world cup

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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3G or Not 3G? That is the Question.

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With more and more Scottish sides, at all levels reverting to next generation AstroTurf pitches and the Women’s World Cup next year in Canada set to be played on majority artificial parks, despite the protest of top figures in the ladies games, is it time to accept that ‘plastic’ pitches are here to stay?

grass

A decade ago most of us would return from a kick about with grass on our knees and a clump of mud inexplicably mashed into our scalp and whilst that scenario is still applicable today it becomes an ever rarer sight as grass stains are replaced with the occasional graze and clumps of mud being replaced by thousands of tiny rubber balls that get into every human crevice imaginable, and I mean all of them. For most casual footballers a midweek evening or Saturday morning is spent running about one of the thousands of artificial pitches across the country. So why is it that players with no discernible quality can muddle through but highly tuned athletes throw their toys out of the pram as soon as they’re asked to adapt ever so slightly? After all the ball is still round, the goals are still the same size and there is still the same number of players running about a marked out area of rectangular land, I think it’s time it throw off the shackles of negativity and embrace something that is here to stay.

So how do you start to look at something with a glass half full point of view? By focusing on one of the most predominant glass half empty arguments. Artificial pitches cause injuries that when playing on grass would never occur. The evidence suggests that this is the only real true negative of playing on an artificial pitch, I am happy to admit that on certain artificial parks I leave the pitch a lot sorer than others but then my warm up usually consists of eating a pack of fruit pastilles, a few impressive looking but ultimately useless stretches and blasting the ball at anybody who makes the mistake of bending down to tie their laces. I don’t spend my week training on it, following a properly structured warm up and warm down regime whilst having the luxury of immediate access to physiotherapists and trainers when required. Football and it’s stakeholders are renowned, when they want to be, for innovation and are quick to move the game ‘forward’ whether it be with neon ankle high boots, skin-tight muscle armour or shaving foam in a can. So why can’t Nike, Adidas or Gillette create something that helps with the aches and pains so many players fear? Do you know what? They can and they no doubt will. Therapies will develop and training regimes will be altered to accommodate the variances in conditions between grass and not-so-grass.

In fact it’s football’s ability to innovate that has seen the growth of these pitches in our game, for you see the UK, and Scotland in particular, is prone to the kind of weather that makes football in winter a bit of a challenge. neNer mind getting a match on sometimes teams can go weeks without training. Football’s solution: all weather training pitches, the pre cursor to those that are being used in competitive games today and in this lies the flaw in the argument that players aren’t used to playing on them, they very much are, in some cases everyday. The excuse that a team is not used to playing on an artificial pitch is catching up on the referee and injury lists as a justification for an abject performance. A win one week on is quickly  forgotten when a defeat occurs on the same surface soon after.

The excuses of failure, which often infuriate me so, can usually be justified by one of the following lines when a manger is pressed in a post match interview:

  • The ball just doesn’t act the same on an artificial pitch
  • Grass is better.

Let’s address these points together as best as we can. Firstly yes it is true that on occasion a ball can grip on an artificial pitch resulting in a bounce that’s a little higher and a run that’s a little quicker but let me give you some names to consider. Tim Flowers. Peter Enckleman. John Terry. Each victim, if they are to be believed, in some way shape or form to variances in a grass pitch that an artificial park never would have thrown up. Even considering my relatively young age at the time I still remember Flowers going down on one knee to catch a fairly tame long-range effort from Stan Collymore only for it to hit a divot, hop over his shoulder and drop into the net. While many will remember Peter Enckleman’s inability to control a throw in during a Birmingham derby resulting in an own goal that will forever stand the test of time the Finn bettered the trick a couple of years later when a miskick, no doubt of which will be blamed on a bobble, gifted Preston forward Chris Brown the easiest of goals.

Perhaps the best example belongs to John Terry though, self-proclaimed King of Chelsea and publically divisive figure. In 2008 he had the opportunity to do something that no other Chelsea captain had done before and lift Europe’s biggest club prize, the Champions League trophy, even better he could score the winning penalty. With the chance to confirm his blue tinged legacy the defender slipped and the ball went high into the sodden Moscow sky. The irony being that despite the Luzhniki Stadium housing an artificial pitch for much of the season prior to the final  UEFA decreed that their grandest prize must be played on grass. If the grass had never been laid then Dorgba’s glory a few years later could have all belonged to John. So you have to ask would Tim, John or Peter have preferred a pitch that would behaved itself like it should have done rather than one that made a ball bobble or a foot slip. It begs the question is grass really better?

