Lower-league Scottish football is serious business.
It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.
As the Scottish Professional Football Leagues enters its second year, it is not unfair to suggest that the stakes have never been higher. That’s right: this season, expect to see more explosions! More special effects! More graphic death scenes! And more dinosaurs! Yes, it’s harder, better, faster, stronger – adjectives you thought you’d never use to describe lower league Scottish football.
The 2014-15 Championship is, without a doubt, the most lustrous division in the country, the equivalent of driving down Ocean Drive in a Ferrari Testarossa with Crockett’s Theme gently piping from the stereo. It is perhaps a microcosm of Scottish football as a whole, with some of the nation’s biggest clubs duking it out with mid-card full-time sides and part-time teams. It should be utterly fascinating, more so because only two teams can win promotion into the Premiership – one (or maybe more!) of Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian or Rangers will be consigned to another season in the second tier.
At the opposite end, League 2 will be acutely observed because this is the first time the trapdoor will swing open and finally get the long-awaited pyramid system into action. For those not paying attention, whoever finishes in tenth place will face the winners of the play-off between the Highland League and Lowland League champions. Imagine that: a brand new club competing with the best 41 sides in the country on merit, rather than the financial recklessness like previous entrants Gretna and Annan Athletic.
(League 1, meanwhile, should be reasonable fun but lacks the spectacle of the other divisions. It is the Plain Jane, the ugly duckling compared with its peers. Can it blossom into a beautiful swan? Perhaps. But with two full-time teams playing in what is ostensibly a part-time league, it seems like a leaden-footed two-horse race (although one of them is managed by Jim Duffy, so Greenock Morton should perhaps be discounted already).)
Don’t let that put you off. While the eyes of the mainstream media will be elsewhere (“Hey guys, remember when Rangers against Hearts used to take place in the SPL?! Wacky, innit!”), your friends at Tell Him He’s Pelé will continue to champion the unheralded and the unloved. We have our fingers in more pies than Bruce Bogtrotter at lunchtime and we will endeavor to bring together the very best writers and commentators to promote an outstanding level of insight and analysis of the Scottish lower leagues.
Tell Him He’s Pelé will continue to provide eclectic articles covering the three basement divisions, unbound by word count, editorial bias or search engine optimisation. Nobody really cares about that kind of thing and neither do we. Tell Him He’s Pelé is about summoning the spirit and the soul of the fag-end of Scottish football – the kind of extraordinary moments witnessed by several hundred people on a Saturday afternoon at one of the country’s more remote outposts.
The moments that mean absolutely nothing yet mean absolutely everything.
And they’re all here, just for you.
Craig Anderson, Alistair Gemmell, John A Maxwell, Shaughan McGuigan and Craig G Telfer