Slow play is killing golf – but what’s the rush?

With Tiger Woods and Adam Scott recently adding to the growing voices of discontent about slow play in the professional ranks, it has never been more of an issue in world golf.

Amateur and weekend golfers do not escape the criticism either with slow players taking the blame for the increasing number of golfers giving up the game because “they just don’t have the time.”

Logjammed weekend courses and 5-6 hour rounds are signalling the death knell for the game according to many commentators, agitators and proliferators.

But while I won’t defend the five-hour plus game in either professional or amateur golf, I do find myself wondering when golf changed from being an enjoyable yet competitive form of escapism to a frantic dash round 18 holes which leaves me more flustered than when I stepped onto the tee in the first place.

My article here at GOLFmagic.com argues why golfers should be allowed to play at their own pace (within reason). It’s safe to say judging by the comments, that not everyone agrees.

If any keen golfers haven’t yet checked out GOLFmagic.com then they should do so when they have a chance. Edited by Bob Warters, who formerly edited Today’s Golfer, FORE! and Golf Weekly, it is a great mix of serious reviews, contentious debates and light-hearted meanders down golfing memory lane.

As if that’s not enough, Bob has also agreed – under no duress whatsoever – to let me submit regular feature articles to the site. What more could you ask?

City Senne hits the heights of Cumbernauld

I’ve been a bit lax lately on the old blog posting, for which I can only apologise.

I’ve actually been keeping myself busy with the ridiculous notion of actually working for a living in order to feed and clothe my son, Andrew who, at just five-months-old, seems to eat more than I do on a weekly basis!

Anyway, one of the things I have been working on is this great story below about the former captain of the Botswanan national football team who has just signed for Eastfield AFC in the Scottish amateur leagues.

Leith Athletic actually played Eastfield a few weeks ago but thankfully City’s international clearance hadn’t come through in time and we didn’t have to line up against him.

Having seen some of his ball skills during the photoshoot I have no doubt he’ll be a great addition to Eastfield’s squad. He also told me that his wife is expecting their first baby in a couple of months so he’ll soon be finding out just how much a five-month-old eats.

All the best to City and his new team. He is a genuinely nice guy and I look forward to coming up against him for Leith in the future.

Sadly, only the Scottish Daily Express saw the merit in this story while all the other newspapers deemed it unworthy of their pages – although BBC’s Reporting Scotland also carried a piece. I might be biased but I think his is a story worth telling. I’ll let you decide for yourself:

city-senne16.jpg

BY DAVID CONNOR 

THE former captain of the Botswanan national football team has made a comeback to football – by signing for a lowly Scottish amateur side.

Gofhamodimo “City” Senne is a national hero in his native country and more used to playing in front of packed stadiums against some of Africa’s greatest ever players.

But the man who captained his country for eight years has now swapped rubbing shoulders with the glitterati of African football to turn out in dreary Lanarkshire for Cumbernauld-outfit Eastfield AFC.

City, who has played against African legends such as Cameroon stars Roger Milla and Francois Omam-Biyik, former Marseille striker Abedi Pele and ex-Leeds favourites Tony Yeboah and Lucas Radebe, will now be pitting his football wits against Scotland’s amateur players on muddy council parks in the Central Scottish Amateur Football League.

City, now 42, said the toughest thing about adapting to the Scottish game is the inclement weather and the pace of the game.

He said: “I am really enjoying playing football again and it doesn’t matter what level you play. My age is against me but I am still fit and as a footballer, when someone asks you for a game of football you don’t say no.

“The weather is really difficult because it is so cold. I am used to temperatures of around 30 degrees in Botswana so it is strange. As a defender, I was always used to getting a lot of time on the ball and being able to pass it but the Scottish players close you down a lot quicker and it will take a bit of getting used to.

“The players also shout a lot but I have no problem understanding them. In football you communicate through movement and you know where people want the ball to be played.

“I knew a little bit about Scottish football before I came here. I had heard of Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Motherwell. They are very old and famous clubs. Henrik Larsson is also very famous and scored a lot of goals for Celtic before going to Barcelona and Manchester United.

The defender, who also captained Botswana’s top club side Gaborone United, signed for the Cumbernauld side after a getting a job with the brother of Eastfield’s manager.

City came to Scotland to study at the LSMT Business school in Glasgow and to pay his way he took a job alongside Lee Brown – brother of Eastfield manager Chris – in a electrical retail warehouse.

Chris, 32, said: “City was working with my brother and when they found out they had a mutual interest in football they swapped stories and eventually Lee convinced him to come along to our training.

“You can see that he has played at a good level and he’s still in very good shape – there’s not an ounce of fat on him.“He’ll definitely bring a bit of experience to our side as we have a fairly young team and he will hopefully be able to bring on a few of the younger boys.

“He’s played against some unbelieveable players and although it is a different level at Eastfield he still plays with great enthusiasm. He will be a great signing for us.

