International Soccer Scran Special: 1. FC Nürnberg

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With the regular football season now officially over, and the World Cup in Russia upon us now seemed as good a time as any to add another chapter to the International Soccer Scran Special Series, a long overdue summary of my trip to Bavaria and in particular the Max Morlock Stadion in Nuremberg, a footballing stop off during a stag weekend that took us to Munich and Augsburg too. In fact the initial plan was to head to the Bavarian Derby between the two aforementioned clubs but an imminent Bayern title party in Swabia coupled with the German fans renowned for selling out grounds meant that tickets were hard to come by and whilst some were acquired there was not enough to facilitate the entire group and so Plan B was formed and a day in Nuremberg awaited us. So without much further ado let’s get elbow deep in a world of pretzels, tiny sausages, beer and some coverage in a local news outlet.

Location

Nuremberg is situated an approximate two hour train journey from central Munich. There is a “slow” train and a “quick” train that takes you to and from Bavaria’s biggest and second biggest cities. Unsurprisingly the “slow” train is a bit cheaper and, even cheaper still if you’re travelling in a large group, with our fare tumbling from around 80 per person to just 15(ish). Although we did eventually get the cheaper fair we hadn’t planned the journey very well and so on the slow train we arrived into Nuremberg’s main station just ten minute’s before kick off. The fates started to turn in a favour though as on exiting the station we were greeted by a thankfully quiet taxi rank and a short 15 minute ride later, which passed a game between the home town teams youth side at the side’s training complex, we had arrived at the Max Morlock Stadion.

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The ground is like many stadia in Germany serviced with a running track with the main stands to the side providing a closer view whilst the oval curves at the end providing views, that whilst a bit further away, are excellent values for money. Having taken the stairs to our seats in the top deck I was intrigued by the view through the plexiglass to an open piece of land behind the stand. Luckily somebody more up on their history than me identifed this as The Nuremberg Rally Grounds, home to a decades worth of Nazi propaganda. The stadium itself used as a hosting ground for the Hitler Youth and Nazi centric sporting competitions. When you think about the many modern stadiums built beside wasteland, industrial estates and shopping centres on the edges of cities and towns this trip to Nuremeberg led to a surprising and unexpected moment of reflection back to very different times.

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Eating Outside the Ground

The Max Morlock Stadion, as previously hinted at, is situated a decent distance away from the main centre of Nuremberg and with very little around it so if you do have a preference for snacking before going to a game then I’d suggest hanging out in the centre where you have your expected mix of Bier Halles and high street restaurants. Beside the main station there is an interesting historical looking (although I suspect very modern) little conclave with some shops, cafes and bars. There’s plenty of options to choose from but I suspect a review of Nuremberg city centre is not what you came for though so let’s get out that taxi and into the ground.

Eating Inside the Ground

Entry into the stadium is via a gated perimeter which, one navigated, presents you with a decent selection of food and beverage options. As this was a stag do let’s start with the important stuff, an item close to every Bavarian’s heart, the beer. Firstly, and this is a strange thing to have to call out, they are alcoholic and can be taken into the stand with you. Served in a rather nifty branded plastic up, emblazoned with the 1. FC Nürnberg crest. A bit of further reasearch showed that this is a fairly common theme at grounds across Germany. I found myself thinking that if it wasn’t a) so fragile and b) be absolutely minging by the time you got it home, it would make a nice souvenir of your trip. I’d love to give you a price per pint but stag do’s aren’t necessarily the place for that kind of detail although if you had to push me I think it was around the £4 mark. Expensive but about average when you are part of a captive audience.

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Your main food options were, also refreshingly traditional, pretzels and sausage. I think it’s fair to say that you’ve not really experienced a pretzel until you’ve been handed a face size Bavarian version of this baked good. There were two varieties that I could see. Plain, dusted unmistakably with salt, and cheese. Naturally, I conspired to try both and whilst each provided that combination of soft white dough and chewy dark brown crust that anyone who has ever had a soft pretzel will know the cheese version provided that extra level of flavour that the plain salt didn’t have. The flavour profile enhanced by those crispy bits that only cheese can provide when it catches on the bottom of the tray. They really are the ideal snack/hangover meal replacement to go with a beer.

