tartan army

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.

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Pie 119: The Falkirk Macaroni Pie

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The “see you laters” have been said in my last post so I’m not going to labour the point. Instead, like all good encores this will be brief nod to the fans designed to keep those of you on who are interested on tenterhooks with the insinuation that in years to come an overpriced reunion tour will occur where a bedraggled version of me will rate pies through a straw as people stare and wonder, “Has he been on the smack?”

Anyway, before this tangent writes me off as dead in a pool of my own vomit let’s get on with the show.

Let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: The Falkirk Stadium, Scotland Women 0-4 Iceland Women, UEFA Women’s European Championship Qualifying Group 1

Price: £1.90. Not breaking through the two pound barrier makes this a cheaper luxury option although overall this is still at the top end of the matchday pie market.

Presentation: As oft found towards the upper echelons of the Scottish game this pie came in a silver foil case accompanied with a pick as you need selection of napkins from a dispenser beside the kiosk. I went for two. Two seemed right but not excessive.

THE PIE

The Final Bite...
The Final Bite…

CheesyPastainess – As a macaroni pie filling this was a very good effort. The tightly curled tubes of macaroni were soft to the bite without turning into a mushy pulp adding the right amount of texture to this filling. The cheese was also a lovely blend, with the right balance of savoury and salty. The texture here too was spot on, no gelatinous globules of tasteless cheese, instead long strings of fromage based goodness graced my presence with a crispy brown later on top Lovely stuff.

Pastry: I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. Macaroni Pie pastry is pale and whilst the walls of this particular offering were I was intrigued to find that the top was a little browner and as such a little crisper. There was some issues towards the bottom of the pie meaning the pastry tore against the tin foil tin and a little bit of filling recovery was required but all in all this was a solid effort.

Brown Sauce: Nostalgia dictates that red sauce is used here. A wee sachet (all sachets are too wee for my liking) of perfectly serviceable tomato condimentation. (Note: pretty sure that’s a made up word).

Overall: A friend of mine swore to me that macaroni pies were the best thing ever, whilst I still disagree with that statement I feel confident in saying that they have more than earned their place on these hallowed pages.

Gravy Factor: Cheesy Gravy. And as we all know cheese, much like bacon, is always good.

So that’s it for now. Over the coming months I’ll be trying to pull 3 years of pie based jiggery pokery into something that people may pay for money for (or at the very least download for free from Amazon). There’s a lot of people to thank along the way but I think I’ll save that for the book.

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’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 108: The Motherwell ‘Steak’ Pie

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Hello and welcome to pie number two from Fir Park consumed at the Scottish Women’s European Championship qualifier against Belarus. As promised I’m once again going to try to convince you to give women’s football a chance if you haven’t done so already. Here’s five reasons for starters:

  1. It’s cheap, with SWPL games costing a paltry some of £5.
  2. Games take place during the summer and on Sundays. No longer do you have to spend a July afternoon in IKEA, a dead-eyed stare across your face whilst somebody tells you that the Malm bedside cabinet collection is the hottest thing in Swedish design and innovation.
  3. Scotland actually tend to win more than they lose. Yes there is a few one-sided drubbings against the likes of Belarus and The Faroe Islands in there but it’s Scotland winning. The majority of the time. I’ll take that any day.
  4. If you have one child, and that child is a daughter, then what better way to trick her into getting the football bug than by taking her down to her local women’s football game so that she can find herself some new heroes. The fruit of your loins will play for Scotland after all!
  5. It will get you out the house and that can only be a good thing. Surely it can’t be any worse than sitting through Sunderland v West Brom on ‘Super’ Sunday.

There’s probably more reasons but I’m going to stop at 5, the season has just finished but the national side have their next home qualifier against FYR Macedonia on Sunday 29th November at St. Mirren Park. So go on, give it a go, you might like it.

Anyway with the soapbox tidied away until another day so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Fir Park, Scotland Women 7-0 Belarus Women, 2017 Women’s European Championship Qualifier

...aaaaaaand break!
…aaaaaaand break!

Price: A steak pie is your conventional luxury offering and this one was priced at £2.30, 30p more than the pasta and pastry hybrid available (Pie 107: The Motherwell Macaroni Pie”) from the same venue on the same evening. About average for the level of football normally on show here.

Presentation: The staple luxury arrangement of the pie being placed within a tin foil case and on top of a medium-sized white napkin, nothing too fancy here.

THE PIE

Fuzzy Pie!
Fuzzy Pie!

