World Cup Special
The elusive ‘six in a row’ was not to be, and USA ’94 must somehow struggle on without the participation of the Scots. Ross Parsons looks back on Scotland’s history of being ‘back home before the postcards’ and reﬂects that it might be for the best after all. Meanwhile a new TV series ruthlessly dredges up the old memories.
cotland’s modern day love affair with the World Cup began when we won it in 1967. Of course, only a few die-bards dancing in Trafalgar Square that April afternoon really believed that we had earned the ‘unofﬁcial world champions’ tag for ‘hammering’ World Cup holders England. 3-2.
The vision of ‘Slim’ Jim Baxter playing keepie- uppie on the edge of his own penalty area somehow became more important that the slender margin of victory in England‘s ﬁrst defeat in nineteen matches. it was a vision that set many Scottish dreamers off on a long and painful quest. After all. if Bobby. Nobby, Bobby and co could lift the famous trophy. and we‘d just beaten them — notjust beaten but played ‘keepie— uppie' on the same pitch — then why couldn‘t Scotland win the World Cup?
The answer. in 1969, was West Germany and Austria. Defeats by both put paid to Scotland’s chances of making it to Mexico in 1970 and it was back to tins of beer by the telly watching England again. as our World Cup dream was put on ice.
it was 1973 when Scotland ﬁnally made it big. A huge crowd at Hampden roared Bremner’s team on to a memorable 2-1 victory over Czechoslovakia and Scotland secured a place in the World Cup Finals for the ﬁrst time in sixteen years. World Cup fever was quickly whipped up and the Scots talked of taking Germany by storm. Fortunately the authorities’ fear that hordes of drunken Scots would take over local bars were assuaged after team boss. Willie Ormond. slapped a curfew on his players.
The 1974 ﬁnals set a pattern for Scotland — we didn't get anywhere but at least we qualiﬁed. Faced ﬁrst by the mighty Zaire, Scotland banged in two goals before a bizarre floodlight failure halted play. After West Germany‘s proud talk of beaming the pictures round the world it seemed they had forgot- ten to feed the meter. When the lights came back on and a frustrated home audience stopped banging their tellies, Bremner‘s team faded and two goals against the inexperienced Afn'can side was to prove
too few. In the end. draws with Brazil and Yugoslavia meant that we went out on goal difference. Still, Scotland were the only undefeated team of the tournament and i0.0(X) fans staggered out of their sitting rooms to welcome the squad back to Abbotsinch airport.
Collective memory loss seems to have settled over the worst excesses of ‘Mohammad’ Ally MacLeod's 1978 predictions. The fuzzy pictures of Scots spitting on the stunned team after lran had forced a draw were almost as hard to take as Masson‘s missed penalty against the surprisingly good Peruvians. Of course. we were the only ones surprised by the Peruvians. The rest of the world had known that the marvellous Cubillas et al were a useful side for a long time.
Ally Macleod as In ‘We’re on the march with Aliy's army, etc’. The worst oi times.
Meanwhile, Willie Johnston took the easy way out and apparently tried to overdose on Reactavin tablets. He later claimed he was oblivious of the possible consequences. although he didn't say what
Tommy ilocherty is nothing it not quotable. in the iirst program oi Scottish Television’s Faith, ilope . . . Salernlty, he recalled the disastroas1954 Scotland World Cup mpaign. Believing Switzerland to be a chilly country, what with all that snow, the SPA had been badly caught out by sweltering mid-summer temperatures. The Scotland side went out In thick woollen jerseys to taire on the nimble ilruguayans. 'i'le were knackered by the end oi liruguay's national anthern,’ llocherty recalls. Scotland lost 7-0.
Tire series, the brainchild oi Paul ad Allan Fender, revels in such moments. Paul came up with the initial spark at an idea sixteen years ago when ire was watching the tragi-comedy that was Argentina ’18 on TV In England. ‘Just thewayiwasreactingtothematcheswademe realise lust how important the game is to us Scots,’ he says.
Lengthy and meticulous research churned up plenty oi material that went beyond the ianiiiar
litany oi disaster and incompetence. interviews with everybody oi signiiicance in recent Scottish iootbell history (except the exceptionally shy Graeme Souness) also unearthed a wealth oi anecdotal evidence.
The series tackles its subject in chronological order, moving on from the haughty lneptness oi the 50s, through the 60s obsession with heating the English and the exhilarating hubris oi the 70s, to the back-down-to-earth pragmatism oi the 803 and ms. ‘Argentina ’78 gets a whole programme to ltseii,’ says Allan, ‘and we could probably have managed a series on that alone.-’ That particqu campaign, with its heights oi glory and depths oi despair will come to occupy an important place in Scottish social history. There’s even a small community oi Scots who never cane bacir. ‘We talk to a Scot who married a Peruvian woman, oi all people,’ says Allan. ‘They’vd got a lovely wee daughter.’ Let’s hope the wiie knows not to mention Cubillas or Alan Bough. (Tom Lappin)
Faith, ilope . . . Calamity is on Scottish Television on Wednesdays at 7pm.
THE A-Z OF WORLD CUP SPEAK
An alphabetical almanac of commentating cliches, myths, legends and stuff we might just have made up about this cultural cocktail we call the
terhe List 3—16 June 1994
is for Argentina ‘lt’s a shame to Asee such gifted stars resorting to
this level of cynicism,’ and that’s just if they win the toss. Anglocentric commentators can never forgive 1986 (or 1982 in some quarters). especially if the rehabilitated coke ﬁend Maradona is back in the side.
is for Brazil ‘From the beaches of B Copacabana to the Maracana
Stadium. this is a country with soccer as well as samba in its soul.’ or some such drivel. in fact the Brazilians are a soccer TV director's dream, featuring as they do a wealth of busty. blonde supporters who jiggle frenetically and photogenically throughout the game. Watching Brazil on TV inevitably entails missing half the on-ﬁeld action as the cameras linger lasciviously on the terraces.
is for Cameroon, land of ‘natu- c rally gifted footballers who
learned their trade kicking
Maradona at 17, pre coke, pre “liend oi God".