Steven Whittaker: Anthem for a Domed Youth
I admit to a strange fascination with Rangers defender Steven Whittaker. His uncertainty as to best position, his hot-cold form swings from European master of the wizard dribble (cf. Lisbon, 2008) to leaden footed novice baffled by the Scottish game (cf. too many to mention), to debate over the size of his transfer fee.
...All these, though, pale into insignificance when I see his head.
Not quite bald, but certainly not boasting a fine, manly head of hair, Whittaker joins the long and distinguished line of shiny topped footballers, all of whom have exercised this strange power over me.
Is it the standing out from the crowd? Is is the harsh reflective glare on those "under the floodlights" European nights?
Whatever, he joins those who have gone before him in standing tall, proud and smooth of pate. But can you think of a baldilocks who has really, really shone? Being bald seems to instil a sense of the artisan rather than the artist.
Consider Attillio Lombardo, the rather workmanlike winger who burst upon our TVs when Channel 4 started showing Football Italia. Always looking older than his years, following his days with Sampdoria he ended up at London's perennially unfashionable Crystal Palace. A good player, but no Davie Cooper.
Epitome of the northern professional, Steve Stone deserves a statue somewhere to mark his contribution. An accent redolent of The Likely Lads and playing a brand of no-nonsense football from the same era, his chrome noggin appears through the fog of my memory clad in a cloth cap, such were his working class credentials.
Closer to home those of us who grew up in the 80s were treated to a "double header"—if you'll pardon the expression—when Clydebank took on Dundee. Any corner for the Dens Park men would see a Clash of the Baldy Titans, as Jim Duffy would challenge Bankies goalie Jim Gallagher.
From my vantage point as a teenager, both seemed aged beyond Methuselah, their lack of hair hiding the fact they were probably both in their 20s...to me they were ancient and seasoned warriors, whose untroubled tonsure merely reflected the effort and strain they put into their game.
And it's this, I think, which draws me back to the thinning thatch of present day players. Whittaker—and dare I point to our revered No. 9, whose hair is not exactly luxurious—are boys who are 10 years and more my junior.
But as I sit back, easing my ample stomach into a more comfortable position and debating whether one or two Bluenose Burgers will suffice this week, I can run a hand through my lustrous, dark mane...I may be aging, expanding and in all probability declining, but as long as their are bald footballers to watch, I can reject Father Time for another season.
Baldies, may you long prosper!
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