All our yesterdays

Memories of Scotland's Wembley triumph in 1977. Geoffrey Richmond gets what he deserves.


 

The REAL Jubilee

In early June there will be celebrations all over the land. Church bells will ring. Street parties will be held. There will be dancing, singing, cheering and merriment as has never been seen for many years. All in honour of the Jubilee.

Yes, June 4th 2002 marks the 25th anniversary of one of Scotland’s most famous Wembley triumphs. The one that sparked off the immortal ditty:

“England One Scotland Two
Took your turf
And your goalposts too.
Na na na na. Na na na. Na na”

If you were to believe all the stories told about that day then there must have been over a quarter of a million Scots at Wembley. And they all returned with about three truckloads of turf and a couple of vans worth of timber each. However, unlike the Sixties, if you can remember it you were definitely there. And in this time of despair in Scottish football, it is no bad thing for a football history site such as this to recall a golden moment in our past. A good wallow in nostalgia for those who can recall it and a history lesson for those too young to remember or were as yet unborn.



There was another jubilee in June that year too. But the thousands of Scots supporters who thronged central London were oblivious to that. In fact, many of them were oblivious full stop. I was the sole representative of the Scottish colony at Teesside Polytechnic. Being but poor students we couldn’t really afford to watch a lot of football but, as the Student Union Deputy President, I was on a monthly salary that year and thus less poor than most. So I took the sleeper to Kings Cross. I wasn’t that flush that I could actually afford a bed – the passenger carriage was fine by me.

Arriving shortly after dawn, I walked up to Euston where the bulk of the support was arriving and, amazingly among the thousands present, I bumped into a couple of guys from my own village. Wembley did that. It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last that I’d meet up with people I’d been to school with and hadn’t seen for years.

We made our way to the traditional gathering at Trafalgar Square where we were met by a mass of banners. Some simply said where the fans were from. Some were emblazoned by history – ‘Remember Bannockburn’ Others were more up to date. One boldly proclaimed: “Tam Forsyth is cooler than the Fonz.” Ah, Happy Days!

Sadly, tragedy was to strike in the square. A supporter attempted to dive into the fountain from 15ft. Unbeknown to him; the depth of the water in the fountains in Trafalgar Square is only around 18 inches. He plunged to his death. This didn’t become widespread news until long after the game.

There was the rickety tube ride. One punter hung out of the back window, all that could be seen was a tartan tammy, a shock of red hair and a disturbing stream of sick when a voice suddenly exclaimed: “ That’s Shuggie fae Shettleston. Ah’d ken that boak anywhere.”

There was the usual black market for tickets. A few of the older guys (I mean those aged about 25 or so) helpfully explained to us youngsters how we could obtain tickets at face value – or less! “Jist get a crowd roon aboot the touts and luk ugly (the second piece of advice wasn’t terribly difficult to follow) the Polis urny gaun tae gie ony hauners tae the touts.”

That, or wait until a minute past kick-off. Tickets which are rare as moon dust at 2.55 don’t have even a nominal value in the lavatorial cleanliness department once the match is over so touts will be happy to take what they can get while they can still get something.

And so to Wembley. The manager, Ally McLeod, had only been appointed a month previously and he sent out this team for what was just his third match in charge: Rough, McGrain, Donachie, Forsyth, McQueen, Rioch (capt.), Masson, Dalglish, Jordan, Hartford, Johnston. During the course of the match Archie Gemmill came on for Don Masson and Lou Macari replaced Joe Jordan.

The English line-up looked strong: Clemence, Neal, Mills, Greenhoff, Watson, Hughes (capt.), T Francis, Channon, Pearson, Talbot, Kennedy. In addition, Trevor Cherry and Denis Tueart came on as subs.

Scotland looked confident from the start. As they had every right to be. In their previous 14 internationals stretching back two years they had lost just once – and that was to reigning European Champions Czechoslovakia in Prague. The only real surprise was that it took until two minutes from the break before Gordon McQueen’s header powered Scotland in front.

The second half was much the same and when Kenny Dalglish finished off a five-man move with a goal on the hour mark, the game was effectively over. With around five minutes to go, this particular supporter left the ground in order to beat the rush and catch the 6pm train. As a result I missed Mick Channon’s consolation penalty for England. I had been telling people on the train home (whether they were interested or not) that we had won 2-0 and was in Doncaster before I saw a sports paper saying England had scored.

