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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...

St Johnstone

Steven MacLean will leave St Johnstone a legend

April 17 2018

Steven MacLean will leave St Johnstone a legend, according to Perth boss Tommy Wright. But even legends aren’t irreplaceable. The veteran forward has secured a two-year deal with Hearts that Saints couldn’t match and will move on in the summer with the appreciation of his team-mates, supporters and Wright himself for the part he has played in the golden era of the McDiarmid Park club. Now it is Wright’s job to make sure that they cope with the loss of another of their Scottish Cup-winning heroes. “Hearts contacted us to keep us informed about speaking to Steven so I am resigned to the fact he’ll be going there,” he said. “We can’t compete with what they’ll be able to offer wages-wise and also a two-year deal. “I am delighted for him, he doesn’t owe me anything and he doesn’t owe the club anything either. “I am pleased he’s getting an opportunity like this at this stage of his career. “It has all been handled the right way so when he does leave he will go with everyone’s good wishes. “He has played the most here than he has at any other club and will quite rightly be regarded as a legend at St Johnstone. “Macca doesn’t look upon it like that. The way he thinks is he’s just done his job but he’s been key to the success we’ve had. “He’s been in the top six with us, played and scored in Europe and obviously the biggest goal of all was in the Scottish Cup final. “It has probably surpassed anything he thought of when he signed. “But time moves on for everyone and it’s unfortunate that it’s coming to an end. “He has four games left to play for us and we will get plenty out of him before he leaves.” Wright added: “Macca will leave a void but while he is a strong character in the dressing-room we do have other ones. “His experience has been important for us. He’s not slow to give his opinions on and off the pitch. “So there will be a void when he leaves but that’s football and it’s up to us to find someone else to come in. “We have lost a lot of players from the cup final squad now but that’s a natural thing, the game moves on. “Things change and it’s about how you manage it happening.” Wright hasn’t decided yet if he will be targeting an out-and-out centre forward in the summer to replace MacLean or a versatile attacker. He said: “We already have David McMillan, Chris Kane and Callum Hendry here but we will have to look at the attacking area. “A lot will depend on who we can get in. We might look for someone who can play wide as well as up front. “We have options and are looking at them, so we will be recruiting someone for next season.” Saints have ended up with two home games and three away in their post-split fixture schedule, starting with a trip to Dundee on Saturday, but Wright doesn’t see any cause for complaint. “Everyone has a moan at the fixtures but the anomaly is always there,” he pointed out. “People know about it at the start of the season, it hasn’t changed so there’s nothing you can do about it. “We haven’t got the games we expected but you just have to get on with it. “It’s a difficult thing for the league to sort out at times. It is what it is.”


Jack and Olivia remain the favourite baby names in Scotland in 2017

December 19 2017

Scotland's most popular baby names in 2017 have been revealed. The list from the National Records of Scotland shows Jack and Olivia remain the favourite picks, with Emily also retaining its place as the second most popular name for girls. James has fallen to third in the boys' list, replaced by Oliver at number two. The biggest changes for boys from last year are Evan (up 34 places) and Joseph and Jake (both down 18 places). For girls, Luna is up 55 places and Cara is down 25 places.   The top 100 boys' names in Scotland Jack Oliver James Lewis Noah Logan Harris Alexander Leo Harry Alfie Finlay Jacob Charlie Aaron Lucas Mason Thomas Archie Rory Daniel Cameron Max Adam Ethan Finn Matthew Theo Nathan Joshua Oscar Brodie William Callum Harrison Muhammad Jude Caleb Samuel Jamie Liam Ollie Jaxon Isaac Angus Freddie Connor Luke Riley Andrew Ryan Dylan Cooper Cole Blake George John Benjamin David Arran Kai Hamish Michael Robert Arlo Jackson Joseph Aiden Owen Ruaridh Carter Kyle Hunter Murray Fraser Blair Ben Leon Reuben Josh Aidan Jayden Elliot Sonny Tyler Lachlan Robbie Innes Jax Sam Jake Struan Carson Zac Arthur Conor Henry Calum Evan Harvey Kayden   The top 100 girls' name in Scotland Olivia Emily Isla Sophie Jessica Amelia Ava Ella Charlotte Aria Lily Lucy Freya Grace Ellie Evie Sophia Harper Hannah Millie Eilidh Chloe Emma Mia Anna Orla Eva Maisie Ruby Layla Poppy Isabella Sienna Erin Zara Holly Amber Georgia Daisy Rosie Katie Skye Sofia Alice Willow Emilia Esme Maya Zoe Abigail Mila Robyn Lilly Molly Thea Lexi Phoebe Leah Ivy Niamh Ayla Lacey Rebecca Bella Rose Harley Scarlett Gracie Summer Hallie Lillie Amy Maria Paige Elizabeth Megan Elsie Imogen Hollie Luna Mya Abbie Iona Matilda Sarah Brooke Callie Lola Violet Penelope Rachel Sadie Julia Mirren Nina Clara Georgie Aurora Cara Florence Hope

