Five Great Scottish Goals | @Alexecky

As part of a series of Scottish football history articles written for us by radio presenter Alex Horsburgh, today he looks at five of the great goals scored by the Scottish national team...


50 years of hurt? - Qualifying triumphs and tournament tragedies from 1970 until 2000 sitting side by side with highs, and mostly, lows in more recent times. Who'd be a member of the famous tartan army? Scotland might not be successful but they are seldom boring too as they can always find a way, whatever the era, to flatter then deceive, raise hopes then dash them. Let's explore five Scottish international goals that sum up the genius and insanity that is the international wing of the game North of the border.


1. Archie Gemmill v Holland 1978

The goal of the tournament in World Cup 1978 Argentina, and goal of the century as far as any Scotland supporter is concerned. This was Gemmill's second of the match (his first a pen) and added to a Kenny Dalglish opener to put Scotland 3-1 up against the future tournament runners up, the Dutch, in a game the Scots had to win by three clear goals to move through to the second phase of their second successive World Cup of the 70s. This followed a First Round exit (despite no defeats) in 1974.

Peru and Iran in 1978 need no replay here as these games have entered into football folklore, but this goal has equal billing in the heaven and hell which is the Scottish national side.

When Gemmill picked the ball up, following a tackle on Dalglish, in that final unforgettable First Round group game of 1978, the world went into slow motion as the little Anglo waltzed from the edge of the 18 yard box, past three Dutch defenders (including future Celtic boss in the 1990s Wim Janssen), before lobbing the goalie for a timeless classic that is unlikely to find an equal as long as Scotland play international football.

Scotland couldn't make it to the decisive score of 4-1, but watch Jonny Rep's goal that makes it 3-2 final score and then watch it once again. Does the ball take a slight deflection off the toe of Gemmill as the wee man tries to close down the Dutch master?



2. Kenny Dalglish v England 1976

The whole 'Scottish goalkeeper' myth had begun at Wembley 12 months earlier when Stewart Kennedy of Rangers wandered across his 18 yard box on London's biggest stage like a man with no sense of direction and, clearly suffering from big game nerves in the biggest British game of them all, turned in a comedic performance as England thumped Scotland 5-1. It was the Scots biggest embarrassment South of the border since the infamous 9-3 thrashing of 1961.

The misconception of the dodgy Scottish goalie was born that day, but what isn't often highlighted is that Scotland were a depleted team that Wembley weekend. The majority of the Leeds Utd team for the 1975 European Cup final in Paris v Bayern Munich, four days after the Wembley 5-1, made up of Scottish Internationals and potential Scotland squad members who were allowed to give their club preference (including goalkeepers David Harvey and David Stewart).

Scotland were back to their best for the Home International clash in 1976, but fell behind to a Mick Channon goal before Don Mason levelled for a half time score of 1-1.

Exquisite karma for the jesting and jokes at the expense of Scottish goalkeeping was served up by King Kenny Dalglish in the Hampden second half as he nutmegged Liverpool club mate, and Three Lions goalkeeper, Ray Clemence with a shot from a Joe Jordan run and cross that left the victorious England goalie of 12 months earlier crumpled on the Queens Park turf.

The Dalglish shot seemed tame but its accuracy, coupled with maybe a second of indecision by Clemence, was a goal to savour. It was just as sweet as Dennis Law's leap/header and opportunist effort from a Banks rebound v the English in 1966 and '67 respectively, or even the two England OG's in 1974 when the Scots taunted the Hampden visitors who they had beaten to World Cup qualification.

Scottish revenge was served through the legs of Clemence and the Sir Stanley Rous trophy was paraded at Hampden after a victory v the 'Auld Enemy' for the first time, as Scotland milked the applause of a full house in Glasgow while confirming their status as British Champions.



3. James McFadden v France 2007

Two European Championship qualifying group wins against World Cup finalists of 2006 France and yet still no place at Euro 2008. Yes, it could only be Scotland and after Gary Caldwell's goal beat the French at Hampden Park 1-0, it was James McFadden who would repeat the scoreline in Paris with a goal that is best watched on YouTube with the French commentary (19.00 mins) despite Peter Martin's Radio Clyde meltdown of ecstacy claiming cult status north of the border.

McFadden's effort is as beautiful as the "Ooh La La" and "magnifique" that greets the wonder goal, a truly sumptuous strike, from the home commentary duo for French TV and, resplendent in a saltire away shirt, Faddy's opportunist dig, as he fastens onto a Scottish Goal Kick then tries his luck from 30 and a bit yards out, is undoubtedly Scotland's goal of the 2000s.

The sight of the disbelieving Thierry Henry with hands on hips as Scotland celebrated the goal was maybe a picture that summed up the whole of football's attitude to our international side.

How can we be so good and yet so bad?



4. Leigh Griffiths v England 2017

How would you like your free kicks served sir?

The sometimes troubled Celtic hitman served up two main courses at Hampden in the space of three mouth watering minutes on a day when Scotland were given little hope of giving Gareth Southgate his biggest embarrassment since a certain penalty at Euro 96.

World Cup qualifying hasn't been much of an occupation for the Scots since 1998, infact we've been unemployed since Morocco thumped us in our last match in the finals in France, but for one, all too brief afternoon, Griffiths made us believe again as we almost took revenge for a 3-0 surrender in the first of two qualifying ties against our old rivals at Wembley Stadium.

Hampden Park v England saw us 1-0 behind before Griffiths gave a free kick 'up over the wall/down past the goalkeeper' (Joe Hart in this instance) masterclass not once but twice!

It wouldn't be Scotland of course had two pieces of genius not been followed by comic cuts defending with seconds to go as Andy Robertson (of all people), elected to play out of defence on a breakaway in an attempt to make it 3-1 instead of booting the ball out of the ground and into a tenement close.

England won the ball back and Harry Kane nipped in for a 2-2 final score, but the great injustice felt that day by all in dark blue and manager Gordon Strachan will always be left our of the edit in the minds of the Tartan Army.



5. David Narey v Brazil 1982 / John Collins v Brazil 1998

You can't compare a strike from around 20 yards and a penalty kick success but I give both goals equal billing controversially at number 5 because they happened against Brazil at World Cups and when is that likely to happen again?

Narey first timed his shot high into the net at World Cup Spain 1982 and BBC pundit Jimmy Hill famously called it a "toe poke" while Collins calmly slotted home an equaliser from the spot in the opening game of World Cup France 1998 but both are fresh in the memories of all Scotland fans to this day.

We lost the '82 match 4-1 with Gordon Strachan famously saying after the tie, "I think we upset them with that goal". Whilst 1998 was a 2-1 defeat thanks to a Tom Boyd OG, which again summed up perfectly the highs and lows of the Scotland international rollercoaster that can be experienced in 90 minutes, never mind across a tournament ride!

Narey and Collins running away to acclaim their strikes are two iconic football moments in Scotland, no matter how polar opposite their goals are, and they maybe show the true, yet undiscovered, potential of Scotland at international level when football finally comes home to the country that invented the modern game.



This piece was kindly written and given to @TFHBs by Alex Horsburgh - you can follow him on Twitter: @Alexecky

©The Football History Boys, 2020

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