For most of us Falkirk is a mild inconvenience on the train to Edinburgh. Simply a stop on the line so that Celtic supporters can disembark and visit their children on remand. It seems to serve no other purpose other than to make us wish we’d got the train from Central instead. Even by car Falkirk is a place you pass on the way to somewhere more interesting.
Today the purpose of Falkirk is unclear, why it’s still there no one is terribly sure. It’s the only town in Britain that thought it was a good idea to celebrate the millennium by building a large metal wheel to connect two modes of transport nobody uses anymore. Today thousands of people from Glasgow and Edinburgh take their children to the imaginatively named Falkirk Wheel so they can demonstrate first hand why it’s not a good idea to give idiots access to large amounts of money. When your seven year old gazes up at you with that look of puzzlement and asks why they spent £84 million on it when the last boat that actually used the canal was 100 years ago, smile back and explain that the local people simply hadn’t noticed there were no longer any boats, they spend too much time looking up at the sky for UFOs.
The Falkirk Triangle, yes that’s actually what they call it, has the highest incidence of reported UFO sightings in Europe. Now, it maybe that highly intelligent extraterrestrial beings, able to travel hundreds of light-years to visit our planet do indeed choose to spend time playing hide and seek with the greater populace of Falkirk. Or it maybe the town has more than it’s fair share of imbeciles; who can say.
What we can say with some certainty is that two of those imbeciles are currently connected to this week’s visitors, Falkirk FC. The Falkirk Stadium PA announcer thought it amusing to refer to Rangers in his always eagerly awaited halftime address as ‘Sevco Franchise’ a couple of weeks ago. To be fair, for a town that still thinks canal transport is a good investment opportunity I suppose cracking a ‘joke’ that’s only a couple of months out of date is progress of some kind. This man is after all the stadium announcer at Falkirk, you kind of expect him to be a tosser even before he’s opened his mouth, it is slightly more surprising when you find out that the chairman is too.
Step forward Mr Martin Ritchie who’s draconian over reaction to his errant PA man was to suspend him from his job and issue a public apology to Rangers. Puzzled faces all round, but okay, if that’s how you feel. However that wasn’t actually how he felt, he enlightened us all on that score by explaining to a Falkirk fans forum that he only did it because he was terrified by how Rangers fans would react. Fearing boycotts, crowd trouble or perhaps civil unrest would follow he assured the Falkirk support he only said it for the money and that “Rest assured, none of us have any sympathy for Rangers.” Perhaps the tin foil hat Mr Ritchie wears on his head at all times led him to believe that his words wouldn’t be noticed outside of Falkirk. Sorry Mr Ritchie, the aliens reported your words back to us. Tosser.
We visited Falkirk last week, in good numbers, no civil unrest ensued, and we won by the match’s solitary goal. It was a close game, Falkirk of course are currently playing a couple of divisions above us, a defeat would have been no disgrace, they put us out of the league cup last season after all. This time the match is at Ibrox and we’ll go in as slight favourites but expect another tight game. Rangers were poor at Berwick on Sunday, very poor, and playing like that again will result in defeat to Falkirk. Falkirk won their first league match on Saturday, away at Morton, they’ll come into this game full of confidence.
McCoist has some thinking to do on our line-up. Defensively we were all at sea on Sunday. Perry looked every inch a centre-half playing at full back, the new signings looked liked they hadn’t been introduced to their team-mates yet and our midfielders like they hadn’t been introduced to the ball. Too often we resorted to route-one football, giving the ball away that cheaply against Falkirk will see us punished more severely than Berwick managed. Injuries are starting to show up the lack of depth in our squad, that will hamper Ally’s options too. Broadfoot has now left the club although it looks like our captain, Bocanegra, will remain, Wallace and Sheils should be fit enough for the bench at least.
We want to get into the next round of the League Cup, the SPL teams lie in wait there, to get the chance of facing one of them we need to get past Falkirk first. For Rangers, Falkirk should always be no more than an inconvenient stop on the journey to somewhere more interesting.