Entertainment, Sports

What’s not said about Tom Brady and a ‘really tough’ Scot at Spurs in The Monday Kick-off

It’s Super Bowl week. For seven of the last 21 years, Tom Brady has been at the centre of the press conferences, interviews and preview packages that fill American football’s seven-day jamboree but his era is finally at an end. Brady, of course, retired last week and so his presence at Super Bowl weekend will now be confined to endless reruns some of his greatest feats – such as leading the New England Patriots from 28-3 down to beat the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 or his victory with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season at the age of 43 to secure his seventh winner’s ring. Any appreciation of Brady’s achievements needs context, though. In 2001, right at the start of his career, he was the beneficiary of a hugely controversial call against the Oakland Raiders when he fumbled late on in the AFC divisional play-off match with the Raiders 20-17 ahead and set up to run out the clock. Instead, the officials in charge that day pulled the virtually unheard of ‘tuck’ rule from the rulebook and judged that Brady’s fumble was an incomplete pass – video footage later confirmed it was the wrong call. The Patriots subsequently went on to win the game and that year’s Super Bowl. At the time, there were questions over whether Brady would have been the given starting job had the Patriots not won that year – Drew Bledsoe was the franchise quarterback at the time and would have been slotted to return had Brady been the man to fumble away a potential championship – but they remain conjecture. Of course, all great sportsmen have sliding doors moments in their careers but few have had the kind of controversies attached to them as Brady. In 2007, the Patriots were found guilty of contravening NFL rules by spying on the New York Jets defensive back coaches, in 2015 Brady was suspended for four games in the wake of deflategate (which found that on the balance of probability the Patriots had sought to take air pressure out of balls to make them easier to throw). In 2020, they were again found to have breached rules after filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during a Bengals-Cleveland Browns game. Yes, he had left by that time but it makes one wonder, especially when the offensive co-ordinator who worked with Brady for so long – Josh McDaniels – was caught up in another spying controversy when Denver Broncos head coach in 2010.

Diallo is still better than Seedorf, Pogba, Hasselbaink, Silva

It seems there were some people who actually read last week’s headline about Amad Diallo which compared him favourably to Seedorf, Pogba, Hasselbaink and Silva and believed it to be a serious critique of his abilities and/or potential to be a world class footballer.

In actual fact, invoking the names of Sherwin Seedorf, Mathias Pogba, Nigel Hasselbaink and David Silva was a comment on Scottish football’s relatively lowly standing within the European game – but that didn’t stop some from suggesting it was my attempt to inflate Rangers’s status as a club and Diallo’s as a player.

The point being made was much more straightforward than that: whichever way you cut it, Diallo’s arrival was a significant signing set against the context of the names listed above simply because he is so highly rated and it represented a welcome addition for the whole of Scottish football as a product.

How he fares is another matter entirely but, equally, of considerable interest because it measures just where our product sits, not least in the face of continuously pejorative claims about its quality from elsewhere.

Fingers crossed for Thomson

The opening heats of the short track speed skating, once the quadrennial event in which we waited anxiously to discover whether Elise Christie could add the Olympic gold medal that her career would have deserved, brought an acute sense of deja vu.

Her absence from this year’s Games has opened the door for another Scot, Kathryn Thomson, whose chances of a medal we got to measure on Saturday.

Alas the Scot suffered a similar fate to the manner in which her mentor’s Games imploded in 2014 and 2018, having been taken out in the 500m heats by an opponent with no recall by the referees.

Thomson, from Kilmarnock, is competing in her second Winter Olympics – her first in PyeongChang 2018 ended with exits in the heats of all three of her distances, the 500m, 1000m and 15000m. In 2020, she took a year off from competition to work in a furniture store and that decision paid immediate dividends as she returned to the ice to qualify for all three distances, lowering Christie’s colours in the process.

On Wednesday, she gets another chance in the 1000m.

It’s a big week for Chesterfield’s Scots

This week the big promotion battle in England’s National League will have a Tartan hue to it when Stockport County take on Chesterfield tomorrow night. Chesterfield were incumbents in the Football League as recently as 2018 – a period that coincided with part of Gary Caldwell’s fateful tenure – his three wins in 29 games is the worst record of any manager in club history. Other Scots such as Jimmy McGuigan, who won fourth division promotion and manager of the year in 69-70 and John Duncan, who took Chesterfield to Division Three play-off success in 1995 and an FA Cup semi-final in 1997, are recalled more fondly. Meanwhile, there are those in the current line-up who will be looking to secure a return to senior football such as Calvin Miller – who made five first-team appearances for Celtic – and former Motherwell defender Fraser Kerr who played in the Fir Park club’s relegation play-off against Rangers in 2015. Meanwhile, Gavin Gunning, once of Dundee United, is another familiar name to Scottish football fans. Miller is of particular intrigue. The 23-year-old was once voted the World’s Best Young Footballer born in 1998.

Conte’s “really tough” Scot

More eagle-eyed Scottish observers of the academy structure in England might have noticed a familiar name being name-checked in Antonio Conte’s press conference prior to the FA Cup tie against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Italian was singing the praises of a “really tough” 18-year-old midfielder who can also play at centre-back. The identity of that youngster was Matthew Craig, who has been elevated to first-team training at Tottenham under the tutelage of the Italian.

That could represent good news for Steve Clarke, of course since Craig has been capped by Scotland at Under-16 and Under-19 levels. Scotland could certainly do with a “really tough” stopper in the centre of defence – even just as a back-up – and Craig, who created plenty of online intrigue when he was captured bossing Tanguy Ndombele in a training session last year, seems to fit the bill. Better news still is that his identical twin brother, Michael who is also at Spurs, is rated just as highly.


The number of wins for – unbelievably – the seven teams called Rangers who were scheduled to play yesterday. The one we all know well thumped Hearts at Tynecastle while their women’s team prevailed 3-1 in the SWF top of table clash against Glasgow City. Ringmahon Rangers (Ireland) won a pre-season friendly, Enugu Rangers (Nigeria) drew, Posta Rangers (Kenya) lost, while AC Rangers (DR Congo) and Hong Kong Rangers (Hong Kong, of course) had their matches postponed.

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