The draw for the 2018 World Cup Finals on Saturday July 25th gave Scotland a tilt at England for the first time in World Cup Qualification.
The 1967 and 1968 Home Internationals were actually used for qualifying purposes for the last eight of the European Championships in 1968 and although Scotland beat England 3-2 at Wembley in ’67 and then drew 1-1with them at Hampden in 1968 the overall results from the two years against Northern Ireland and Wales meant England progressed to a Quarter Final tie with Spain before they lost in the semi finals to Yugoslavia.
Scotland’s first interest in the World Cup came just after the end of WW2 when appearances at the finals were by invitation.
FIFA invited both Scotland and England to the 1950 finals in Brazil but the SFA said Scotland would only go if they were British Champions.
The Home Internationals threw up a final game v England at Hampden with Scotland requiring a win or draw to take the British title but they lost 1-0 and, despite another invite to go to Brazil, the SFA stuck to their guns and England went as UK representatives, although they ended up suffering their worst defeat ever in the group stages losing 1-0 to a USA team that were all amateur and mostly recent immigrants who had brought their football skills to the USA from South and Central America and places like Italy, Ireland and yes.. Scotland !
1954 saw us qualify for our first finals in Switzerland but there was another massive blunder from the SFA who packed heavy cotton shirts and woolen socks for the team under the impression that even in the summer the Swiss weather would be more suitable for winter sports than football.
Player [and later Scotland manager] Tommy Dochery joked in later years ”we were knackered after the national anthems in our first game v Uruguay who were starting to wear lighter shirts and shorts and boots that were not like ‘the tackety boots’ we were still wearing in 1954.”
Scotland lost the game 7-0 and exited at the first group stage.
1958 saw Scotland a bit wiser to the ways of the World Cup when they went to Sweden for the finals but again they were heading home before the end of the first round after a fairly mediocre performance in Scandanavia.
1962 [Chile] and 1966 [England] saw Scotland fail to qualify and despite running eventual 1970 semi finalists West Germany close in the Qualification group for Mexico ’70 the Scots missed out on a third finals before they finally got back to the big party in 1974 in West Germany. They went out on goal difference in the first round after beating Zaire 2-0 and drawing with World Champions Brazil 0-0 before in the final must win game they could only manage a 1-1 with Yugoslavia.
1978 was a disaster called Argentina and best forgotten despite the infectious personality of Ally MacLeod who made Scotland fans think ‘a medal’ was possible [the manager never actually said we would win it] but defeat by Peru and a draw with Iran made it ‘Mission Impossible’ in the final group game against Holland where we had to win by three clear goals against the 1974 runners-up.
We did lead 3-1 at one stage and ofcourse there was THAT goal by Archie Gemmill but Johnny Rep brought us down to earth with a 25 yard strike that made it 3-2 Scotland at the end. Glorious exit from the final for the Dark Blues once again!
By 1982 and Jock Stein in charge it was expected that Scotland would be at the World Cup finals and we qualified for Spain without too much difficulty but again we couldn’t get out the first round group as Scotland beat New Zealand 5-2, lost 4-1 to Brazil and drew 2-2 with the USSR.
1986 saw us forced into a Qualification Play Off with Australia and after a 0-0 in Oz we won the 2nd Leg 2-0 at Hampden [Frank McAvennie and Davie Cooper scored].
The finals in Mexico saw Scotland struggle against the emerging Danes in the first game and we lost 1-0 and despite Gordon Strachan opening the scoring in our second game v West Germany we lost 2-1 before a 0-0 with Uruguay, who were down to 10 men for most of the match after an early sending off, forced us homeward to think again why we seemed incapable of getting beyond the opening round of the World Cup finals. The team in Mexico was taken by Alex Ferguson after Jock Stein died of a heart attack in the final qualifying game in Cardiff, a 1-1 draw with Wales.
1990 and Italy saw a fifth successive finals for Scotland and this time Andy Roxburgh was in charge but we struggled against the South American minnows of Costa Rica in our first group game and lost 1-0 before our must win game v Sweden in Game 2 saw Stuart McCall and Mo Johnston give us a much needed 2-1 victory.
Brazil stood between us and our first Second Round tie in our final group game of Italia ’90 and despite some good play from the Scots we lost 1-0 and went home as England reached the semi finals before losing to eventual winners Germany on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Only the Republic of Ireland qualified from the ”home nations” for USA 1994 and it was Scots-born Ray Houghton that gave the Irish a 1-0 win in their opening game v Italy.