Post game and with the beer hunger still rumbling on I made use of another kiosk situated on the perimeter of the stands and had a roll and sausage. Not square, as often found back home in Scotland and neither large and long like the Bratwursts and Bockwursts of your Germanic dreams but a more local speciality known as the Nurnburger Rostbratwurst. Three of them to be precise, tidily stuffed inside a simple white bread bun like a trio of meaty soldiers and (when you actually manage to locate the condiments) topped with ketchup and mustard. Like their much larger wurst brothers these are usually grilled however their differentiation in flavour is the addition of marjoram to the sausage mix. Although the sausage is much smaller, meaning that the casing to meat ratio is drastically increased I enjoyed the more regular pop that these tiny, tasty bangers provide.

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German football is often championed as the crème de la crème in relation to a fans match day experience and with cheap tickets, noisy supporters, proper beer and a wide range of food options it’s easy to see why. It also, like football across the globe, gets covered extensively from the very bottom to the very top. Sometimes the local press will even grab a bunch of drunk Scottish folk in Where’s Wally outfits and ask them what they are doing there. So if your German is half-decent, and you want to see what our man Jambo made of our day then you can do so here.

1. FC Nurnberg Soccer Scran Top Tips

  • Big groups equal discounted travel from Munich, just get your timings right for kick off.
  • Take some paper towels with you so that you can take home a branded plastic cup for free.
  • If you’re sitting in the end nearest the main entrance then make sure to take a look at the Nuremberg Rally Grounds, might as well learn something whilst you’re here.

I had been to Germany a couple of times before this and somehow managed to conspire to not get to a football game so this was a good day for checking things off my footballing bucket list. Overall the version of Bavaria that I saw during my long weekend there played very much into the stereotype of beer, beer festivals, sausage, pretzels, and just when you think you can’t manage another one more beer (and sausages. and pretzels).

Next up I’ll tackle my biggest International Soccer Scran piece until last as I do a retrospective on my time in Madrid both last year and for a few days this covering games from the Bernabeu to the Polideportivo Vicente Del Bosque and everywhere in between.

However until next time go forth and eat pie (or pretzels!)

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileño with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

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Pie 137: The Glasgow Perthshire Pie

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So here it is, my last pie review of the 2017/18 season. A season that has taken me across Scotland and Spain with some stop offs in Germany and Portugal along the way. I went to my first game back in July with no inclination to start doing the pie reviews again as I thought it had run its course but I’m glad I’ve come back to it. It’s helped to re-kindle what has sometimes felt a lost love for writing and whilst I still struggle to juggle real life with my aspirational one I feel I’m slowly starting to win the battle.

I don’t believe in recapping what I think has been the best or worst but instead reflecting on the opportunities it has presented to date and the new people that I’ve met whilst focusing on what will be hopefully forthcoming in the future, pie related or otherwise.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

Where: Keppoch Park, Glasgow Perthshire 1-2 Pollok, Central League Cup Semi Final

Price: Advertised at £1.50 the total bill of £3.20 for two pies and a bottle of water (advertised at 50p) would suggest that this pie was £1.35 which doesn’t seem right at all. For the sake of this piece let’s call it £1.50. Maybe I got it wrong.

Presentation: It always seems fitting to book end the start and end of the season with the ever classical medium-sized white napkin. It always does the job.

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Meatiness: This was a well filled pastry. The texture was good if maybe a little loose meaning that on a couple of occasions a bite was followed by a quick juggle on the bottom lip to ensure that the meat didn’t hit the grass bank beneath me. There was a light pepper kick to this pastry that didn’t have much linger to it and overall whilst there was a hint of meaty flavour it perhaps lacked a little punch overall.

Pastry: The pastry was crisp and had a nice golden tinge to it but as can be seen in the pictures had a few cracks in the side walls meaning the structural integrity of the pie was let down a litte. That aside though there was nothing wrong with it from a taste perspective.

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Brown Sauce: Missed the brand but came in one of the large squeezy bottles you would often see at food vans and cash & carry’s alike. Did the job.

Overall: Generous filling that perhaps needed a little bit more oomph.

Gravy Factor: Just a spoonful shy of the perfect  flavour and consistency.

So that’s it, another season in the books, but keep your eyes peeled on the site during the off season as my evolution to more football and food based content continues with the next two installments in my International Soccer Scran Series. I might throw a couple of World Cup things in there too.

