THE AGONY AND THE EGSTASY
" WORLD Cups and Scotland don’t go. It’s Q official. We’ve been to the final stages seven times and only once, when we remained the only undefeated team in the 1974 competition have we not come back with our tails firmly between our legs after a customary first round exit. World Cups have, however, provided us with our greatest goals, including Cordon Strachan’s sumptuous chip against Germany in 1986. The greatest goal scored by anyone, ever, has to be Archie Oemmil’s virtuoso effort against Holland in 1978. He danced past what seemed like fifteen Outch players before eventually chipping their advancing keeper. Cooooooooal. Fist in the air. Thank you very much. Marvellous. ALCOHOL and Scotland go only too well. Scotland’s national football spirit is not courage. It’s Bacardi. The squad are usually less sober than the supporters. Everybody has their own favourite story. Mine is of the Copenhagen Five. Having beaten Denmark in September 1975, Billy Bremner, Joe Harper, Pat McClusky, Willie Young and Arthur Graham began drinking in their Copenhagen hotel, before heading for an exclusive nightspot. After threatening the barman the police were called, only for Young to threaten them with a shoe. Bremner threw Bacardi and Coke - over the barman before departing. However, as an SFA official’s hotel room was destroyed in the revelry, it was no mean surprise that they were banned for life from futur
1967 was the greatest ever year for Scottish football. In April Scotland became the
unofficial champions of the world when they became
the first side to defeat (nay, destroy) World Cup
holders England. The year was more notable for the
nation’s greatest triumph - Celtic winning the
JOCK STEIN is arguably the best manager ever to come out of Scotland. Stein helped take
Celtic to nine league titles in a row, between
1966—67 and 1973—74). Sadly Stein died while
managing Scotland in its final World Cup qualifying
match in 1985 against Wales. KEHHY OALOLISH didn’t have a particular position in Stein’s side. ‘Ach, just let him on the park,’ Stein once yelled. The terrier-like attacker first played for Celtic in 1968 and was Scotland’s favourite football son by the time he joined Liverpool in 1977. A successful, if somewhat dour manager, he has just led Blackburn Rovers to their first Premier
title in nine decades. OISASTEII has struck on a major scale twice in Scotland, both times at lbrox stadium, home of Rangers. The first was in 1902 when Scotland played England. Part of the wooden west terracing collapsed beneath a boisterous crowd: 25 people died and 587 later received compensation for their Inluries. On 2 January 1971, Rangers were playing Celtic In their traditional He’er an clash. Losing 1- O, Hangers fans headed for the exits. When they heard a roar suggesting an equaliser, many turned back - 66 people died in the crush. It was, and remains, Scottish football’s lowest ebb. (Philip Oorward)
SCOTTISH FOOTBALL FEATURE
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Ally McLeod: down and out of the 1978 World Cup
In 1978, Scotland football manager Ally McLeod took the nation on a World Cup rollercoaster, crashing abruptly just after kick off. He speaks to Philip Dorward about the ecstacy and the agony of that crusade and
the state of today’s Scottish game.
My McLeod’s managerial debut couldn’t have been more epic. On a sunny May day in 1977, Scotland gubbed England 2-1 at Wembley. The sheer joy of the occasion was too much for many Scots who proceeded to invade Wembley’s hallowed turf.
McLeod achieved cult status five months later when Scotland qualified for the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina. after defeating Wales 2-0. A triumphant wave of optimism swept the nation as Ally toured the supporters’ clubs and tempted them with the notion that the Coppa Del Mondial could be theirs.
Such a thin tightrope of success did McLeod walk. that when Scotland lost their first match to Peru and drew their second with lowly lran. McLeod fell fast and hard. Such was the anger felt by a nation that if it could have held a Scottish version of the Nuremburg trials. it would have.
Today McLeod is a figure of fun rather than derision. The popular view of the man is from BBC’s It’s Only An Excuse. with Ally bumbling his way through life without a care. His only real crime. along with the Scottish media. was to wet-nurse a nation into believing its team was not only a world beater. but a leader. McLeod still looks back to that time without embarrassment or remorse. ‘A good manager is notjust about being a good tactician.’ he claims. ‘I still think the biggest managerial challenge is not winning trophies on the pitch. but controlling players off it. because that’s where they lose it.’
One of McLeod’s 1978 World Cup squad lost it for life. Willie Johnson was sent home from Argentina and banned for playing for Scotland
again for taking drugs. Admittedly the little yellow pills that Johnson took were anti- histamines. containing nothing more stimulating than two strong cups of coffee, but they were a banned substance and Johnson had to go. It was a trying time for McLeod.
‘ln Argentina 1 was one of the first managers to have to cope with the media shock over drugs.’ he remembers. ‘Talking to Willie [Johnson] l was able to understand that he didn’t know that the innocuous substance he had taken was totally illegal. He didn’t know what was going on. In fairness to myselfl think I managed that situation rather well. i remember coming home from Argentina and saying to the press that although I was a worse manager, 1 was a better person. I didn’t think they cared about me by that point. though.’
Scotland’s 1978 performance might have seemed disastrous but it has been no worse than any other Scotland World Cup foray since. Jock Stein. Alex Ferguson and Andy Roxbrough are three of the nation’s greatest managers, but in 1982. 1986 and 1990 they fared no better than McLeod. McLeod admits his task was made easier by having a better squad than today’s. He does not envy the task of current manager Craig Brown — McLeod feels the standard of Scots football is declining as the rest ofthe world goes on the attack.
‘Today I think we perform poorer as a nation because we have less good players.’ he says. ‘It wouldn’t really matter if Alex Ferguson or Kenny Dalglish was manager because we already play with our best players, and that’s frightening. Times have changed and I’m not sure that in this age of multi-million deals, our players are as motivated as they used to be.‘ C]
The List 2-15 Jun 1995 9