Meatiness: The meat within this pie was a tantalising mix of small and large chunks of tender steak, soft enough to easily bite through with the odd-shaped meaty bits bursting with a solid steak flavour. The gravy was fairly unctuous, not an absolute topper, but certainly nothing to be sniffy about and overall the whole thing was well proportioned and well seasoned.

Pastry: A classic puff pastry top, more dome like than usual suggesting a generous rise had occurred in the oven. The sides were nicely baked and the pastry had not stuck to the bottom of the case, an often found fundamental flaw at Scottish footballs top end pie establishments. Solid effort again.

Overall: This was a good pie, with a nice filling and well-baked pastry but as this journey continues to chug along it didn’t feel like it was anything out of the ordinary.

Gravy Factor: A premium supermarket brand. Good quality and definitely tasty but not quite at the very top of the game.

So that’s my Fir Park double dunt done and dusted and I return to my junior roots with a review from Benburb, with a classic scotch pie on offer from New Tinto Park. Until then, 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’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 107: The Motherwell ‘Macaroni’ Pie

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Yes that’s right folks we are back with pie number two this week and this time it’s one of the meatiest treats around…The Macaroni Pie! Greggs may have shockingly shunned this Scottish staple but for me a good macaroni pie is a tasty treat to behold. There are bad ones though which can leave your mouth drier than a camel covered in talcum powder. So let’s see how this one works out.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, there is no meat in this pie but fear not as back during my review of Pie 57: The Rangers Macaroni Pie I linked cheese and pasta so masterfully to meaty goodness that really this pies eligibility should never be in doubt, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Fir Park, Scotland Women 7-0 Belarus Women, 2017 Womens European Championship Qualifier

Friday Night Football for Free
Friday Night Football for Free

Price: Although entry to a Scottish women’s international is a bargain £5, or free if you are Scotland loving member of the Tartan Army like myself, the games themselves invariably take place in senior Scottish grounds meaning that the price structure to follow is not that of the entry price comparable juniors but that of the Scottish Championship and above. With that in mind a £2 is not bad and a price worth paying considering the endangered nature of these pastries.

Presentation: Presented in the now traditional-for-this-level aluminium foil container with a medium-sized white napkin. With the bonus that a container providing heat on a cold night where no hot drinks were available!

THE PIE

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Meatiness: So let’s move past the obvious first of all. There is no meat in this pie. So what can I look at? Well let’s start with the pasta, perfectly cooked curls of macaroni that were done jsut enough to not be al dente but not so much that they turned to mush. The sauce was really good, often white based sauces can be heavy with flour but this was velvety smooth and smacked you in the mouth with a strong tang of cheesy goodness. Is it better than a meat pie? Food for thought indeed.

Pastry: There is no pastry top on a macaroni pie instead adorning it is a crisp layer of browned cheddar. Delicious! The pastry surround held together extremely well considering the moist filling inside.

Brown Sauce: But that’s red sauce! Yes it is red sauce. As a young pup my macaroni cheese would always be garnished with a generous dollop of ketchup so in a nod to the past it’s ketchup for this pie. A wee sachet, just fine.

Overall: I liked this a lot and it was a massive improvement on the previous version from Ibrox. The pasta soft, the sauce velvety, smooth and intensely cheesy.

Gravy Factor: Fondue. Sometimes it’s good for you and in this case it was!

Next time out we have a luxury pie offering from the same game where I will once again make the case for supporting women’s football.

But until then, 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’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 100: The Killie Pie

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It’s here! After two season of meat flavoured sweat and tears pie 100 in this enduring journey of pastry has finally arrived and for many there would be no pie more fitting to commemorate a century of meat filled wonder than by reviewing the much vaunted Killie Pie at the Scottish Junior Cup Final. A pie almost so legendary in nature that is often perceived as the best that Scottish football has to offer (although those that read my World Scotch Pie Championships Judges Story will know that wasn’t in fact the case) and the one, above all overs, that I get asked about the most.

This pie also signifies my last review of the season, and the last to grace these pages. Whilst I am conscious that there is still a plethora of pastry for me to plough through, not only in Scotland but across the globe, I have also been been starting to feel the need for a break from pastry based writing. Well a break of sorts anyway.

You see recently a discussion with a friend (which one I can’t remember but if you’re confident enough that you can take credit for this then let me know) about my journey’s and how I had become a little fatigued about the pie life at which point he/she asked me if I had ever thought about writing a book based on my adventures. At first I kind of laughed it off, as cult-like as Meat Filled Pastries has become would there really be an appetite (pun intended) to actually create a tome of pie? However the more I thought about it the more it made sense. When I looked back at old reviews I could see a story waiting to be written. One of my journey, of the people who I have shared each step with, of the places I’ve visited and some of the downright ridiculous situations I’ve found myself in all thanks to the humble pie.

