Today's Yuletide villain is a non-discriminatory, equal-opportunities cheat. When he was a player, he was popular with everyone, no matter what team they supported. He was the Cheeky Chappie, everybody's friend that even Celtic supporters would ask for an autograph as he went up the tunnel, even if he had just scored the winning goal. It used to be said that if he fell in the Clyde, he'd come back out with a salmon in his mouth. Nobody says that anymore, which is strange since his personal luck never deserted him, no matter what else happened. I speak, of course, of none other than Ally McCoist; Sooperally.
During season 1997-98 Sooper came out of semi-retirement to help out Rangers. Most of us had forgotten that he was even still on the books and, it has to be said, he actually impressed in the games he was involved in. At the end of the season, though, Walter Smith left, Dick Advocaat came in and Sooper was surplus to requirements. He felt he had a couple of years still left in him; Bobby Williamson felt the same and signed him, along with Ian Durrant, to Kilmarnock. It was there that a different side to the Cheeky Chappie began to manifest itself.
Sooper tried his hardest at Kilmarnock but one thing he point-blank refused to do was score against Rangers. In his first game against his old team he had plenty of opportunities but contrived to miss the ball, miskick the ball or attempt to pass when presented with an open goal. Williamson, frustrated, eventually had to take Sooper off the pitch. This was the very first indication that behind the friendly façade lurked a cheating bastard.
Even before his playing career was officially over, Sooper carved out a new career on the telly, both as a pundit and as one of the captains on A Question of Sport. The Cheeky Chappie was back to the fore as he flirted with Sue Barker every week and he was everybody's pal again. The call of football was strong, however, and, in 2004, he joined Walter Smith as part of the Scotland international managerial squad. While in this job he was offered the manager's position at Inverness, which he turned down, claiming that he wanted something closer to home. The truth, however, was that he was scared to let go of Auld Dignity's hand.
Sooper continued in his role as Dignity's Padawan when Smith went back to Rangers. Dignity allowed him to take charge of some aspects of the team, like a parent letting a child help out with getting the dinner ready. Sooper, just like that son or daughter, strutted around with his chest thrust out like a pigeon, as if he had actually done something important. His only really 'big moment' came when he sleekitly whispered something into Neil Lennon's ear to make him angry and then, in the aftermath, sitting back and allowing Lennon to take all the blame.
In 2011, after a long, seven-year apprenticeship, Sooper finally got his chance to be manager when Auld Dignity ran like hell before the shit hit the fan. If Dignity passed any words of wisdom at all onto the oldest apprentice in the world it would have been this: 'Make sure you get your money!'
There's no need to go over everything that subsequently happened at Ibrox; only Sooper's behaviour. Throughout the regime changes Sooper was 'behind' everybody that turned up: Whyte, Green, Somers, the Easdales etc. etc. As soon as somebody was out the door, however, Sooper was there, in the papers, sticking the knife in. He also demanded that Celtic be investigated for the Juninho EBT, claimed that there was a 'witch hunt' against Rangers, put the lives of SFA tribunal members in danger, as well as other, demented utterances as he lashed out at all and sundry.
Of course, Sooper was all for perpetuating the Big Lie; after all, his pay packet depended on it. He was continually quoted saying that it was 'Stull Raynjurz' and lost the nut when Donald Findlay said otherwise. As long as his money went into the bank, Sooper was quite prepared to see HMRC and numerous other creditors being shafted, while he ranted and raved about 'witch hunts'. The Cheeky Chappie persona disappeared completely, to be replaced with a crimson, angry, baw face, jowls shaking with the sheer force of his outrage and hatred.
His ire wasn't just directed at those outside of Ibrox; he was easily annoyed by those inside as well. This was especially the case when the amount of his huge and unjustified salary was made public. He then spitefully handed the proxy for his Sevco shares to a supporters' group, so they could vote to get rid of the board that Sooper was ostensibly 'behind'. So he was cheating on his employers as well! Eventually, he decided to resign as manager, as supporters had been demanding for ages. He was not going right away, though. Hilariously, he said he was going to 'honour' his contract, which effectively meant that he was going to keep raking in the money for doing absolutely nothing. Gardening Leave, it was called. He'd certainly taken on board his old master's advice that money was everything!
Resuming his career on the telly was pretty much closed to Sooper when he finally walked out of Ibrox; the BBC happened to be one of the organisations he had lashed out at. Besides, he is no longer the popular figure he once was. Sevco supporters don't like him for fleecing their club and for his obvious deficiencies as a coach and manager, while everybody else in Scotland is still pissed off at being blamed for his old club's demise and his new club having to start over in the bottom tier. Sooper cheated as a player with Kilmarnock, he condoned cheating all those creditors by supporting the Big Lie and even cheated his new club by taking a huge salary that it could ill afford, even after he resigned.
Just like Auld Dignity, Sooper's name hasn't turned up on any lists of beneficiaries of the EBT scheme. He showed how sleekit he could be in the aftermath of the 'Shame Game' in 2011, while his love of secrecy was evident in how angry he was when details of his Sevco salary were made public. With his love of cold, hard cash is it likely that Sooper would have refused the chance to avoid paying tax and keep more of his filthy lucre in his pocket? It has been revealed that there are still people to be named and shamed in the EBT tax scam; Sooper is probably one of them.
"Aye, Ah'd recommend wanny Pat Anderson's books tae emdy. Ah speshully like 'Clash-y the Agnivores' an' 'Never Mind the Zombies' cos Ah'm in thum. Dae Ah think they'd make good Christmas presents? Oh, aye. Abslootly!"