Monday, June 29, 2015

Trying something different

Image result for blizzard
Summer football sounds good, but this is what Scotland looks like in June

Sigh...can the postseason ever go by anymore without the subjects of summer football and winter breaks being brought up?

The former felt like a story created by BBC Scotland, who asked clubs whether they "would be interested" in the idea of playing in the summer.  Replying "we would think about it" is not akin to OVERWHELMING SUPPORT, whatever the Beeb's spin might suggest.  But perhaps they should be given credit for at least doing some work themselves, rather than just regurgitating the latest press releases from the new Rangers board like they do most of the time.

Not that I have anything much against summer football, but it's probably a non-starter for both bigger and smaller clubs.  If elite teams still strive to have international players, losing them for weeks on end during World Cup/European Championship summers would be intolerable.  Meanwhile, a few part-time clubs raised the issue of whether players would be willing to give up on a summer holiday with the family to play for little more than expenses.  And some of the rain recently in the Highlands (in bloody June!) would have forced weather-related postponements anyway.

As for a winter stoppage, it's predictable how that will play out.  The league will give it the green light, but Celtic will just take advantage of it to go play in some meaningless tournament in the Mediterranean in front of three men and a dog...then moan a few months later about how the fixtures at the end of the season are too congested.

If the break is in December, the fans will whinge about having to spend Boxing Day with their families instead of at the footie; if it is in January, there'll be uproar about the Scottish Cup's round of 32 being played far too late in the season.  And you can guarantee that, whichever month they choose to have off will be one with four weeks of unseasonable warmth, whilst the months either side of it will be hit with weather so Extreme that the adjective justifies a capital letter.

Whether a winter break actually achieves its objectives or not, it will be ditched after two or three seasons, as everyone hankers after the 'good old days'.  That's pretty much what happened the last time.

Moving to a summer setup is at least an idea that offers some radical change...for, if Scottish football is to pull even its head and shoulders out of the doldrums, it needs to do some interesting things.  Most crucially, it needs to increase income.  Summer football would at least mean that, for a period of about ten weeks, we wouldn't be competing with the English Premier League (though, for the rest of the season, we totally would).

Ideally the quality of the football would improve, but better players won't be attracted unless more money is brought in by other ways.  The matchday experience needs improved, to attract more fans, and, more importantly, the TV viewer's experience needs to be better, so more people watch it, and more sponsors are interested.

Here's a few daft ideas I want to put out there:

Subsidize away fans
The best atmosphere at most games comes from the away support...and, if there's a good noise from the visitors' end, often the home fans will make an effort in response.  So get more away fans in.  It's expensive enough to watch your side at home without the often extortionate cost of travel, coupled with a £30 ticket to sit in the corner behind a pillar (not thinking of anyone in particular...;-))  So either find a way of making the travel cheap, or cut the prices of the tickets.  Drastically.  There's your atmosphere dramatically improved, right there.

And yes, that means letting in Rangers and Celtic fans on the cheap too - fair's fair.

American football-style introductions
In the NFL, the away team come out first, all in one group, whilst the home team's players are introduced individually by the announcer, with each of them running on to the pitch on their own.  That would be an excuse for everyone to cheer...or boo...raucously many times before the match even kicks off.  It'd do far more for the mood of the place than the current practice of the referee leading both teams out and making them shake hands and 'be nice' before kicking lumps out of each other.

Mike up the refs
As I said, do something drastic and different.  It works well in rugby because only the captains can speak to the officials, and because of the lack of foul language.  So restrict chat to the skippers on the football pitch too, and use the change as an excuse to clamp down drastically on the swearing; yellow and red cards all over the shop until everyone has washed their mouth out with soap and water (and Celtic at a massive disadvantage until Scott Brown finally wises up).

I reckon this would be a big hit with the viewing public - explanations for decisions, the dodgy accents of players and referees - and even if the novelty wore off fairly quickly, it would have at least got some folk watching the matches who wouldn't normally have done.

Regionalize the League Cup
This would be easier said than done, but it's an excuse for a load of local derbies, which is no bad thing.  Divide all the clubs into groups of three or four, and play a round-robin series right at the start of the season.  There's also something to be said for playing the League Cup final before Christmas as was the case previously, but that'd be tough on any side still in European competition.