However, until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 136: The Fauldhouse United Steak Pie

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So here it is. What’s shaping up to be the penultimate pie review of the football season, a second offering from Fauldhouse United this time in the form of a Steak Pie.

One of the things I’ve always found a little confusing when eating my way through the pies of Scotland and beyond is the lack of advertisement at pie stalls about where they get their pastries from. It seems to me a fairly easy win for the supplier, a captive and very local audience, who after tasting your pie could decide that this is the only thing they want to have for their dinner until they their ultimate breath. Their problem, unless they pipe up and ask, they don’t know where it comes from.

To be fair this isn’t always the case, here at Fauldhouse there are Bell’s advertisements everywhere, Rossvale have McGhee’s as a main sponsor, Beith are supplied by Irvine’s and there’s a World Champion Certificate for Boghall Butchers at Bathgate Thistle. Pars seem to supply half of the Scottish Premiership whilst The Kandy Bar provide pies to a number of Ayrshire region teams. The Killie/Kilmarnock Pie made by Browning’s is perhaps the ultimate demonstration in how you can make your product synonymous with an entire genre.

The names above are some of the most recognised on the Scottish Butcher/Bakery scene and the impact that a strong association with a football team has cannot be underestimated. If you are a butcher or baker who supply a football club have a think about how you advertise that fact in the coming season. Advertising boards and programme inserts are great but for me that association comes best when you hand over your money or look down on your napkin. You know if your pies are great, so when they are why not shout about them.

For now though let’s continue with part two of my Fauldhouse adventure. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Park View (Take 2), Fauldhouse United 0-4 Tayport, East Premier League

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Price: £1.20. Perhaps a first since I have started this website (I’ve checked and I can’t see any evidence to the contrary) in that the price for the Steak Pie is exactly the same as the Scotch Pie. A Luxury Pie at a Scotch Pie price. What a time to be alive!

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Presentation: A medium-sized white napkin, replacing the gargantuan piece of kitchen roll that my earlier scotch pie had adorn it. More than capable of doing the job required of supporting my second pastry helping of the day.

Meatiness: Ach! I hate this, I want every pie I eat to be one of the best things I have ever had but unfortunately for this steak pie it just wasn’t to be. The filling reached about half way up the pie, meaning that it felt a bit stingey and to get a proper look inside I had to use my fingers to spread the pastry floor and ceiling apart. The filling was more gravy like in consistency with only one or two small to medium-sized chunks. It was alright but nothing more.

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Pastry: I could literally copy and paste the summary of the pastry from Pie 135: The Fauldhouse United Pie as the pastry shell was exactly the same in colour and construct but I’m going to be even lazier than that and ask you to follow this link instead.

Overall: Nothing terrible but nothing more than OK.

Gravy Factor: Meh, but with steak.

So there you have it, Fauldhouse United, a great wee club with a bit of room for improvement on the pie front. I’m writing this on a Saturday morning a couple fo hours before I head to Glasgow Perhtshire for what I think will be my last pie review of the season. From there I’ll move onto my International Soccer Scran Series before seeing what inspiration the World Cup brings.

However as always, until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 135: The Fauldhouse United Pie

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As promised the pie reviews are coming thick and fast with the first of two from the East in the form of this Scotch Pie review from Fauldhouse United. After Pollok’s game on Saturday was postponed due to some rather grim events in the Rutherglen area the preceeding evening a quick browse of the fixture list was required. With East Region junior football in just the teeny tiniest bit of turmoil I thought I’d take the opportunity to take in a fixture between two of the teams who have not made a move to leave the current junior set up.

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of hyperbole around the phrase “there’s nothing quite like the juniors.” Events like the ones I encountered at Park View play in to that way of thinking.

The passing of a figure close to the club had brought his friends and family together under the main enclosure at Park View for a swig of Buckfast in his memory. The match itself was pre-faced by a minute’s silence and then a minutes applause. An act carried because “that’s how he wanted it, something a bit different.” Yes, it would be foolish to argue that Joe Punter at Ibrox, Pittodrie or Tynecastle would struggle to have arranged such a send off but to suggest that the same could not be achieved at Coldstream, Huntly or Dalbeattie seems just a little naive.