Yes. In an ideal world a well manicured grass pitch is infinitely better than even the highest spec artificial surface. However how many of those parks really exist in today’s highly commercialised society where football stadiums also host rugby, NFL and music concerts amongst a plethora of other things. With ever-expanding international and domestic calendars designed to engage clubs of all levels football grounds are used more now than ever before so naturally wear and tear will become ever more prominent. All this though is based on the theory that the pitch to start off with is of a high standard.

Pitches at the last two World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, for example, have been chastised for their poor quality with brown patches painted green and enough sand to populate a small beach just some of the measures to improve the potential quality of play. How often during the festivities in South America did you hear managers moan, particularly in Manaus, about the state of the pitch.

I have to ask, what do you expect? A tropical climate where it’s baking hot one minute torrential rain the next is hardly an ideal place to grow a football pitch. The African Cup of Nations is forever being played on pitches that have as much grass on them as can be found in the middle at Lord’s or the Oval. The list goes on. Wembley couldn’t get grass right for years and switching sports for a second Murrayfield’s nematodes became as synonymous with the Six Nations as Archie Gemmell’s goal at the 78 World Cup became with Scotland’s ability to achieve glorious failure. When those at the very top can’t get it right what chance do those at the bottom have?

That’s not to say you don’t find many a fine grass park at lower league grounds because you surely do but when clubs are ever increasingly looking to find ways to make ends meet the last thing they need is an impromptu 6 week winter break and it is here that the artificial pitch comes into its own. In the summer Rugby Park became the ninth Scottish senior ground to host an artificial surface and the second in the current Scottish Premiership (Hamilton being the other). The reason for the move done at some cost, was done to facilitate a clearance of debt and move the club back to Kilmarnock on a day-to-day basis. But it doesn’t stop there as others have shown. Hamilton have hosted a number of Scotland youth internationals at New Douglas Park while current SWPL champions Glasgow City play their league and European games at Airdrieonians Excelsior stadium while clubs such as Stenhousemuir and Queen of the South amongst others use their artificial pitches to create revenue 7 days a week renting the pitch out for local teams and everyday punters like you and me for kick about. Making their stadiums the hub of their community, it sounds pretty fanciful but these things are actually happening right now.

This has even tricked down to the juniors, and while its sad many an old ground has fallen by the wayside for identikit supermarkets and three bedroom houses the money earned has been used to rejuvenate clubs who had merely been surviving. In a country where fiscal responsibility has been ringing in our ears for months is it not fiscally responsible for Scottish clubs in particular to make the most of the assets they have? In years to come will these teams be seen as innovators? I think so.

In an ideal world football should be played on grass at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe those that lambast the usage of artificial pitches are longing for a simpler time, nostalgia has a funny way of doing that. Maybe they have some genuine concerns about the long-term health of players some of which doesn’t appear to be without foundation but just as television has made a 3pm kick off as common as 7.15pm on a Monday night so will an ever-changing climate and financial responsibility see artificial pitches work hand in hand with traditional grass park’s marrying the past and future for many clubs across the country, maybe even the world.

Artificial pitches are here and they won’t be going away.

Pie 23: The Motherwell Pie

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The discerning choice for young women who like fitba'.
The discerning choice for young women who like fitba’.

The next entry on Meat Filled Pastries is brought to you by the Scottish National Women’s Football team and their home for the Canada 2015 World Cup qualifiers, Fir Park, Motherwell. Now usually this paragraph is reserved for some absolute nonsense about the week that has just passed but this time I’m going for a slight change of pace.

Recently one of my closest friends passed away after a 2 year battle with bowel cancer and all the complications ensued, aged just 28. Throughout it all he refused to let it stop things he wanted to do and see the things he wanted to see. To pass many a bored hour in hospital or at home he busied himself with a number of internet projects. One of which is ‘The Grambler’, a bookie busting algorithm of randomnosity, that experiences varying levels of success, with any winnings that it procured going to The Bobby Moore Fund for Bowel Cancer Awareness. The links are located on the right hand side of this page and I’ll put the full addresses at the end of this latest entry into the Pie Hall of Fame. Please take the time to have a look at these sites and if you like this, Leading the Line or The Grambler itself feel free to make a donation or have a flutter.

With all that being said let’s get into the business of talking about pies. My mate was a massive Motherwell fan, and so when it became apparent that things were not to go his way I made it an aim to get to Fir Park as quickly as possible as some kind of weird meat filled pastry tribute.

So without much further ado Lets Rate Some Pie!

