At the same press conference that Andy Roxburgh resigned, it was announced that his assistant Craig Brown was to be temporarily put in charge. There was still two World Cup Qualifiers to be played against Italy and Malta, and Craig Brown's first game in charge was at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with a crowd of 61,000. That game finished 3-1 to Italy. Just hours before the game away to Malta, Craig Brown was confirmed as the new Scotland Manager, and he completed the 1994 World Cup campaign with a 2-0 win.
When Craig Brown took charge it was not just a new manager that Scotland was getting, there was a change in the line-up also. Players such as Richard Gough, Maurice Malpas, and Alex McLeish had played their last game for Scotland and a new set of players that included Colin Hendry, Colin Calderwood, and Craig Burley had taken their place.
Stuart McCall challenges Franco Baresi of Italy in the 3-1 defeat at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
The Euro '96 Qualification campaign started with a 2-0 win over Finland in Helsinki due to goals from Duncan Shearer and John Collins. The next match was at a newly refurbished Hampden against the Faroe Islands, their first competitive match there in almost three years. The match was a convincing 5-1 win. The next visitor to Hampden was arguably the strongest team in the group, Russia. Their superior quality was obvious from the start, but against the run of play Scott Booth put Scotland ahead. The lead was not for long, as they equalised six minutes later. Scotland then held out for a 1-1 draw. The next two games were on the road; the first was a 1-0 defeat to Greece because of a controversial penalty kick, and the other was a 0-0 draw in Moscow, where Jim Leighton was the hero. The next big game was at home to Greece, but before then there were away wins to San Marino and the Faroe Islands. Greece was the team that was competing with Scotland for second place, therefore this match was important. 71 minutes had elapsed and it was still goalless when Craig Brown brought on Ally McCoist to make his first appearance since his leg break in Portugal. A minute later a cross in to the box has headed in by McCoist to win the match 1-0. That win almost certainly guaranteed that Scotland would finish in second place. The qualifying campaign was completed with two home wins, 1-0 over Finland, and 5-0 over San Marino.
John Collins in action against San Marino in the 5-0 victory at Hampden Park.
The eight group runners-up were then put in a table where their results against first, third, and fourth in their group was taken into account. The top six all qualified, with Scotland being third, while the bottom two were in a one-legged play-off, they were Holland and the Republic of Ireland. When the draw for the finals being held in England was made, Scotland were drawn in the same group as England, Holland, and Switzerland. This would be the first time in seven years that Scotland would play their old enemy.
The Euro '96 Finals started with a well earned 0-0 draw with Holland who were one of the pre-tournament favourites. A choice that Craig Brown made for this match was replacing Jim Leighton, who had played in most of the qualifiers, with Andy Goram who most felt was the better keeper. This choice looked to have paid off. The next game was England, and Scotland played well in the first half but it was goalless at half time. Eight minutes into the second half Alan Shearer put England ahead. With just over ten minutes remaining, Gordon Durie was brought down in the England penalty area to give Scotland a chance. Gary McAllister stepped up and blasted the penalty, but David Seaman saved it. Just to rub salt into the wounds, England went up the other side of the pitch and Paul Gascoigne chipped the ball over Colin Hendry's head before he volleyed it past Andy Goram to score the goal of the tournament and make it 2-0.
Gary McAllister holds his head in his hands after he missed a penalty against England in the 2-0 defeat at Wembley.
Going into the Switzerland game, Scotland knew that to qualify they needed to beat Switzerland, and also needed England to beat Holland, but they also needed a five goal swing in their favour which seemed like a big ask. For this reason Craig Brown started with Ally McCoist and he had two great chances in the opening ten minutes. It was not until the 37th minute that he received a pass from McAllister outside the box before he hit a great shot into the top corner before he ran to the Scotland bench to celebrate with Craig Brown. At this time England were already 1-0 up on Holland, and after an hour that was 4-0. When England's fourth goal came through, the Scotland fans were celebrating like Scotland had just scored, as at this moment in time Scotland were through to the next round for the first time in their history. Fifteen minutes later though, Kluivert scored for Holland and that changed everything. For the last fifteen minutes Scotland were throwing everything at Switzerland, and hoping that England could score. Neither Scotland nor England could score another though, and Scotland were out on goals scored. Scotland had lived up to their tag of gallant losers.
Colin Hendry shows his despair as Scotland go out of Euro '96 on goals scored, after the 1-0 victory over Switzerland.
The Qualifiers for France '98 began in Vienna where Scotland came away with a 0-0 draw with Austria. Next up there was a Baltic double header first Latvia were defeated 2-0 and then came the infamous match against Estonia. The match was to kick-off at 18:45 local time, but because of the poor floodlights the kick-off time was brought forward to 15:00. When kick-off time arrived, only Scotland had shown up and they kicked off and three seconds later the referee blew his whistle to end the match. Later on Estonia showed up at the original kick-off time and it was thought that Scotland would be awarded a 3-0 win. After a UEFA meeting though, it was decided that the game would be replayed. Due to the winter weather in Estonia, it was to be played in Monaco. The next game was at home to Sweden, who finished third at the last World Cup Finals, and Scotland won 1-0 thanks to a John McGinlay goal after 8 minutes. Three months later the match with Estonia took place in Monaco, and ended 0-0 after a poor performance. The home game at Rugby Park was better as Scotland won 2-0. Four days later Austria were the visitors to Parkhead and an impressive Scotland performance resulted in a 2-0 win thanks to two goals from Kevin Gallacher. When Scotland travelled to Sweden they were defeated 2-1 but were unlucky not to get a penalty late on. It was a penalty that decided the next qualifier, which was won 1-0 away to Belarus. The return match was won 4-1 at Pittodrie. The final group match was switched from Easter Road to Parkhead against Latvia, and goals from Kevin Gallacher and Gordon Durie sealed the match 2-0. Spain beating the Faroe Islands in Group 6 meant that Scotland were the best second placed team, and therefore they qualified without the need for a play-off.
