The above pictured man with the flag is, arguably, the most (in)famous Assistant Referee in world football.

His name is Douglas Ross.  He’s been doing the job in Scotland for around ten years.  Most folk who run the lines barely get a second glance, but it’s there is the fact that he is also a Member of Parliament at Westminster, having been elected in 2017 after previously being a local councillor and then member of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Oh, and since August 2020, he has been leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, a position in which he gets a media platform to pontificate on all sorts of issues.

The Tories are not popular in Scotland.  Indeed, in recent months, as the antics of ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnston and the policies of the new incumbent, Liz Truss have demonstrated, they are increasingly unpopular across the UK.

Now you might be wondering to yourself what all this has to do with a music blog.  I’m getting there….I just felt I had to set the scene for overseas readers.

Some of you may know that I have a Saturday job, which sometimes extends to Tuesday or Wednesday nights.  I am a volunteer at Raith Rovers FC and my role is to be in the Matchday Announcer’s Box, doing things like reading out the teams, mentioning match sponsors, shouting out goalscorers as the game progresses and so on.  It also involves me selecting and playing the music pre-match and at half-time.

My method involves choosing a set of tunes and preloading them as a playlist to an iPod which is then plugged into the system at the stadium.  There’s always about 50 minutes worth of music involved. For last Saturday’s match, I decided in advance to include a few tunes that contained subtle  digs at the way the Tories are running the country – You Don’t Care About Us by Placebo and Five Get Over Excited by The Housemartins, while also adding Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag by Pigbag as some football crowds elsewhere have taken to chanting ‘Fuck The Tories’ as part of its refrain (not that I was expecting our small band of supporters to do likewise, but I was hoping perhaps that a few might mumble along).

I got handed the team sheets at around 2.15pm, which is when I see that Douglas Ross is running the line.  We rarely get him at Stark’s Park as he tends to get higher profile games, but everyone, I suppose, has to do their turn.  The playlist has already got underway.  Prefab Sprout, Stereolab and Julian Cope have already been aired, and the players of both sides are going through their warm-ups oblivious to the fact that some of their moves make them look as if they are gyrating in sync to LCD Soundsystem.

Around ten minutes later, the referee and his assistants come out to do their warm-up.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  Douglas Ross is soon running around the pitch as Paul Heaton sings:-

Feigning concern, a Conservative pastime
Makes you feel doubtful right from the start
The expression she pulls is exactly like last time
You’ve got to conclude she just hasn’t a heart

Now, I know that Douglas Ross wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to the music and had no idea about what was going on.  I also doubt he even knows who The Housemartins are, never mind the sentiments in the song.  But it made me laugh out loud….thankfully I had my microphone switched off. Oh, and for the record, the Placebo song was next up, and he was still running around the pitch.

mp3: The Housemartins – Five Get Over Excited
mp3: Placebo – You Don’t Care About Us
mp3: Pigbag – Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag

At half-time, just behind the players who were heading up the tunnel just below where the matchday announcer’s box is, the referee and his assistants get together ready to do likewise.  I haven’t yet cued up any music for the half-time break, so there is a bit of silence as the applause for the first half performance dies down.  The voice of what sounds like a middle-aged man bellows out.

“Ross.  Just fuck off you fat Tory Bastard.  And take the rest of your greedy and useless Tory pals with you.”

There is a loud cheer from maybe 30 or so fans nearby.  Douglas Ross looks down at his feet and walks slowly up the tunnel.  I decide it’s time, again, for The Housemartins.

Oh, and for the record.  Raith Rovers won 3-0.  It was a good way to spend an autumnal Saturday afternoon.


24 thoughts on “FUN, FUN, FUN

  1. That, sir, has made my morning. Mr Ross is the definition of pivot – any issue, any time. I don’t dislike him because he’s a Tory. I dislike him because he’s Douglas Ross – being a Tory doesn’t help.

    “Ross. Just fuck off you fat Tory Bastard. And take the rest of your greedy and useless Tory pals with you.” Such eloquence. Shake that man’s hand for me

  2. Sweet. Next time he’s in town, Kick Out The Tories by Newtown Neurotics is still a great tune 40 years after its release.
    3-0 eh? Dancing in the streets of Raith no doubt ensued.