Where: Fir Park (Home of Motherwell FC) Scotland Women v Bosnia and Herzegovina Women, World Cup Qualifying Group 4

Price: Priced at £2.00, while still expensive for a meat filled pastry when placed in comparison with both the Hampden and Rangers pie it actually comes in at 20p cheaper than these similarly levelled competitors.

Presentation: Came in a silver tin foil case, with a ‘help yourself to napkins’ policy, they were of adequate size so only one was required. Not really much to report here.

Meatiness: As always a scotch pie, this effort was something of a deep-filled beauty. What immediately struck me on first bite was that this was not the same generic fare I had experienced at grounds of similar stature previously. This is not to say the previous pies were not good, more an indication of the pleasant surprise that engulfed me on the realisation of this very point. The meat inside was really savoury and although that smack of pepper I usually like in my pie was not present the flavour of the mutton inside meant I did not miss it at all. The meat also held incredibly well and was soft to the bite.

Pastry: A nice even bake on the top of the pastry meant the all important crust was present with enough bite to provide texture but soft enough not to leave you wishing you had the denture work of a 1970’s Bond villain. Unfortunately, as does happen from time to time when a tin foil case is used to hold these meaty delicacies, the pastry at the bottom of the pie was ever so slightly soggy meaning there was some minor spillage when picking it up to take a bite. However that being said, this was a minor inconvenience in an otherwise delicious pie.

Overall: A very good effort, the meat was tasty and the pastry ratio was spot on combining to give this pie an ‘original’ taste, not like a Werther’s, but a taste that after enough time could be distinguishable as a ‘Motherwell Pie’, something that I feel is lost at the top end of the modern game. As a side note the Brown Sauce on offer was not provided by HP but by another company whose name is long forgotten but proved itself a dark, tangy and tasty alternative.

Gravy Factor: The ladies in the pie stall at Fir Park did just as well as the women on the field, as Scotland won 7-0, in providing a pie that fully deserves the rating of lovely lady gravy.

Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply click on the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption and while your at it why not have a look at ‘Leading The Line’ a blog not based solely on Pies, crazy I know! The link is on the left hand side and with all things going to plan will have a new article up tomorrow.

Finally and most importantly this week are a couple of links below that if you have a few minutes to spare I would love you to have a look at them and maybe make a wee donation:

Bobby Moore Fund: bobbymoorefund.cancerresearchuk.org

The Grambler: thegrambler.com

Just Giving ‘The Grambler’s ‘Kick Cancer’s Arse’ Fund: http://www.justgiving.com/Geraldine-Smith3

That’s it for the latest edition of Meat Filled Pastries, so until next time, Go Forth and Eat Pie!

Pie 18: The Hampden ‘Steak’ Pie

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Meat Filled Pastries first venture into the 'luxury' pie market
Meat Filled Pastries first venture into the ‘luxury’ pie market

As promised here comes Pie #2 from Friday night’s adventure to Hampden. This pie is the first one to be reviewed that will be dubbed as a ‘Luxury Pie’. Now to be a luxury pie the criteria is very simple, you just have to not be a scotch pie. That’s it. You can be steak, chicken, mongoose and lingonberry, whatever you like as long as your not a basic scotch mince pie. The reason for this you ask? Well I go to many games of football, and many places more than once, some of these places offer more than one type of pie. Sometimes I’ll do two in one go like I have at Hampden, others I may review on separate occasions. Either way it’s good news because it will mean more pies to taste, and that’s why we’re all here because we love a good pie.

Before we start it is also important to note that unlike a scotch pie, with ‘luxury pies’ you do not use brown sauce, the filling should suffice, that’s why you pay extra, only when something has gone wrong should the ‘Pie Band Aid’ be applied.

That’s the rules of luxury so, Let’s Rate Some Pie!

Where: Hampden Park, Scotland v Belgium, World Cup Qualifying Group A

Price: At £2.60 this is 40p more expensive that it’s scotch equivalent but, as previously stated, is seen as a more high end product, something I will confirm one way or another in the next few paragraphs.

Presentation: Well that extra 40p doesn’t change how the pie gets handed to you, silver tinfoil case and a tiny, tiny napkin. However in this instance the case and napkin combo cause a couple of issues not encountered when consuming a scotch pie which will be covered further down.

Meatiness: Now this is not mutton, this is prime steak in an unctuous savoury gravy, well at least that’s the idea. I’m pleased to say that this was a perfectly acceptable attempt at it, the pie had clearly been baked for the appropriate amount of time as the gravy had not dried out and the meat was still pull-apart-at-your-teeth tender. There was a distinct taste of steak, although for me I would like a bit more pepper, but that’s personal preference as I like a bit of spice.

