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A league of their own: Paolo Di Canio and Paul Gascoigne battle it out for the Premier championship

Ten times table

Who's the boss? Who’s signed who? Scottish football's summer transformations promise a Premier League season to satisfy the appetite of even the most critical pundit.

Words: Julian Taylor Illustration: Craig Henderson

It seems like only yesterday that Rangers captain Richard Gough waved goodbye alter lilting his side’s ninth title in a row. equalling Celtic’s proud record. So. with Goughie wandering over a rainbow to Kansas City. the Old Firm are already embarking upon a new obsession.

In view of ’Gers boss Walter Smith's recent £I5 million spending spree. turning lbrox into a ‘Little Italy’ with top-level signings like Marco Negri. Lorenzo Amaruso. Sergio Porrini nerves are becoming frayed as Celtic wrap themselves in a state of Iqu. Despite Dutchman Wim Jansen’s appointment as head coach. the hoops’ pro-season performances appear as dishevelled as their new

anager’s hair. Furthennore. with pin-up Paolo Di Canio in a permanent Latin lather and Jorge Cadete seeking psychiatric help. it’ll take more than the signing of Hibs’ ‘Dazza’ Jackson to rectify matters.

Luckily there is more to life than the Old Firm. Look at Aberdeen. Following last season’s dismal account. Dons chief Roy Aitken was not a happy bunny. In the close-season. he’s managed to embrace prodigal sons Jim Leighton. Eoin Jess and Gary Smith in a cut-price swoop. Will the Northern Lights shine again“?

It’s long acknowledged that Dundee United overlord Tommy McLean is a crafty character. Having put a spoke in the wheel of the Rangers title rollercoaster on more than one occasion recently. expect the Tangerines to sparkle. particularly with the

state of flux.

In view of Walter Smith's recent £15 million spending spree, turning lbrox into a 'Little Italy', nerves are becoming frayed as Celtic wrap themselves in a

Viking contingent of Zetterlund. Olafsson and Pedersen.

The self-professed ‘Third Force’ in Scottish football. Hearts. always talk a good game. Yet we’ve got to go back to I964 for the last time the Jam Tarts hoisted silverware. They‘ve also gone for Continental sophistication. the arrival of Austrian Thomas Flogel and Frenchman Stephane Adam bringing an air of optimism. Flying winger Neil McCann and John Robertson will always be dangerous too. but we’re still waiting for that promised open-top bus ride along Princes Street.

The end-of—season report was pretty scathing for city rivals Hibernian. Three managers, and only a play-off victory against Airdric guaranteed Premier status. Boss Jim Duffy must pacify the dissatisfied Hibees. although the signing of Raith Rovers’ flamboyant Tony Rougier could help steer the Easter Road ship in the right direction.

Paul Sturrocks‘s St Johnstone careeer away with the First Division title. pleasing many with their attractive style. Free-scoring Roddy Grant and George O’Boylc are the key men. so the Perth Saints shouldn’t come unstuck in the Premier. No worries for Scottish Cup winners Kilmarnock. either. On the crest of a wave with an opportunity of progressing in Europe. KiIIie’s organisation under highly rated Bobby Williamson would indicate a fair-to-middling campaign at least. If nothing else. they boast the best pies and cup song in the land.

Unfortunately. Motherwell and Dunfermline may be in for an uncomfortable stint in the saddle. Although ’Well have a promising charge in Alex McLeish. last term was a struggle. However. strikers Tommy Coyne and Owen Coyle can rejuvenate the Fir Park side. The Pars. despite last season's mid-table respectability. may find life more difficult.

One thing is certain. The galaxy of temperamental superstars inhabiting lbrox and Celtic Park are duty bound to slip up at a wet and windy outback some time in December. going some way to cancel out the growing gulf between the top two clubs and the rest. The beautiful game? It‘s good to be back.

The new football season kicks off on Sat 2 Aug. See listings.



Events are listed alphabetically by sport. then b day. Fixtures are correct at time of pu lication. but may be affected by weather. Sports listings compiled by Brian Donaldson.


Saturday 26

gagTTISH CRICKET LEAGUE DIVISION Carlton v Arbroath United Grange Loan. Edinburgh. llam.

Freuchie v Grange The Cricket Ground. Freuchie. I lam.

Heriot's FP v Strathmore Goldenacre. Edinburgh. llam.

Stirling County .v Aberdeenshire Williamfield. Stirling. I lam.

West Lothian v RHSM Boghall. Linlithgow. llam.

Saturday 2


Aberdeenshire v Freuchie Momingside

Road. Aberdeen. llam.

Arbroath United v RHSM Lochlands

Cricket Ground. Arbroath. l lam.

Grange v Stirling County Raebum Place.

Edinburgh. llam.

Heriot's FP v Carlton Goldenacre.

Edinburgh. l lam.

Strathmore v West Lothian Lochside

Road. Forfar. llam.


Saturdw 2


Aberdeen v Kilmarnoclt Pittodrie Stadium. Pittodrie Street. Aberdeen. 3pm. More will be demanded of the Dons this season. with old-new signings Jim Leighton and Eoin Jess back in the fold. Our Euro reps from Ayrshire will be hoping to consolidate their unexpected success of last season.

Dunfermline v Motherwell East End Park. Halbeath Road. Dunfermline. 3pm. Without wishing to tempt fate. these two will be high on many pundits‘ lists for the drop. The Pars’ attacking style has won many friends while Alex McLeish’s detractors will be looking for his head if there is no improvement from last year’s relegation-haunted ex rience.

St Johnstone v Dun ee United McDiarmid Park. Crieff Road. Perth. 3pm. Without any major moves in the transfer market. Paul Stun'ock may have to rely on the team spirit which worked so well last season. McLean's boys. meanwhile are the team many feel have the potential to threaten the Old Firm‘s hegemony. Again. no signings of note.


Airdrie v St Mirren Broadwood Stadium. Cumbemauld. 3pm.

Ayr United v Morton Somerset Park. Tryfield Place. Ayr. 3pm.

Dundee v Falkirlt Dens Park. Sandeman Street. Dundee. 3 m.

Hamilton v Particlt Thistle Cliftonhill Stadium. Main Street. Coatbridge. 3pm. Stirling Albion v Raith Rovers Forthbank Stadium. Sprinkerse Industrial Estate. Stirling. 3pm.

Sunday 3


Hibs v Celtic Easter Road Stadium. Albion Street. Edinburgh. 12.30pm. Wim Jansen takes his troops to Easter Road for a match which will go a long way towards confirming the fears and hopes of both sides.

Monday 4


Rangers v Hearts lbrox Stadium. Edmiston Drive. Glasgow. 7.45pm. The champs begin their campaign for ten-in-a- row with a clash against Jim Jeffries‘ men who pushed Rangers hard on most meetings last season.

Continued over page

25 Jul—7 Aug 1997 THE LIST 95