1966: What If Scotland Had Qualified?
So what would have happened had we qualified?
It would be churlish to deny England their 50th anniversary celebration of the Three Lions winning the World Cup but many in Scotland might argue that the next anniversary celebrated should be the 100th (if there is indeed a world then).
1966 and all that’s “50th” passed without a hitch north of the border and although we like to think we are all a bit more grown up about our football relationship with the Auld Enemy these days there would still have been tutting and head shaking from Kirkwall to Kirkcaldy as the BBC, SKY, and, well everyone with a transmitter south of Gretna, chipped in with their thoughts on that famous day on July 30th as the televisual bunting was revealed.
After EURO2016 England needed a tonic so let’s raise a glass of whisky to that truly memorable team of 66 as it really is very doubtful we’ll see their likes again!
Scotland didn’t qualify for the 66 World Cup but had we won our qualifying group instead of Italy we would have been pitched into Group 4 in England with eventual semi finalists the Soviet Union, 1962 hosts Chile and North Korea who were only there because the African nations boycotted the World Cup.
Italy v North Korea at Middlesbrough FC in 1966.. In an alternative reality it would have been the Scots playing the DPRK in the North East of England in Group 4 of the 1966 World Cup.
Furious there was no direct route for an African/Middle East nation to the tournament in England, with the winners of that qualifying section having to play the winners of Asia/Oceanic group in a play off, all 15 African nations withdrew leaving North Korea v Australia as a qualifying final that would decide who went to the 8th World Cup finals as arguably the tournament’s most exotic addition.
Would Scotland have suffered their Peru or Iran 12 years earlier and would we have been scarred by the experience or would Law, Baxter, Bremner etc have steamrollered the minnows of the DPRK roared on by the Tartan Army at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough?
It might have been our heroes instead of Italy (beaten by the most secretive nation on earth) who might have been returning to jeers and rotten fruit as they got off the plane following their three match stay in England.
How the book of our 1966 World Cup win might have looked….
Surely that Scotland team of 66 could have got out the group and had we finished second behind the USSR it would have been a Quarter Final v Portugal at Everton FC.
What a night that would have been as we took on Eusebio in his prime and would it have been on the telly? Not all of the last eight matches were televised.. another little know fact about World Cup 1966.
The 1966 World Cup Semi Final could have been the match of the century.. certainly from our perspective. The 1966 Home International clash at Hampden [pictured] ended up 4-3 for England. In the years 1962-70 Scotland lost only twice to England, the Scots recording four wins and three draws, back in the time when the teams played every year.
A win for Scotland would have seen a semi final v England at Wembley with West Germany waiting in the final after a last four win over the USSR…
How the teams emerging for the 1966 World Cup semi final at Wembley MIGHT have looked..
Maybe one day there will be a parallel universe where we can experience this alternative 66 scenario but for the moment we must live with the reality of what really happened and ponder on how we might be able to celebrate Wembley 67 the way England celebrated Wembley 66.
Scotland have won the Homeless World Cup in Paris but it’s little substitute for what might have been in ’66.
Scotland would have played the old USSR in World Cup 1966 but we did eventually play them at Spain’82 drawing 2-2
Scotland v England a month or so before the 66 World Cup.. and ofcourse THAT win at Wembley.. the first team to beat England after they won the World Cup…