Pastry: Being a ‘luxury pie’ you are treated to a puff pastry top, which in this instance was sufficiently risen to be called puff pastry but not so much that the pastry to meat ratio was effected. However when picking up the pie the bottom completely fell out of it due in part to the plentifulness of the gravy. This is a common gripe I have with steak pies as it often results in you spending more time getting yourself in a right mess than focusing on the game in front of your eyes. Covering your fingers in gravy and steak rather than using the pie casing to do the work for you. This is why the reason the picture above is still sitting in the case. That being said the pastry complemented the filling very well and compared with some I have had in the past this crust was still relatively sturdy barring the very centre.

Overall: A first venture into luxury pies and it can be deemed a moderate success, tasty filling and nice pastry but while the bottom falling out doesn’t impact on flavour it does mean you get in a bit of a mess. You might even enjoy that. However I think its fair to say that in these circumstances a napkin the size of Papa Smurf’s bed sheets doesn’t really suffice.

Gravy Factor: Tasty Gravy. A good marker for all luxury pie’s to aspire to, need to sort that soggy bottom though.

Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply click on the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption and while your at it why not have a look at ‘Leading The Line’ a blog not based solely on Pies, crazy I know! The link is on the left hand side and with all things going to plan will have a new article up tomorrow.

One last thing before I go, whilst in ‘The International’ after the game, I came across this gem of a poster. A pie for 30p when you buy a pint. Bargain!

Discount Pies
Discount Pies

Pie 17: The Hampden Pie

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The Patriotic Pie
The Patriotic Pie

This week Meat Filled Pastries laughs in the face of the international break and all the problems it apparently causes football fans across the country by not just bringing you 1, but 2 Pie’s. That’s right I risked high cholesterol and possible meat induced coma’s for all you lovely, lovely pie munchers. (Editing Note: That last line was not a joke about lesbians).

I have split them into 2 reviews so that they both get the proper time and attention they deserve.

So without further ado, and with just a touch of man flu, mainly in part to the multiple drenching’s that I, like many others, experienced to and from Hampden on Friday night, Lets Rate Some Pie!

Where: Hampden Park, Scotland v Belgium, World Cup Qualifying Group A

Price: A Hampden Scotch Pie comes in at £2.20, I have touched on my feelings on the price of my pie at the upper echelons of the game so it’s safe to say I wasn’t overly enamoured at paying this, however when put in comparison to the recently reviewed Rangers Pie then this seems to be par for the course.

Presentation: Standard silver tinfoil and tiny napkin presentation here, and I mean a tiny napkin. It’s worth adding at this point that the pie was absolutely roasting making the napkin size even more impotent and which also in part explains the slightly misshapen ‘one bite expose’ taken above, I nearly dropped the thing twice!

Meatiness: A Scotch Pie. It was a nice meaty pie, but as you may or may not have noticed there is one thing missing for it to allow me to assess a full flavour profile. You Ready for this? Now bear in mind this was for a pie consumed at the home of our national football team, team of our national sport.

You Ready?

Here it goes, they had NO BROWN SAUCE! What the hell man?!? Seriously.

It’s bad enough that I was soaked and my team were getting pumped but to no be able to sauce my pie is just a travesty too far, especially when you right a blog about these pastry delights! And no, before you say it, tomato sauce is not just as good. It is an abomination to put such stuff on your pie, it doesn’t enhance the flavour as brown sauce can so often do. It totally changes it and anybody who uses tomato ketchup instead of eating their pie bareback needs to have a long hard look at themselves.

Anyway back to the pie, the meat was flavoursome without blowing me away, I have a feeling this may be a common occurrence when sampling pie’s higher up the footballing ladder but I didn’t feel my filling was terrible in anyway. Just a bit uninspiring.

Pastry: The top came a little loose under pressure but was overall cooked to the necessary level to retain its crispness whilst also allowing an easy bite. My one complaint would be the over exuberant sprinkling of flour that topped the pie, leaving in some bites a slightly chalky after taste.

Overall: Look, it’s not going to give you that, ‘Oh I must have it again feeling.’ but for something that is produced for the mass market it’s perfectly serviceable. Although it will take me a long time to forgive them for the no brown sauce fiasco.

Gravy Factor: Just below Bog Standard Bisto, and it’s standing just below is purely down to the lack of brown sauce provided. Once again for £2.20 you want a scotch pie that is more than nicely cooked mutton in a crust.