Recently I upgraded to the new iPhone 3GS and it’s an amazing piece of technology.  How amazing?  Well, the other day I was typing the outline to this week’s column; I typed “Faddy fit”, and the iPhone changed it to “Daddy fit”.  Too bloody right, I thought – Norway, who’s your daddy?  Faddy’s your daddy.  Steve Jobs, you are indeed a genius.

George Burley hasn’t had many breaks since taking over as Scotland manager, but James McFadden’s return for the critical Oslo fixture next week might be a timely end to a run of bad luck.  While he is missing the booze brothers McGregor/Ferguson/Boyd, there are only two other notable absentees – Craig Gordon and Stephen McManus.  And though Neil Alexander isn’t in the same class as the Sunderland stopper, he is a capable deputy with decent big-match experience so (famous last words) he should be a safe pair of hands.  In defence, losing McManus is a blow but more than offset with the return of Alan Hutton, the right-back for whom the word ‘marauding’ was invented.

So looking down the squad, and assuming no more injuries (always an optimistic assumption), Burley may well go for a starting lineup of: Alexander; Hutton, Berra, G Caldwell, Steven Whittaker; Brown, Fletcher, Hartley, McFadden; Fletcher, Miller.  This would be a fairly attacking line-up, and let’s face it, we really would prefer a win to settle the stomach for the last two Hampden games.  Hutton and Whittaker would give us some attacking options on the wings; Hartley could solidify the central midfield, with the others buzzing around in front of him; Miller is always a reliable outlet up front and Stephen Fletcher is just a guy who will GET TORE INTAE THESE WHALEF*CKERS.

Norway is a beautiful country that in many ways is similar to our own gorgeous land (the one that we all chose to leave many years ago).  Beautiful scenery; a rugged alcoholic people battling the elements to scrape a living; a larger neighbour providing a source of conflict through the years; beautiful women.  Well, we have the scenery, alcoholics, and the neighbour in common, anyway.

So I should like Norway.  But I don’t.  Norway can lick my hairy Scottish arse, and here’s why.

Reason number one: MADE ME SHIT MY PANTS.
15 November 1989.  Scotland need a draw at Hampden to qualify for Italia 90.  1-0 up and cruising thanks to an Ally McCoist strike, then in the last minute some viking pops up and equalises.  Squeaky-bum-time before Alex Ferguson ever invented the phrase.  We held on but really, Norway, was there any need?

Reason number two: SHITE FOOTBALL.
16 June 1998.  France, beautiful country.  Bordeaux, beautiful town.  Beautiful game?  Not with Egil “Drillo” Olsen at the helm.  I don’t know what “Drillo” means but it probably translates as “long ball” because I’ve never seen such an appalling style of football.  Every time, wallop the ball high to the tall bruisers up front.  There was only one team playing football that day and in the end we had to come from a goal down to get a draw.  Ruined a great few days which involved (among other things) an undercooked chicken kebab; Duncan Shearer; two bottles of dessert wine; Shearer’s pal “Fat Boab”; and sitting on the floor of a bar pretending to row a boat with hundreds of French rugby fans.

Reason number three: GOT FADDY SENT OFF.
9 October 2004.  Hampden World Cup Qualifier. St James has to punch the ball over the bar to prevent a certain goal from Claus Lundekvam.  Steffen Iversen nets the subsequent penalty and the 1-0 defeat at home is only made worse by a 1-1 draw in the dump that is Chisinau a few days later, which in turn was made worse still by the 12-hour bus journey to get to Chisinau from Odessa.  Perhaps the most dismal week ever as a Scotland fan, with the only positive being that it was the end of Berti Vogts.

6 September 2005, Oslo.  The Tartan Army Select featuring Billy in defence suffer an 8-1 humping at the hands of a local team, who had clearly cheated by growing up on a healthy diet coupled with plentiful outdoor exercise.  B*stards.

Reason number five: STUPID KICKOFF TIMES.
7 September 2005, Oslo.  Casually sipping a cappuccino in an Oslo cafe and decide to head to the match early.  On arrival, discover a near-empty pub underneath the main stand.  Congratulate ourselves on getting there early, then check our tickets to see the match is a 7pm kickoff – and it is 7.05pm.  No game should ever kick-off at 7pm.  Run round to the Scotland end and nearly miss the first of Kenny Miller’s two goals.  Nearly; GIRFUY.  (Side note: the referee in that game was “A Hamer” which must have had the Aberdonians in the crowd worried about bias.)

Reasons number six and seven: JOHN CAREW and EGIL OSTENSTAD.
Lumbering big diddies who typify Norwegian football.  Unfortunately Carew’s slow-motion style seems to hypnotise defenders, rendering him at least partially effective.  How this guy thrived in the Primera Liga is beyond me.

And they qualified for the second round of France 98 at the expense of Morocco and us which is just plain wrong.

Reason number nine: DRIED FISH.
I’ll never make that mistake again.  I actually ate it at Rejkjavik airport but I was en route to Norway at the time, so I blame the Norwegians.

Reason number ten: STUDENTS.
They sent hundreds of gorgeous women to my University, which didn’t bother me but it caused an awful lot of sexual frustration for my pal “John the pervert”, which boiled over into an unpleasant male-on-male sexual assault in the final year.

So that, in a very long nutshell, is why I hope we pump the Norgies next week.  ‘MON THE SCOTLAND!




“Jackie” Miller?