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.


Dundee FC chief criticises SFL for blocking Leigh Griffiths deal

January 13 2011

Dundee FC chief executive Harry MacLean has hit out at the Scottish Football League for blocking a deal that would have kept Leigh Griffiths at Dens until the end of the season. English Premier League side Wolves are favourites to secure the striker's signature after reportedly tabling a bid in the region of £150,000. Wolves had also agreed to loan the player who is expected to undergo a medical at Molineux on Thursday back to the Dark Blues until the end of the season. However, the SFL have invoked the player registration ban they have imposed on Dundee and have refused to sanction the loan. Now, if and when Griffiths departs, Dundee will be left with just one recognised first-team striker in the shape of Sean Higgins. MacLean said, "We are extremely disappointed that the SFL have taken the decision to deny us the opportunity to take Leigh back on loan. "They told us that because the player registration was leaving the club, we would be unable to take him back on loan. "I do not understand why common sense cannot prevail." He added, "We had negotiated an agreement with the buying club and the player was keen on staying here the SFL are the only people who do not think it is an eminently sensible offer. "The SFL could have used their discretion to allow the loan but they have decided not to, which is beyond me."SFL's 'overwhelming' backingMacLean said, "If we come out of administration, it is unlikely that the loan aspect of the deal could be resurrected and it seems we have just been wasting our time. "The SFL have constantly gone on about the integrity of the league since we went into administration. "Yet they will not allow talented Scottish youngsters the chance to play in this country." Meanwhile, SFL chief executive David Longmuir is confident that whatever the outcome of Dundee's appeal at Hampden on Friday against the 25-point deduction for going into administration, that will be the end of the matter. He believes the Dark Blues are unlikely to become the first Scottish club to take football's ruling bodies to court because their case before the SFA appeals committee will heard by one of the country's top judges. Lord Carloway, a senator of the College of Justice and a judge of the Supreme Court of Scotland, will chair the committee, which will also include a representative from the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). Dundee's appeal to the clubs last month was thrown out by a 26-4 majority and this is their final footballing appeal. Longmuir said, "This hearing will be different from the one at our SGM (special general meeting), where we presented a very strong football argument as to why we did what we did and we were backed overwhelmingly by our members. "If Dundee don't get a result that they are happy with on Friday... at what is effectively a semi-judicial hearing, then I do not know what they can do." He added, "I am not sure where they could go with it. It's possible that they could seek a judicial review, which would take it out of the reach of the footballing bodies. "However, given that the appeals committee will be chaired by an eminent judge, then I don't see how they would have a very strong case for doing that." Longmuir said, "If their evidence has already been heard and dealt with by one of the most prominent law lords in the country, then it's hard to see how it would benefit them going to court, which would be unprecedented in any case. "Friday's hearing comes under the SFA's articles of association and those articles say that Friday's decision is final and binding on both parties. "The fact it will be adjudicated by an eminent law lord would make you think that's as far as anyone would wish to take it, but that's entirely up to Dundee." He added, "At the moment, Dundee's lawyers are going down the route of the legalities of the Insolvency Act and arguing that the Scottish league's rules are not the law of the land. "The footballing argument which is that they took an unfair sporting advantage while being unable to finance it seems to have been forgotten about. "Right now, we have 60 postponements that we are trying to re-arrange and two Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-finals to organise, but half of my time is taken up with preparing for this."

