The 1970s

The start of the 70s was not a successful period for Scotland and manager Bobby Brown. Even although they shared the 1970 British Championships with England and Wales, Scotland only won two of their first eleven games of the decade and only scored three goals. Brown had to cope with many depleted squads due to the “club v country” battle, but in the summer of '71 Scotland and Brown parted company.

On 12th September 1971 Tommy Docherty became Scotland's caretaker manager, and was appointed full time manager in November. Scotland's results transformed and Scotland won five of their first six games under Docherty. Scotland won their final two qualifiers for Euro '72 under Docherty, but it was too late as Scotland had lost three of their first four games, and therefore they failed to qualify for the latter stages. The 1972 British Championships was shared with England, before Scotland took part in the Brazilian Independence Cup with games against Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Brazil.

Billy Bremner waits for a cross in the Home International at Wembley in 1971.

The qualifiers for the 1974 World Cup Finals began with a 4-1 win over Denmark in Copenhagen, followed by a 2-0 win at Hampden. In December 1972, Man Utd sacked their manager Frank O'Farrell, and Tommy Docherty took over at Old Trafford on 22nd December. On 5th January 1973, a former Scotland teammate of Docherty, Willie Ormond was appointed as Scotland’s manager. Ormond's reign did not get off to a good start as it began with a 5-0 defeat to England in the Centenary match. Things did not get much better as Scotland only won one of their following five matches, and lost the other four. Ormond was under pressure by the time the next World Cup qualifier came around against Czechoslovakia at Hampden. A win would mean Scotland qualifying for the World Cup finals for the first time in sixteen years. Things did not start well as keeper Ally Hunter flapped at a Nehoda shot, which flew past him and into the net to give the Czechs a 1-0 lead. Seven minutes later a Jim Holton header levelled the tie. Fifteen minutes from time a Morgan cross was headed in by substitute Joe Jordan who was only winning his fourth cap to send Scotland to the World Cup finals. The final group match finished 1-0 to Czechoslovakia in Prague.

Jairzinho controls the ball during a friendly against Brazil at Hampden Park in 1973.

Scotland had an eventful period before the World Cup finals. Firstly there was the British Championships during which there was an infamous incident at Largs, which ended in Jimmy Johnstone being swept out to sea in a rowing boat and needing to be rescued. Two days later Scotland defeated England 2-0 at Hampden to share the 1974 British Championships. On the lap of honour, Johnstone directed a V-sign at the press box in response to the heavy criticism that he had received. Scotland then travelled to Belgium for a friendly, but created more controversy as Jimmy Johnstone and Billy Bremner both became involved in an incident in a student bar. Both players were close to being sent home.

Scotland's World Cup began on 14th June against Africa's only representatives Zaire. Twenty-six minutes into the game, McGrain crossed the ball into the box for Jordan to head into the path of Lorimer who scored a great volley from the edge of the penalty area. Seven minutes later a free-kick was floated in to the box by Bremner, for Jordan who made an early run and headed the ball at the keeper; but he fumbled the ball and gifted Scotland their second goal. Scotland had chances to build on their lead, but the match finished 2-0 giving Scotland their first victory in the World Cup finals.

The Scotland and Zaire teams lineup before Scotland's opening match of the 1974 World Cup Finals.

Four days later Scotland took on the holders Brazil. For the first half hour Scotland were riding their luck. In the second half Scotland turned the tables and piled on the pressure. Firstly a long-range shot from Hay was touched over the bar. From the resulting corner by Lorimer, Jordan’s header was saved by Leão. Lorimer then had a powerful free-kick from midway inside the Brazil half also touched over the bar. Midway through the half Lorimer floated in a corner which was headed by Jordan, the header was spilled by Leão onto the feet of Bremner who put it inches past the post. Scotland had further chances, but the game finished goalless. At the same time the other match had finished Yugoslavia 9 Zaire 0, which meant that Scotland would need to beat Yugoslavia if Brazil were to win 3-0.

