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Monday, May 31, 2010

World Cup Stories - We'll always have Archie Gemmill's goal

“I hate being Scottish. We're the lowest of the fucking low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English, but I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can't even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. “

Renton’s opinion of the Scottish from Trainspotting 

When the first football international was played in 1872 Scotland  were the best team in the world.  Then again their only opponent at the time was England and that team was largely made up of upper class twits from Oxford and the Royal Engineers. By the 1890's professional football among the working classes in the north of England had gained a foothold and Scotland became second best.  Things have gone downhill ever since then.   

They have appeared in World Cup finals 8 times and have never made it out of the first round group stage.  No other team has even come close to this level of futility.  The names of great Scottish footballers are legendary, amongst them Dennis Law, Kenny Dalgleish, Billy Bremner and Graeme Souness.  Their achievements in International football a lot less so. 

In 1974 in Germany they held both Brazil and Yugoslavia to draws and beat Zaire as well.  Normally that should be more than enough to advance but Yugoslavia and Brazil also drew so it came down to goal difference against Zaire.  Scotland scored two while Yugoslavia scored nine and Brazil three sending Scotland home.

In 1978 they came agonizingly close again.  It came down to the final group game against the eventual beaten finalists Holland.  Scotland needed to win by at least two goals to advance and eliminate the Dutch.  Holland scored first but then Scotland equalized.  In the first minute of the second half wee Archie Gemmill etched himself into the consciousness of Scottish fans forever with a magnificent solo goal.  Scotland needed one more goal.  The got it in the 68th minute but a Dutch goal in the 71nd minute ended another dream for Scotland.  

Things have got even worse for Scotland.  They will not be in South Africa making it the third World Cup in a row they have missed.  Who knows when they will be able to extend their record of futility in the finals.

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