Consequently I missed the pitch invasion. But I resolutely refuse to condemn it. It was portrayed at the time as being serious thuggery by the tartan hordes. It was nothing of the sort. It was exuberance, pleasure, delight, call it what you will. But it was good-natured, humorous and hurt nobody. It was a joyous celebration of Scotland’s first win at Wembley since 1967.

It stands in stark contrast to the organised violence that disfigured the game then and still does today.Those who condemned the fans must have never known the feeling of sheer exhilaration that comes with a victory so sweet. They have never taken part in such celebrations because it is alien to their nature. They have no footballing soul and I feel sorry for them.

I also missed Willie Johnston’s sending-off. But it is there in the record books. And it was never an unusual occurrence for the water in Johnston’s shower to be heated up long before anyone else’s.

I arrived back in Middlesbrough at around 10pm that night. A large marquee had been erected on the college green – a consequence of the loosening of the licensing laws in aid of the other jubilee. There, dancing around the saltire, were Vince from Glasgow and Dave from Dumfries. Jock from Perth was sitting, resplendent in kilt, with a fixed grin on his face, saying nothing, his mouth opening only for a fresh intake of whisky. Tam, from Dunfermline lay slumped in a corner, grasping his wine bottle close to this chest.

Not the prettiest sight in the world, I’ll agree. But to a man, they rose and hailed me back as some kind of conquering hero. I was feted and treated as if I had scored the winner myself. All because I had been there. After such a welcome I didn’t have the heart to tell them I hadn’t been on the pitch. In their drunkenness, none of them were capable of working out that it wasn’t physically possible to have been on that pitch and made the 6pm train to Darlington.

So instead, I made my excuses and sloped off outside for a few minutes. I returned with bunches of grass, freshly plucked from the college green and pressed them into my compatriots’ hands. To this day (and unless they see this article, to their dying day) they believe they were given Wembley turf. 25 years on, it is a good time to confess.

There would be other Wembleys, other victories there too. But none of them ever tasted as sweet as that one. None of them could ever match that sweet glorious scent of victory that was the true memory of the summer of ’77.

Richly Deserved?

It’s never pleasant when a club faces a financial crisis. Livelihoods are at risk and supporters go through torment wondering if their heroes can survive. But we can’t help admitting to a touch of schadenfreude over the situation at Bradford City.

The Yorkshire club’s chairman, Geoffrey Richmond, won our 2001 Prat of the Year award for his interfering in the Scottish game and he’s at it again. His club have been put in administration. Players Union boss Gordon Taylor thinks it might be a way of reneging on contracts and he may be right. But while we feel for the Bantams fans, we can’t help but think that Richmond is getting his just desserts. After all, this is a man who doesn’t think twice about the consequences for Scottish football every time he opens his mouth about inviting the Old Firm into the Nationwide.

As for the reasons for his club’s debts, Richmond blames ITV Digital and Benito Carbone. What he means by this is that his club spent the ITV cash before it was in their bank account – never the cleverest of moves by anybody. And Carbone’s record was well known before he was signed up at Valley Parade. Six different clubs (0ne of them twice) in seven seasons in Italy suggests he wasn’t one for sticking around when the going got tough. And no one leaves Inter Milan for Sheffield Wednesday because they’ve always wanted to play at the home of cutlery!

Aston Villa picked him up for a song but couldn’t even wait a year before moving him on to Bradford where he is on a reputed £40,000 per week. Bradford have hawked him around Derby and Middlesbrough on loan and were hoping for a big fat fee from the Teesside club for the Italian’s services. Unsurprisingly, Carbone couldn’t agree terms with Boro whose big spending days are over.

So, if Richardson wants to blame anybody for the mess his club is in, may we suggest he contacts whoever sanctioned the spending of money that wasn’t there on a player costing £40,000 per week plus NI, car, house, flights etc.

And if you want to know where to find this fool, Geoffrey, try looking in the nearest mirror.

It appears that the Bradford Baw-heid’s inflated sense of his club’s importance isn’t shared by the club management. The Bantams have fixed up a two-game tour of Scotland in July but neither Ibrox nor Parkhead is on the agenda. Instead, City will take on Ayr United and Raith Rovers. Now that’s probably their right level.

 

 

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