England v Scotland 4th June, 1977


The Sex Pistols were officially number two in the charts. God Save the Queen was kept off the no.1 spot by Rod Stewart. It may have been a conspiracy to save the UK from embarrassment in Silver Jubilee week. I have no recollection of the Pistols sailing down the Thames in that famous publicity stunt. It would be a few years before I really knew who they were. In any case, Rod was one of us. Elvis meanwhile, didn’t have long to go. I didn’t rate him anyway. He was an imposter. How could any self-respecting rock star wear more Brylcreem than Dad? The king is dead, long live the king.

Next to a poster of Kenny Dalglish, on my bedroom wall, was the sleeve of the Official Album of the Scottish World Cup Squad for Argentina. In the loft in Breogan, I still have the LP with the photo of the teams taking the field at Wembley. The Scotland players in traditional dark blue shirts with a diamond trim on the short sleeves, white shorts and red socks, also with diamond tops. Bruce Rioch leads the way, followed by goalkeeper Alan Rough. Danny McGrain has turned to glance back at the crowd and sees a few Saint George’s crosses surrounded by scores of Lion Rampants, Saint Andrews crosses and tartan scarves. Behind McGrain are the scorers that day, Gordon McQueen and Kenny Dalglish, followed by Joe Jordan, a skipping Tam Forsyth alongside deep-breathing Willie Donachie, then comes Don Masson, Willie Johnston gazes at his feet and Asa Hartford is virtually hidden. As they walk past one of the goals, two English players glance at the Scottish team. Phil Neal prefers to look at the turf. The Sassenachs all look a little pensive about facing Scotland, and well they might because it was a golden year for our national team.

Scotland peaked too early, leaving us to wonder what might’ve been had the World Cup taken place in 1977. Scotland’s overall record read, won 6, drew 2, lost 2. They topped off the year by beating Wales and reigning European Champions Czechoslovakia in the qualifiers. Their only losses were insignificant friendly defeats in Rio de Janeiro and East Berlin. Before that, Scotland won the British International Championship by drawing with Wales and beating Northern Ireland and England. The Scots had warmed up for the home internationals with a 3-1 win over Sweden at Hampden. Substitute Joe Craig found the net with his first touch, a header, thus scoring before he’d kicked a ball for his country. It can be a funny old game, right enough.

From Countries of the World © 2011 Steven Porter/Breogan Books

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