It’s a month or so after I stared putting the feelers about what interest, if any, there was in hearing my story and to my surprise more than two people seemed keen, and so, considering I started this site on the premise of zero percent interest and watched it bloom, some genuine interest was all the incentive I needed to commit to sitting down and trying my hand at being an author. I haven’t started as of yet, work will begin as soon as this last review is posted, but it’s safe to say that I am as excited about this next chapter (another pun, this time unintentional) in my story as I have been about anything else related to Meat Filled Pastries for a while.

Although I will be taking a break from fresh pie reviews, I will still be keeping my quill in the ink pot when it comes to pies and football. I have recently been asked to review a bakers full range of pastries and I will continue to share my tuppence worth about the beautiful game when requested.

But for now I think I have rambled on enough, and so without much further ado, let’s rate not just any pie, but Pie 100, The Killie Pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Rugby Park, Auchinleck Tabot 2-1 Musselburgh Athletic, Scottish Junior Cup Final

The 'Theatre of Pies'.
The ‘Theatre of Pies’.

Price: Now such is the legend of this pie that in a handful of junior grounds in Scotland the Killie Pie is offered as an alternative to their own brand scotch variety, in fact Browning’s have done such an impressive job of bigging up their pastry that some have even escaped the terrace kitchens and made their way to the supermarket shelves. With such wide-ranging availability there was often a temptation to take the plunge at a venue other that Rugby Park, particularly due to the fact that a Killie Pie at the likes of Hurlford United, is cheaper than that found at Kilmarnock FC itself. I resisted those economically sound overtures however and awaited until I was in the aforementioned pies natural surroundings before taking the plunge and as such was required to part with £2.20 for my pie. A full 70p more expensive than those on offer at Blair Park but still considerably cheaper than those found at the big three of Hampden, Ibrox and Celtic Park.

Presentation: In a metal tin foil container to retain the heat with the option of a small napkin to be taken from the dispensers located at the back of the kiosk. Luckily these were self-service as realistically you needed at least two to provide full coverage and to prevent any spillages.

THE PIE

But if there's two hands holding the pie, how on earth did you take the picture?
But if there’s two hands holding the pie, how on earth did you take the picture?

Meatiness: So did it live up to the legend? Well, kind of. When it comes to luxury pies, I am forever going on about the sumptuousness of the gravy and with the Killie Pie there is very little risk of your lips remaining dry as there really is a gush of meaty flavour heading down your gullet as soon as you take that first bite. It was perhaps slightly salty for some if I’m being honest, the seasoning on the very edge for those with a blander set of tastebuds than myself. There were some nice chunks of well cooked tender steak in this pie, but the emphasis here should be placed on the word some and the none use of the word many or lots. Maybe some drops of gravy could have been sacrificed for a couple more bites of meat, that said it was still a very satisfying mouthful.

Pastry: The pastry was pretty tasty with a nice buttery finish, however a couple of things bugged me about it. Firstly the puff pastry top sagged a little in the middle. While that led to  strong mingle of gravy and pastry it meant that as you bit down it became really difficult to get a one bite expose. In fact the only way this was achieved was by squeezing the pie a little to open it up. The base had also fell foul of its tin foil container, and while not sticking this pies soggy bottom meant a fair bit of juggling was required to complete consumption.

Brown Sauce: It was a luxury pie. There is no brown sauce. If you were expecting sauce then quite frankly you should know better.

Overall: Was this a very good pie? Yes. Was it the best pie available on Scottish football’s ever critical terraces, I don’t think so. While the gravy was tasty it could have done with some more meat and if you insist on using a tinfoil safety net to house your pie then you must, must prevent the soggy bottom which this pie unfortunately had.

Gravy Factor: The kind of gravy that you’d get from Five Guys only to find later that actually a Big Mac is just as good. Tasty gravy but the best I’ve ever had, I’m afraid not.

So there you have it, The Killie Pie, finally reviewed and with that this journey sets off in a new direction. As I said I’ll still be keeping my toe in the water and you never know, after writing one book I might summon up the enthusiasm for another run at the life of pie, but for now the time is right to focus on taking over 70,000 pie based words and making some sense out of it all.

Before we wrap up I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped turn this into more than just a drunken notion and into a project that has been a lot of fun helping to re-ignite something within me that had been slowly dying as the 9-5 so many of us have to live to survive dragged me further in.

Until next time, whenever that may be, go forth and eat pie! I know I will.

