Off Kilter – Season 8 Episode 1 | @PeterJonesPhoto

Back to Alloa to see if Peter has recovered from winning Euro 2004 with Scotland. Just let that sink in. Turned out to be the second best thing to happen in Scottish football on Thursday, like a premonition. Anyway, Alloa still have business to attend to but Peter seems…distracted.

I first traversed the Aegean Sea in 2005 aboard one of Stelios’s bright orange birds, landing in the dry summer heat of an Athens fervid in congratulatory pride more than their usual propensity in displaced nationalism. The previous summer the world descended on the city for the Olympics. A year later, those gilded palatial venues still shone in the evening heat, their grass verges clipped, the paint fresh and vibrant. That same summer, Angelos Charisteas meet a lofted corner kicked and directed his header beyond Ricardo to win the European Championships. By the time 2005 rolled around and my feet firmly on Greek soil, the only sound that emanated from any kiosk, shopping precinct or a sleeping taxi driver rusted radio was Helena Paparizou’s “My Number One.” A month early, she decided to rhyme “You’re my lover / Undercover” to the indigence musical intellect of the Eurovision judging panel who voted this the best song of that competition. Worse was yet to come. There are no rules as to what happenstance will ignite untempered jingoism but that summer, Taradise premiered on E!. Yes, Tara Reid had visited Athens and the surrounding islands to film her debut travelogue season. In the long list of the kitsch tourist TV trope, Whitaker, Palin, Floyd, Nairn, the plastic blonde from American Pie probably doesn’t even make the list. Pre-list. Thinking of a pre-list. Witness her feasting on a steaming lobster beneath the shadow of the Acropolis, glancing confusingly up at the Parthenon and asking the waiter “What’s that? Is it a church? These are nice potatoes.” Solipsism has never looked so enticing.

With only one out of these four to boast about, the Saltire is being kept 13 folded and moth free in the cupboard for such days that Jedward decide to break the lockdown and take a trip up north. Eurovision Manager 97/98 has yet to be published and I do vaguely remember a Daley Thompson athletics game for the Amiga back in the day although those games are strictly a Union endeavour. At the time, my sister and I were attempting to capture as many wildlife pictures from the veldt whilst avoiding the poachers shotgun barrels.

The star of that tournament looked like he was going to stay in England as the transfer pile-on happened mid-tournament and I was unable to join the circle. Luckily for us, he rejected the final move to Everton so was available again. Wasting no time, I sweet talked him over dinner, and he signed with us! What a front line up we’ll have this season!

Squad space is getting very limited so I decide to cash in and relive the wage bill. That’s a £1.7m profit for us and £27,000 off the payroll.

I know I know. I’m one for sentimentality and we struggled the year he was absent but his star is beginning to wane and I have other plans afoot.

Daily moves to defensive midfield as he was superb there during the Euros and Cook has his chance in the centre. Let’s see what these boys can do.

On the international front, we’ve World Cup Qualifers to pay attention to.

Dair wastes no time getting himself acquainted with the Rec’s woodwork and netting. A Hattrick on his debut and Martin is wondering what has happened to his crown.

We overextend the welcome to our Austrian travellers but manage to pull back a draw though Tirol return home with 2 away goals in their pocket.

Our defence is looking quite leaky as Alan’s pesky tyke slips through for an easy pair. Martin has found his scoring boots again and rescues the three points.

Our defensive saga continues but Eric thankfully blasts over the bar. McDaid was drafted into the central midfield role and decides he’s had enough. He’s not the only one…

For the first time this year both strikers get on the score sheet. O’Neill is a freebie from the summer and scores a brace on his debut. And no, that’s not Ralph. “I’m learnding.”

Isn’t there a seeding system so this rubbish doesn’t happen???

Still no clean sheet as Maybury follows up the saved penalty. Defiantly Maybury.

Our first clean sheet of the season and O’Neil can play on the left so fills in the gap vacated by McKeown’s petulant cameo.

An exciting opening 11 minutes as the Alloa alumni mix in with the present intake and we target a decent goal difference.

We break the 10,000 attendance for what seems like geon but at least I can break out they can break out the old “Shivute where the sun don’t shine” gags.

This lad looks like a good fit for the central midfield roll.

“What’s in a Dinamo Kiev?” the boys ask. “Electromagnetic coils” I respond. Vic Reeves has nothing on the kind of tumbleweed hush that enveloped the dressing room. Martin lets me know he was still trying to figure out what I was saying. “Leave the gags in the car” as Raymond Chandler once wrote I say to myself. “I don’t remember that episode of Friends.” Philistines. That lot of them. “Isn’t that near Malaysia?”

The regular old boys do the boys in Aberdeen. I say old, Glennie joined us as a wee Crankie and is still only 21!

Andy gets his debut goal after a good spell on loan last season. We’re lucky to get the points here.

Bloody hell!

Bloody hell, again. Although it’s given me an idea. I ask the board if we can apply for a name change to ‘Sporting Alloa.’ “How about ‘Maybe the manager should get back to the training ground to work on his leaky defence Alloa'” they respond. They’re not going to fit that on the Pools Coupon.

At least we put things right after two straight defeats before the international break.

And time to fit in a purchase of a backup striker just in case Martin or Dair lose their scoring streak. Right, off to Bulgaria…

…which goes completely mad after 20 minutes when the Bulgarian keepers gets sent off. Five minutes later, the reserve goalkeeper, no not ‘look at this! They’re in front!!’ Letchkov, gets himself injured. Martin then takes it upon himself to run riot.

‘Tis no man. ‘Tis a remorseless goalscoring machine.

Back to reality and Emile sneaks a late equaliser.

At least Dundee are kept quiet and we can round off this update with victory.

A quarter of the way through and our only defeat was to Rangers. Are we really going to spend the third season in a row uhu-ed to second place??

Och aye for how!

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