I remember Scotland-England games being huge events. They were proper derby games, fired up by a balance – a vastly more resourceful England were in the ascendancy, but Scotland had more wins in the history books. Despite the odd hiding we thought we could take them.
The Home International Championships probably ended at the right time, just before Scotland lunged into mediocrity. No derby remains attractive if one side dreads the game coming round, while the other considers it a formality, but our former manager has given us reason for hope.
Gordon Strachan took time off from the game to invest in his stock of knowledge before becoming Celtic manager. Despite an, erm, memorable opening week, Gordon blitzed Scottish football as Celtic manager. He filled the boots of legend Martin O’Neill, and within 18 months eclipsed him by reaching what we used to refer to as ‘the next level in the Champions League’.
Despite going on to reach the knock-out stage of the Champions League again, and becoming our third manager to win three-in-a-row, Gordon stopped progressing. His time at Celtic petered out, while the entire Middlesbrough episode was a nightmare.
Gordon, like Martin before him, looked as though the game had passed him by. His resurgence at Scotland is evidence of his outstanding attribute – he’s a student of the game who continually learns.
Roy Hodgson has by far the better players, but never bet against Gordon.
Shaun’s goal on Friday
31 years ago in Sarawak, Malaysia, a midwife, Beatrice Lo, assisted in the delivery of a boy born to a Scottish family who lived in her community. Beatrice got in touch with a common friend after wee Shaun’s goal on Friday, very proud of the kid she brought into the world.