What Happened To Scottish Football?
Growing up in the 1970’s /early 80’s I looked forward more than anything to the annual end of season Internationals. The “Home Internationals” were a 4 Nation tournament contested by the 4 Nations that make up the United Kingdom. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They were very competitive and always exciting.
The match I always looked forward to was of course against the “Auld Enemy”, Scotland. It seemed we took it in turns to win, home advange being huge. They started in 1883/84 all the way through to 1983/84. Some notable matches had taken place during the history nof this tournament. The tragedy at Ibrox in 1902, where 25 were killed and 100’s injured when the stand collasped due to overcrowding.
In 1967 after Scotland had beaten the World Cup winners 3-2 at Wembley, the Scots invaded the pitch and then declared themselves the new “World Champions”.
The 1981 tournament was declared void after England and Wales refused to travel to Belfast to play because of the civil unrest.
The 1984 Home Internationals wewre the last after England and Scotland declared they would no longer take part. Due to waning interest in these games, crowded fixtures and hooliganism. The thing that springs to my mind is; “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”
The memory I have from these games is how hard it was to beat Scotland, and the pitch invasion in ’77.
The Scots beat England 2-1 at Wembley, they invaded the pitch, dug up the turf and snapped the crossbar. That showed what these games meant.
Scotland and Manchester United centre-half Gordon McQueen (who scored the first goal) summed it up nicely:
“It seemed like the whole of Scotland had turned up to see us beat England, it was crazy… we could smell whisky fumes as we walked out at Wembley”.
Ah, the glory days of Scottish football. What the fuck happened? I am guessing there is many Scots thinking the same. I think many have tried to understand why Scotland are now languishing in the bowels of European football, losing to Russia 4-0 last night. Was it revenge for the Scots 2nd string Rugby team tonking Russia 61-0 in the Rugby World Cup the day before?
Let’s look at the Scotland team that played last night v The 1982 team
- David Marshall (Wigan)
- Liam Palmer (Sheff Wednesday)
- Michael Devlin (Aberdeen)
- Charlie Mulgrew (Wigan)
- Andrew Robertson (c) (Liverpool)
- Callum McGregor (Celtic)
- John Fleck (Sheff Utd)
- Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
- John McGinn (Aston Villa)
- Robert Snodgrass (West Ham)
- Oliver Burke (Alavés)
- Alan Rough (Hibs)
- Willie Miller (Aberdeen)
- David Narey (Dundee Utd)
- Alan Hansen (Liverpool)
- Frank Gray (Leeds Utd)
- Gordon Scrachan (Aberdeen)
- Graeme Souness (c) (Liverpool)
- John Walk (Ipswich)
- Steve Archibald (Spurs)
- Joe Jordan (AC Milan)
- John Robertson (Nott Forest)
Some context. The 2019 team has 1 world class player, possibly the best left back in Europe. Andy Robertson. 1 Celtic player and McGinn from Villa who is highly rated.
The fact that I don’t know too much about the rest speaks volumes.
The 1982 team is full of leaders. Miller, described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “the best penalty box defender in Europe” SAF knows a good player when he sees one.
Hansen (Liverpool) 3 European cups, 4 titles, 2 FA cups and 4 league cups. Frank Gray, (Leeds Ltd) European Cup. Souness (Liverpool) 3 x European cups, 5x titles, 3 x league cups. John Walk (Ipswich) European Cup in ’84. Steve Archibald 2 x FA Cups, UEFA Cup in ’83 before going to Barcelona. Joe Jordan (legend),. John Robertson (mainstay of the European champions Notts Forest)
Then these was the subs bench ; McGrain, Brazil (big Al that is), McLeish. Sturrock.
In 1982, This squad was highly decorated. look at the players and the honours that had amassed in their careers. Remember too that Aberdeen were under Sir Alex considered one of Europes top sides.
What about Dalglish, McCoist. Jimmy Jonestone, Law, McQueen, Gemmill, Billy Bremner? And I know I have missed a few out too. That production line of gear players was almost endless. But it stopped and it stopped abruptly. The reason to me is obvious.
The influx of players from overseas mean the opportunities and the development of young talent from North of the Border is very limited. I for one regret that.
There is no trading angle here, just some observations that may bring back happy (or sad) memories from a time gone by. as I get older the nostalgia kicks in. I fear the worst for Scotland, I can’t see it ever coming back. I hope I am wrong.