It’s a fascinating topic given the near radio silence by some of the biggest figures in the junior game, but I don’t want to get bogged down in the pros and cons of the Great Eastern Escape just now, that’s for another time, and another forum. No, for now, let’s focus on the positives and raise a glass to Fauldhouse and all the other clubs across the country, no matter what league they play in, who take their time to acknowledge their fans of the past, present and, judging by the children I saw running around in their tops at Park View, their future too.

So with that said, and without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Park View, Fauldhouse United 0-4 Tayport, East Premier League

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Price: £1.20, pretty much the pricing sweet spot for a junior pie.

Presentation: This pie came with a veritable blanket’s worth of paper towel. If you were so inclined you could turn your pie into a tiny trampolinist tossing your pastry gaily in the air performing all manner of twists, somersaults and flips.

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Meatiness: I’ve always believed that honesty is the best policy when doing these reviews and if I’m being honest this pie was a little underwhelming. The filling seemed a little bit tight in its volume and although there was a pepper kick the linger for me was a little too brief. The texture was OK but it’s not one that has lived long in the memory. All in all, it was just kind of there.

Pastry: The pastry had a flat top to it without the presence of a hole and the positioning on the pastry was a bit higgledy piggledy. The pastry was sturdy with a slight bread like taste to it. Did it secure hold the filling within? Yes. Did it have a nice golden tinge to it? Yes. Did it blow me away? Not really.

Brown Sauce: HP. Name brand brown sauce always squeaks out an extra brownie point or two.

Overall: My expectation is that the pies at Park View are provided by one of their main sponsors Bells. My suspicion is that these are the same pies that go to supermarkets throughout the country. If financially this makes sense for the sustainable running of the club then I can get on board with it. However as a guy who has tried pies across the country, produced by places both big and small, this pie was a little short of the mark.

Gravy Factor: Meh.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 134: The Pollok Bridie

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Hello and welcome to the first of three quick fire pastry reviews over the coming days. This time out a taster from my home town club Pollok FC where I shun the pie for a bridie, something, that I should admit to right now, as not being my favourite combination of meat and pastry. The reason for this rapid review process is that over the summer period I’m working towards a slight shift in what the content of this site will include.

Firstly, don’t panic, the pie reviews will still be forthcoming but as the new grounds become sparser I wanted to take this opportunity to branch out a little and morph the site into a kind of football & food hybrid. In the past I have written fairly regularly about Scottish football but as I hope my International Soccer Scran Series (Benfica Club Portugalete) shows I’m keen to come at things with a new angle. With that in mind, this week I completed my first piece of non football food related writing in a long time with Russia 2018: 32 Reasons to Support Everyone! A Scottish supporter’s guide to ensuring that no matter who wins you too can claim a piece of that glory. It also features a player from today’s hosts so why not give it a read. For now though let’s get back to what brought you here in the first place.

Without much further ado, let’s rate some bridie!

Where: Pollok 6-0 Wishaw, Newlandsfield Park, Central League Cup 3rd Round

Price: £1.20, a few pence cheaper than the pie options at Newlandsfield, but given my lack of dinner at the time I would’ve paid twenty quid to prise the last hot food item available from the pastry seller’s cold, dead fingers.

Presentation: Simply presented on a medium-sized white napkin, perhaps something a little more substantial is required for a bridie, as in this instance the heat of the product mixed with the more porous nature of the bridie’s puff pastry meant that once I had finished eating my napkin, now adorned with a fine film of grease, it was no use for mopping my mouth.

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Meatiness: Unlike the more commonly known Cornish Pasty south of the border it will very rarely contain any form of potato or vegetable however there can be some onion present dependent on the whim of the butcher or baker. In this instance there was an onion flavour with a few translucent slivers visible to the eye. The flavour was distinctly of bridie and most importantly, the filling stacked up well against the puff pastry casing. This sounds simple but even at World Championships the meat to pastry ratio can be bafflingly low, and so for that, this bridie should be commended.

Pastry: Puff as opposed to short crust is the normal pastry of choice for a bridie. This adds a lovely flaky texture to a pastry along with a slightly softer lining that caresses the meat within but it does invariably end up with you crop dusting the terrace around your feet. This bridie was no different. That said the pastry was absolutely fine even if a few small shards got caught between my teeth.

Brown Sauce: Logistically condiments on a bridie are a nightmare. Unlike a pie there is no pastry wall to contain the sauce so this bridie was had bareback although my inclination is that if you can be bothered with watching for those drips it’s an action that shouldn’t be frowned upon.

