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Mr Heliums

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  1. This is your grandad on the left with David Sherlaw, another new signing, in July 1932, at the start of training. And this is him at the front of the pack, with fellow St Johnstone players, August 1932:
  2. Ballantyne was an inside left, signed on a free by newly-promoted Saints from Aberdeen in June, 1932. (He'd featured mainly in the reserves at Aberdeen, but had played some first-team games as the season had gone on. He'd joined the Dons at the start of season 1931-32 from a spell in the United States.) He had a brother, Johnny Ballantyne, an inside-forward for Partick Thistle. Ballantyne lasted a year at St Johnstone, making 23 league appearances in a season that saw Saints finish fifth in the top flight. In his debut against Third Lanark in August, he was described as a 'veritable box of tricks', the 'best forward on the field in working the ball' and an 'energetic inside man whose knowledge of half-back play was valuable'. The Daily Record said his 'artistry and deceptive feinting were a delight'. Of Ballantyne, the Dundee Telegraph wrote, 'the general consensus was that Tom Muirhead has in this fellow one of the best inside forwards in the country. Ballantine [sic] knows when to hold the ball; he knows when to part with it, and, what is perhaps more important, he knows exactly how to deliver it." He switched to inside-right for the Dewar Shield tie against Montrose the following Wednesday and scored the opening goal. His strengths lay in his intelligence and his technical skill; his weakness that he wasn't direct enough. In an early game against Partick Thistle – where he lined up against his brother in the same position – he was described as 'an astute tactician', with 'smart touches', but one who didn't carry much of a punch. By the time Saints lost to reigning champions Motherwell at the start of September, his form had waned. There were grumblings about the effectiveness of both Saints' inside-towards (Ballantyne on the left and Benzie on the right) for 'lacking guile and subtlety'. 'Much of their clever stuff,' wrote one journalist about their performance against Well, 'got nowhere'. Even in the win a couple of weeks later against Clyde, one reporter wrote that Ballantyne's passes had a penchant for going astray, and he had 'an inclination to hold onto the ball too long on occasions'. Another, more pointed, report described him as 'going in circles with the ball'. He scored the third goal against Cowdenbeath in mid-September ('the best of the game'), but that wasn't enough to impress some watchers. A 'great many' of his passes were misplaced and he was a 'poor shot' despite his goal. Still, he was praised for his astuteness, and there was a suggestion he'd thrive at inside right. He shone in September's 0-0 friendly against Arsenal, in front of a record Muirton crowd, and was also prominent in the next game against Airdrie. He scored in the 7-1 victory against Morton, where, along with the rest of the forward line, he earned 'bouquets'. Still, one pundit complained that he was much too direct with his passes: you can't please everyone. There was heavy competition for places in the Saints forward line – at one time nine players fighting for five roles – and while it was claimed Ballantyne and Benzie were being given an extended opportunity to make good, by mid-October Benzie was no longer first pick, and on December 3, Ballantyne was rested for the game against Queen's Park, returning on Christmas Eve against Third Lanark 'to little effect'. With Harry Ferguson, and latterly Bobby Davidson, doing well in the inside-left role in the absence of Ballantyne, he was tried in a fresh position – pushed out to the wing against East Stirling, where he did well enough to suggest that 'with further experience he would be able to pull his weight'. He played on the wing for most of his remaining games for Saints. You'll probably be disappointed that your grandad played a major role in a cup victory over East Fife almost exactly 90 years ago, in January, 1933. After a draw at Muirton, Ballantyne was brought back into his favoured inside-left position for the replay and was the instigator of an exciting comeback, scoring the equaliser as Saints won 2-1. It was a triumphant moment in what was otherwise a spotty second half of the season. He was at inside-left for a final time in the last-eight loss to Hearts and was succeeded in that position by Bobby Davidson, who a year or two later went on to big things at Arsenal. Ballantyne was in and out of the side for the rest of the season, but wasn't retained. I'm not sure what happened to him – I suspect it might have been the end of his professional career; there was a mention of an 'R Ballantyne', a 'former Saints inside-left', playing in that position in for the reserves against Motherwell late in 1934. That would have been him, but as Saints lost 8-1, perhaps best to pretend it wasn't. What should be highlighted is that he was at Saints at an amazing time: the beginning of its first golden period – a time when international honours were at last coming to the club. Plus he was signed by the great Tommy Muirhead, who knew how to spot a player. Lots to be proud of. Incidentally, you can pinpoint almost to the hour when that picture you posted was taken: late morning of the first day of training on Tuesday, July 19, 1932. The photo features only nine players– those who lived in Perth at the time. (Another three joined training that afternoon, but missed this snapshot.)