Scotland kick-off in the farcical game against Estonia, when they did not turn up in Tallinn.
On 4th December 1997 the draw was made for the finals and it grouped Scotland with Brazil, Norway, and Morocco. Scotland were thrown into chaos just before the finals as their number 1 Andy Goram announced his retirement from the Scotland team. Jim Leighton would take his place. The opening match of France '98 was Brazil v Scotland on 10th June 1998. The game didn't start well for Scotland as Cesar Sampaio put Brazil ahead after four minutes. Seven minutes before half time Scotland were awarded a penalty, and John Collins hit a low shot past Taffarel to his right to equalise. Things were going well for Scotland until the 73rd minute when a Brazil shot was blocked by Jim Leighton and the rebound hit Tom Boyd and went into his own net to make it 2-1 to Brazil. In the next game against Norway, Scotland played well in the first half but went in goalless at half time. Just a minute into the second half Norway took the lead, but after 66 minutes Craig Burley equalised to get a 1-1 draw. After two games Scotland were strong favourites to qualify for the next round, all they needed was to beat Morocco, and hope that Norway didn't beat Brazil. As far as Scotland are concerned though, things never go to plan. Scotland were destroyed 3-0 by Morocco, with Burley being sent off. Even if Scotland beat Morocco it would not have been enough, as Norway Beat Brazil 2-1. It was a poor end to a tournament that held so much promise.
John Collins celebrates after equalising against Brazil from the penalty spot in the opening match of France '98.
After France '98 a lot of people were calling for Craig Brown's head, but he decided to stay in the job for the Euro 2000 campaign. It started with a goalless draw in Vilnius away to Lithuania where Barry Ferguson, Neil McCann and Callum Davidson all made their debuts. This was followed by a narrow 3-2 win over Estonia where Scotland went behind twice. It was substitute Billy Dodds who scored twice after replacing Ally McCoist on his 61st and final appearance for Scotland. The match was also Jim Leighton's final appearance after he was blamed for the Estonian goals. Four days later Craig Burley and Billy Dodds scored in a 2-1 victory over the Faroe Islands at Pittodrie. Scotland's next qualifier was against Czech Republic at Parkhead and Scotland were defeated 2-1, Scotland's first home defeat in a competitive match in 12 years. The defeat was also Gary McAllister's last match after a section of the home support booed him. Before Scotland's next qualifier, an inexperienced team played European Champions Germany and won 1-0 away thanks to a goal from Don Hutchison. In their next qualifier, they suffered a humiliating 1-1 draw away to the Faroe Islands after conceding a late equaliser. Czech Republic were Scotland's next opponents in Prague, and in what was Scotland's best performance of the group, they went 2-0 up with goals from Paul Ritchie and Alan Johnston. In the last 25 minutes Scotland ran out of steam and conceded three goals to loose 3-2. Scotland's next matches were victories home and away to Bosnia, 2-1 away, and 1-0 at home, and sandwiched in between was a goalless draw away to Estonia. The group was completed with a 3-0 home win over Lithuania, played at the new Hampden, with Scotland qualifying for the play-offs.
In the play-offs Scotland were drawn against England, with the first leg at Hampden. A Paul Scholes double gave England a 2-0 win in their first game at Hampden in ten years. Going into the second leg, Craig Brown was convinced that the tie was not over, and just before half time Neil McCann crossed in from the left and English-born Don Hutchison headed past David Seaman at the far post. Late on Seaman made a point blank save from a Christian Dailly header to prevent the match going into extra time. The victory at Wembley gave the Scotland players pride and stopped Craig Brown from resigning.
Don Hutchison scores the winning goal against England at Wembley.
The qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup started with a 1-0 away win to Latvia with a last-minute goal by Neil McCann. Scotland's following two matches were also on the road, the first being a 2-0 victory over San Marino, which was followed by a 1-1 draw in Croatia to the group favourites. The next group match was at home to Belgium, and things couldn’t have got off to a better start as Billy Dodds scored after 60 seconds. He doubled Scotland's lead after 28 minutes with a penalty. Into the second half Belgium pulled one back after 58 minutes, and then deep into stoppage time they equalised, to rob Scotland of two valuable points against one of their main rivals. Four days later they defeated San Marino 4-0, with Colin Hendry scoring twice, but the game ended on a sour note for him, as he was lucky not to be sent off after elbowing an opponent in the throat. The next double header had the two make or break ties of the campaign, firstly a goalless draw with Croatia at home, followed by a 2-0 defeat to Belgium in Brussels. That left it almost impossible that Scotland would qualify. In the last matches they needed Belgium to beat Croatia, and Scotland to beat Latvia with a ten-goal swing in Scotland's favour to finish ahead of Croatia on goal difference. This was not to happen though as Scotland beat Latvia 2-1, and Croatia beat Belgium 1-0. For the second tournament in a row, Scotland had not qualified, and after the match Craig Brown resigned as Scotland manager to end his eight-year reign as arguably Scotland's greatest manager.
Kevin Gallacher celebrates his equaliser away to Croatia.