Artificial pitches
This is pragmatic rather than idealistic; a perfect grass pitch is always better than any artificial surface.  But, by the end of the autumn, all grass pitches in Scotland bar the one at Celtic Park are developing bare patches, and by the Spring they contain more potholes than our motorways (that's a lot of potholes).  Plastic doesn't mean fantastic, but it does mean a consistent surface on which to play and protection against the weather.  The newer surfaces are also good enough to play slick passing football.  And clubs can hire it out during the week for extra cash.

Well, that's five ideas.  Good or bad, it's five more ideas than the SFA and the SPFL have.  Can you think of anything better?

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Three years of Rangers signings

It's funny, but whenever a non-Rangers fan ever writes or says anything about Rangers, they're instantly labelled as 'obsessed', as if the rest of us don't care about our own team.  Well, actually we do, but one can't exactly ignore what's happened over the last few years down Ibrox way - how it alternates between moments of sheer, unadulterated hilarity, and moments of jaw-dropping, watch-between-your-fingers horror.  Basically it's as if, outside your front door, there is a massive car crash...involving clown cars from a circus.  One can't watch the frizzy wigs, red noses and oversized dungarees flying everywhere, but one can't bear to look away either.

Anyway, the Gers have now started building for a fourth season on the journey, which really wasn't supposed to take as long as this.  They've tried a novel approach, though, appointing a manager who appears to be competent (Mark Warburton), and their first two signings, Rob Kiernan and Danny Wilson, look to be pretty sensible...unless the online rumours of Wilson being on eight grand a week and Kiernan on more than four grand a week are true; given that the club have been getting by on soft emergency loans for the last few months, and still have the enormous spectre of Mike Ashley looming over everything they do, they maybe should be a bit more frugal.  But perhaps the savings made on Lee McCulloch's wage packet probably give them a significant amount of leeway.

So, just for a bit of fun (after all, it's the summer, and there isn't much else to talk about), why not reminisce (or, if you're a Gers fan, wince) about all the signings that Rangers have made since they pitched up in Scotland's fourth tier just three years ago?

2012/13 - Scottish Third Division
Image result for ian black rangers
Rangers fans fell out of love with Ian Black pretty quickly

Ian Black (114 appearances, 8 goals)
The first man to join the new era, the midfielder with an eye for a pass and a penchant for a punch-up was in the form of his life when he left financially-crippled Hearts for Ibrox; he even got a Scotland cap in August 2012.  It was all downhill from there; Black seemed to take umbrage at getting kicked black-and-blue by lower league players - only he was allowed to do that - and whilst the aggression was as evident as ever (maybe even more so), the ability wasn't.  The fans got on his back early, and whilst his second season was an improvement, he faded out of first team contention in the Championship.  Now without a club, he's been linked with a move to MK Dons, while three years of Rangers wages should have ensured that he'll never need to take a sideline as a painter-decorator again.

Dean Shiels (80 appearances, 27 goals; still at the club)
Another player whose stock was at its highest before coming to Rangers, the Northern Irishman has enjoyed a wee renaissance recently after dropping back into a deeper midfield role under Stuart McCall.  Shiels' main handicap was Ally McCoist's inability to use him effectively, as he wasn't a natural winger and was wasted in an attacking midfield role as his teammates simply punted the ball straight up to a target man.  With one year left on his contract, he probably still has a future under the new regime.

Francisco Sandaza (19 appearances, 2 goals)
An embarrassing period for all concerned; the season before joining Rangers, the Spaniard had netted 14 times in the SPL for St. Johnstone, but the words 'cow's backside' and 'banjo' began to follow him around here.  It didn't help that he broke a cheekbone only a few months into the season.  He was then the victim of a hoax caller masquerading as a football agent, who got him to admit that he was only at Rangers for the money and wanted away; it gave the club a convenient excuse to sack a striker who had admitted to being on significant wages and who was playing poorly.  Now back in his homeland, he banged in 16 goals for Girona in the Spanish Segunda Liga this season.

Kevin Kyle (15 appearances, 3 goals)
Given his long history of injury problems, a pay-as-you-play deal would really have made more sense; he was rarely used as anything other than an impact sub anyway, a big forward to bring on when a late goal was needed.  The former Kilmarnock and Hearts player subsequently joined Ayr, and in summer 2014 was working as a storeman on a ship.