  3. The last thing the Tories want is another vote. I think they'll do all they can to avoid one and it's possible they'll succeed: Sunak will get well above a hundred declared supporters and Mordaunt, if she sees her chances dwindle, may withdraw for the sake of the party (and a decent Cabinet post). That's assuming Johnson declares, but I secretly suspect he won't: he'll need well over a hundred supporters to be plausible. Even declared parliamentary supporters may swither if Sunak has clear momentum. The optics of pushing for a vote in those circumstances would be terrible. Plus the more thoughtful Johnson supporters – there must be some – that things are going to get even worse in the economy. A Johnson win would tank the markets far more than Truss has over the past few weeks. There's no way the Tories will win the next election. Better, they might think, for Johnson to stand back and watch the Tories lose the next election and then come in as the saviour.
  4. There was once a time when the Liberals were confidently making the case for a more nationalist Scotland. This was 60 years ago:
  5. I wasn't talking about his views, sectarian or otherwise. I was simply citing two examples of a series of memorably awful refereeing at critical times that favoured Celtic. It certainly gave the understandable impression – at least to St Johnstone fans – of a pattern. But I shouldn't ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence: he was by some distance the worst referee I can remember.
  6. Remember two Dallas games in particular: the 1999 fixture when he awarded a last-minute goal to Celtic because he felt like it and the 1997 game (albeit in the League Cup) that was turned on its head when John O'Neil was sent off in extra time for kicking a player he was evidently nowhere near.
  7. What's unaspirational about paying sensible taxes if it results in a better, happier country: one that builds schools, encourages learning, replenishes our libraries, cherishes the health of our loved ones, or makes sure our old folk are treated with respect? I mean, that's what taxes should do, right? Of course, maybe you've forgotten that. Maybe you think taxes should be spent the way they are by Westminster – on writing off £12bn of wasted PPE spending, or on spending £37bn on track and trace with 'no discernible benefit', or laying out £13bn on failed defence procurement, or even ponying up £100m on frivolous challenges to disabled benefits claimants. I mean, yeah, if taxes were to go on that, fair enough. I'd like to think Scotland will aspire to better, though.
  8. I don't expect the unionists' "But what currency will you use?" argument to get much airtime today.
  9. Not sure they'll cancel domestic fixtures for the next couple of weeks. European fixtures will, presumably, proceed. That would, ironically, leave Rangers as the only club playing a game in Scotland during the mourning period.
  10. The best thing about this BBC archive video comparing Edinburgh and Glasgow accents is the footage from outside Parkhead before a 1976 game against Hearts, including a boy asking for the traditional lift-over (at 1:43):
  11. Couple of – potentially – excellent finals lined up.
  12. Davidson's history – exhausting the same pool of players during last year's League Cup/Europa League, hardly experimenting in the dead rubber v Hibs – suggests he won't ever experiment.
  13. Really disappoints me when I read this sort of post. No effort to provide a source, or inform an argument, because naturally, the claim isn't true. Average Scottish Council Tax is way below England and Wales – I mean it's not even close: literally nearly a third lower for Band D properties in 19/20 – to the extent that there is a reasonable argument it should be much higher. (And those figures don't include water rates which are also significantly higher in England and Wales – but then they've privatised Water so that explains it.)
  14. That's not the point I was making, which was that while it's true we have the highest rate, we also have the lowest. But that second part is never mentioned. I'm absolutely ok with having a higher tax rate for moral reasons (not to mention what we get in compensation in Scotland). And I'm also pleased our less well off pay less tax. It's something we should be proud of.
  15. People who keep screaming 'highest income tax in UK' never mention that Scotland also has the lowest rate of income tax in the UK.
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