With the end of season gongs already handed out elsewhere, your friends at Tell Him He’s Pelé think it only fair that we too join in the fun and hand out our own selection of bespoke trophies, the kind you order from Timpsons. We too want to celebrate the campaign’s outstanding performers.
But, instead of lauding people like Ian Murray, Lyle Taylor, Nicky Clark and Ally McCoist over and over again, the kind of people who have basked in acclaim all year, we turn our attention to the season’s unsung heroes. These are the individuals who have performed with quiet distinction, those who have chosen to shun the spotlight and work diligently for the good of their team. These are the people who go unnoticed, but who deserve every accolade, every compliment and every kind work garlanded upon them. These are persons like you and I.
And so, let us praise them here. Let us gather round, take off our shirts and chant their names (quietly at first, but again and again with an ever-increasing volume). In the annals of history, they might be nothing more than mere footnotes, but today at least, they shall live like kings.
The Talia al Ghul Award for Excellence in the Field of Family Loyalty
Winner: LUCY WEIR (Jim Weir’s daughter)
Jim Weir is a dreadful football manager. Awful! Abject! Atrocious! In fact, any pejorative term you care to think of could probably be used to describe his abilities. The man with a face like a haunted cottage has been wandering the plains of Angus, drifting from club to club in that hope that someone might be seduced enough to take a punt on him. Montrose, Arbroath, Brechin City – Weir has worked his reverse Midas touch to great effect across the region. With Forfar Athletic’s Dick Campbell (87 later this year) about to shuffle off this mortal coil, Weir has already become a personal favourite to succeed him, if only for some perverse desire to see him complete the whole set.
After getting his jotters from Brechin after 14 months of general awfulness, the outpouring of delight that followed was quite incredible. Not only did supporters revel in his dismissal, but they were joined by a host of his former players. United in their dislike of the man with a face like an unhappy train, only Margaret Thatcher’s death has since provoked similar glee.
With Weir unable to defend himself against such an outrageous sling of vitriol, there was only one person prepared to speak up in his honour: his daughter Lucy.
Lucy Weir is, objectively speaking at least, an attractive young woman. With her painted face and sculpted eyebrows, she looks like someone who might linger around in the background of a scripted reality TV show, or take pictures of her dinner and stick them up on the internet. After logging onto Twitter and performing a quick search, she would have been both saddened and alarmed by the levels of rancour shown towards her old man. While she couldn’t quite hire a masked mercenary to to take control of Brechin and threaten its civilians with an atomic bomb, she did the only thing she could in her power: reply to them directly.
It was pretty ugly stuff. One fan was told to “fuck yourself”, while others were reminded of her father’s previous successes and the level of his income. Steven Hislop, who had played under Weir at Arbroath, was described as a “bitter rejected player”, while Ciaran Donnelly, the chubby Albion Rovers defender, was called a “fucking sket” (whatever that means) after trying – and failing – to chat her up.
The tweets sent in Lucy Weir’s direction fell into three categories: the first were attacks on her or her father; the second defended his achievements in football (although rather pointedly, no-one mentioned his managerial career); and the third all offered to shag her. It was wholly unedifying and no-one, Lucy Weir or anyone who replied to her, came out of it well.
Jim Weir, meanwhile, was last seen loitering outside Station Park.
The Alanis Morissette Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Irony
Winner: IAN BLACK (Rangers)
Poor old Ian Black! He hasn’t had much fun this year, has he?
Everyone’s least favourite painter and decorator has had a rum old time of it since joining Rangers. Few could have begrudged his transfer to the Ibrox club – this is a difficult economic climate after all, and a man has to put bread on the table – but he should have known what he was getting himself in for when he decided to take a wander down into the Third Division.
The basement league, as we all know, is an ugly and uncouth competition, where packs of lawless hatchetmen roam the pitch in search of an opposition legs while bald, angry men with inky-blue tattoos stand on the sidelines in groups of five or six whilst holding devil dogs and shouting unspeakable abuse. The football (if you can even call it that!) is routinely horrible and the score-lines tend to end up 17-13, or something.
It should have been, quite literally, a stroll in the park for a man of Black’s calibre. After all, this is a player who, when at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, would spend the evening before a match scanning through the opposition team lines to see if anyone was returning from injury. Dodgy ankle? There’s a wee kick for your troubles. Coming back from a broken toe, are you? Well guess what?! I’ve got a letter for you but I forgot to STAMP it! Ho-ho-ho! Letting Black loose in such a league would have been the equivalent of releasing a captive beast back into its natural habitat.
