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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Self-belief was central to Tangerines in 1994

May 14 2010

The Dundee United players were dancing around the dressing-room, cracking open champagne and pouring it into the Scottish Cup. He said, "To my disgust, the referee (Douglas Hope) didn't give it. I couldn't believe it and we did well to recover from that because it was a blow." Club history was made two minutes into the second half. Christian Dailly's strike rebounded back off keeper Ally Maxwell's far post and into the path of Brewster, who scored the goal that made him a Tannadice legend. "It was such a great feeling to see big Craig score that goal but I would stress that we deserved it," continued Cleland. "It was fair to say that United won the final rather than Rangers lost it, although a lot of focus was on them missing out on the treble." After Golac's dressing-room declaration, Cleland was whisked away from his teammates to supply a urine sample for a random drugs test, never an easy task for a player who had been sweating for 90 minutes. His time spent in the medical room meant he cut a lonely figure as he finally left the national stadium, with the Tangerines' team bus having long gone. As he walked to a car to get him back to Tannadice to belatedly join the celebrations, Cleland remembers how former United colleague Duncan Ferguson, who had been on the losing Ibrox side, made a point of offering his congratulations. "I was well over an hour late because I had to supply the sample so there weren't too many people about when I left the ground," he said. "I do recall big Dunc approaching me and how dejected he looked. "To his credit, he was very complimentary about our performance and said a lot of nice things about United. He didn't need to do that but it was obvious he still had feelings for the club." Cleland finally made it back for the knees-up and the following day made his way on the open-top bus to the City Square to continue the party. "There were thousands and thousands of people there on the Sunday and it was wonderful to see," he added. As well as the respect and affection for Golac, Cleland remembers how gratifying it was to see his predecessor as manager get involved in the cup triumph. "As well as Ivan, we were all delighted for Jim McLean (who was chairman at the time)," he added. "He was so important to the players because he had brought most of us together. I have some great memories and photographs from that time. It was a special achievement and it's one I look back on quite often." Cleland is now an important member of the backroom team at St Johnstone, coaching the under-19 side at McDiarmid Park. "I was at Inverness Caley Thistle previously but when they got relegated from the SPL last May they got rid of their youth team and I had to look elsewhere," he said. "You can argue whether or not that was the right decision but there are no hard feelings and it's great to see them back up again. "When (Saints boss) Derek McInnes phoned me I was delighted to accept his offer and I am thoroughly enjoying being at St Johnstone." In walked their ice-cool manager Ivan Golac. He stood in the midst of all the mayhem and declared, "I told you so!" So recalls Alex Cleland, one of the heroes of May 21, 1994, who fondly remembers how Golac's self-belief was instrumental in the Tangerines' beating Rangers thanks to Craig Brewster's winner. Not only did the flamboyant former Partizan Belgrade and Southampton player name his team a day in advance, he took his players to Hamilton racetrack to enjoy a flutter on the eve of the final. He oozed confidence in the days leading up to the game against the double-treble seeking Light Blues, despite the Glasgow giants being overwhelming favourites. Golac's declarations may have been dismissed by cynics at the time as fanciful and even eccentric but what mattered most was his players believed every word. "I remember we were all celebrating in the dressing room with the cup when Ivan appeared," said Cleland. "He just said, 'Well done lads, I told you we would do it.' The thing is, he completely expected us to win the cup and we never doubted him. "Even when he named the team publicly the day before I wasn't shocked because there were no surprises where Ivan was concerned. He was just such a colourful character and we all loved playing for him." Cleland revealed that having plenty of notice that he was in the starting line-up allowed him to plan ahead. "I was so relaxed because what Ivan did was give me a specific role," he said. "My job was to mark Gordon Durie and I had come up against him a few times and knew his game. "I was well prepared and the same goes for the other lads. "We could concentrate on doing our own job and allow everything to come together as a team." It was not all positive in the run-up, though, with the Tangerines having to deal with the loss through suspension of playmaker Billy McKinlay.'Talent and experience'"Badger was such a key man for us and we knew he would be missed but we still had plenty of talent and experience in the team," added Cleland. "There were guys like Maurice Malpas, Dave Bowman and Jim McInally so we were confident we would cope and we did." With just 11 minutes on the clock, United should have had the chance to go 1-0 up thanks to some great work by Cleland. He takes up the story. "We were defending a corner and the ball got cleared to me at the edge of our box," he said. "I collected it and ran forward into the Rangers half. I played the ball out to Craig (Brewster) and when he passed it back to me I found myself with a clear route to goal. "I had just made it into their box and was about to shoot when I felt somebody come into the back of me. "I found out afterwards it was (Rangers midfielder) Ian Ferguson and I felt certain it was penalty."