The day before the Yugoslavia match, the team received a letter claiming to be from the IRA. It stated that two members of the squad would be killed. This meant that security was stepped up. The IRA came out and officially said that it was nothing to do with them. It was hardly good preparation for the match. In the match chances were scarce, and with nine minutes left Yugoslavia took the lead when Karasi headed in a Dzajic cross. With 88 minutes on the clock, Hutchison made it to the byline and put in a low cross. Lorimer miss-hit it and it fell to Jordan, who controlled it and scored a left foot shot at the far post to earn a 1-1 draw. The Scotland players thought that they had qualified, as the last time that they heard Brazil were 2-0 up. Unbeknown to the Scotland players, Brazil had scored a third to win 3-0, and therefore Scotland went out on goal difference, becoming the first team to go out unbeaten in the history of the tournament.

Joe Jordan scores Scotland's 88th minute equaliser against Yugoslavia in the 1-1 draw.

The European Championships got off to a poor start with a home defeat by Spain, followed by a draw in the return match in Spain. The 1974/75 season was not a very successful one, and it ended with a 5-1 defeat at Wembley. The next season was more successful, two draws against Romainia, and two wins against Denmark in Euro '76 was not enough to qualify for the latter stages. In the British Championships, home wins against Wales and Northern Ireland was followed by a famous 2-1 win over England at Hampden, with Dalglish nutmegging Clemence for the winner, to win the Championships for Scotland.

Archie Gemmill is chased by Roy McFarland in the 1976 Home International at Hampden Park.

The qualifiers for the 1978 World cup finals started with a 2-0 defeat away to the current European Champions Czechoslovakia. That was followed by a 1-0 win at home to Wales. On 6th May 1977, Willie Ormond resigned as he wished to go back into club management with Hearts. Jock Stein was the SFA's preferred choice, but he did not wish to part with Celtic. On 18th May Aberdeen manager Ally MacLeod was appointed. His first task was the 1977 British Championships, which started with a goalless draw away to Wales, followed by a 3-0 win over Northern Ireland at Hampden. At Wembley Scotland beat England 2-1 to win the British Championship for the second year running. After the match, the Scotland fans invaded the pitch and demolished the goal, taking pieces of turf home as souvenirs. Overnight Ally MacLeod became a hero. A tour of South America followed with a win over Chile, a draw with Argentina, and defeat to Brazil. The next World Cup qualifier was at home to Czechoslovakia, and a 3-1 win put Scotland within touching distance. The Wales game was switched to Anfield to accommodate the expected crowd. The Czechs needed a Welsh win to have a chance of qualifying, while a draw would leave Wales needing a victory in Prague. A win for Scotland would mean them qualifying for the second consecutive finals. Eleven minutes from time Scotland were awarded a penalty kick, when the referee adjudged that a Welsh player had handled the ball, but replays showed that it was Jordan. Masson scored the resulting penalty. Three minutes from time a great sweeping movement from the Scotland half, ended with Dalglish heading in a Buchan cross to make sure that Scotland would be in Argentina.

The famous pitch invasion after Scotland defeated England 2-1 at Wembley in 1977.

On 14th January 1978 the draw for the finals was made in Buenos Aires, grouping Scotland with Holland, Peru and Iran. It was believed that this would be an easy group for Scotland to qualify from, and the bookmakers gave Scotland odds of 8-1 to win the World Cup. Before Scotland left for Argentina, they turned up at Hampden for a farewell appearance, where a crowd of 25,000 watched the Scotland squad do a lap of honour in an open-topped bus.

Scotland travelled to Argentina with Ally MacLeod and the squad full of confidence, and MacLeod was quoted as saying that he believed Scotland would win a medal. In the first match against Peru, fifteen minutes had gone when a shot by Rioch was parried by the keeper, who was nicknamed “El Loco”, and Joe Jordan scored the rebound. Three minutes before half time a neat move by Peru was finished with Cueto slotting the ball past Rough to equalise. On 62 minutes, Rioch was fouled in the penalty area, and Masson's penalty was saved. Eight minutes later Cubillas scored a great shot from outside the penalty area to put Peru ahead. Thirteen minutes from time the result was secured, when Cubillas curled a free-kick round the wall and into the top corner of the net, with the outside of his boot, to give Peru a 3-1 victory.

