Apathy? Nobody Is Really Interested; SCOTT ON SATURDAY

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIAN SCOTT

APATHY has emerged here and there as the enemy of Scottish football.

But who amongst us actually cares a hoot about apathy?

Pubs in Glasgow's west end have tended to be filled of a Saturday afternoon with people professing to support Partick Thistle.

Only when the Firhill directors declared this season that the club was skint did they begin to swither between sinking their next pint and going to the gemme.

The same feeling of indifference, apparently, enveloped those who would follow Falkirk all the way to the Scottish Cup Final, as they did last May, yet not be bothered turning out at Brockville.

They had to learn that their club also was in danger of disappearing into oblivion before the panic induced 5,000 or so to rally at this week's match against the similarly- afflicted Partick.

There's something fundamentally wrong here. Beyond the biggest clubs, football appears to have forgotten how to sell itself although it may be that there have only ever been a few

genuine exponents of the art.

Come back Ally MacLeod, the one man in history to attract 25,000 fans to Hampden when all there was to see there were 22 suitcases, and their bearers, about to be transported to Argentina.

Your country needs you, not to mention men like Hal Stewart and Jock Stein whose persuasive powers could stir supporters out of their insensibility.

It may be safe to say that, had Stewart not taken charge of Morton back in the 1960s, a couple of tower blocks would be standing now on the site that is Cappielow.

He could have sold Rocky Mount cigarettes to the Clean Air Society and, as an executive of the Coop who manufactured them, probably did.

Marketing football was a mere extension to his craft and a challenge that exposed both his extraordinary inventiveness as well as grasp of what appealed to the footballing public's imagination.

It was under his stewardship, for example, that fans were invited one Saturday afternoon to come and see the Man in Black play in goal for Morton.

Had Lev Yashin slipped into Scotland by submarine and signed for the Greenock club? Hardly. The mysterious recruit was unmasked as Erik Sorensen from Denmark but thousands scrambled to catch sight of him.

Stein was gifted with the same faculty of allure, using it frequently to fill spaces on the terraces of Celtic

Park when the opposition barely merited a worthwhile attendance.

He would announce, say, that Jimmy Johnstone was going to play in a new role and fans would cancel their weekend doon the watter in order to soak up the intrigue. …