Is poker good for the Scottish football team?
There is no doubt that the Scottish football team knows how to party and sadly, this has sometimes brought the worse of many of its players. As a nation, Scotland has had its battle with its booze and other demons and even the top players in the country have been affected. Some of the stories have been light-hearted, such as the time when Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone, was pushed out to see in a small boat with no oars. Jinky was one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game but he couldn’t swim! A late night rescue ensured that the wee man was brought to shore but it didn’t stop him from terrorising the English defence a few days later as Scotland won 2-0 with Jinky in great form.
Disaster in Argentina
It wasn’t all fun and games though as former Rangers legend Willie Johnston provide. He was sensationally sent from home from the 1978 World Cup in disgrace after failing a drugs test. This led to him being labelled ‘Junkie’ Johnston and while Willie couldn’t lace the boots of wee Jimmy, he certainly knew how to lace one or two things. Throw into this the recent debacle featuring members of the Scotland squad drinking all night and abusing hotel guests and members of the coaching staff (although it was only Steven Pressley so that is sort of acceptable) and it is fair to say that Scottish footballers have been known to get up to hi-jinks in their spare time.
Official poker games in the Scotland camp
This is why many people have raised an eyebrow at the news that boss Craig Levein has set up official poker groups for the players to use when on international duty. Genuine casino croupiers are being invited along to ensure that the games are all above aboard and being managed properly. The incident featuring McGregor and Ferguson may ensure that a close eye will be kept on the level of alcohol consumed by the team but it appears that gambling is being the thumbs up by the SFA.
In one sense, this is reasonable as the players will gamble anyway so it is better to have it properly arranged and organised. Young men with time and money on their hands will always find a way to squander them so bringing an air of official approval to it may help to avoid any problems or issues that could arise from an illegal gambling game.
It is an interesting move by Levein and one that many will be keeping an eye on to see how it all pans out.