St Johnstone looking forward to reaping benefit of Stevie May’s loan adventure

January 4 2012

St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas is thrilled that teenage striker Stevie May is making his mark with loan club Alloa. The youngster grabbed a hat-trick in the Wasps' 3-1 win over East Stirling at the weekend and Recreation Park manager Paul Hartley is keen to extend his stay. But Lomas, who is pressing Bulgarian outfit CSKA Sofia to let them keep Cillian Sheridan at McDiarmid Park through to the end of the campaign, admits he will have to assess his frontline options before giving Hartley the thumbs-up. When he does end his loan at Alloa be it this month or in the summer Lomas believes Saints will reap the benefits of May getting regular first-team football. He said: ''We're delighted for Stevie and the hat-trick will have sent his confidence soaring. We have already seen the benefits of his loan spell in training sessions. He is really buzzing. ''I'll have to sit down with coaches Tommy Wright and Alec Cleland to assess whether Stevie will be involved if he comes back, or whether it is better for him to be getting more first-team experience and getting goals at Alloa.'' The 19-year-old burst on to the SPL scene last season under previous boss Derek McInnes. He had a couple of man-of-the-match performances but slipped out of the top-team picture towards the end of the term. The local lad then dropped further down the pecking order with the arrival of Sheridan, Fran Sandaza and Marcus Haber in the summer. Lomas added: ''Kids are never the finished article when they come into the first team. The fear you have with youngsters is that they stagnate because of the under-21 rule. ''I know Paul Hartley and he has been good for Stevie. This is a young manager who has a wealth of experience at top clubs as a player and Stevie is learning all the time.'' Inverness have halved ticket prices for their rearranged SPL game against Saints as they apologised for the late postponement. The Perth club were well on the way to Inverness ahead of the 2pm kick-off and Lomas was left ''bamboozled'' over the change in circumstances.


Alec Cleland puts himself forward as the ‘continuity candidate’ for St Johnstone job

