Sunday, 4 October 2015

Jack of Hearts

I've interrupted my self-imposed exile from blogging as I simply couldn't let the occasion of grandson Jack being one of the mascots at the Hearts v Kilmarnock game on Saturday pass without comment.

Jack led the team out as they emerged from the tunnel for kick-off and I have to say there was a lump in the Ranter's throat as he did so. Pride seems such a small word to describe my feelings.

The whole experience from start to finish was absolutely brilliant. My thanks to everyone at Hearts, for whom nothing was too much trouble. Ann Budge, Hearts owner, was an absolute delight and many of the Hearts players and Head Coach Robbie Neilson made the young lads feel so welcome and part of the club. Even the Kilmarnock manager - former Hearts boss Gary Locke - was absolutely first class and posed for photographs with a class and dignity that ensures he will always be revered in Gorgie.

Jack told me it was the best day of his young life. Certainly, it was one he, his mother Laura who was also present and this auld Hearts fan will never forget.

 Jack with proud Mum and Papa

Hearts Head Coach Robbie Neilson. 'Right, Jack, you're going on, son'

Bu Kilmarnock boss Gary Locke has other ideas.

Hearts substitutes line up with two of the mascots.

Hearts owner Ann Budge - a classy lady at a classy club

Jack holds up his hero's shirt in the player's changing room.

 Jack joins some of Hearts promising youngsters.

Hearts and Kilmarnock captains line up with the referee and the mascots. Jack is next to Jock the Jambo (don't ask...)

One never needs an excuse to do the '5-1'....

 Jack warming up - not that he needed to in the warm Edinburgh sunshine.

Jack and another mascot with goalie Neil Alexander.

Like I say, you never need an excuse to do the '5-1'...

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Not One to Complain...

I post this from my sick bed. I'm not a well man but I don't really want to talk about it....

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Heart of Midlothian 3 Partick Thistle 0

Heart of Midlothian 3 Partick Thistle 0
Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership, Saturday 22 August 2015 – Tynecastle
For a brief period on Saturday afternoon, Hearts were knocked off their perch at the top of the Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership table. League champions Celtic had defeated Dundee United in the early afternoon kick-off meaning Robbie Neilson’s side – tipped to be champions earlier this week by former captain Steven Pressley – were in second place going into the 3.00pm kick-off against Partick Thistle at Tynecastle. Their fall from top place didn’t last long. By 4.50pm, the marauding maroons were back on top of the league following a fine 3-0 win over the Jags.
Hearts had suffered a pre-match blow when the influential Jamie Walker was ruled out of the game due to a foot injury. Gavin Reilly took his place.
Hearts normally start games in Gorgie in a frenetic fashion. However, on Saturday it was Partick Thistle who applied the early pressure although they didn’t seriously trouble home keeper Neil Alexander. Inevitably, it was Hearts who came closest to scoring when fine play from the skilful Sam Nicholson was almost finished off by Juanma.
It was Sam the Man who almost broke the deadlock after 12 minutes with a ferocious effort from 20 yards which forced Thistle keeper Cerny to push the ball over the bar. Next, skilful play by Hearts captain Alim Ozturk found Prince Buaben who set up a shot for Callum Paterson but the Scotland Under 21 player’s effort on goal was deflected. Then Juanma found Igor Rossi but the defender showed why he is a defender when he volleyed an effort wide of goal.
It was all Hearts now and after 29 minutes, the Maroons duly went ahead. Nicholson’s corner was headed on by Paterson and as the Thistle defence tried desperately tried to clear, Osman Sow showed a predator’s instinct by prodding home from six yards.
Half-time Hearts 1 Partick Thistle 0
After an initial flurry from the visitors trying to get back into the game, Hearts almost doubled their lead ten minutes into the second half. Great play from Buaben set Sam Nicholson free. The young winger hared in on goal and looked certain to score. However, he pulled his shot agonisingly wide and Tynecastle collectively groaned.
Nonetheless, the youngster didn’t let his head go down. Minutes later, Hearts were awarded a penalty kick when Paterson was brought down in the penalty box. Juamna’s spot-kick was saved by Cerny but Sam Nicholson was the quickest to react to the rebound and blasted home for Hearts second goal.
Just two minutes later, Nicholson was involved again when he played Juanma through on goal and the Spaniard showed real composure to chip the ball over the Thistle keeper to make it 3-0 and seal the points for the Maroons.
The Firhill side have only scored two league goals all season so their chances of getting anything from the game were slim to say the least. They nearly pulled a goal back with ten minutes left when substitute Osman headed goalwards but Hearts young substitute Sean McKirdy cleared off the line.
Gavin Reilly almost made it 4-0 but the former Queen of the South striker’s fine effort was pushed away by Cerny.
There was just enough time for Hearts to introduce yet another product of their flourishing youth academy when 16-year-old Calumn Morrison was given a late run out.
At the end of another fine afternoon, Hearts were back on top of the Ladbrokes Premiership after a fifth league win on the bounce. Yet, afterwards, Robbie Neilson was still not entirely happy.
“We were a bit wasteful in the first half,” he told the official Hearts website. “We got into good areas but didn’t create a lot of great chances.
We were OK today, not great. The second half was better in terms of attacking, and I’m pleased with the clean sheet, but there’s a lot we could have done better.”
It’s this kind of attitude that will ensure Hearts continue to make such astonishing progress under Neilson and Craig Levein. A title challenge this season? Perhaps not. But a top six finish is certainly achievable.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Ozturk, Rossi, Oshaniwa, Sow (King, 64'), Buaben (McKirdy, 74'), Gomis, Nicholson, Reilly, Juanma (Morrison, 86'). 
Partick Thistle: Cerny, Miller, Seaborne, Welsh (Osman, 61'), Booth, Amoo (McDaid, 74'), Bannigan, Doolan, Stevenson (Lawless, 56'), Frans, Fraser. 
Referee: John Beaton
Att: 16,657
Top man: Sam Nicholson