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

Angus & The Mearns

Montrose murder trial: Victim’s blood found in ex-boyfriend’s flat

December 14 2016

Blood matching Montrose mum Kimberley MacKenzie's was found throughout her ex-boyfriend's flat, a jury has heard. Forensic biologist Jacqueline Sharp told Glasgow High Court a total of 45 blood spots were found at the Market Street property of murder accused Steven Jackson. Miss MacKenzie's blood was also found on one of his shoes. Ms Sharp said spots of blood were found on a sofa and armchair in the living room, as well as on a glass table and skirting board. More samples were taken from the hallway and bathroom. Asked by Advocate Depute Ashley Edwards if blood found at the bathroom door could have been caused by an injured person being carried into the room, Ms Sharp said: "Yes, that would be one explanation." Under cross examination by Donald Findlay QC, representing Jackson, she also accepted there could be "thousands" of reasons. Miss Sharp said that some of the blood found in the flat had been diluted or smeared as if the area had been washed or cleaned. Jackson, 40, and co-accused Michelle Higgins 29, deny murdering and dismembering Miss MacKenzie. They face further allegations that they disposed of Miss MacKenzie's body parts in bins and cleaned the flat and bath with bleach and caustic soda. The court has heard the 37-year-old died at the flat in October, last year. Forensic scientist Barry Mitchell said traces of DNA matching Jackson were found on the handle of the suitcase which held Miss MacKenzie's severed head and thighs. Traces of Miss MacKenzie's blood were also found on one of Jackson's shoes. Mr Mitchell said the chances of the blood being anyone else's were one in more than a billion. The court heard more of Miss MacKenzie's blood was found on Higgins' mobile phone, underneath its outer casing. DNA and blood matching Miss MacKenzie were also found on a claw hammer found in Jackson's living room. The jury was also told Jackson had texted Miss MacKenzie on October 17 — 10 days before she died. He wrote: "I'm with Mishy now and it would be easier if you stop coming. Please. I really want to make a go of it with her." Miss MacKenzie replied: "Yeah, no probs. I'm sorry I've made things difficult 4 u. What happens when you get gear again. Will still sell me? x" Dr Robert Cumming, who examined Higgins while she was in police custody, told the court she had the initials SJ "carved" on her leg. The trial before Lady Rae continues.

St Johnstone

St Johnstone 1 Partick Thistle 2: Saints stung by Jags’ late winner

October 29 2016

St Johnstone missed out on the chance to move up to second in the Ladbrokes Premiership table after this defeat against Partick Thistle. In what was Saints 600th competitive fixture at McDiarmid Park, the home side rarely hit the heights but it looked like they would take at least a draw from the game. However, they were stunned by a late, late Thistle winner. St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright made three changes from the team that started against Rangers in midweek with Ibrox goal hero Blair Alston, Chris Millar and Chris Kane on the bench with David Wotherspoon, Steven MacLean and Graham Cummins all being drafted in. The opening exchanges were fairly even but Saints were stunned in the 17th minute when Thistle took the lead. The Jags Sean Welsh hit a deep free-kick into the home penalty area with Danny Devine heading the ball back across goal to give Kris Doolan a simple finish from close range. However, St Johnstone stormed back just a minute later when David Wotherspoon produced a moment of individual brilliance to beat a defender before unselfishly producing a cutback for striker MacLean who clinically steered the ball in from 12 yards past Thistle keeper Thorsten Stuckmann. Home stopper Zander Clark then had to look lively, diving full stretch to his left after a long-range Christie Elliott shot was deflected dangerously towards goal off Saints defender Brian Easton. After that flurry of goals, there were few clear-cut chances for either side with the teams heading down the tunnel at half-time with the game level. In the 56th minute, Wotherspoon sent a long cross in from the right. There seemed to be little danger but Stuckmann was stunned when the ball clipped the top of his crossbar before going out for a goal-kick. Clark then had to make vital saves from shots from Ade Azeez and Ryan Edwards with Saints struggling to create chances at the other end. It looked like the home side had contained Thistle for the rest of the game to secure a precious point however in the first minute of added-on time, Jags sub David Amoo cut the ball back to his skipper Abdul Osman who rifled past Clark to secure all three points for his side. For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.