1998 saw us back on the World Cup track and we were at France ’98 playing in the tournament’s opening match against Brazil and losing 2-1 to then then-World Champions [John Collins with a penalty equaliser for Scotland]. Craig Burley scored in our 1-1 draw with Norway which left us having to beat Morocco to qualify for the second stage but nerves and just sheer bad play got the better of Craig Brown’s team and they lost 3-0 to go out with a whimper.
It will be 20 years since we were in a World Cup finals if we don’t qualify for Russia 2018 and it won’t be easy as only the winners of the ten European qualifying groups will go through with the eight best Runners-Up Playing Off to join the group winners in the biggest football show on earth.
Tearing Off A Strip [ a history of Scotland kit design ]
So what is it with this pink shirt Scotland have adopted in their latest kit design ?
In 1999 Scotland had a salmon pink away shirt [ most famously worn in a 1-0 friendly win in Germany ] and in their Euro 2016 Qualifying campaign pink was again in the away kit [ most famously in a 6-0 win in Portugal when the Scots played Gibraltar ]
The pink connection has much to do with Lord Roseberry, a promoter of the Scottish international team in its formative years and if you read on more can be discovered as to why we often ” think pink ” in our national team kit design, or at least why the kit manafacturers do !
On 5 March 1872 the world’s first international association football match was played at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Glasgow, home of the West of Scotland Cricket Club. The Scottish selectors (Queen’s Park’s goalkeeper and captain) had hoped to include Lord Kinnaird (The Wanderers) and Henry Renny-Taylour (Royal Engineers) but neither was available so it was effectively the Queen’s Park first team that turned out for Scotland while the English team comprised players from nine different teams. The Scottish players wore their navy blue club shirts with the addition of a lion rampant crest club socks and red cowls. Some time later players wore distinctive stockings and in 1876 the SFA issued a card to spectators so they could identify them. ( Heather coloured socks were sported by TC Highet of Queen’s Park.)
According to the Glasgow Herald (March 3 1873) the lion rampant crest was white in 1873 but the Sheffield Independent (March 8 1875) records the badge as being red. It is unclear what colour the lion was after that at least until 1881. It is also unclear when the red cowls were dropped although they are absent in an engraving of the 1879 team.
Navy and white would eventually become Scotland’s established colours but not before other combinations were tried. In 1881 the team turned out in the primrose yellow and rose pink racing colours of Archibald Primrose, the 5th Earl of Roseberry, an important Scottish Liberal peer and devotee of the turf who became one of the Scottish FA’s early patrons. The following year the team played in the blue and white hoops of rugby team Edinburgh Academicals with the addition of a gold lion rampant. Navy tops were restored in 1883, when the British Home Championship was inaugurated.
The SFA supplied the team shirts but players provided their own knickers and hose [ shorts and socks as they’d be known now ] although white knickers were the norm, some players turned out in black or navy until at least 1892.
The lion crest was replaced between 1893 (possibly earlier) and 1898 with a thistle, a motif usually associated with Scottish rugby.
In 2002 a shirt in Lord Roseberry’s colours was sold at auction by Bonhams. Worn by Nick Smith, it was worn in a match against Ireland in 1899, 1900 or 1901 and may be a change shirt.
The modern era of kit design saw Scotland first get jiggy with their kit in 1976 when Umbro ” Diamonds ” were introduced around the top of the then red socks, down the side of the white shorts and down the sleeves of the dark blue shirt. [ the away shirt was white with dark blue Umbro Diamonds ] England [ 1975 ] had started the trend of making their international kit more appealing to consumers and Wales quickly followed [ 1976 ] with both under the kit control of Admiral, a popular kit brand throughout the 1970’s and 80’s.
Once Scotland began customising their kit there was no stopping them and every generation of football fans since the mid 1970’s can remember triumphs and disasters as far as Scotland results, and indeed kits, are concerned. Umbro [ Manchester based ], Fila, Diadora [ Italian ] and Adidas [ who have their roots in Germany ] have all provided Scotland kits since we first started tampering with the home and away kits for the Home International series of 1976.
Now in 2015/16 we have the daring [ some would say ” horrible ” ] pink away combo which will grace the international side until hopefully World Cup Russia 2018 qualification is achieved.
The dark blue home kit has white sleeves this time with no hint of red in the strip [ some fans liked the red socks or at least the red tops on the socks ] but whether it is loved or loathed it will sell because the manafacturers know fans love to wear the colours..even IF those colours are fluorescent PINK !!
Scotland’s ” Away ” kit for the 1990 World Cup in Italy