The 1960s did not start well for Scotland. In their first eight matches Scotland only won once, and lost five. This bad run of matches included a 9-3 defeat at Wembley. That defeat was the first match in charge for Scotland's new manager Ian McColl. Andy Beattie had decided that managing both Scotland and Nottingham Forest was too much, and resigned for a second time. The qualifying campaign for the 1962 World Cup finals began with a 4-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland at Hampden, which was Scotland's first meeting with an independent Irish Republic. Four days later Scotland won the return game 3-0 in Dublin. A week later Scotland travelled to Prague where they were defeated 4-0 by Czechoslovakia. When the Czechs came to Hampden, Scotland won 3-2 to finish the group joint top with the Czechs. With there being only one qualifier from the group, there would be a one legged play-off against Czechoslovakia in Brussels. At this time goal difference was not used to separate teams, unless they were tied after extra-time in the play-off. With Czechoslovakia having a superior goal difference, they only needed to draw, whereas Scotland needed to win. A double from St John gave Scotland a 2-1 lead with less than 20 minutes remaining, but with eight minutes left the Czechs equalised to take the match into extra-time. Two goals by the Czechs in the first half of extra time sealed a 4-2 win and meant that they and not Scotland would be playing in Chile. Before and after the play-off there was the 1962 British Championships. A 6-1 win in Belfast was followed by a 2-0 victory over Wales at Hampden. In the final match, which was one day short of a year on from the 9-3 defeat, Scotland won 2-0 over England at Hampden to win the 1962 British Championships.
Captains Eric Caldow and Norman Haynes lead Scotland and England out at Wembley before the 9-3 defeat in 1961.
It would be two years before the qualifying campaign for the 1966 World Cup would begin; therefore Scotland had two years of friendly matches. In the 1963 British Championships, a 3-2 win over Wales was followed by a 5-1 win over Northern Ireland in which Law scored four times. In the deciding match at Wembley a double from Jim Baxter gave Scotland a 2-1 win, their first at Wembley in 12 years. Some impressive friendly results followed, a 4-1 home win over Austria, a 6-2 win away to Spain, and a 6-1 home win over Norway. The following British Championship was shared between Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland. In the final game at Hampden an Alan Gilzean goal was enough to defeat England 1-0. Since the 9-3 defeat, Scotland had won all three matches against the Auld Enemy. Dennis Law was to score 16 goals in this two-year period, including four in the win over Norway, four against Northern Ireland, and a hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat away to Norway. This took his tally to 21 goals, two short of Hughie Gallacher's record.
The Scotland team do a lap of honour at Hampden Park after defeating England 1-0 in 1964.
In the autumn of 1964, the qualifiers for the 1966 World Cup, which was to be held in England, began. The first match was a 3-1 win over Finland at Hampden. The following April, Scotland drew 2-2 at Wembley, and Dennis Law equalled Hughie Gallacher's record of 23 goals. During the preparations for the next qualifier away to Poland, manager Ian McColl was sacked, and Celtic’s new manager Jock Stein took charge for the remainder of the World Cup. In his first game in charge Scotland gained a 1-1 draw away in Poland, where Law scored a late equaliser to break Hughie Gallacher's record and become Scotland's all time leading goalscorer with 24 goals. Four days later Scotland defeated Finland 2-1 in Helsinki. In the autumn of 1965, Poland visited Hampden and left with a 2-1 victory due to two late goals. Because of that defeat Scotland needed to win both games against Italy to qualify, three points would see a play-off similar to four years earlier. Italy spent most of the match frustrating the Scots, until with two minutes left on the clock, Baxter played a perfect pass through the Italian defence for Greig to score the winner and give Scotland a famous victory. A month later Scotland travelled to Naples, and injuries and clubs refusing to release players meant that Scotland only had 14 players to play with. The Italians ran out 3-0 winners and Scotland's hopes of playing in England the following summer ended. In March 1966, John Prentice was appointed as Scotland's new manager. His first three matches in charge were all defeats, and his fourth was a 1-1 draw with current World Champions Brazil, where Pele made an appearance at Hampden. His reign in charge was to only last six months. Reports are that the SFA discovered that he travelled to Canada for a job interview at the same time he was negotiating terms with them.
Captains John Greig and Bellini shake hands before the 1-1 draw between Scotland and Brazil at Hampden Park.
Malky MacDonald took over as Scotland manager in October 1966, and his first matches in charge were the European Championships, that Scotland was taking part in for the first time. The group stages for the European Championships were to double as the 1967 and the 1968 British Championships. A 1-1 draw with Wales was followed by a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland. For the next game against England, Scotland had another new manager, former Scotland keeper Bobby Brown was appointed as Scotland's first full-time manager. In the visit to Wembley, England were playing all but one of the players who won the World Cup a year earlier. On 27 minutes a Law shot was blocked by Banks but the rebound was not and Scotland were 1-0 up. 12 minutes from time McCalliog passed to Lennox in the penalty area to hit a low shot past Banks and double Scotland's lead. Next came a famous moment in Scottish football, when Jim Baxter collected the ball out on the left, before he started playing keepy-uppy with the ball and showboating. Six minutes from time Jack Charlton pulled one back, but three minutes later Lennox and McCalliog played the one-two before McCalliog beat Banks. A minute later Hurst pulled another one back, but it was too late and Scotland won 3-2 to be crowned British Champions and unofficial World Champions, in what some might say is their greatest ever result. A 1-0 defeat in Belfast did not help Scotland's chances of qualifying. A month later Wales were defeated 3-2 at Hampden. Going into the final match at home to England, Scotland needed a win to qualify. A record attendance for a European Championship match of 134,000 saw a 1-1 draw, which was not enough for Scotland to qualify.
Denis Law scores Scotland's second goal in their famous 3-2 win at Wembley in 1967.
Scotland's first qualifier for the 1970 World Cup Finals was a 2-1 home win over Austria. This was the first World Cup match during which substitutes were allowed. The next qualifier was away to Cyprus, who was a minute away from holding the Germans to a draw. Scotland were therefore weary of this trip into the unknown. These fears were laid to rest after 3 minutes when Gilzean put Scotland ahead. Cyprus gave Scotland no problems and Scotland came away with a 5-0 victory, with both Gilzean and Stein bagging a double each. The West Germans then visited Hampden with an outstanding record as they had never lost a World Cup qualifier, but they had never beaten Scotland. Gerd Muller put the Germans ahead just before half time, but Bobby Murdoch equalised with two minutes remaining to earn a 1-1 draw. A month later Cyprus visited Hampden, and Scotland equalled their World Cup record and won 8-0, with Colin Stein scoring four. Going into the away tie with West Germany, Scotland needed a win to keep their hopes of topping the group alive, a draw would mean that Scotland would need a play-off to qualify at best. A defeat would end Scotland's qualification hopes. Scotland could not have asked for a better start as Jimmy Johnstone put Scotland ahead after three minutes, when an Eddie Gray shot was spilled by the keeper into Johnstone's path. The Germans equalised seven minutes before the break, and on the hour mark Muller put them 2-1 ahead. Four minutes later Gilzean headed in the equaliser, which looked like it would be enough for a draw, until Libuda put the Germans 3-2 ahead with nine mines remaining. Just to rub salt into the wound, Tommy Gemmell was sent off for lashing out at Haller and kicking him, it marked the end of Scotland's qualification hopes. In the final game Scotland were defeated 2-0 in Vienna.
Jim Herriot makes a save during the 1969 Home International at Wembley.