My Auchenhowie mole has informed me that the appointment of Jimmy Nicholl as Murty’s adjutant was not universally popular. Kenny Miller, who had proffered both a nod and wink to a blind horse thought that he was a shoe-in. Kenny, at 38, knows that his playing days will soon be at an end. He was hoping for a leg-up at Auchenhowie’s Lunar Laboratory (still howling). When news broke Red Hand Nicholl was on his way there was a real ‘stooshie.’ Electrolyte drinks were airborne. Mothers out having post-prandial perambulation with their progeny (how’s that for aliteration) were quick to hide toys and mobiles from the enraged Ibrox stalwart. Dummies were secured.
No-one buffs his brown brogues more fastidiously than Ulster legend Nicholl. He may have been born in Canada but his roots are in William of Orange’s old stomping ground. Oscar Wilde was not the only historical figure who enjoyed ‘feasting with panthers.’ I plan to look at Kincora in a special piece. I will be spending the next few days engaging in research. I will leave no stone unturned. If my research leads to the very top of The Establishment food chain – Westminster and the Monarchy – so be it. I will name ‘names’ and take individuals with big reputations to task. I will peel the paint off their walls, including those from Derry.
I met Nicholl at a fundraiser at Bannockburn Juniors in McQ’s. The late great Tommy Gemmell was also present. Two men who drove many miles at their own expense to support grass roots football. My friends and I paid £25 a plate.
The sumptuous meal – provided free by joint-proprietor Joey – was not as succulent as a meal once enjoyed by James Traynor. With Level 5 posting a mere £45,000 in pre-tax profits, his lamb in 2018 may be mutton. I wonder who Traynor found to pull his cracker at his Xmas party? Gout and Guile are uneasy drinking partners.
I digress. Kenny may have been a one-man whirlwind but it did not upset the Lite squad, many of whom were bidding farewell to the Ibrox faithful. I watched the game with long-term reader and contributor Left Side Red. As an Aberdeen man he hates Rangers and their bastard offspring Rangers Lite with a passion. But even he had to give credit where it was due. Lite wanted it more. They wiped the floor with Celtic in the second half. During some robust discussions at half-time, one of Miller’s WhatsApp group incited his colleagues to play the second half as if it were their last.
Brendan Rodgers was happy with a clean sheet. He had Craig Gordon’s knee to thank for that. Murty, as anticipated, emulated Anderlecht/Hearts with a high pressing game. Scott Brown and Dembele were man-marked. The former was not allowed time to take a touch and boss the game.
Sinclair was back to his best. His dangerous crosses deserved a more prolific striker than Dembele. The striker was a yard late to every penetrating incursion by Sinclair. McGregor’s shooting from distance was as woeful as it was wasteful.
Rodgers had better have a rethink during the break. If Dembele can be punted for £18m he would be well advised to take it. He is a shadow of the player who scored 32 goals last season. He has not been the same player since his injury. Netting eight this term is not good enough. Sinclair is being singled out for missing a sitter but this was more than offset by his overall performance. Lustig is more than a day and a dollar short.
It was worth noting that Murty’s team was patched up to start with and he had to make running repairs. If Celtic cannot prevail against Heath Robinson confections their Europa League ambitions will be short-lived.