At this time of year, we’re all antsy for the new season to start; what with almost half a week having passed since the end of the last season i.e. the Confederations Cup Final in South Africa on Sunday. So as a service to readers worldwide (note: mostly located in Ireland) who may be visited by some unfit and sunburnt professional footballers of the Scozzeze Premiere Ligaship, here’s a roundup of pre-season action for the so-called “top” league in Scotland.
Champions Rangers are following their recent habit of touring southern Germany playing amateur teams. I can’t for the life of me understand why; what is there in Germany except litres and litres of draft beer… oh… that’s right. Well, even if MacGregor and Ferguson move on, the tour is still happening, culminating in a rally friendly in Nurnberg. Slightly more glamorously, they visit Portsmouth (I did say slightly) but then getting full-on sexy, they will play PSG and Arsenal at the Emirates pre-season tournament, recalling the late 40s when the Gers and Arsenal had annual friendlies, although back then they were in black and white. Breaking news: a home game against Man City, presumably to allow the Mancs to do to the Glasgow Polis what those awful Chelsea casuals did to the GMP.
Former Champions Celtic have arranged a trip to Brisbane – that’s Brisbane (Australia), not Brisbane (Road, Leytonstone). Mental. Spending 48 hours on planes for a pre-season friendly? How many shirts do they expect Scott Mcdonald to flog? Then the ‘Tic inaugurate Cardiff City’s new stadium, which will be fun for ex-Ger Ross McCormack who will no doubt get dog’s abuse for having once played for Rangers (and I think it maybe was just the once). More debuts follow when Celtic become the first Scottish team to play at NewWembley (TM) in the “Wembley Cup”. It’ll be genuinely interesting to see how they do against an African team – one half of the Egyptian Old Firm, Al-Ahly; and of course when they play Spurs it’ll be Alan Hutton’s turn to take the righteous abusing. If he’s not injured.
In alphabetical order for the rest of you:
Pre-season tour of Austria. Lock up your sheep, Alpine farmers. And EPL opposition… Hull City away in the Dean Windass testimonial.
These guys must like the sheep as well because they’re off up to Oban in early July. However I think their pre-season is a punishment for failing to qualify for Europe, because they then go to Fife (Dunfermline) and Stirling (Albion) before a trip to Ireland… which maybe isn’t so bad but it was the scene of one of my worst-ever family vacations. [Lowlight, which still scars me: sitting for hours in the barren reception area of the Waterford Crystal factory while my parents did the “no kids allowed” tour.] Back in Scotland they have another trip up the A9 for more Highland action against Inverness Caley/Thistle.
Copying Dundee United! How sad is that. Oban then Ireland. Glamour tie seems to be Darlington away… no, for real.
Heart of Midlothian
Going to Germany in early July, near Hannover I am told – which is a major drug-traffic crossroads so maybe that is how Romanov will fund his payroll next year. Couple of games against local oppo (+ St Pauli, not so local I guess), then back to Tynie for vists from Bolton and Sunderland in early August. Oooh.. Bolton.
What is it with Ireland? Are easyjet doing special fares? Hibees are slightly more adventurous though as they go to Belfast as well as Dublin. The glamour tie is the game against Bolton who are doing the rounds in Edinburgh; however it’s at home, against Bolton, and Leith’s not really that glamorous, is it?
Remember when Graeme Souness joined Rangers from Sampdoria, and the first thing he did was change Rangers pre-season routine from Gullane Sands to an exclusive Italian resort that Sampdoria used? Il Ciocco, it was called? Well, massively-in-debt Killie are going there, which makes me think either everyone’s standard of living has massively increased in the last 20 years; or Il Ciocco has gone downhill considerably and you don’t want to book your honeymoon there. Can any of our northern Italian readers confirm which it is? [Oh and Burnley at home 6th of August.]
The Steelmen aren’t doing a pre-season tour, with the “Europa Cup” qualifiers acting as their pre-season (starting today!); they do have a reasonably glamour friendly against Wigan in August, but it’s at home so legions of frustrated ‘Well fans won’t get to see Wigan Pier and shake their little Lanarkshire booties to sweet 60s soul music.
Yah man, Trini come ta town. I played football with a group of Trinis in NYC and I have to say I loved playing with them (reciprocal feelings were muted). They love the game, they play it beautifully, they like to beat a man or two before passing and they loved all the Scottish fans who supported them at the World Cup in Germany. Anyway the Latapy Lovetrain rolls into Falkirk Grahamston on the 26 July. If the Bairns still play sweet passing football this should be a nice game for a purist like me.
A week in Italy, with a game against Verona. Sounds fab! However all this is just practice for the Renfrewshire Cup tie against Morton on 28 July. ‘Mon the ‘ton!
Ireland again. No, really, what is up with that? And Burnley at home August 8.
And There’s More?
Many thanks to “Fitba Daft” for some of the detail; I did do most of the research myself, honest, but this site and the comments section has a pretty exhaustive list of pre-season games that is constantly being updated. If your team’s not up here, check it out.