Off Kilter – Season 11 Euro Special: The Long Good-Bye | @PeterJonesPhoto

For so long now Peter’s words of wisdom have lit up our Thursday morning. Today though marks the end of an era – the last update from this save, as Peter takes Scotland to Euro 2008. Enjoy!

The chairman sat rigid, stone faced and solemn as he read and reread my resignation letter. He carefully read each word as if there was something invisible between the printed ink that he wasn’t seeing. Slowly raising his head and gently placing the letter on the desk infront of him, he nodded graciously as if he could add no more words to the cold air around us.

I turned and walked across the floor and out, closing the door gently behind. I listened to my steps echoing down the marble corridor. After a while, the echoes got faint, then silent. I kept walking anyway. For what? Did I want to stop suddenly and turn and go back and for him to talk me out of the way I felt? Well, I didn’t. That was the last I saw of him. I never saw any of them again – except for the final scores. No way has yet been invented to say good-bye to them.

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 10: Episode 3 | @PeterJonesPhoto

Turning on the radio this morning and there is a surprise new entry in the charts. The lads have rallied round and recorded a song in tribute to my years at the mighty Rec. Not sure how much of a tribute it is listening to the lyrics…

“Oh I wish I was in the land of tartan / Old things that are not forgotten / Look away, look away, look away, Scotland / Oh I wish I was in Alloa, away, away, at the Rec I’ll take my stand, to live and die in Alloa / ‘Cause Scotland, that’s where I was born / One frosty morn / Look away, look away, look away, Scotland.

Glory, Glory, Alloa / Glory, Glory, Alloa / Glory, Glory, Alloa / The mighty gold go marching on.

So hush, little fans / Don’t you cry / You know your boss is bound to die / And all our trials, will soon be over.

Glory, Glory, Alloa / The mighty gold go marching on.”

No sure Elvis sung it like that…

Anyhow, here’s how the league table stands. We’ve got a nice gap

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 10: Episode 2 | @PeterJonesPhoto

Greetings fellow Champman fans. It’s Thursday morning which as you all know by now is a our regular trip north of the border to Alloa and Peter Jones. What’s in store this week?

Styrofoam coffee cups and bad drugs that don’t work anymore litter the rotting benches that line the dressing room. We’re top of the league and battling hard in the Champions League yet there’s a rancid smell of a relationship slowly crumbling to breaking point that can’t be fumigated. Heads like hammers, the cold autumn nights drawing in and a weight pulling the back of my eyes into my throat that won’t let up.

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 10: Episode 1 | @PeterJonesPhoto

We’re over half way through the first week back having to do stuff and what better way to begin the glide down hill than to check in with Peter and Alloa. Season 10 is about to get underway but there are vultures circling…

There was a weariness to the third time I swiped the snooze button to silence the skull shattering screech of my alarm. The bed sheets were crumped around my legs which were stretch lengthways across the width of the bed. Elaine had taken herself and the kids to her sisters across the river to Cumbernauld. One more season, she’d warned, and if I didn’t accept, she’d contact me via her solicitor in parchment form. Dragging myself into the cold bathroom, at least I’d managed to fix the shower over the summer months. Conversely, access was limited by the overspilling laundry basket blocking the full swing of the door. As the dirt and grim sludged its way down my body, I made the decision then and there, this would be my last full season.

Back to the training ground, my resolve deepened as the queue forming at my door resembled an audition for a revamped Fox. All brill cream, stolen Aztec jewels and faux Saville Row threads. Each with their own dopey-eyed scion looking for an escape from the Clackmannanshire workhouse. In their eyes, Richard Arkwright would be a better employer than me. We’ve won two league titles in a row but that’s still not enough.

The first to leave is Faux Paul. I’m surprised his fee wasn’t higher, but he clearly wanted to be with his fellow Alloa refugees on the Tyne.

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 9 Episode 3 World Cup Special | @PeterJonesPhoto

We’re taking our last visit to Alloa for the year where we find Peter waiting. At club level, the hunt is on to back up an incredible season with retaining silverware but the bigger picture is taking Scotland to World Cup 2006…

“What have you done, you there

Weeping without cease,

Tell me, yes you, what have you done

With all your youth?” – Paul Verlaine.

Championship Manager and wondering how Suzi Perry used to get into those tight red leather trousers. After taking no interest in any Motorsport that took place on two wheels, the BBC’s late 90’s Superbike coverage gained an extra grey haired viewer in the form of my father. It was only later we found she was a Wolves fan. I guess Pole Position took on another meaning in those middle-aged fantasies. Although through experience, the stripping of ones strained, contorting and cavorting posture ridden female partner in the erotic rush to de-clothe can flatten the mood.