Overall: Ordered a Bridie. Tasted like a Bridie. Not quite as good as a pie.

Gravy Factor: If you want a bridie this ain’t a bad example to have.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries. 

Russia 2018: 32 Reasons to Support Everyone!

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picture courtesy of outsports.com

Did you know that it’s 20 years since Scotland opened France ’98 with a 2-1 defeat to a Ronaldo led Brazil. Whilst some mystery still remains around exactly what happened to the Brazilian striker prior to kick off of the final that year names such as Robbie Stockdale, Gary Kenneth and Darren Barr can be quickly pulled as evidence as to why the Tartan Army continue to be absent from the world’s biggest football party.

Fear not though as I have found a reason for you to not only support just one but every single country at this year’s tournament, allowing you the luxury of knowing that even in defeat you can still celebrate glory. So without further ado here it is…

32 Reasons to Support Every Country at Russia 2018

Group A

RussiaGiven my desire to live to see my next birthday let’s just say we like Irn Bru and in Mother Russia they are pretty keen on it too. In fact until recently it was more popular than worldwide leader Coca Cola, in part due to its resemblance to an old Soviet beverage. I’m just glad I’m not the one that has to tell them that Barr’s have recently changed the recipe!

Saudi ArabiaWe both have governments who like a bit of oil.

EgyptAndrew Robertson is team mate and *best friend with Mohammed Salah at Liverpool. Andrew Robertson is officially the greatest left back in the history of football and all around good egg. Mohammed Salah is also a good egg. Don’t think you need much more reason than that.

*they might not be best friends

Uruguay Had the good grace at Mexico ’86 to not only boot Scotland all over the park but also record the quickest sending off in World Cup history when Jose Batista was sent back to the change room after 52 seconds of their group decider. The fact Scotland then proceeded to draw 0-0 and as a result be eliminated from the tournament should not be held against them and at this point we should take the opportunity to turn the other cheek and support La Celeste as they literally kick, bite and scratch their way through Russia 2018.

Group B

PortugalRicardo. Inevitably beating England was going to feature in here. It was Euro 2004 and a group of us had gathered in a Scottish pub just off the main Magaluf strip to watch as the Portuguese keeper committed trolling of the highest order by first saving Darius Vassell’s penalty with his gloves off and then stepping up to score the winning penalty. What followed was a night, which until this day, I have zero recollection of.

SpainReally when Spain won the World Cup in 2008 it was all thanks to us. Back in 1899 two Scots formed Spain’s oldest football club, Recreativo Huelva. Without these footballing pioneers it’s fair to assume that a game of football may never have reached the Iberian Peninsula. Tiki Taka would never have been born and we never would’ve known how handsome Isco was. Spain (and planet earth) you are welcome.

MoroccoIf it hadn’t been for Morocco’s love of a shot during their 3-0 defeat of Scotland  at France ’98 (the commentary in this clip is incredible)there is a very real possibility that Jim Leighton would still be getting a game as Scotland’s first choice keeper. For helping us to avoid this circumstance we should be forever grateful.

IranAlexander Samizadeh. Kilmarnock legend and one of the shining lights of the Lee McCulloch era. Such was his footballing prowess that on last review of his Wikipedia page his skills have now transcended the need to play for a football team. 

Group C

FranceCarnaval de Paris by Dario G was the last World Cup Song that was an absolute banger not matter how many times, even now, I find myself randomly going Waka Waka, damn you Shakira! You know why? Because we had qualified, which meant that it had bagpipes in it. A French win would no doubt bring memories flooding back of their triumph that year and lead to a renaissance for this dance floor classic.

Australia A shared love for BBQ’s whatever the weather should never be underestimated.

Peru Many years from now as Peruvian football analysts and commentators look back on the glory of winning the 2018 World Cup they will often reference that night in late May. That night where they knew that if they could somehow both shackle Oli McBurnie and squeeze a shot (or two past) Jordan Archer then they would be ready to win it all. Scotland had prepared them and because of this we too can bask in their glory.

DenmarkIn the absence of Finland and Norway (positioned at number 1 & 2) Denmark are officially the happiest country at the World Cup according to the latest World Happiness Report. There are however concerns that this ranking will plummet with the news that Nicklas “I can’t believe he hasn’t ended up in Scotland yet” Bendtner has not made the squad. A World Cup win would surely keep them smiling.