October 21 2011

Of the two in-house candidates for the St Johnstone manager's job, one is in no doubt he would love it, while the other is undecided. Youth coach Alec Cleland and club captain Jody Morris will prepare the Perth side for Saturday's Tayside derby against Dundee United. Cleland revealed he wants the post permanently, but Morris has yet to make his mind up. Former United and Rangers man Cleland said: ''It's been agreed that myself and Jody will take training today and tomorrow. We've put plans into place for the scenario of Derek going to Bristol so it's not as if we've been caught out. "I'm delighted to work with the squad. It might only be for two or three days but it will be a great experience for both myself and Jody. ''It's temporary at the moment but I do see it as an opportunity. I'd be silly not to. ''Hopefully I'll get a word with the chairman about the position because it is an attractive job. There's no doubt about that. ''Whoever gets the job will inherit a strong squad thanks to all the good work of Derek and Tony. There's no doubt there will be many people in for it. ''I think as a continuity candidate I can put my hand up. I've been working here for 2 years and the boys are used to working with me. ''So from that perspective I might be the obvious choice. But we don't know Geoff Brown's ideas on the position. He might be looking for experience. ''I don't know how the boys feel. I'm sure he'll speak to the likes of Jody, Dave (Mackay) and Callum (Davidson).'' Cleland revealed the role of caretaker boss is not a new one to him. ''I've done it before at Livingston before Richard Gough came in, and I did it at Inverness before Terry Butcher took over. "The boys are giving me a wee bit of ribbing already. I think Cuptie (Mackay) was in the team at Livingston so he's got a good memory!'' As for the United match, Cleland will be looking to pick up where McInnes left off. Continued... ''I'm sure I'll be speaking to Derek about the team. We've won four out of five so, without giving too much away, we won't be radically overhauling the team and bringing in four or five under-19s! ''It's a massive game for both teams. I've been involved in many derbies and the players will be up for it. The show must go on and we'll be looking to keep things ticking over.'' Morris, meanwhile, is keeping his options open. He said: ''I will be helping Alec with the team as we prepare for the United game. That is the first and foremost priority. That's only right. ''It hasn't been ideal timing but I spoke to Del around midnight and he informed me the idea was for me and Alec to handle the preparations for Saturday. I had no problem helping out with the team. ''But I'm not thinking beyond Saturday. It's only fair I concentrate on United. It is a big derby and we want to do well. ''This is a short-term measure. Who knows what will happen further down the line? Let's get this game out of the way. ''Whatever the chairman has in mind, the club's last two appointments have been successful and I'm sure the chairman and his son won't get it wrong with the next one.'' The last act of McInnes as Saints manager was to treat his squad to a breakfast in Bridge of Allan on Tuesday. Morris said: ''It was a funny sort of goodbye. We couldn't train because of the wonderful Scottish weather so the gaffer took the squad for breakfast and it was only right that he picked up the tab. It wasn't at Gleneagles, but with the money he is on now maybe it should have been! ''He didn't know if he had the Bristol job or not at that stage. But he knew that if he did get it he wouldn't be here for training on Thursday. ''That's the type of guy Del is. Rather than be embarrassed if he didn't get the job he wanted to at least say goodbye to them and see what happened later. He has got really close to these players.'' There is speculation from England that former Saints striker Graeme Jones, who is currently assistant manager at Wigan, would be interested in the job. However, he dismissed the speculation. He said: ''I look back fondly on my time in Perth and Saints are a fine club but I have no plans to go back. I am fully committed to Wigan and relishing life in the Premiership.''

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

St Johnstone

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright ready for Lithuanian team in a winning habit

June 27 2017

St Johnstone’s Europa League opponents will arrive in Perth on the back of an emphatic cup win. But Tommy Wright is confident that going from an 8-0 defeat of “very weak” Lithuanian lower league side Garliava to facing his own team at McDiarmid Park on Thursday night will be chalk and cheese for FK Trakai. The Saints boss, who has confirmed they have registered an interest in bringing Michael O’Halloran back from Rangers, sent Alec Cleland to Vilnius to check out their Europa League first qualifying round opposition at the weekend, and Cleland certainly saw plenty of goals. “The game they played last weekend was against very weak opposition but it was good for Alec to get an opinion on how they play and their key players,” said Wright. “They are a team who like to pass the ball and their front two, Dorley and Maksimov, are their two best players. “They have done very well this season and in their league they have been difficult to beat and to score against. “Away from home they seem to be very strong defensively but it will be about how strong the opposition they’re playing is. “I don’t think the strength of the Lithuanian league will be as strong as the SPFL. “But it’s still going to be a tough game because they are a side who have become used to winning matches and they are strong. “They will be very confident coming here, they have got the results behind them domestically for that, so we know it’s going to be a tough game.”


