Tag: Scotland

England & Scotland Fight Over A Comb

At Wembley on Friday night, it was difficult to escape the feeling that we were all witnessing the act of two bald men fighting over a comb. England versus Scotland is the oldest international football match that there is, a cross-border rivalry that stretches back to the age of Queen Victoria and the very beginning of the white hot crucible that professional football would become over the following two decades. The Home Internationals tournament kept it alive as an annual international varsity match until the 1980s, and it even limped along after that tournament’s abolition in 1984, finally coming...

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World Cup Warm-ups: Nigeria v Scotland

“He’s just thrown it in the net,” noted BBC Scotland match analyst Kevin Gallacher. Twice he said it. In a match which had been newsworthy in its build-up because of claims it had attracted the attention of match-fixers. That’s it, Kev. You calm the waters. If the fix was in on Nigeria’s World Cup warm-up friendly against Scotland at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, why did Nigerian goalkeeper Austin Ejide so convincingly claim he was being fouled as he threw Shaun Maloney’s corner into the net? And if the fix was in, then why wasn’t at least as much attention paid to Scotland’s borderline-slapstick defending for Nigeria’s 90th-minute equaliser, especially as they had been a largely formidable rearguard to that point? Maybe the fix was in on the time of Scotland captain Scott Brown’s inevitable booking – who would have put money on the 87th minute? Had there been a sweepstake, would it have been worth printing any tickets higher than 50? Or was there some form of spread betting on the wide spread (sorry) of Nigeria’s shooting? The African champions had about a dozen shots off target which were a combined total of about a mile high and/or wide of their scheduled destination, Gallacher’s fair comment about one shot heading for “Kensington High Street,” showing an impressive, or impressively-researched, knowledge of West London geography. But if the fix was in,...

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Pouring New Wine Into Young Wineskins, Or Something Like That

The call for youth to reinvigorate a national squad every two and four years must be included in the standard guidebooks for both managers and football association officials on what to say in response to failed attempts at qualification for a big tournament. Just the previous summer after Green’s Gaffe and Germany’s show of youth in revolt, England supporters received an earful from Fabio Capello–through his suddenly atrocious grasp of the language–and delivered an annoyingly vuvuleza-like din themselves about how the only way forward for the Three Lions was in bringing more youth into the senior side. Over a year later, though, the squad run out against Montenegro to play England’s final Euro 2012 group stage qualifying match included sprinklings of youth but was still anchored by the likes of John Terry, Ashley Cole, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard, and a Scott Parker either returned to the squad because he had been spotted drinking with Juan Ponce de León or because Steven Gerrard was still injured and unavailable for selection. Change out a centre half and a fullback, bring back a forward that might have deserved to go to South Africa in the first place along with starting the GK sub left on the bench in World Cup 2010, and it’s roughly the same squad that was a failure in 2010 now a winner in 2011. Enough on England though,...

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Ferguson Weeps, St. John Snarls, and Hutchison With The Header: BBC Sportsound Replay

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...

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World Cup Qualification: Scotland is Due

Forgive the Tartan Army should they be slightly pessimistic about Scotland’s chances of qualification following the draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. While Three Lions supporters expect to see England qualify, only to bow out in the quarterfinals or encounter heartache over phantom goals and botched penalties, Scottish supporters have not seen Saint Andrew’s Cross fly in the World Cup since 1998. That summer, on the soil of Auld Alliance partner France, the Tartan Army saw ten Scottish players leave the pitch at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in defeat, having played Morocco a man down most of the 2nd half in what became a 3-0 loss. The loss ensured Scotland finished last in Group A, with the defending World Cup champions Brazil and a surprising Norwegian squad advance. Granted, Norway’s shock win over Brazil in the final group matches had been the result that truly eliminated both Scotland and the North Africans on the day, but ending in Saint Étienne last in the group with only two goals scored in the tournament was a kick up the kilt that continues to sting, considering Scotland has not returned to the world stage since. A World Cup without Scotland seems rather commonplace for observers of international football today as the Home Nation has been absent the proceedings for the past three cycles. With squads managed by the likes of Ormond, Stein, and...

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