On such occasions where the spark needs reigniting, a look at Alloa’s surge can reinvigorate any limp appendage.

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 9: Episode 2 | @PeterJonesPhoto

Alloa are becoming a footballing superpower under the watchful eyes of Peter Jones but as we always say (as of now), it’s one thing to win the league but can you retain it?

The sunlight, pocketed in a cloud, spilled suddenly broken across the floor of my office, through the leaves of the trees outside. My phone rang through cracked lustre. It was the SFA secretary. Answering, the earpiece emitted a sound unlike anything I’d heard before. It was as if out of the buzzing of countless children’s voices there emerged from the song of distant voices, a single high-pitched yet powerful voice that struck the ear as if demanding to penetrate deeper than into mere hearing. ““Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if me must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than to be loved,” Esme said. “Why are you quoting Machiavelli?” I asked. “He left Middlesbrough years ago,” she replied  and hung up immediately. This was a new tactic of the SFA to shatter my marrow with fear.

But after last years success, we’re not frightened of anybody. Well, maybe slightly cowed by Rangers.

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 8: Episode 3 | @PeterJonesPhoto

It’s the end of another season up in Alloa and Peter has once again taken the lads to the business end of the season with a shot at the title. Is THIS the year the Old Firm are uprooted?

The gaining of vast wealth can erode the judgement of any sensible person. Witness the indulgence of summer water sports by Duncan Ballantyne on the introductory montage of Dragons Den. It is enough to put you off accepting his nasally condescending offers. Worse to see the heroically working class figure of Bruce Springsteen Paddleboarding in a manner of total “How did I get here?” confusion. Even the mere thought of gaining wealth and what to do with the imagine not-so-endless pit of green can do things to a sane personality. An ex-collegue once remarked that “..even £1m isn’t enough to do what I want to do.” Put a mirror to this and the £26m we have in the bank at the Rec is too much to do anything with.

Here are the values of the top Scottish talent in Season 8. A couple of Alloa Alumni are in there but as you can see, we’re a fairly dominant breading ground of wee Crankies. Martin is looking forward to retirement and being put out to stud. The rest of the top valued Scottish talent don’t want to touch is with a caber.

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 8: Episode 2 | @PeterJonesPhoto

Thursday is the day we go North of the Border to see what Peter is up to at Alloa. He’s managed to win Euro 2004 with Scotland but winning the SPL is proving a tough nut to crack. Is this the season?

With recent news of Bill Maher’s ‘Real Time’ renewal on HBO, there’ll be a plethora of ‘New Rules’ to be rolled out in front of a fervid and overly excited baying followers. Perhaps one he should include would be a three-year restraining order of recent male divorcees around acoustic guitars least they put into wailing song their inadequacies and insufferable confusion of their once white male exclusivity over the world slowly vanishing in front of their eyes. North of the boarder, we go for the Frank Clark philosophy of a sing along around the back of the bus, joyfully harmonising our Alba only rule to bring tartan dominance to the world of football.

Sadly, the Glaswegian stranglehold is still holding firm and we’re once again the filling in Reformation sandwich.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Off Kilter – Season 7 Episode 4: Euro 2004 Special | @PeterJonesPhoto

Peter left us on a bit of a cliffhanger last week so we’ve sprinted back to Alloa for the culmination of the season, including the main man leading Scotland to Euro 2004. Let’s sit back and enjoy.

Scrawled between the pristine lines of the third millenniums third decade are the recordings of this epoch’s generational conflict, as each proceeding peer group tries to write the wrongs of its parents troglodyte collective. Piqued at the immaturity, inexperience, and the propensity to rebellion against its forebears, the preceding generation, in a collective forgetfulness, imparts its own priggish moral high ground to resist the change they fought for themselves. Like the evolution of music, social mores cannot move backwards and cannot be absorbed into the previous generations conscious. The case in point being the trite maladaptive argument of “Music isn’t as good as it was in my day.” It is manufactured and immersed by the same age collective with a secret language that binds a particular social group for which outsides, elders, are not admitted. This can be witnessed every Friday night if you lose your direction and find yourself in the City of London and you’re trapped inside a dimly lit neon emblazed bar where middle aged bores all suited, gelled and waxed try to chat up the new graduate scheme recruits by shouting, laughing and displaying their fillings in a cacophony of verbal diarrhoea. Try as they might, try as they strain be relevant, there is no way to bridge the generational chasm between their lager swelled abdomens and their prey’s gravity repelling mammaries.

Continue reading