Eck, Stevie G & jobbygate – the A to Z of Scottish football in 2018

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The past 12 months have showcased the best, worst and magnificently ridiculous aspects of Scottish football. So many, in fact, that we have listed them from A to Z…

Alfredo

Rangers’ Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos is fast becoming the most talked about man in the Scottish game. A goalscorer and creator, a walking contrarian, a whirling dervish and an Ibrox hero at the age of 22.

Bigotry

As experienced by Neil Lennon at Tynecastle in October, and many other places. In the aftermath of that tempestuous Edinburgh derby, the Hibernian manager said: “You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism. If a black man is abused, you’re not just abusing the colour of his skin – you’re abusing his culture, heritage, background. It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. Every week, we hear the songs at the stadiums. That’s got to be stamped out.”

Coin-throwers

Watch: Morelos scores Rangers’ second & is struck by a coin

Morelos, Lennon, assistant referee Calum Spence and Salzburg’s Andrew Ramalho were all hit by coins flung by fans from St Mirren, Hearts, Rangers and Celtic. Life bans the only solution for these craven buffoons.

Del v Craig

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes calls Hearts counterpart Craig Levein “irrational” and “childish” after Levein said he should stop talking “tripe”. That’s the short version. The bickering went on for days. Proust, it was not.

Eck

Scotland manager Alex McLeish must have felt like he’d spent much of 2018 in an industrial-sized tumble dryer. His team, his tactics, his oratory, his personality all came under heavy fire by those who didn’t want him employed in the first place. He’s not out of the woods, but he’s into the Nations League play-offs, so job done for now.

Following a lengthy consultation process and extensive due diligence, the Scottish FA finally identified their top two candidates to become the next Scotland manager in February

Fickle

Eighteen SPFL managers left office during the year. Some went of their volition, but the majority had no say in the matter. Alan Stubbs, Alan Archibald and Neil McCann were the biggest names – and then there was that bizarre business with Kenny Miller at Livingston.

Gimmick

In the name of team-building, Partick Thistle, winless in seven games in the Championship, deployed the services of some SAS-type hardmen to push the team to the limit. One player tried to run away. Another broke down in tears. In their next game Thistle lost 1-0 at Queen of the South. Hmm.

Hampden

The Scottish FA announced that the national team is staying at Hampden, where Scotland played in front of 21,281 fans against Israel, 20,196 against Belgium, 20,000 against Portugal and 17,455 against Albania. Tynecastle, Easter Road and Pittodrie would have been packed and buzzing. Hampden was sleepy hollow.

Idiotic

The word used by Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, to describe the saga of the League Cup semi-final double-header at Hampden, an unnecessarily divisive and drawn-out affair that came to an end when the humiliated SPFL called the whole thing off.

Jobbygate

A Lowland League between Spartans and Gretna 2008 in December and a tweet that went around the world. “A break in play as the referee asks that a jobby is shovelled off the pitch”. A pesky fox had done its business on Ainslie Park and thousands of likes and retweets later the Spartans tweet had close to a million impressions. Even Gary Lineker got involved.

Killie

The appointment of Steve Clarke has been one of the most inspired decisions in Scottish football in years. Bottom of the Scottish Premiership with three points from eight games when he took over in October 2017, Kilmarnock won more points than any team (74) in 2018 and are just one point off the lead in the top flight. Jaw-dropping progress. Clarke’s team have played Celtic five times, winning two, drawing two and losing only once. The manager hasn’t just revolutionised the team, he has changed the club from hangdog to one of the top dogs.

Left-back

Scotland captain Andy Robertson is probably the best left-back in the English Premier League right now and the Liverpool defender has to be among the top three or four left-backs in the world. Kieran Tierney remains an outstanding talent at Celtic. McLeish has to get both in his Scotland team – Robertson at left-back, Tierney at right-back.

Mental health

Celtic and Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths is the latest footballer to suffer and how good it was to see the support he received when his struggles were made public. Neil Lennon, who knows all about the horrors of depression, spoke powerfully on the subject. Unfortunately, mental health issues are growing. So too, thankfully, is the awareness and understanding.

Neale Cooper

Aberdeen fans displayed a banner in tribute to Neale Cooper at their Europa League game with Burnley

Taken suddenly in May at the age of 54, the legendary Aberdeen midfielder and Gothenburg Great meant a lot of things to a lot of people. His football was unforgettable, his personality even more so.

Odsonne

In taking in nearly £20m for Moussa Dembele and then splurging £9m on Odsonne Edouard, Celtic showed again the vast financial advantage they have over all others. Edouard will turn 21 in January. He has a bit to learn before he gets to Dembele’s level but he has talent, physicality and time on his side.

Privates

Hearts striker Steven MacLean had a little squeeze of Celtic’s Eboue Kouassi’s nether regions during the League Cup semi-final at Murrayfield. “I’ve been doing it for years. I don’t know how many times a goalie has done it to me and you just laugh and get on with it.” Kouassi didn’t laugh. He fell over in supposed agony. MacLean got a ban.

Queen’s Park pigeon

A decapitated pigeon falls from the sky and crashes to earth on the Hampden pitch while Queen’s Park are playing St Mirren in the League Cup. “Our thoughts are with his flock at this sad time,” tweeted the home club.

Racism

It takes many forms but the targeting of black players has become deeply troubling. The most recent incident was in the Edinburgh derby, but that’s far from an isolated case. Celtic’s Scott Sinclair was subjected to racism, Motherwell’s Christian Mbulu got it at Hearts, Shay Logan got it