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’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 99: The Hibernian Pie

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Hello and welcome to pie 99, The Hibernian Pie, on the home of all your Scottish football snack based needs Meat Filled Pastries. The 99th edition of this blog is brought to you by the Qatar Airways Cup as Scotland took part in one of the most insipid friendlies I’ve had the misfortune to attend. Not even the sight of a rotund individual channeling his inner Crazy in Love era Beyonce as he thrust his king prawn high (well not so high) into the Leith sky could stop this from feeling nothing more than a training exercise.

International friendlies are such a strange commodity in modern football. If put into a coaching context they are vital in preparing for competitive fixtures, especially at the end of a season where many of your squad have gone a few weeks without a game. As a football association they provide a much-needed boost to the coffers to help finances tick over during the summer whilst also providing the opportunity to build a new working relationship with associations across the globe, although why Scotland chose Qatar to do with this, only Stewart Reagan and his human ivory caviar spoon will only know. For fans though it often feels like a fixture too far, not so much when Scotland travel away where a friendly become an end of season jolly, but when you’re at home, to Qatar or a team of a similar ilk. The atmosphere was one of the strangest I had ever experienced, with the stands sounding like a crèche buzzing as it was with thousands of children not really paying any attention. A few slightly more inebriated members of the Tartan Army tried to rouse a song or two only to be met with apathy. It’s in this respect that the UEFA Nations League could very well be an innovation that prevents this malaise and lead to the banishment of the phrase ‘meaningless friendly’.

As it stood though any malaise I was experiencing was temporarily shaken off as I found a pie in my hand, so without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Easter Road, Scotland 1-0 Qatar, “Qatar Airways Cup” International Friendly

The Sunshine on Leith was shining straight into my eyes.
The Sunshine on Leith was shining straight into my eyes.

Price: At £2.30 this is at the very top end of the Scottish Scotch Pie Price Scale or the ‘Triple S Double P’ as I have just dubbed it. The equivalent of two junior scotch pies and of a similar price to those found at Hampden, Ibrox & Celtic Park. Pricey Pastry.

Presentation: Pretty standard presentational style here coming as it did in an aluminium tin with a medium-sized white napkin to mop your mouth and shelter your palms from the incinerator like heat that it is greeted you when the pie is placed in your possession.

THE PIE

Definitely feel liking my photography has got more imaginative as the 2014.15 season has come to an end.
Definitely feel liking my photography has got more imaginative as the 2014.15 season has come to an end.

Meatiness: After successfully avoiding dropping my pie following a totally unnecessary pyro and smoke show prior to kick off I was left with a pastry that was just a bit dull. Yes it had a peppery linger that should be present in a good scotch pie but it had all the quintessential hallmarks of a mass-produced pie. It was a tad grey in colour and lived short in the memory. As I finished it I had flashbacks of my time at the World Scotch Pie Championships Judging Day where an average scotch pie became a bad scotch pie the deeper into the competition I got.

Pastry: Safe. Golden. Perhaps a little soft and soggy bottomed due to the tin foil case it still held together just enough to make it a suitable bowl for the meat inside.

Brown Sauce: Much like the rest of this ‘big league’ pie it was a soulless small brown sachet.

Overall: It tasted like a pie, it had a peppery linger and it held together well but it left me cold come the end. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh but I have grown to view these mass-produced pies with a great degree of cynicism. When I eat these now I don’t feel the love of the butcher or baker, I taste the processing of the machines and the site of folk in white coats and hairnets are never far from my mind. I apologise to Hibernian for getting the brunt of this rant but it’s something that over this journey has niggled at me more and more.

Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Bisto.

So there you have it Pie 99, and to celebrate the penultimate entry into the Meat Filled Pastries Hall of Fame I have borrowed part of a little ditty from Mr. Jay Z:

If you’re having pie problems I feel bad for you son
I’ve had 99 pies but of fish I’ve had none

I’m on the pie patrol, high cholesterol
Pies that wanna make sure my casket’s closed
“Cardiac Arrythmia is a risk”, I know!
But I love food stupid what type of facts are those
If you grew up with football and a thirst for goals
You’d celebrate each minute with meat wrapped in dough
I’m a fair minded critic I’ll give anything a go,
If you don’t like meat pies you can press fast forward
Got beef not lamb then it’s steak that’s on show
A pie innuendo is always the way to go, ayyyoooo
Whether, moist or deep it’s easy being crass,
And here’s another one just for the lads…munchers
I don’t know what you rate your pastries as
or understand the intelligence that a butcher, baker has
Don’t forget the brown sauce, that’d be dumb
I’ve had 99 pies but of fish I’ve had none
Gravy!

