The World Cup, 1978.
The group, Netherlands, Scotland, Peru, and Iran.
In Argentina. Ally McLeod as Scotland’s manager. I was fond of Ally; him having been manager of Aberdeen. That was my first time in Glasgow, the occasion of Aberdeen beating Celtic in the league cup final in 1975(?). Davie Robb scoring the winner in extra-time to make it 2-1. The Celtic supporters throwing bottles and cans at us Aberdeen supporters, across the terracing at Hampden Park. The palpable sense of “danger”. The mounted policemen before and after the game as fans came and went from the ground, onto trains and buses. The long drive to and from Aberlour. Stop for chips in Perth, or Pitlochry.
Willie Johnston had been sent home (banned) from Argentina even before the games had started for using amphetamines. But we (Scotland) were really going to shake them up, when we won the Wurlld Cup, because Scotland were the greatest football team. Anyhow, that’s how the song went. But, we had a decent team, for sure. The likes of Dalglish, and Jordan, and we’d looked good in the qualifying rounds.
The first game was against Peru, and i didn’t even see it. It was a weekend meet to the C.I.C. hut (Charles Inglis Clark) on Ben Nevis, with the Moray Mountaineering Club, and the game must have been on the Saturday night. Martin and myself climbed Tower ridge, and North-East Buttress that weekend. Good times. Anyway, a couple of lads wandered in late on the Saturday eve, up the track from a pub in Fort William, with the depressing news that we’d been beaten 3-1 by Peru. The World Cup dream was starting to evaporate, all too quickly.
Things didn’t get better through the week, with an abysmal 1-1 draw with Iran. Come the game with the Netherlands, we were all but out. Only some unlikely large victory would do the trick, and the Netherlands were probably the best team in the competition. Anyway, cue that immortal moment when Archie Gemmill weaved his way through half of their team to chip in for a 3-1 lead to Scotland, early in the second half, and the dream was on. One more goal, and we were through. Amazing, incredible, astonishing. There is a God after all, and he’s Scottish!
Of course, Holland snatched another goal, and we had to settle for a mere 3-2 win. Impressive in itself, but not quite enough to progress. 40 years ago, blimey.
We still had to live through the Thatcher years.
Anyway, onwards and upwards, Scotland. The day will come, touch wood, when we qualify for the World Cup finals again. Inshallah.
And the day will come when we are an independent nation again.
The one might come sooner than the other!