Sunday, 25 May 2014


NO GREY AREAS has made an exciting new signing...17-year-old freelance sports journalist Ben Palmer.

Ben’s Blog will be a regular feature and is the young voice of the website.

So, who is Ben Palmer?

Brought up in Buckie, Morayshire, Ben began covering sports from as wide a geographical area as Wick to Wigtown – before he was the legal age to drive.

A keen golfer, Ben hopes to one day cover both golf and football on a regular basis, but says his sports mind is not as narrow as may seem. His passion is greater for writing on sports of all varieties, rather than just watching his two preferred.

He started sports writing at the tender age of 13 – covering the Highland League – but has continued to climb the metaphorical ladder and has written for an array of Scottish national newspapers, including The Press & Journal, Sunday Mail and The Times.

So far in his career he has won “The Herald and Daily What News Schools Journalist of the Year 2012” and was also selected as part of the Future News event in Glasgow, 2014. This event rounded up 100 young journalists from across the Commonwealth and taught the fundamentals required in modern day journalism.

Having only just completed his Secondary education at Buckie High School – at which he was Head Boy in his final year – Ben is about embark on a four year University course before, hopefully, sculpting a career writing the back pages of newspapers.

Meantime, don’t miss his weekly blog, starting with his frank assessment of the state of Scottish football at the top level.


LA LIGA  and the Barclay's Premier League. Arguably the two top leagues in world football quality wise; certainly from an economic dynamic.

Questions have been raised on the ethics in either of these leagues recently. Man City look set to be fined 60 Million Euros for breaching the Financial Fair Play regulations, whereas Spain's crippling problems with racism continue to increase.

Beneath the blurred surroundings in which these leagues are played though, is still the fundamental trait mandatory for the top football leagues in the world: excitement.

Atlético Madrid won their first league title since 1996 – on the last day of the season in a winner takes all affair with Barcelona – and Manchester City won the English edition in similar circumstances, defeating West Ham. Not quite in the Hollywood style climax La Liga enjoyed, but a fitting finale nonetheless.

Essentially, these two leagues continue to flourish, continue to captivate and ooze excitement year after year. The spectators of each are lavished with sheer quality continuously.

In Scotland, however, we are being told that we have just experienced the most exciting season in years. That seemingly positive comment is merely a sad indictment of our nation’s number one sport.

The game, according to some, is blossoming, all because neither Celtic nor Rangers partook in a cup final.

Sure, it's great that we've been treated to St Johnstone winning the Scottish Cup and Aberdeen the League Cup - two formidable tasks - but the assessment that this is portraying this past season of Scottish football as being exciting is laughable.

The début Scottish Premiership season was a sham. Celtic being engraved as champions could have been done last summer, and Hearts were always condemned to relegation having to toil through a season with a bunch of teenagers and a 15 point deduction.

The main trophy in Scottish football never even had realistic potential to conceive excitement. The two most important positions in the league table had been determined before the leaves had started to drift off the trees; the period in the season where a team’s potential should become recognised.

Whilst Dundee United displayed sprinklings of their now recognised youthful zest, it didn't really matter at all in the context of the league – they would never win it.

Their developing of young Scottish talent did plant a seed of hope for the game as a whole, but their parabola of a second half of a season – rounding off with a Scottish Cup final defeat - means that we must wait longer to see it produce the desired results.

Admittedly there was tension, excitement for a pessimist, at the bottom end of the league. Hibs downfall and tussle with Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock for the relegation play-off place grabbed attention.

But does that mean a season of Scottish football has been exciting because one of the biggest clubs in the country has sunk in a manner of Titanic proportions? Absolutely not.

Teams tussling for the league title is exciting; teams having a hope of escaping relegation is exciting; our clubs battling it out in Europe is exciting - Hibs having a bunch of incompetent footballers does not constitute exciting.

With this, I am not saying Scottish football is in an inescapable cul-de-sac. It is the proclaiming of this past season as the most exciting in years that I must refute.

Scottish football has perhaps enjoyed a better year; Aberdeen fans being thrown back to the 80's was a fun period, and Motherwell's steadiness is reassuring, but we must let the game reach its peak before we jump on our stallion and shout from the roof tops.

Will we remember the dogged battle Hibs have fought in 10 years time? Probably not. Will we remember La Liga's most thrilling conclusion in a decade? Absolutely.

Let's just settle ourselves down and leave the superlatives to the games that deserve it. With the progression we are currently making, it may not be long before we merit it ourselves.