Friday, 21 August 2015

Soweto Afro Pop Opera

Among the plethora of big names at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe are some little golden nuggets of entertainment from those whose name may not be immediately recognisable to some.
Soweto Afro Pop Opera are back in town following on from last year’s visit and although their show this year has reduced somewhat in size, it is still very enjoyable. The 2015 version has just three young men from Soweto but their talents showcase light opera and modern popular music as well as traditional South African music which had their audience clapping and foot-tapping enthusiastically.
The trio aren’t short on humour either and their interaction with their small but appreciative audience was warmly received. Although the talented threesome had to rely on backing tracks as their musical accompaniment, their version of 'Somewhere There's a Place For Us' from the musical West Side Story and 'There's Music in the Air' by Soweto-born jazz singer Letta Mbulu were excellent.
Soweto Afro Pop Opera are steadily building a reputation for musical excellence and versatility. Their wide-ranging repertoire is aimed at culturally bridging the UK and South Africa – and they are succeeding. My only minor gripe is that the show isn’t long enough and the fact there were fewer than 100 people watching such talent was a tad disappointing.

Their show at Chambers Street in Edinburgh (just off the Bridges, so it’s easily accessible) starts at 5.00pm and finishes before 6.00pm. So, if you’re heading to another later gig, why not pop in and see this splendid family show. You’ll be glad you did.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Hardeep Singh Kohli

Hardeep Singh Kohli’s show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is tagged ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’. The blurb on the Fringe website states ‘The Fringe’s favourite comedian, broadcaster, journalist and chef explains all in a brand new show’.
Of course, reviews such as this are all a matter of opinion and what is funny to one person may not be even mildly amusing to another. His self-description as ‘Big Mouth’ certainly rings true. The Glaswegian certainly isn’t slow at giving his opinions on politics, faith and the good citizens of Edinburgh of which he now is, having decided to live in the capital city. The assertion that he is ‘the Fringe’s favourite comedian’ is surely open to debate, certainly if Thursday evening’s performance at the Pleasance Dome is anything to go by.
The die-hard fans in the audience certainly lapped up what was on offer although there were some who either didn’t get his humour (or couldn’t make out what he was saying given his propensity to mumble on occasion) or simply found him unfunny. One person actually walked out of the performance halfway through although it wasn’t clear if he had to dash elsewhere or had simply had enough.
Hardeep’s political views are well-known and while I personally agreed with the content of his rants about the Scottish independence referendum and Tony Blair’s input into the current Labour Party leadership contest, I suspect I wasn’t the only person who felt that they had come to see a stand-up comic and not a political rally.
The funniest line of the evening came not from Hardeep himself but a member of the audience who was called Daniel. When Hardeep made the assumption Daniel was Jewish on account of his name, the instant retort of ‘and I’m also an accountant’ brought arguably the biggest laugh of the evening. And that said a lot about the performance of someone who is reputed to be one of Scotland’s top comedians and broadcasters. It was funny in parts, repetitive in others (the Edinburgh Castle gag just became tedious after an hour) and for some ‘gags’ tumbleweed wouldn’t have been out of place.

As I left the theatre, I couldn’t help but feel there should be a revised tagline for the show: Hardeep Singh Kohli – Big Disappointment…

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Whisky Galore!

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has a vast array of shows, the majority of which are in the centre of our stunning capital city. However, there are some fine performances to be seen away from the more obvious venues – and one of them can be found in Leith.
The Leitheatre’s fine production of Compton Mackenzie’s classic comedy Whisky Galore! is currently showing at South Leith Halls, just off Great Junction Street. Directed and produced by Lynne Morris and Stephen Hajducki from an original stage adaptation by James Scotland, Whisky Galore! is a gentle meander through a bygone age set on the fictional Outer Hebridean island of Todday during the Second World War.
When a ship bound for America is run aground on the island following dense fog, thousands of cases of the finest whisky are washed ashore. The locals are intent on ‘saving’ the cargo but the Home Guard Commanding Officer, the officious Captain Waggett is intent on spoiling these intentions.
The Leitheatre’s production of this famous story is humorous and couthy with a wee bit of romance thrown in for good measure (if you’ll pardon the pun)

At more than two hours it’s good value for money even if the first half of the show did seem overly long.  However, it’s a splendid evening’s entertainment.