Talking Sport …

Flaws is excellent choice for a second SFA stint

The threatened dissolution of Shetland Football Association thankfully did not come to pass, following a crisis meeting on Tuesday evening.

A full new set of office-bearers, led by Magnus Flaws returning to his former role as president, was unanimously elected.

Flaws, who brings experience of both the SFA and committees in general from his time as an SIC councillor, is an excellent choice.

Stability, as he says, is absolutely vital if Shetland football is to maintain its current level and take things forward.

Organising a proper fixtures list is now a big challenge for the association, with up to 100 matches possibly in doubt because of a shortage of referees, and Flaws has called on former players to get involved.

A training course is to get under way soon and hopefully some folk will sign up. As Flaws said on the radio later, even current players would be welcome. As long as they are not officiating and playing in the same league there should not be a problem.

One way to alleviate matters regarding the organisation of fixtures would be for the SFA and the Shetland Works League Assocation to be more closely linked.

On that point there was controversy a couple of months ago when a former works league fixtures secretary accused an SIC staff member of doing work that would normally be undertaken voluntarily, allegedly including getting the two associations joined up in some way.

That was largely refuted by the council, but it does raise the question of whether an amalgamation of the two bodies would be for the benefit of Shetland football in general. Personally I think it would.

Whether the SIC should be involved taking that issue forward is debatable, but a structural reorganisation should surely not be ruled out.

This column has in the past suggested that a first and second division is the way forward, and I see no reason why that view should change.

This may be controversial – football matters usually are – but perhaps if the reserve league was abandoned, and players outwith the first team squad of senior sides could be “farmed out” or given leave to play for works sides, the situation could be alleviated.

Whatever happens, the best of luck to Flaws and his fellow committee members. They will probably need it.

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Scottish darts player Gary Anderson, who retained his PDC World Championship title at the beginning of the month, is an excellent ambassador for the sport and a credit to his country.

Anderson surged through the various rounds at Alexandra Palace, only dropping two sets and winning 22 on his way to the final against Adrian Lewis.

He found things much tougher in the final, with Lewis, himself a two-time champion, putting up a stubborn resistance, but eventually triumphed 7-5 to claim the trophy for the second successive year.

Anderson appears to have a rather unusual but admirable attitude to competitition. If he loses it’s fine and if he wins it’s just a wee bit better, all done with little fuss and accompanied by a smile or a wink.

That is very much in contrast to the tedious bawling and shouting you get from the likes of world number one Michael Van Gerwen, who brags about his scoring in the middle of a leg in a way which must have an effect on his opponent.

Anderson, who prefers to celebrate with a coffee rather than something stronger, is now 45. So it is very unlikely he will come near to Phil Taylor’s record of 16 world titles. But he deserves every honour which comes his way. Let’s hope he can make it a hat trick next January.

The PDC championship is of course in sharp contrast to the BDO tournament, which is held a week or so later with a completely different set of players.

The latter competition, won this year by England’s Scott Waites, is not nearly as watchable, with the standard at times little better than you would witness in the Lerwick Legion at a Friday night Grand Prix event.

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Labour MP Toby Perkins has suggested, not before time, that England should have a separate national anthem for sporting events.

Absolutely, I’d say. God Save The Queen may be okay when Great Britain takes part as a team in, for instance, the Olympic Games, but it is completely misplaced at events where England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales compete separately.

It was a total embarassment last year when England played Scotland at football and the Scots drowned out the English anthem in a chorus of boos, both home and away.

Perkins thinks there should be an English-only anthem and raised the subject in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Former runner Roger Black says he believes the National Anthem is one of the best in the world. However, competitors from Scotland and Wales show more passion when singing their respective Flower of Scotland and Land of my Fathers.

I would go halfway with Black, as the Welsh anthem is indeed a stirring piece of music, but as far as I’m concerned the Scottish equivalent is a complete dirge.

Jerusalem has already been used by the English cricket and Commonwealth Games teams, so that would be the obvious choice.

But maybe the Scots fans would prefer Swing Low Sweet Chariot, as that would surely give them the chance to boo even more!

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Even at this bleak and dismal time of year sports people from the isles are competing well down south.

This week it was the turn of two members of Shetland Fencing Club, who thankfully were based on the mainland as their colleagues back in the isles were unable to travel.

Stephen Rocks won the men’s sabre event at the Scottish Open for the third year in a row, while young Shaun Alderman came third in the men’s foil discipline. Well done to both of them.


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