BBC Home
Explore the BBC
watch listenBBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 17:10 GMT
Chick Young's view
Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

Devastated, angry, distraught, alone - Phil O'Donnell's family will be experiencing all of these emotions.

They had stolen from them a husband, a father, a son and a friend. It's all scandalously unfair.

Tributes for Phil O'Donnell
Scottish football was shocked by Phil O'Donnell's death

Just as I did when my son Keith was taken seven years ago, they now will wonder why the world continues to revolve - why it hasn't stopped in its tracks, how people can possibly go about their business as normal.

Ultimately, of course, life goes on because it has to, because - when all is said and done - there is no alternative.

Only this time it was about to proceed with too much haste.

In the end they got it right, but how could it have taken so long to arrive at the decision to postpone the Old Firm match?

While the decision-makers dithered - and at one point were seemingly about to carry on regardless - they insulted the memory of Phil and showed an alarming absence of compassion towards his family.

It didn't do much for the dignity of the game, either.

It was fine, it seemed, to postpone matches for the cause of the national team and for nursing Rangers' hopes in Europe.

But as a mark of respect to a footballer who was a thoroughly decent bloke and who died in the most dramatic of circumstances?

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan and Rangers boss Walter Smith
Strachan and Smith agreed the Old Firm game should be postponed

No, sorry, carry on regardless.

But, in the end, common sense won the day for the sake of a distraught widow and four kids who will never see their dad again.

Forget your conspiracy theories. Bin your alternative agendas.

Gordon Strachan was initially reluctant to call for the postponement of the fixture.

He sensed that there would be those who would point the finger at Celtic and say that they were only making the request because of injuries and suspension - that here was a perfect way out for them.

I questioned the manager, suggesting that surely even in these bitter times there would not be those in the west of Scotland who would be so downright twisted.

But sadly he's probably right.

Strachan and Walter Smith both wanted the game off while others procrastinated.

In the end it wasn't just the right decision, it was the only one.

The real curiosity was that three other fixtures in the SPL and games at a lower level remained in the diary.

How, in particular, can the players of Dundee United who witnessed this horror unfold before their eyes, be ready to kick a ball again?

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee has led the tributes for O'Donnell

I don't think this has done much for the image of our game. It has scarred its beautiful face a little.

Compassion first, commerce in its wake.

The decision to postpone should never have taken so long.

Death is an evil business at the best of times, but the circumstances and the timing of Phil's passing were just horrific.

It will take a long time for his family to get over what has happened here.

The Motherwell players will take a lot of nursing although I just wish the rest of the game could have acted with the dignity of their manager.

Mark McGhee has been a class act in all of this.

They will play again when they are ready and when they do they will be ripped apart by emotion.

But it is a step they will have to take.

Meanwhile, if you were inconvenienced by the postponement of a football match then you will just have to live with it.

And if you're moaning about it then go and have a look in the mirror.

The game will be played another day. Those kids won't see their dad again.

Old Firm match postponed by SPL
31 Dec 07 |  Scottish Premier
Player's father speaks of shock
30 Dec 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Motherwell postpone Celtic match
30 Dec 07 |  Motherwell
Phil O'Donnell: 1972-2007
30 Dec 07 |  Motherwell


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us