Group D

ArgentinaThat goal…World Cup 2006, Argentina v Serbia & Montenegro, 25 passes ending with Esteban Cambiasso passing it in. What other one would I be talking about?

IcelandThe English National Football Team have been living their own “Banter Years” for over two decades now. At Euro 2016 Iceland provided the world with perhaps their most banterous moment yet when they knocked Roy’s Boys out. A feat so unbelievable that people thought it was acceptable to cut arm holes in Iceland carrier bags and don them whilst dancing about the streets in celebration clapping aggressively in passer-by’s faces.

CroatiaTheir group opponents may have had more than three million pre-orders of their new World Cup Kit but Croatia are the ”OG” of the strong football kit game. The red and white checked design more emblematic than any other in the modern era. They also have Luka Modric and he’s just lovely.

NigeriaAll we need is Ikechi Anya *clap clap* Ikechi Anya *clap clap* ikechi Anya. It seems only fair to support the Super Eagles after the destroyer of the Macedonians and frightener of the Germans chose Scotland over his father’s home nation of Nigeria.

Group E

Brazil They’re the favourites plus that Joga Bonito airport advert is still the absolute tits 20 years later.

SwitzerlandSwitzerland Women are currently in the same World Cup Qualifying Group 2 as our lassies. A success in Russia for their men’s side would surely result in them disbanding all football activities knowing that they had indeed peaked leaving a clear path for Shelly Kerr & Co. to saunter their way to France 2019.

Costa RicaWhilst there are some teams Scotland have played only once and lost to. In Costa Rica we have an opponent in which we have not only played multiple times but also boast a perfect losing  record of played 2, lost 2. With this astonishing record in mind it is our duty to ensure that the uncrowned greatest football nation of all time finally take seat at the head of football’s top table.

 

SerbiaEh. They’re not England? Other than a really depressing story about housing World War One refugees in Edinburgh and referencing former Rangers midfielder Dragan Mladenovic I’ve got nothing here.

Group F

Germany Thomas Muller is an absolute LOL Factory.

Mexico The winner stays on rule. A common technique used by football fans with no club of their own. Supporting a team up until they get knocked out, only to then switch allegiances to the team that had just declared victory until they too get knocked and so on. As Slovakia failed to even make the play-offs after beating us to second in the group stages, Mexico as Scotland’s last opponent before the World Cup are our next best bet.

Sweden Because if you don’t Zlatan will Zlatan you with his Zlatans and you will be left in a Zlatany mess, Zlattaned, Zlats and totally Ibrahimoviced…ZLATAN!

South Korea – After letting Oliver Burke and Billy Gimour rout their U21 team at the Toulon tournament it seems only fair that we give some support to our Korean friends. In other news it’s disappointing to report that on review of their final 23 man squad that not a single name can be turned into some sort of childish innuendo.

Group G

Belgium Both the Tartan Army and the Manneken Pis in Brussels demonstrate a fondness for urinating in public. One is a considered a symbol of a cities sense of humour and independence of mind. The other is fuelled by thousands of litres of Tennents on match day. Either way, at Russia 2018, let us pee together!

Panama In the 1700’s Scotland once tried to establish a colony on Panama called “Caledonia”. Unsurprisingly the Central American climate did not sit with the lads and it was a massive failure. Caledonia by Dougie Maclean is a good song. Here ends this tenuous link.

TunisiaBilel Mohsni has been capped a staggering 6 times by Tunisia (ACTUAL VIDEO EVIDENCE). He was even named in their preliminary squad for this year’s tournament! Any country that can show that level of benevolence deserves nothing but our full support.

EnglandOther than geographical proximity this bunch of England players seem annoyingly pleasant. In fact the English media have done such a good job of hounding Raheem Sterling there is a tiny little part of me that wants to see him score a hat trick before unveiling a tattoo of a giant middle finger. The fact that this hat-trick would then prompt a Panamanian comeback for the ages on route to a 5-3 win and thus eliminating the Three Lions from the tournament two games in is just a minor detail.

Group H

PolandIf it wasn’t for some of the development that Barry Douglas undertook at Lech Poznan then Scotland wouldn’t possibly be in possession of one of the best third choice left backs in Europe. Unfortunately a similar experiment involving Ziggy Gordon at Jagiellonia Białystok was considerably less successful.