Gus Mackay, president of the Scottish Amateur Football Association said: “My congratulations to Eastfield AFC for having attracted a player with such an international pedigree as City Senne.

“Scottish amateur football is by far the biggest participation sport in Scotland and there are players of all abilities from various backgrounds playing on parks every week across the country.

“If anyone wants to find out how to get involved they can visit the SAFA website, www.TheSAFA.org.uk.”

ENDS

PS Thanks to both Lorenzo Dalberto of Deadline Press & Picture Agency and City Senne for agreeing to take part in a photoshoot during a sub-zero evening in Cumbernauld. It was certainly a long way from both Italy and Botswana respectively.

Leith Athletic 3 v 1 West Kilbride

If a convincing win and performance on a Saturday afternoon always affords a more enjoyable Saturday evening, it’s safe to say the Leith Athletic players would have had a few sore heads on the Sunday morning.

A scintillating start to their sixth round Scottish Cup tie with West Kilbride saw the Edinburgh-side blow away the visitors with three quickfire goals in the opening 30 minutes to send them into the last 16 of the country’s biggest sporting competition.

From the first whistle, and with the wind at their backs,  the fired-up Leith side went straight for the jugular against the much-fancied – and much-hyped – Ayrshire side.

There had been whispers that the visitors were among the favourites to lift the trophy this year, particularly with their good home form but in truth, they were unable to live with a Leith side who outfought and outplayed them in every department.

The writing was on the wall as early as the second minute when Jamie Lauder danced his way past three challenges on the left wing before rolling the ball into the box where the onrushing Rory Stewart coolly dispatched into the corner of the net.

The roar from both on the park and the sidelines rivalled anything to come from nearby Easter Road where Hibs were taking on Celtic on SPL duty and within 10 minutes there was more reason to raise the decibel level again.

Andy Penman looked to burst through the West Kilbride defence with a neat turn of pace before he was scythed down as he raced through on goal. The referee, perhaps feeling pangs of sympathy for the way the visitors were being ripped apart in the opening stages, decided not to even book the West Kilbride no4 when, in truth, he should have seen red for the challenge.

But that was quickly forgotten when Lauder stepped up to expertly curl the resultant free-kick around the wall and under the body of the despairing keeper.

It had been a rip-roaring start but Leith weren’t finished there and before the half hour mark had been reached they found themselves three goals to the good when Andy Fraser flicked on an Iain Gordon clearance for Stevie Radsynski to make no mistake and fire low past the goalkeeper from 18 yards.

A smart Gordon save low to his right following a long throw in kept Leith’s three-goal cushion in tact going in to half time and the visitors faced a mountain to climb to stay in the competition.

A professional second half performance was called for against the wind and Leith duly delivered, managing to contain the best West Kilbride had to throw at them while still providing a real threat at the other end on the break.

The visitors’ best chances were being fashioned from corner kicks and long throw-ins as they struggled to break down a superbly organised Leith defence.

Gordon pulled off another good save when he backpedalled to touch a looping header over the bar and another chance was averted when David Connor managed to toe the ball away from West Kilbride’s no8 at the back post when he was faced with a simple tap-in.

West Kilbride did manage to pull a goal back and again, the chance came from a long throw-in which the Leith defence, for once, failed to clear and the no9 was able to bundle the ball home at the back post.

As the game wore on, the visitors were beginning to realise they wouldn’t breach the Leith defence again and with 10 minutes remaining their chance completely evaporated when no7 saw red for a second bookable offence.

Radsynski had a chance to put a bit more gloss on the win when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper with just minutes remaining but he elected to try and square the ball to substitute Mattie Hutchison rather than shoot and the chance was lost.

Nevertheless, the win was already in the bag and Leith were left looking forward to a last-16 tie with a local derby agaisnst either Redhall or Lothian Thistle.

Before that, Leith are back on league duty against promoted Buchanan Thistle at home, KO 2pm. Thistle’s last visit to the Links saw them upset the odds with a 2-1 cup tie victory in December 2006 and the Leith boys are sure to have revenge on their minds.

Man of the match: There wasn’t a failure in a Leith jersey and no shortage of candidates. Radsynski and Lauder are worth mentions for their contributions but this was the best game I have seen Dougie Thom have in a Leith jersey. The left back was strong going forward as usual but added a steely dimension to his defensive game to win numerous tackles and headers before starting the Leith attack.

Dick of the day: No Leith contenders for this one on the day so it goes to absent midfielder Chris Beaton who decided swapping a windswept Scottish Cup tie in Leith for the sunshine of Dubai was a good idea. After that performance, it could be a while before he finds himself in the team again.

Leith (4-4-2): Gordon, Young, M Stewart, Wallace, Thom; Fraser (Hutchison), Connor (Hunter), R Stewart, Lauder; Penman (Fairbairn), Radsynski

Subs not used: McCall, Milligan