Image result for emilson cribari rangers
Emilson Cribari. Because every Scottish Third Division team needs a Brazilian centre-back
Emilson Cribari (42 appearances)
Because, you know, it's really important to have a veteran Brazilian centre-back if you want to challenge for the Scottish Third Division title.  Whether Cribari's previous Champions League experience came in handy on trips to Peterhead is unclear.  A regular in his first season, Cribari was kept out of the team by Bilel Mohsni the following year, which is pretty damning.  34 years old when he left Scotland, he seems to have retired.

Sebastian Faure (63 appearances, 1 goal)
A year before joining Rangers, Faure was playing at the under-20 World Cup for France.  A centre-back who more commonly found himself playing on the right of a back four, he managed to see out his three year contract without ever actually establishing himself as a first-choice for any length of time.  In January he revealed in an interview with a French journalist that Ian Black ate cakes at half-time during matches.

Anestis Argyriou (27 appearances)
The Greek right-back, despite having previously played for AEK Athens and for Greece's under-21s, looked like a right bombscare.  Whilst a regular in the Third Division, he was sidelined that summer and eventually released in September 2013.  After a brief period in Poland, he now plays in Cyprus.

Francesco Stella (no appearances)
Whether the Australian was signed as a result of Ally McCoist trying to order a beer whilst being quizzed about signing targets is unclear.  The winger was incorrectly reported by the media as having made his debut as a sub against Elgin City, but never actually played for Rangers before returning to his homeland.  He now plays in a semi-pro league in Australia.

David Templeton (83 appearances, 24 goals; still at the club)
Possibly the most galling example of the club's foolish largesse in the lower leagues.  Rangers paid £700,000 for David Templeton.  That's akin to £8,500 per appearance, or £15,000 per start, or £29,000 per goal.  His final appearance for Hearts was at Anfield in the Europa League, where he scored; less than a week later, he was playing against Elgin City.  Templeton was talented and inconsistent in his younger days; at Rangers he got frequently injured and, with time, his confidence seems to have taken a massive hit.  He probably needs a run of games to get up to speed, but can they afford to give him that run of games?  He has one year left on his contract; it'll be interesting to see if Warburton can get him out of this terrible slump.

Verdict - A lot of money in wages and transfer fees was blown here, with very little in return.  The two still at the club (Shiels and Templeton) haven't been regulars for the last two seasons; it's hard to pick out anyone from this list who will be remembered with fondness by Rangers fans.

2013/14 - Scottish League One

Cammy Bell (56 appearances; still at the club)
Recipient of a Scotland cap during his days at Killie, I named him in this site's Team of the Year in 2012/13.  Whilst he's not done much spectacular, Rangers have tended to suffer when he's been injured, with his understudies woefully inadequate in comparison.  He missed most of the recent season after wrecking his shoulder, and finished it with an uncharacteristic, and untimely, blunder in the playoff against Motherwell which finally put paid to hopes of promotion.  Bell will be the best keeper in the Championship this season.

Nicky Law (95 appearances, 25 goals; still at the club)
The English midfielder starred for two seasons at Motherwell with his energy and eye for goal in midfield, and initially he took that form to Ibrox.  But over time he seems to have been dragged down by those around him, though there was a brief upswing in his play under his former 'Well boss McCall.  Too often, he has been wasted in a wide role when he needs to be in the thick of the action.  I expect he'll be a crucial figure in the season to come.

Jon Daly (71 appearances, 29 goals)
The big Irishman was a goal machine in League One, scoring 25 times in that campaign, but faded out of contention after the arrival of Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd.  He wasn't helped by his longstanding knee complaint which prevented him from training regularly.  Now a free agent at the age of 32, it'll be interesting to see if he can find a new club.

Nicky Clark (74 appearances, 17 goals; still at the club)
A departure from the club's usual signing policy, as Clark had made his name in the lower divisions.  He was certainly a cheaper option than many of his teammates, and at times a superior one too.  Whilst only intermittently in the team, his partnership with Kenny Miller was the most effective strikeforce the club had last season.  However, his goal return has been nowhere near the 41 goals he scored for Queen of the South in 2012/13.

