Our Last World Cup
The 1998 FIFA World Cup was the 16th World Cup . It was held in France from 10 June to 12 July 1998. The country was chosen as the host nation by FIFA for the second time in the history of the tournament, defeating Morocco in the bidding process. Co-incidentally this was also the last major finals a Scotland National Football team qualified for. We have not done better than France 1998 since our group stage appearance under manager Craig Brown.
Qualification began in March 1996 and concluded in November 1997. For the first time in the competition, the group stage were expanded from 24 teams to 32, with eight groups of four. A total of 64 matches were played in 10 stadiums located across 10 different host cities, with the opening match and final staged at the Stade De Francais.
The tournament was won by France, who beat Brazil 3–0 in the final. France won their first title, becoming the seventh nation to win a World Cup, and the sixth to win it on home soil. Croatia, Jamaica, Japan and South Africa made their first appearances in the finals.
The opening game of the tournament in Paris was Brazil v Scotland and although the favourites took the lead John Collins equalised with a penalty before an unfortunate Tom Boyd Own Goal gave the then four time winners of the trophy a victory they barely deserved.
Scotland would then go onto draw 1-1 with Norway in their second group match with Craig Burley netting for a Scottish side wearing their change kit of yellow shirts and dark blue shorts.
The final make or break game versus Morocco proved a huge disappointment with Scotland surrendering tamely to a 3-0 scoreline and failing to break their record of never having gone beyond the first stage of a World Cup finals in what was their eighth appearance in the finals having qualified for West Germany 1974, Argentina 1978, Spain ’82, Mexico ’86 and Italia ’90.
Scotland also appeared in the 1954 [ Switzerland ] and 1958 [ Sweden ] World Cup Finals but did not have to qualify in 1954 as World Cup teams were there by invitation. The Scots were also invited to compete in 1950 in Brazil but would not go unless they were British Champions but they lost the Home Internationals decider 1-0 at Hampden to England and despite being asked to compete anyway the SFA stuck to their guns of not appearing unless they were champions of the British Isles.
England maybe wished they had stayed at home too as they suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat in the 1950 early rounds to a then amateur USA team they had beaten easily just a couple of years earlier..
Scotland’s European Championship History
The UEFA European Championship, or simply The Euros, is the primary football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA ), determining the continental champion of Europe. Held every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered year between FIFA World Cup tournaments, it was originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, changing to the current name in 1968. Starting with the England 1996 Tournament, specific championships are often referred to in the form “UEFA Euro [year]”; this format has since been retroactively applied to earlier tournaments.
Prior to entering the tournament all teams other than the host nations (which qualify automatically) compete in a qualifying process. The championship winners earn the opportunity to compete in the following FIFA Confederations Cup, but are not obliged to do so.
The 14 European Championship tournaments have been won by nine different national teams: SPAIN AND GERMANY each have won three titles, France has two titles, and USSR, ITALY, CZECHOSLOVAKIA, HOLLAND, DENMARK AND GREECE HAVE won one title each. To date, Spain are the only side in history to have won consecutive titles, doing so in the 2008 and 2012 editions. It is the 2nd most watched football tournament in the world after the World Cup. Euro 2012 final was watched by a global audience of around 300 million.
Poland and Ukraine hosted in 2012, the competition was won by Spain who beat Italy 4-0 in Kiev. France hosts EURO 2016.
Scotland have only qualified for two finals and that was in 1992 and 1996 when the competition was in Scandanavia and England.
1992 saw us out in the first qualifying group under manager Andy Roxburgh despite an impressive 3-0 win in our final game against an emerging Russian team that were moving from the old days of the USSR to the nation they are now, at the time they were known as CIS. [ Confederation of Independent States ].
Euro ’96 saw us in a First Round group under manager Craig Brown with Holland, Switzerland and England and after a 0-0 draw with the Dutch at Villa Park we moved onto Wembley to play host nation England. A goal free first half was followed by two England goals in the second for a 2-0 victory thanks to Alan Shearer and probably the most famous goal of Gazza’s career as he flipped the ball over Colin Hendry before shooting past Andy Goram in one seamless movement. Scotland had a chance to equalise at 1-0 when Gordon Durie was fouled in the box but as Gary McAllister stepped up to take the penalty the ball rolled off the spot and rather than stop and re-spot the ball he carried on and shot against a diving David Seaman who saved the kick.
Scotland had another chance to qualify in the final game against Switzerland but it would need a 1-0 Scottish win at Villa Park and Holland to lose by four clear goals at Wembley.
Ally McCoist’s strike meant we kept our part of the deal but with England leading 4-0 against the Dutch in London David Seaman let a tame Dutch drive go through his legs late in the game and at 4-1 our chance of making it out of the group was gone.
England prevented us progressing to Euro 2000 when we lost a play-off [ first time these were used in qualifying ] 2-1 on aggregate.
England won easily in the First Leg at Hampden and if truth be told the 2-0 final score could have been doubled but Scotland pulled up their socks in the deciding match at Wembley and a Neil McCann cross saw Don Hutchison score with a great header past David Seaman.
Craig Brown’s Scotland had at least two clear cut chances to take the game to extra time but one went over the bar and Seaman saved the other. No Beckham free kicks or crosses would save England that night as ” Goldenballs ” was largely shut out of the game by the Scots as they won the 2nd Leg 1-0 to go out narrowly on aggregate.
Scotland were absent from Euro 2004 and 2008 as well and the bad run continued in Euro 2012. Tartan Army types will tell you the Georgia game [ 1-0 away defeat ] was the turning point in our 2016 Qualifying campaign after beating Georgia and Ireland in Glasgow and drawing with Poland in Warsaw. That result put us on the back foot and we were unable to take much from our home games v the Germans and Poles where four points were required, we ended up with one after a 3-2 defeat by the World Champions and a 2-2draw v Poland at Hampden.
Sadly, Euro 2016 sees all other British nations at the finals along with our Celtic cousins from the Republic of Ireland so once again Scots must sit at home with their beers and pick a ” second team ” to cheer for which will either be an underdog or whoever plays England !