Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scotland's Best

"It's the oldest pub debate in football. When two or three fans are gathered together, talk will always turn to who would be in the starting 11 for the greatest Scotland team of all-time?"
OK, so it's not the oldest pub debate in football. Pubs came before football, so I'd imagine the oldest pub debate in football would be about who could be arsed to go out and start playing the game. It's also not a debate I find myself having with any regularity.

But we've all written cheesy opening lines to press releases before so let's not damn STV's Greatest Team before it starts.

And tempting as it is let's not write it off because it's being promoted in conjunction with The Scottish Sun. STV and The Sun, it's like the ultimate tag team of media crapness. In my nightmares this programme will be the bastard offspring of The Hour and Smeato: The Column That Sets Aboot Ye.

But no, let's not judge before the series kicks off tomorrow night. Not even when we hear that the presenters are Kelly Dalglish (STV's website has dropped the Cates to signpost her credentials), Sanjeev Kohli, John Gordon Sinclair and Lorraine Kelly.

Lorraine Kelly? Aside from wanting to hurl a brick through the TV every time I see her, I've got nothing against Lorraine Kelly. But I've no more desire to see her wittering on about football than I have to see Archie Macpherson sitting on a breakfast TV sofa discussing cervical cancer.

Still let's be generous. Even when we hear that it's only going to pick a greatest team kind of. Because anyone who was capped before 1 January 1967 isn't eligible. Thus the archive footage of Wembley 1967 and all that can be used at length. The grainier images of the Famous Five, the Iron Curtain or memories of the original Wembley Wizards are disqualified.

Strikers, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers each get their own show. Viewers will be asked to vote on a shortlist that has been selected by an expert panel to select the Greatest Team With Players Scotland Have Had In The Last 43 Years And Three And A Bit Months That Fit A 4-4-2 Formation. I should point out that Gordon Smith chaired the panel so Celtic fans should feel free to boycott STV from 9pm tomorrow night.

This is the kind of filler programme that works well when the country is gearing up for World Cup fever. I'm not convinced that we really need it when we're preparing for a summer of staring on gormlessly from the sidelines.

And STV have done it before. As recently as 1998 they got Alex Ferguson to pick his greatest 11 before the World Cup in France. It would be interesting to see how the viewer's final selection compares to Fergie's but I'm guessing that won't happen because it might suggest STV are recycling old ideas.

But despite all my small minded pettiness I'll be watching tomorrow night. And I'm sure I'll have discussions about it in the coming weeks so I suppose we could call that press release self prophecy.

They've set their own challenge to find the Greatest XI across on Left Back In The Changing Room and they've already named their 'keeper and back four. Feel free to visit them to argue the case and get in the mood for shouting at the box tonight.