Image result for arnold peralta rangers
Arnold Peralta. Because every Scottish League One team needs a Honduran international midfielder
Arnold Peralta (31 appearances, 1 goal)
Because, you know, it's really important to have a Honduran international midfielder if you want to challenge for the Scottish League One title.  Peralta completed less than half of his four year contract, and never played again after being made the scapegoat for an abject home defeat by Hibs last season.  Whether he was genuinely hopeless is unclear; a right-back or defensive midfielder by trade, he was often deployed on the right side of midfield by McCoist.  He would have played at the World Cup for Honduras had he not been injured.

Steven Smith (35 appearances, 4 goals)
After three years away, at Norwich, Preston and Portland Timbers, Smith returned for a second spell at Rangers.  He was never going to dislodge a fit Lee Wallace at left-back, so he only really saw action either when Wallace was injured, or when McCoist saw fit to deploy Smith at left midfield - a plan which rarely worked well.  He did score the odd cracking free kick though, one of which came in the playoff tie with Queen of the South.  He was one of the many to be released this summer.

Richard Foster (58 appearances)
It's remarkable to think that Foster was in the Scotland squad three years ago, during his first spell (on loan from Aberdeen) at Ibrox.  That season, he earned a SPL winners medal; the last two seasons were not nearly so kind.  Foster was a regular target for the boo-boys, and was often kept out of the team by Darren McGregor, a converted centre-back.  He looked utterly devoid of confidence in the promotion playoffs.  Still the right side of 30, I imagine he is capable of doing a job for someone, though it won't be Rangers.

Image result for bilel mohsni lee erwin
Bilel Mohsni went out with a bang in his final appearance
Bilel Mohsni (60 apps, 11 goals)
Twenty years from now, Rangers fans will still instinctively put their heads in their hands at the sound of his name.  Remarkably, the Tunisian looked like a star when he first arrived - the influential site Tell Him He's Pele ranked him among the top lower league players in Scottish football in November 2013.  Mohsni had all the physical attributes, and none of the mental ones.  He seemed to think he could play like Franz Beckenbauer, and got caught out so often as a result.  Judged a liability early in the Championship season, he went out in style by catching Motherwell's Lee Erwin with a beautiful right hook.  His next club will have to wait for his seven match ban to expire before they can play him.

Steve Simonsen (30 appearances)
The veteran keeper, with English Premier League experience, seemed like a very capable backup goalie on paper.  In reality, he looked every one of his years, and more besides, when replacing Cammy Bell.  His second start, against Dundee United in a Scottish Cup semi, ended with him miskicking a clearance to Nadir Ciftci for United's third goal.  Despite that, he was kept on for another year, but lacklustre performances in relief of the injured Bell...and a ban for betting on matches...led to him being dropped in favour of Lee Robinson.

Verdict - It feels a little like Law and Bell were dragged down to the level they were playing at, but both mostly looked a class above their opponents and will probably benefit from better management; Daly was great for a year; Clark hasn't stood out, but has at least been relatively inexpensive; Smith and Foster were letdowns, Simonsen was more trouble than he was worth, and I'll let you make up your own mind on Mohsni...

2014/15 - Scottish Championship

Kenny Miller (41 appearances, 8 goals; still at the club)
Back for a third spell at Rangers, the spirit was clearly still as willing as ever, but Miller's body, which turned 35 in December, just didn't have enough in the tank - a problem when your game is built about a high workrate and plenty of running.  A regular in the Championship, mainly because of the ineptitude of others, he played often enough to trigger an automatic extension to his contract which will keep him in Govan until well into his thirty-seventh year.

Image result for darren mcgregor rangers
Darren McGregor is undoubtedly the best signing of the newco era
Darren McGregor (53 appearances, 5 goals; still at the club)
McGregor deservedly swept the club's Player of the Year awards for 2014/15 despite spending most of it in an unfamiliar right-back role, which says much for both his own attitude and those of many of his teammates.  The former St. Mirren central defender should be an asset for plenty of time to come.