If Scotland losing to Peru was not bad enough, more controversy was to arise after the match, when Willie Johnston failed a drugs test. He claimed that he did not know that the substance “Fancamfamin” was a banned substance, and that it was prescribed for hay fever. FIFA gave Johnston a one-year ban from international football, and had Scotland not been defeated, FIFA would have awarded Peru the win. Luckily for Johnston, Scotland had lost the match, because otherwise he could not step foot in Scotland again. He would never play for Scotland again, as the SFA banned him for life.

Scotland's second match was against Iran, and two minutes before half time Scotland took the lead, when confusion in the Iran penalty area led to Eskandarian scoring an own-goal. In the second half, Scotland could not add to their lead, and thirteen minutes from time the unthinkable happened. Poor defending by Scotland in their own penalty area, led to Danaifar scoring from a tight angle to make it 1-1. At the final whistle, the players were jeered as they walked off the pitch. For Scotland to progress to the next round, they would have to beat Holland by three goals.

Dalglish swaps shirts with Peru's Cubillas after the 3-1 defeat to Peru.

For Scotland to progress to the next round, they would have to beat Holland by three goals, and that looked unlikely after 34 minutes as Rensenbrink converted a penalty after Rep was brought down in the box. Nine minutes later Souness crossed a ball to the back post for Jordan to head into the path of Dalglish, to score a half volley on the turn. Two minutes into the second half, Souness was fouled in the penalty area, and Gemmill scored the resulting penalty to put Scotland 2-1 ahead. Midway through the second half, possibly the greatest Scotland goal of all time was scored. Dalglish collected the ball near the right corner flag before Krol tackled him. The ball fell to Gemmill on the edge of the penalty area, who skipped past Jansen, avoided the tackle from Poortvliet, and nutmegged Krol. He was through one on one with the keeper Jongbloed, and he lifted the ball over the diving keeper to put Scotland 3-1 ahead and send the Scotland fans into ecstasy. Scotland now only needed one more goal to qualify. That joy was short lived as three minutes later Rep collected the ball midway in the Scotland half before he unleashed an outstanding shot from 30 yards that beat Rough to make it 3-2. After that Scotland's spirit was dejected, and they couldn't score the other goals that they needed. At the final whistle Scotland walked off with their heads held high after defeating arguably the best team in the world; but for the second World Cup in a row, Scotland went out on goal difference.

Archie Gemmill scoring his famous second goal, and Scotland's third, to give Scotland a 3-1 lead.

The result against Holland saved MacLeod's job, as had Scotland come home with only one point against Iran, he would have surely been sacked. MacLeod would therefore lead Scotland into the qualifiers for Euro '80, which was now a similar format to the World Cup, with a qualification campaign, followed by the Finals. The first qualifier was a 3-2 defeat away to Austria, and six days later on 26th September 1978, Ally MacLeod quit as Scotland manager. Jock Stein had quit Celtic in May, and since then had taken a post at Leeds Utd. On 4th October, Jock Stein was made the Scotland manager for the second time, after only 45 days in charge at Elland Road. In Stein's first game in charge Scotland defeated Norway 3-2 at Hampden, with a Gemmill penalty three minutes from time. A month later Scotland travelled to Portugal where they suffered their second defeat of the campaign after they lost 1-0. After a poor British Championships, Argentina visited Hampden for a friendly, and a young 18-year-old called Diego Maradona scored on his debut for Argentina to give them a 3-1 victory. Scotland's next qualifier was away to Norway, and unlike the home tie, Scotland swept them aside, winning 4-0. Austria were then the visitors to Hampden, and a goal 15 minutes from time by Gemmill rescued a point after Krankl had given the Austrians a first half lead. A 2-0 defeat away to Belgium followed, before they won 3-1 at Hampden. In the final match at Hampden Scotland defeated Portugal 4-1, but it was too little too late, as Scotland finished fourth in a group of five and therefore failed to qualify for the finals.

Archie Gemmill scores Scotland's third in a 3-2 victory over Norway at Hampden Park, in Jock Stein's first match as manager.