99 Pies but of fish I’ve had none
If you’re having pie problems I feel bad for you son
I’ve had 99 pies but of fish I’d have none
Gravy!

I could have done the whole song but I don’t think anybody would have wanted that, I’ve just tested it though and it actually fits pretty well so by all means have at it! Anyway pie 100 is in my sights today and at that point the celebrations really can get started.

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’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 80: The Celtic Pie

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Hello and Welcome to the Oak Anniversary of Meat Filled Pastries, the marriage of one mans journey of football and his love of pie, let’s get into it.

I have decided that I want to become a professional sportsperson, in particular, a footballer, at 29 I know I am at the peak of my footballing powers with a left foot that can still ping a decent long ball cross field and the love of a good tackle but how do I get my foot in the door? Well, based on the antics of football authority figures in the UK alone then I have a few options:

1. Be a convicted rapist.

2. Be proficient in the art of racist, sexist and chauvinistic text messaging.

3. Be a bit flippant about practitioners of Judaism.

Look at the list. Seriously look at it, and that’s without considering the list of match fixers, assaulters and hit and runners to name just a few of the convincts currently plying their trade in professional football in the UK.  Could you imagine talking yourself out of a disciplinary hearing in your work if you were found guilty of any of those listed above, no me neither but yet in the realms of professional football, a place seen as the holy grail for idealistic youngsters kicking a battened Dr. Pepper can about a school playground, these crimes (because that’s what they are) result in almost instant redemption. It’s appalling.

Now let me clarify this by saying I am not against rehabilitation of individuals who have committed such crimes but for the process to be carried out in front of millions of people, many young and impressionable, whilst getting paid a small fortune for the privilege really has your head scratching at what goes through the minds of the people that run our game. The joke is there is no rehabilitation of these individuals, there’s no courses they have to go on, no donations being made, no consequences for their acts, instead these individuals are rehabilitated back into the game as if nothing has ever happened. If you need any evidence of the impressionability of these figures on others then just look at the moronic behaviour of a small minority of Sheffield United fans who took to social media to post about club patron, Jessica Ennis-Hill, because she had the audacity to say that rape isn’t very nice.

You know, I don’t know if I even blame the individuals, not for their actions which are clearly abhorrent, but for there willingness to accept the warm embrace of the football family, irrespective of their crimes. Why feel shame, when those around you behave like their is nothing to be ashamed of? I don’t know, sometimes it makes you think, why bother?

Luckily though I have never heard of pies committing hate crimes, so without further ado let’s rate some pies!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Celtic Park, Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Euro 2016 Qualifying Group D

 The battle rages on...

Price: Priced at £2.20 it was 10p more expensive than it’s most recent comparable (Pie 78: The St. Mirren Pie) and as such is at the top end of the scotch pie price scale for Scottish football, this price would no doubt be defended on the basis of the surroundings in which you consume it in.

Presentation: A small white napkin with a tin foil container, very much the standard at this level, although I’m still to be convinced the red hot nature of a pastry case is really what a football fan need to contend with as a game rages on before your eyes.

THE PIE

Rather blurry, sorry about that folks!
Rather blurry, sorry about that folks!

Meatiness: The level of notes I made about this pie on reflection could have been far more in depth, but as it was my birthday, and perhaps the biggest game of the year I was set to attend, I was rather full of the joys of life. That said though, notes were made and the memory is now accustomed to storing pie consumptions in a section of my brain, ready for removal come review time. The pie was filled nicely, there was room for more but you couldn’t accuse it of being skimpy. The meat was moist if not a little greasy, but had a nice texture. There was a long hot, peppery linger something that my palate yearns for but, as I discovered come judging day, would be too severe for those with tufts of grey hair poking out their ears. I lied it though, so that’s all that matters.

Pastry: Pretty non descript although I will say it felt and looked under baked and actually mashed together a bit in the mouth as you munched your way through. There was no crispy edges perhaps a symptom of trying to meet demand instead of providing a quality product. Could have been better, could have been worse.

Brown Sauce: A small brown sachet, the kind you see in work place canteens across the country, one is never quite enough but two is sometimes too much. Added tang.

Overall: A solid effort, long peppery kick, added the heat which I adore but some may not. Pastry could have been better baked. Preparation perhaps done in a somewhat slap dash manner.

Gravy Factor: Pepped up with pepper gravy!

Who knew that Oak is the item associated with an 80th wedding anniversary, and who knew I would get to 80 pies when this started, well 81 is on it’s way the first of a double dunt special from junior side Dundee Violet.

However until next time, go forth and eat pie!