  3. So harassing someone who’s just doing their job, because you dislike their politics is OK now? Got it.

  4. I doff the proverbial cap to yourself and to the fan who has summed up the feelings of so many people. Couple of cyber pints heading your way. Ross ran the line in cup game at Elgin earlier in season and got a fair bit of stick from QOS fans ….

  5. I echo the comments previously posted. Well, except one who is clearly in a very, very small minority. If Raith Rovers now get complaints about the half-time music, you know exactly who’s behind it.

  6. Americans have forfeited the right to offer opinions about other countries’ politics (you know, because we inflicted Orange Voldemort on the world for 4 years), but that was a quality read with a killer soundtrack.

  7. Bravo Sir! Speaking as an Englishman I always feel that Mr Ross is a bit of a masochist. An (Asst) Referee and a Tory MP! Completely self-inflicted on the receipt of abuse front. The man does have a choice on these matters after all!

  8. Excellent stuff. And, yea, add the Newtown Neurotics to the playlist next time he’s in town.

  9. Brilliant…as a (working) lifelong Trade Unionist & fellow Scot I salute you….you speak, act and chose your tunes on behalf of a totally fucked off country and thank fuck Douglas Ross doesn’t have a scoobie who the Housemartins are.

  10. What intrigues me is… which Stereolab song? It’s not as though they have actually any that yer football-going masses would know.

  11. I vote for a quick blast of I want to kill somebody by Smash.

    I think Tory policy over the last 12 years has made it perfectly acceptable to dislike people for doing their job. Especially when doing their job is fuckng up the country , destabilising the economy, making millions miserable by shoving them unnecessarily into poverty, harassing the disabled, the vulnerable and giving pointless tax breaks to their wealthy mates.
    But no one came here for a lecture in communism.

  12. Hi Leon

    Early on in the mixes, before there’s any sort of crowd, I tend to throw in a few songs that I want to hear, which is why ‘French Disko’ got an airing!

  13. I am one of those big ugly God-fearing gun-toting nuts I think most of the UKers fear to shake hands with…. Never really took the time to understand UK political parties, seems they get it bass ackwards in the name… Conservative (I think) is really leftist (Socialist) and Tory is somewhat conservative (right leaning but mostly seem to the left of where I stand) and Scottish folks seem to me to be flaming communists except when it comes time to separate from the tit (England). Last leader I liked was Margaret Thacker. Just posted to let you know you get all types here, seems most music bloggers lean left, but not all of us 80s fans do (and that is ok). I tend to not get in arguments over politics cause I don’t want them to take their bag of rare goodies and not share them. It was odd how Stuart Adamson (Big Country fame) wrote songs about how bad the South USA was but ended up living there his final years before his drinking problem got the best of him. Anyhoo, you get all types is all I am saying… now don’t get your ponytails in a knicker and block me or something.

  14. Hi Lo

    I wouldn’t dream of blocking anyone! I’m more than happy that folk out there have different opinions, and even happier that they are comfortable enough to drop by and have their say. It’s also why I love the idea of guest postings, as a fair amount of what is written and featured by the guest contributors will be at odds with my own musical thinking, but I’ve always wanted TVV to be a on-line community where everyone feels welcome.

    Just to clarify (if you don’t mind) – Conservative and Tory are one and the same…the left-leaning party (of sorts) in the UK is Labour.

  15. A coincidence of confluence – when in doubt, channel Howe Gelb, eh. Likely headed out to yell similar things at any of the local university’s board of trustees who have the guts to be part of the Homecoming parade after receiving overwhelming votes of no confidence from the students and faculty, and then the resignation of the President (and, likely, soon the Provost) for breaking their own charter, formal responsibilities, and historical norms of behavior as part of their long history of accepting and covering up staggering volumes of sexual assault on campus…

  16. Three nil you say , and against the mighty Rangers too . Thats Cove Rangers for those outside the UK ! ……..please keep up this great site JC ,thanks .

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