Kris Boyd (43 appearances, 10 goals)
A tally of three league goals left the striker joint-39th in the standings for top scorer in the Championship, though he was prolific in cup competitions at the start of the season.  Expected to score like Casanova in a brothel, Boyd instead displayed the confidence of a pre-pubescent teen at a Miss World contest.  It wasn't that he wasn't trying, but he was just dreadful in front of goal.  He exited with a whimper, quietly released with ten others at the end of the season.

Marius Zaliukas (28 appearances, 2 goals; still at the club)
Seemingly not rated by McCoist, Zaliukas returned from the cold to become a regular under Stuart McCall; the Lithuanian was unspectacular but at least was rather less prone to blunders than some of the other defenders at the club.  He still has a year on his contract, though the recent signings of Wilson and Kiernan would suggest his days are numbered.

Lee Robinson (9 appearances)
When Cammy Bell got injured, Rangers weren't confident enough that they could cope with a youth international, Liam Kelly on the bench.  Instead they signed Robinson, who got his chance when Simonsen was pulled up for his trips to the bookies and proved himself to be slightly less hopeless.  That doesn't mean he was particularly good, though, and he hasn't been kept on.

Haris Vuckic (22 appearances, 9 goals)
Part of the Newcastle quintet who arrived on loan at the end of the winter transfer window, it wouldn't be that harsh to claim that the Slovenian pretty much carried the team in the second half of the season; he was probably the best player in the Championship during this time.  Given the ongoing ruminations between Dave King and Mike Ashley, I don't imagine he'll be back for next season.

Image result for gael bigirimana rangers
Gael Bigirimana never actually played for Rangers, due to a 'mystery illness'
Kevin Mbabu, Remie Streete, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana (combined 3 appearances)
Was this a bit of a scam?  Rangers paid £5,000 per week towards the wages of their loanees, (with an ultimately unpaid bonus of £500,000 if they were promoted), but Mbabu and Bigirimana were never fit to play, while Ferguson managed just two appearances, in the promotion playoffs.  Streete should have been ineligible (the SFA neatly fudged that issue) but it didn't matter as he wrecked a hamstring 45 minutes into his debut and was never seen again.

Verdict - Vuckic and McGregor were complete hits; Miller was useful to have for his experience, but not at such an extravagant wage; I don't think the rest will be remembered with positivity by the fans.

Twenty-eight signings, not many bonafide hits there.  Or am I being unfair?  One feels that Mr Warburton can hardly do a less effective job in the transfer market...

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ciftci vs the SFA, round 4...

In the red corner, wearing the tangerine shirt and the black shorts...Nadir Ciftci!

In the blue corner, wearing a rather nervous and insecure expression...the SFA Compliance Officer.

It's Ciftci vs the SFA IV!  Let's get readddddddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy to rummmmmmmmmbbbbbbbblllllllllleeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, nearly four weeks after the end of the season, Dundee United striker Nadir Ciftci has been cited for the incident during the Dundee derby where he clashed with Jim McAlister and, allegedly, bit him on the leg.  TV pictures are not completely conclusive; McAlister certainly took umbridge to something that Ciftci did, and the United player, who was sitting on the ground, appears to move towards the Dundee player with his head in such a way that he could have gnashed at him, but it's not as barn-door obvious as, for example, when Luis Suarez has committed such an act.  McAlister published pictures afterward of what, to my slightly-trained eye, looks like a bite, but I'm increasingly sceptical about how technology can be used to mock up or exaggerate such things.  One does hope that he at least remembered to nip down to A&E and get a tetanus booster.

Moreover, McAlister does not exactly look tasty; surely, if Ciftci was to commit such an act, he would at least choose to chomp on someone who appears more delicious? (You can judge for yourself which Dundee players might fit that description).  

If he is found guilty, the attempt at cannabilism could result in a significant ban.  But Ciftci will surely be confident; after all, he's faced off with the SFA three times already in the last two seasons, and he's won on every other occasion.  By now, the football authorities probably have his mobile number on their speed-dial.  Let's look back at the previous clashes.

Ciftci vs the SFA I
I was at the game in question, a League Cup tie in Inverness on a chilly Tuesday night in November 2013 where the football was vastly better than the weather; in fact, the first half (which finished with United a goal up) was the best 45 minutes of football I watched in that whole season.  And just before time, we had a proper fracas, right in front of where I sit in the main stand.  As United took a throw-in, Gary Mackay-Steven went down like a sack of spuds, with Richie Foran in close attendance (I didn't see Foran do anything, but I'm completely prepared to believe he did something!).  And it all kicked off.  

