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Building up to this week’s final round of group qualifying fixtures for the 2012 European Championships, BBC Radio Scotland has produced short audio pastiches daily on their Sportsound programme featuring new interviews with former Scottish national team players along with rebroadcasting some audio caught in the moment after some big matches. Should you care to listen, they have been packaged in a downloadable podcast format here, but if you are only interested in these segments, skip forward closer to the end of each programme to avoid hearing about the load of waffle over Garry O’Connor’s two match ban for diving being rescinded and other daily SPL news bits.
There you will find rather blunt words from former Scotland and Rangers captain Barry Ferguson, who between the tears, expresses sincere regret over the actions which led to his dismissal from the national squad, why he never came back once Craig Levein hinted he might be allowed to return, and whether he thinks Walter Smith is a cuddly old man. There is also a stroll down memory lane with former Motherwell and Liverpool striker Ian St. John as he discusses his playing days under legendary manager Bill Shankly as well as his rather uncomfortable relationship with the Scottish Football Association and his time with the national squad. While Ferguson discussed his regrets over no longer playing before the Tartan Army, St. John sounds considerably less heavyhearted over the end of his cap collecting, and it was all down to some crummy newspaper that didn’t have his name printed in it.
Perhaps the best selection, though, is where BBC Scotland replays snippets of interviews from players and managers after one of the last battles against the Auld Enemy from Euro 1996 at Wembley. We hear from Gary McAllister, who was so sure he was going to make that penalty to bring the match level, only to have the ball mysteriously move just before he struck it, allowing “Safe Hands” David Seaman to make the save. Prior to the miss, we hear that Paul Gascoigne was meant to be substituted off, but after McAllister failed to convert, Gazza then does this, putting the final nail in Scotland’s coffin before a raucous Wembley crowd.
Then, we hear from the participants from in the two legs of the Euro 2000 qualifying matches. After having been diced up by the Ginger Ninja at Hampden four days previously, we hear the perspective and expectations placed upon each squad, with the Scottish players saying they know they’re not thought to be good enough to win anything whereas the English playing across the pitch from them will always unfortunately live with the heavy burden of great expectations. This should not be mistaken for the Scottish players having little confidence, for when they met England for their final duel at Wembley, they were prepared to leave the old Wembley one final time as a winner, which is exactly what Craig Brown’s squad accomplished.
So, if Montenegro v England or Leichtenstein v Scotland doesn’t necessarily hold your attention throughout, take a moment this weekend to listen to some quality quips from a few who last fought in the Auld Enemy clashes. And while the above videos are not the greatest, many thanks to those who prepared them for easy reference. Perhaps it will inspire you to discover more from a rivalry no longer contested but essential in the telling of the story about the game of football.
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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.