 

Senegal – It was going to be near impossible to do “32 reasons to..” without showing a little bias somewhere. Mouhamed “Sena” Niang, was living in Senegal up until six years ago when he and his family moved to Scotland. Now 18 he currently plays in midfield for my local junior side Pollok FC recently winning 3 MOTM awards in 4 games. Russia 2018 may be far too early for this very promising youngster but allow me to get carried away and imagine a future World Cup where a former Pollok player takes the field. No harm in getting some pro-Senegal practice in early.

ColombiaI don’t know about you but I got a wee bit fed up of seeing Alfredo Morelos’ face tripping him constantly towards the end of the Scottish Premiership season. So let’s get a smile on that wee buffalo coupon with a Colombian World Cup win. Of course Carlos Valderrama’s hair cannot go without a mention here although worryingly he has suggested that if Colombia win the big one his hair will be no more.

Japan If it wasn’t for their invite to the Kirin Cup in 2006 then to this day we would have never known what a Scotland captain lifting the most prestigious trophy in the whole of world football would look like. The fact we have not been invited back to defend this title only goes to show the fear we struck in the hearts of all nations that glorious May day.

So there you have it, 32 reasons to support every country, including England at the 2018 World Cup.

Pie 133: The Saltcoats Victoria Pie

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I’m making use of a rare hangover free Saturday morning to bring you another edition of Meat Filled Pastries. The original plan was to head out for a Park Run but I have been wiped this week so I’ve swapped the tarmac for typing. In two weeks time however I won’t have that option as I take part in the Glasgow Men’s 10K (the running shoes are on stand by for tomorrow morning). Once upon a time I couldn’t run ten metres without my body questioning what madness had taken over. There’s still times when that madness still descends so to keep me right I always run for the Kick Cancer’s Backside Fund in memory of my mate Smit who died aged 28 from bowel cancer.

If you like my stories of pie, think cancer is a bastard or have a few pennies to spare then the link above takes you to our fundraising site. All donations go direct to the Bobby Moore Fund for Bowel Cancer Research. We’ve raised over £40,000 since his death and I continue to be astounded by the generosity people can show. If you’ve read this and have donated then thank you.

Right, charity shilling complete let’s get into the meat of this matter and so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Campbell Park, Saltcoats Victoria 0-11 Pollok, West of Scotland Cup, 2nd Round

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Price: £1.70. Yes this is expensive for a junior pie but in some way, as I watched the players of Saltcoats chase shadows during an 11-0 defeat, I was at peace with this. If I have to pay an extra 20p to help keep these players playing (at the very bottom rung of the junior ladder where glory is seldom an option) for another season then no worries. I’d be the first one to bemoan a club going to the wall due to a lack of funding. As an aside Saltcoats are yet another Ayrshire based junior outfit who offer up a Killie Pie for consumption, albeit at a slightly higher price point.

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Presentation: A rarely seen in the juniors shiny silver case meant that on this, one of Scotland’s sunnier days, the pie seemed to retain its heat for eternity. A single sheet of white kitchen roll provided some respite from juggling the straight out of the oven case.

Meatiness: I think if I had to describe the filling of this pie it would be as functional. The meat was decently textured and flavoured with no stand out contributing factors. There was no discernible kick to speak of but the filling held well inside the pastry case and as my first meal of the day after a few pints it more than did the job of satisfying my hunger.

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Pastry: Again another functional piece of pie making, kudos for ensuring that the pie was sealed well enough that it didn’t stick to the bottom of the tin and it did have a nice crisp texture to the bite. The kind of crispness where you can break a bit off and dip it into the condiment of choice atop of your pie. Which brings us neatly to…

Brown Sauce: I was a bit reckless with my squirt and so a thicker than normal layer of Asda’s (I think!) finest added the vinegary, spicy tang that only brown sauce can.

Overall: If you’re hungry and want a pie. This will do the job.

Gravy Factor: Standard Bisto.

Another pie bites the crust (love a pun!). I have a bridie review lined up next from my hometown club and the Southside’s finest, Pollok. I’ve decided that whilst the junior season wraps up I’m going to get through as many pastry reviews as possible knowing that I have a couple of long reads and a World Cup of Scran to look forward to.

But until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.