In the midst of it there appeared to be a shoving match between Ciftci, Graeme Shinnie and Gary Warren.  There was a lot of shoving, but TV replays showed it to be little more than handbags.  Unfortunately, for Ciftci, the officials saw a shove in the face that didn't actually happen and fingered him for it.  Aggrieved by the red card, Ciftci marched up to the nearside assistant ref and, for a split second, seemed to grab the collar of his shirt.  It really was only for a split second.  But I remember thinking at the time, "shit, he's going to get in trouble for that".

And he might have got in a lot of trouble, had he not been accused of "excessive misconduct at a match by seizing hold of an assistant referee, namely Gavin Harris, by the throat."  That was not just over-egging the pudding, but also over-flouring, over-icing sugaring, and overbaking it as well.  'Grab by the throat' suggests he throttled the bloke; he absolutely did not do that.  At the same time, they also tried to do him for an extra account of violent conduct.  It was reported that, if he was found guilty, he could be banned for up to sixteen matches.  United, in contrast, not only contested these charges but also appealed the red card that he did receive.  

With the charges ludicrously trumped up, it made it far harder to pin him just for making contact with the linesman, something he certainly did do.  In the end, the original red card was rescinded (correctly), the additional count of violent conduct was deemed 'not proven' (probably correctly too) and he got a two match ban (one of which would be in the next season's League Cup) for the altercation with the official. 

Verdict: Given the potential outcome, this bout has to be given to Ciftci by split decision

Ciftci vs the SFA II
Ciftci and Gary Warren don't really get on very well.  Another midweek game, this time at Tannadice in February 2015, ended badly when the duo clashed and Warren was sent off for retaliation.  The officials didn't see the trigger for the Englishman's ire, but the highlights camera did - a forearm to the back of his neck (if you look closely in the video below, you can see it pretty clearly)!  

The appeal against a two match ban seemed more out of hope than anything else - a suspension would have ruled him out of a succession of important games against Celtic - but the panel ruled "breach not proved".  Either Ciftci has one hell of a lawyer, or one has to wonder just how much 'proof' is required in these circumstances.

Verdict: Shock knockout win for Ciftci against the odds here

Ciftci vs the SFA III
Having dodged a ban for the big Scottish Cup quarter final against Celtic, he was involved in the great big rammy in the opening minutes of the game.  It was sparked by a horrendous tackle on him by Scott Brown; whilst the two players lay on the deck, Ciftci appeared to kick the Celtic captain in the back of the head (See about 0:38 into the video).  Thankfully for him, everyone was distracted by the fight Virgil Van Dijk and Calum Butcher were having.  At the end of it all, Van Dijk and (due to mistaken identity) Paul Paton were sent off.

With a League Cup final imminent, the whole dirty business needed sorted quickly.  Ciftci was cited; Brown was not.  Neither was Ciftci's team-mate Aiden Connolly, who seemed to have won a penalty with a dive.  Moreover, a bizarre loophole prevented the SFA from retrospectively banning Butcher.  In the end, with accusations of bias flying around from both sets of fans, it seems that the Pontius Pilate approach was adopted.  Paton was let off; less understandably, so was Van Dijk.  And Ciftci, who was suspended for the League Cup final anyway, managed to successfully argue that he hadn't committed violent conduct.  It's not been confirmed whether his solicitor's main line of defence was "come on, everyone's wanted to kick Scott Brown in the head at some point"...

Verdict: Another win for Ciftci, after the SFA quit on their stool

So, as you can see, Ciftci has a very decent record against the SFA.  The SFA's disciplinary system, meanwhile, is coming off a rather unimpressive season, which has included Kilmarnock's Josh Magennis getting away with headbutting teammate Jamie Hamill and, of course, the complete fiasco that was Meekingsgate.   In fact, I'm mildly surprised that the Compliance Officer has dared to dip his toe into the might get (metaphorically speaking) bitten off.

Who do you think will win Ciftci vs the SFA IV?  I think my money's on the former...

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.