As I only have terrestrial TV in Exeter, I don't usually get to see Setanta, except when I'm staying up in London. So this evening I caught, quite unexpectededly (to say the least!) an extended highlights re-run of Dumbarton's 4-0 defeat by Celtic in the Scottish Cup back in January '07, which forms the banner of this blog. It was part of The Road To Hampden sequence. You couldn't complain about the result, frankly, but for a bunch of part-timers three leagues and a world apart from the Bhoys, the Sons didn't do at all badly. Some good passing and movement, in spite of the predictably large amount of Celtic pressure. As the BBC noted at the time: "[t]he in-form Third Division side should have taken the lead inside 90 seconds when McQuilkin found himself with space inside the penalty area but failed to connect properly from 10 yards and fired wide." DFC keeper Stephen Grindlay (who has also moved on) gave a good account of himself, too. (The picture is the front of the programme for this match.)
Then there was the Setanta SPL round-up, which I've seen several times of late. It makes a refreshing change to be able to see a bit more Scottish football down south, including the BBC website clips. The matches I saw indicate that the Old Firm revival in European competition and Scotland's national resurgence are not isolated phenomena. The quality of football is picking up all round. In comparison with England, I'd rate much of what I saw as top of the Championship or lower Premier League. There is, of course, still a big gulf in class, marked also by the huge economic chasm. But the idea that the SPL is a complete Cinderella is unfair. Among the second rank of European leagues, no doubt, but capable of putting pressure on the Auld Firm from time-to-time.