Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pies in the sky

Nothing is sacred.

Not content with our national cup competition being labelled with a ridiculous moniker to promote a ridiculous government initiative that is doomed to failure, we now have to suffer the ultimate indignity.

Ladies and gentlemen, they're after our pies.

The pie and the Bovril. They've been keeping us warm, sustaining us through dull relegation battles, soaking up the pre match pints and staining our scarves for as long as any of us, or any of our fathers, can remember.

But they are BAD for us.

They're not a harmless tradition anymore. They are a THREAT to the nation's health that must be STOPPED.

Yes, I give you the healthy Scotch pie. It was unveiled at Hampden yesterday by Tam Cowan (no zealot like a convert) and has been developed by Quality Meat Scotland. 20% less saturated fat and 20% less salt.

But 100% dull.

I'm all for healthy eating. I should be - I've lost two and a half stone in the past year.

But a pie at the football is a guilty pleasure that is part of the communal pleasure of enjoying (or enduring) a game with your mates and thousands of other people with whom you may have nothing in common except sharing a belief in the eleven heroes (or diddies) wearing your colours on a Saturday afternoon.

In it's own way it's a footballing icon on a par with a Law or a Best.

So leave it alone.

And get this. It's not the pie that makes the nation unhealthy. A pie combined with five pints before the match, ten pints after the match and a kebab on the way home is not healthy. A pie twice a day, seven days a week is not healthy.

But the humble half time pie is but a simple pleasure that you will probably have worked off by the time you shuffle down the stairs after the match.

It's a tradition you mess with at your peril. For years I'd been traipsing to the Hampden kiosk hoping they'd have a macaroni pie available. Each time I had to settle for the simple Scotch. Then one day I got my wish. And get this, the macaroni version was dire and an unparallaled catalyst for heartburn.

Only the full fat Scotch pie will do - have you seen the anaemic pizzas and limp hot dogs they're serving up these days? (Note: East End Park bridies are the honourable exception to this rule.)

The quality of the football pie is diminishing. It's another footballing tradition beseiged by changing tastes, cost cutting, rising prices and marketing men keen to flush out anything "old fashioned."

We should be fighting a rearguard action to save the pie not undermining its intrinsic psychological value to the beleaguered football fan by turning it into something it is not.

It's time to say "enough is enough". It's time to say "our team is losing at half time to Falkirk and you are labouring beneath the misapprehension that it's 20% more salt that's going to fecking kill me."

No, no, no. We cannot and will not stand for it.