Alec Cleland still has hopes of filling St Johnstone manager vacancy

October 28 2011

St Johnstone caretaker boss Alec Cleland says he hasn't given up hope of becoming the next manager at McDiarmid Park. The under-19s coach has taken temporary charge of the side along with skipper Jody Morris since Derek McInnes's departure to Bristol City and Cleland has made no secret of his desire to be given the job on a permanent basis. However, those hopes looked to have been dashed this week when Sligo Rovers boss Paul Cook emerged as a surprise front-runner to take over the Perth hot-seat. But the Liverpudlian and Saints chairman Geoff Brown could not reach an agreement on personal terms and the search for a new manager continues. Cleland said: ''I spoke to vice-chairman Steve Brown when the talks broke down with Cookie. Hopefully we will sit down and go over what their plans are. ''I said right at the start of this I would love the job on a permanent basis. There are a lot of candidates I know that and the board have been very busy and have a lot on their plates. But I would like the chance to talk about it. ''There is always going to be speculation about a job like this one in Perth. But myself and Jody, with help from Callum Davidson for the midweek reserve game, are preparing for the St Mirren match. We are fortunate to have a lot of good pros at the club so it is business as usual.'' Cleland is fully aware that the managerial speculation will be dominating the players' dressing-room discussions but he is certain it will not distract them from business on the park. ''The longer we take the team and the more games we win could strengthen my position. Jody has made it clear he isn't quite ready for it yet but he will be a manager in time. He has done really well with the boys. ''But Callum made a good point that, the longer the uncertainty goes on, it might start to affect the players. That is my only worry. We don't want anything to have a negative impact on the guys here. We know they will be talking about the management situation before and after training.'' Cleland added: ''There are many names being linked with the post but Jody and I are speaking to the guys all the time to make sure they remain focused. ''We were told we would take the team until we heard otherwise and nothing has changed. And to be fair, we are getting a good response from the lads. ''I want them to win the St Mirren game for themselves, not for me, and that will be the point we are putting across in the build-up. ''From a personal point of view, I would love them to do it for me but, from a professional perspective, they owe it to themselves to put in a performance and we have enough experienced players here to do it.'' One of those players, Finnish goalkeeper Peter Enckelman will notch up his 50th appearance in a Saints shirt on Saturday. As he prepared to reach that milestone, he also reflected on the managerial conjecture and said: ''There is nothing we can do about it. We don't know what is happening. ''Alec and Jody know how we prepared for games before, so nothing much has changed. They have seen what Del was doing and, at the moment, there isn't any point in changing things. ''It is a new situation for me. I have been without a manager before but only for one game. But when you cross the white line you focus on your performance and do the best for your team. That is all anyone can ask. ''Alec and Jody are making sure we do that and if we keep winning it might strengthen his hand. "I have been in football to know that nothing surprises you so we just get on with it. We know at some stage there will be an appointment, whether it is Alec or someone coming in.'' Meanwhile, striker Cillian Sheridan is set to return against the Buddies after chiropractic treatment to address the back problem which kept him out of the draw against Dundee United. Midfielder Murray Davidson is also set to return to the squad after recovering from a knee knock.


St Johnstone’s manager hunt continues after Sligo Rovers boss heads home

October 27 2011

St Johnstone's search for a new manager continues after the club ''pulled the plug'' on a move for Sligo Rovers boss Paul Cook. Talks to lure the 44-year-old Liverpudlian to McDiarmid Park had entered an advanced stage and Saints had already agreed a five-figure compensation package with his Irish employers. However, the deal collapsed with Saints claiming they were unwilling to meet the managerial candidate's own financial demands. However, Cook has hinted that things were not so clear cut. What is certain is that St Johnstone chairman Geoff Brown is now back on the look-out for a replacement for Derek McInnes. Former Aberdeen boss Mark McGhee was the latest to throw his hat in the ring on Wednesday, while the bookies have installed Rangers defender David Weir as the new favourite. Before any permanent appointment is made, Saints under-19 coach Alec Cleland and skipper Jody Morris will continue to take temporary charge of the side. Brown said: ''We could not agree terms, it is as simple as that. It is always about finance and it is amazing what happens when people see pound signs in front of them. ''Unfortunately, we came to a mutual consent not to pursue the deal. We could have been talking until the cows came home but we chose to pull the plug. ''The media had already decided that Cook was getting the job, which was ludicrous. They were getting way ahead of themselves. ''We now move on and there is not a lack of other candidates with applications still coming in. But we have a responsibility to the club and we will not be rushing things. ''Alec and Jody have a lot of experience and will continue to take temporary charge of the side.'' Cook has decided to keep his own counsel over exactly what went wrong but has insisted that while things did not work out with Saints, he will not be pointing any finger of blame at the club or its chairman. He said: ''I could get into specifics but I have no wish to enter into a war of words with St Johnstone or Mr Brown. That's not the way I do things. ''I was over in Scotland and I had three hours of talks with Mr Brown and it's clear that Saints have a great setup and are an immaculately-run club. ''Whoever takes over from Derek McInnes is a lucky man and I wish whomever that is all the very best. But I came to the decision that St Johnstone was not the right move for me.''

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.