dare say Neil will not be unduly bothered by young Steven’s achievement but it will no doubt raise a titter in Govan.

Youth teams, of course, can promise much and not translate that potential to the bigger stage but let’s hope the Rangers team can make an impact in Scotland – and that their hooped counterparts can recover and make similar strides.

Young Scots playing in Europe for the Old Firm can only be a good thing for the Scottish national team – however much that sticks in the craw of those of us who seek succour outside of Glasgow’s dominant forces.

The next challenge is for the players – and their clubs – to show the desire and commitment to stick with it and progress. That is often easier said than done – although John Kennedy’s return to action shows that Old Firm youngsters can prosper in adversity.

Perhaps the bleakest note of the night was the attendance. That 11,486 supporters watched the match at Hampden should fill us with joy. That 3000 less people watched two SPL sides in a Scottish Cup semi final only 48 hours earlier is on a par with any embarrassment the young Celtic players felt.

Hampden this week has provided a forensic examination of the Scottish game: and the future is far from rosy.