St Johnstone

St Johnstone are in a relegation battle, admits Steven MacLean

February 8 2018

They have been used to a staple diet of top six finishes, European campaigns and cup runs but St Johnstone now have to show the stomach for a relegation battle, according to striker Steven MacLean. The Perth side have drifted down the table since beating Rangers at Ibrox and are winless in their last six Premiership matches, losing four in a row. Three points separate them and second bottom Hamilton Accies, with Ross County six points behind them. "We are most certainly involved in a battle against relegation,” said MacLean. "It is as simple as that. "We need to roll the sleeves up and get back to what we used to be good at. "Our away form this season has been decent and we need to try and pick up points. "We have games in hand but there is no use having them if you can't pick up points. "Everything is still in our own hands but we need to turn it around sooner or else we will be right in amongst it. "We need to stand up and be counted. It is in there but is has to come out more often.” It was a split-personality performance at Motherwell on Tuesday night, the like of which can’t be repeated as far as MacLean is concerned. “It’s the story of our season,” he said. “We have played well in patches. "We started the game quite well and had a great chance and at half-time the game was fairly even. "The second half was unacceptable. We never got started and Motherwell bullied us and ran over the top of us. “They are a big physical team but they never bullied us in the first half. They showed more energy and fight and it is just not good enough. "Motherwell did all the simple stuff better than us. They out fought us and out ran us and we need to look at ourselves. "Only the goalkeeper Alan Mannus earned pass marks. We cannot turn up for 45 minutes as the game lasts 90.” Other sides in the bottom six are more used to a relegation scrap than Saints but MacLean doesn’t believe his team lack the tools to battle their way out of one. "We have got enough experience in the dressing room and I have been involved in things like this before,” he said. "I know what it is like. "Players are playing for their livelihoods as there will be a lot of boys out of contract and looking for new deals. "There will be no contracts dished out if we are in a dogfight. "If boys are looking to stay we are going to have to up our game and play for our futures.” MacLean also insisted that the drop in form doesn’t mean that this is a season too far for some of the Saints players. "I don't know if that is the case,” he said. "People might say that but this is the same squad of players who have gone to Parkhead, Ibrox and Easter Road and got a result. "That tells a story that it is in there and it needs to come out more often.” The league now goes on hold, with a last 16 Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle next on their fixture list. "It is a great game to go into,” he said. "The Scottish Cup is a fantastic competition and we want to go on a cup run. "We want to give a good performance and fight and battle and scrap and run about and show a desire to stay in a game. “Hopefully we can show a bit of quality to win the game too. "It is only a welcome distraction if we win. If we get pumped it is not. It will not be a good distraction if we don't win.”


Dundee fans told £500,000 is needed to save club

October 20 2010

Administrator Bryan Jackson has told Dundee fans a sum of £500,000 needs to be found to save the club. The Dundee FC Supporters Society have already amassed around £43,000 as they seek to come up with just over half the money whilst managing director Harry MacLean has secured promises totalling £125,000 as the Dens Park outfit seek to gather together the remainder of the amount needed to secure the Company Voluntary Arrangement which would take Dundee out of administration. "The fans have mobilised raising £43,000 in a matter of days," said MacLean last night. "I've been busy as well. Over the past 10 days I've gathered pledges amounting to around £125,000. "Those are only pledges of course until the money comes in and we are relying on people coming good on those, but significant progress is being made." It has meanwhile been confirmed that one of the Dark Blues' creditors is Dundee University. It's understood the club owe the university something in the region of £14,000 for use of their pitches and sports science facilities. Dundee are also due St Johnstone wages for on-loan midfielder Jamie Adams and dialogue between the clubs is taking place aimed at resolving the issue and ensuring Adams remains at Dens until January. It's believed that among the options being looked at is a possible deal that would lead to Leigh Griffiths moving to McDiarmid Park at the turn of the year. Hearts front-man David Witteveen is to stay put for free for another six weeks after Hearts another creditor generously agreed to that arrangement. "There has been a little bit said about us keeping on-loan players when people had lost their jobs," said MacLean. "But the fact is we're not paying a penny for any of the loan players here at the moment. "Hearts have been very good in allowing us to keep David while we're looking to clarify things with St Johnstone who we are behind on payments to for Jamie."