It didn’t quite work out like that, however. Poor old Ian! When not thundering aimlessly around the pitch, full of impotent fury like a middle-aged man struggling to put together a flat pack bedside cabinet, he was being chopped to pieces by a succession of players readily queuing up to take a pop at him. The most notorious example of the bully-boy tactics dished out in his direction came midway through Rangers’ 0-1 defeat to Stirling Albion, when Gary Thom executed a fantastic roundhouse kick to his chest. The nation gleefully cheered as Black crumpled to the turf, while Thom received a sympathetic caution.
Needless to say, poor old Ian didn’t like this one bit.
“It’s not fair,” he sniffed from behind his mother’s skirt. “Everyone hates me here and no-one likes me and they’ve been so mean to me and it’s not fair cos I haven’t even done nothing to them and I hate it here and I hate everyone and I want my mum and I want to go home!”
There is a lesson to the story here: don’t give it out if you can’t take it back.
The Larry David Award for Schadenfreude
Winner: THOMAS O’WARE (Greenock Morton)
In the aftermath of their resounding 6-1 over Livingston in mid-March, the Partick Thistle players, as they inevitably do, took to Twitter to shower their followers with the usual litany of banalities – you know, things like #Buzzing, #BeepBeep, #PromotionBus, #Believe, #KickOn and so on. Aaron Sinclair, no stranger to flooding the micro blogging site with his own relentless stream of drivel, took the opportunity to add his own phrase into the popular lexicon: #WeGotThis.
A mixture of reassurance and cocksure swagger, Sinclair’s words were seized upon by supporters and quickly became Thistle’s motto for the final weeks of their season. Such was its ubiquity, #WeGotThis began to prowl out of its footballing context and into everyday life. “Me and ma bro are coffin bearer at ma grans funreal 2day #WeGotThis” tweeted one fan shortly afterwards.
While some revelled in the phrase, it began to grind on others. In some quarters, it even seemed to signal a sea change in perception of the Jags support (on social media, at least), from the cuddly Glasgow alternative to self-entitled miscreants. It certainly got up the nose of Greenock Morton’s Thomas O’Ware, anyway. Don’t bother looking for it because it’s no longer there, but the young full-back went on Twitter to deliver his own thoughts: “we got this??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
We all know what happened next, but it’s still worth pinpointing O’Ware’s unique role in Thistle’s championship victory.
In April’s seismic encounter between Thistle and Morton, O’Ware was wretched, anxiously shambling round the pitch like a man who wasn’t sure if he’d left the iron on or not. As the first half drew to a close, his inexplicable cross-field ball was skewed straight to a Thistle player and set them off on a counter attack. O’Ware tried to keep pace with Jimmy Craigen but slipped at the most inopportune moment, affording him the free space to poke Chris Erskine’s pass home.
O’Ware was pulled off at half-time, and Thistle won the match. Later that month, they celebrated winning the title by wearing t-shirts with – yes! – #WeGotThis crudely scribbled across the front. Bear this lesson in mind, young Thomas.
The Phileas Fogg Award for Going Places and Doing Things
Winner: STRUGGLIN’ BILLY BROWN (East Fife)
Everyone’s favourite moment of the entire season is Billy Brown’s breakdown. Forget the championship wins or the promotions or the derby victories – the East Fife manager’s visceral rant following his team’s dismal 1-2 home defeat to Stenhousemuir was utterly spectacular, the kind of thing you’d only see at closing time in a provincial town centre. Had it been filmed on a bus, and had Brown thrown in a couple of derogatory racial epithets for good measure, it would have been a viral smash on YouTube.
There’s a number of brilliant moments throughout the clip (his constant pacing is woozily frightening, while at 4:56 it looks as though he’s about to have a stroke), but the supreme highlight was his exclamation “Ah’ve been places an dun hings”. What a wonderful phrase!
It immediately conjures images of the manager recast as William Brown esq., the gentleman adventurer straight from the pages of a Jules Verne novel. One can imagine Brown, dressed in a burgundy smoking jacket and a golden fedora, gliding over the Congo in a hot air balloon in search of big game, precious jewels, romance and intrigue, all before dinner time. William Brown esq., the gentleman adventurer, has been places and done things. He’s sailed around the Horn, he’s climbed the highest peaks, and he invented Australia.
Or perhaps we’re all mistaken. Was Billy Brown – who’s been places and done things, remember – not the man who traipsed around after Jim Jeffries to such glamourous vistas as Bradford and Kilmarnock, arranging cones on a training field into neat little patterns and handing out bibs on a daily basis? Without his organ grinder, Brown is an unengaging prospect, like Oates without Hall, or Bodger without Badger.
Brown’s immediate future is uncertain, but at least he has a lifetime of memories to look back on. Maybe he should write a book. The title writes itself.