HE'S a former model who helped cart Christina Aguilera around stage at an MTV awards, while also plying his day job as a professional footballer with Hamilton Academical. If England win the World Cup he'll probably be knighted, but if they do he's just as likely to be crucified as a traitor in his homeland. Allan Russell is England's striking coach and he's credited with correcting the abysmal and serial penalty-taking misses the team were prone to down the years, as well as putting the lethal punch into top scorer Harry Kane.

Strange that, given his own record in putting the ball in the onion bag in a career that took him to three countries in 10 teams – ending up with the Orange Country Blues in California – and netted precious few goals. At Kilmarnock he is best remembered for the calumny of missing a penalty against bitterest rivals Ayr United. It was in the States with the Carolina RailHawks (how do they come up with the names?) that he clocked onto the idea of putting himself about as a specialist striker adviser, having watched how they do it in the NFL. In the UK at the time the only specialists were goalkeeping coaches.

He set up his company, Superior Striker – you may have seen him coaching top Premier League players in a series of Sure advertisements – charging up to £1000 a session. England coach Gareth Southgate, who has his own reason to rue penalties, having missed the crucial one in the Euro '96 semi-final, hired Russell to show the present crop how to do it. As George Bernard Shaw put it in Maxims for Revolutionists:"He who can does, he who cannot teaches."


Unless there has been a sudden influx of women members in the last few days Muirfield Golf Club – (trade description alert) which labels itself as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers – has still to admit a “lady” member more than a year after it reluctantly agreed to allow in the fairway sex. And, frankly, who’d want to be the first, the Rosa Parks of the links, surrounded by blustering, red-faced buffoons who’d want to shank your head into the rough if they only had the bottle? If you want to play a round there it’ll cost you £235 at present prices. I’m assuming those that do aren’t too nimble with the wood or the iron, so that could be about twenty quid a sclaff.

But it isn’t just the golf club, the local bowling club in Gullane seems to be mounting the same exclusionary policy, claiming that there are too few punters to sustain it. Sitting on one of the most expensive real estate sites in Scotland you can see why the gentle game of bools, with its pleasant chink of contact, doesn’t set the tills ringing. So is it all ends up? Are they going to jack it in? These are bowling terms, I understand. But in everyday language there’s a fair old stushie going on in the place about the apparent move to sell off the green and land to developers.

The bowling club has only about 30 members, allegedly making it uneconomical to run. This is because, say the campaigners, the club has been refusing new members for years, which they put down to a dastardly plan by the existing members and committee to denude the roll and cash in when the land is sold, because they’d be the beneficiaries.

Gullane is uber-expensive and so posh that the butlers’ second cars are Porsches. So a sale with planning permission would net millions and if I hadn’t been off the day they did sums at school I could tell you by how much each member might benefit, but I know it’s a lot.


The best and one of the earliest Ealing movies is Hue and Cry, filmed in the ruins of after-war London, in stark black and white. My old pal Pat Kane was so impressed by it he named his band, currently touring, after it. I’m told he watched it so much in Coatbridge he wore a hole in the Betamax tape. It was directed by Charles Crichton and featured the inimitable Scots actor Alastair Sim (what’s not to like?) and accurately predicted the coming of fake news which the current US President is so obsessed about. In the film a band of criminals alter the text of a weekly children’s comic to plan their heists. The final scene (after the glorious Speak Your Weight Machine sequence, older readers will recall these) has hundreds of children – all or most of whom will be dead now – skipping across bomb sites to take on the criminals. The name of the fake news comic? Trump of course.


Trump is also a big hero of Hollywood Independence Day actor Randy Quaid who tweeted during the week, "Why aren’t the Hollywood entertainment Lefties that want open borders not AT the border giving out free movie tickets, trips to Disneyland, free cable subscriptions." As my boy points out, to be fair to him he was abducted by aliens.


Forget your yellow brick road, the long and winding one and the highway to hell, welcome the rolling plastic inevitable. A section of the road between Dunlop in Ayrshire and Neilston in East Renfrewshire has been plasticised. A Dumfries company called MacRebur has laid what could be the future of roads, with the by-product of recycling millions of tons of plastic and helping to clean up the world’s oceans. The stretch of road is a composite of recycled plastic buds added to asphalt, which apparently makes roads not only longer lasting but they also contract or expand according to the weather conditions, and perhaps a bounce factor, or a feelgood one as you pass over. Company founder Toby McCartney had the inspiration for it when he was in India and watched local people douse plastic in diesel and set fire to it to fill in potholes. Apparently we can’t do that here. So his invention is the next best, and much safer, option.

Still in Dunlop and into the Merito bar on Wednesday. It was the last remaining pub in the village and it has just become community-owned, after 18 months, through the efforts of the local people and an £160,000 grant from the Scottish Land Fund. The place has been painted and slightly spruced up but still retains its traditional features, like the group of local men in the front bar swearing profusely. There is a kids’ bit and a back lounge and upstairs a community hub is next to be commissioned. A unique feature is the surface of the long bar and tables, the tops of which are covered in thousands of 1p coins, although behind a plasticised covering, obviously. The land fund’s contribution was just under a tenth of its annual budget, of £1.73m. How measly? If this government is serious about stimulating local community businesses and involvement it should be at least 10 times that. Check out the Merito.