Tom English: Poland challenge next for fighting Scotland

September 8, 2015

“For Scotland, the sensible thing is to look forward in hope, but the irresistible urge is to look back in anger. The contrasting images of intensity and energy and goals against the world champion Germans on Monday night compared to the meek surrender in Georgia three days before is just the latest manifestation of Scotland being a footballing parody of itself. The fluctuation is a brand of torture that has been reduced to a fine art in Scotland, a form of water-boarding, just for football fans. The prevailing agony of the Scottish supporters leaving Hampden after the 3-2 loss to Germany might have taken the shape of the contention – ‘If only we’d played like that in Tbilisi we wouldn’t be in such a hole.'” BBC

Germany v Poland – The Water Battle of Frankfurt
“The plaque underneath the statue of Poland’s legendary national team coach, Kazimierz Górski, outside Warsaw’s new national stadium reads: ‘As long as the ball is in play, everything is possible.’ On the occasion the biggest match of Górski’s time in charge of the national team, whenever the ball was in play it would be repeatedly stuck in deep pools of rainwater.” backpagefootball

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Graft, grit and Northern beauty

August 19, 2015

“Sir Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish, Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, Bob Paisley, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough, Howard Kendall, Don Revie, Sir Bobby Robson: it’s a long and impressive list, but far from an exhaustive one. The common thread that links them to one another? Yes, they are all British, but more specifically, they’re all from either the North East of England or Scotland. So what, I hear you mutter. … It’s my assertion that, as they did not inherit, at birth, the specific qualities and traits needed to stand out in the cutthroat world of football but must possess them in order to break into that sphere in the first place, then it must be their upbringing and the environment of their formative years that defined them. So, it is to the North East of England and Scotland that we must look for those ingredients that shaped the young men who would eventually become legends.” Foofball Pink


Celtic cousins – How are Ireland and Scotland the same yet different?

June 13, 2015

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“At the end of a long, often arduous, domestic season for most of Europe, only in UEFA would it make sense to schedule a run of Euro 2016 qualifiers for this coming weekend, 12-14 June. Yet so it comes to pass that Ireland and Scotland clash in Dublin this evening with a huge amount at stake in Qualification Group D.” backpagefootball

Scotland fight on and dream on after messy Dublin display
“You counted them from the first minute of the Euro 2016 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland – the Scotland blunders, the moments of uncertainty, the epidemic of misplaced passes that took hold of Gordon Strachan’s team for 45 minutes. You watched some of it in disbelief and some of it in anger and confusion. Where did this weakness come from? Who stole Scotland’s serenity?” BBC


Britain’s “other” national team: Ellan Vannin

June 2, 2015

“The four national teams of the United Kingdom are supposedly England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each with its own FIFA affiliated side, these nations have spanned generations and produced some wonderful footballers, and in the case of England have even won the FIFA World Cup, triumphing by a margin of 4-2 over West Germany in 1966 – a fond memory to those who witnessed that historic match.” Football Pink


Euro 2016: Crucial week for UK & Ireland teams on road to France

March 24, 2015

“England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland all return to international action this week – and all have realistic hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016. The five nations have never qualified for the same major international tournament before but, after a four-month break, they can all enhance their prospects of reaching next summer’s tournament in France with positive results. Why is there such hope? For a start, the finals has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams. But a solid start from all five sides to their qualification groups has also offered encouragement. Could it finally be that Wales and Northern Ireland play in their first European Championship? Can Scotland compete in a first major tournament since 1998? This week’s matches will represent the midway point in qualifying, so just how realistic is the prospect of all five making it through to France?” BBC


When all the off-field distractions are set aside, Ireland to edge a tight encounter

November 14, 2014

“This was a fixture that, from the outset, seemed destined to be overshadowed by events off the field rather than the actual football being played. There was always bound to be a hostile reception for Glasgow-born Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy on their first visit to the city in the green of Ireland – though Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, to his credit, did his best to defuse the situation by calling for a ‘pantomime’ atmosphere. McCarthy’s withdrawal owing to a persistent hamstring injury – the same injury that kept him out of the previous games with Gibraltar and Germany – has defused the situation somewhat, though McGeady is likely to receive a mixed reception at the stadium he elated for years with Celtic. Wednesday night’s bizarre scenes whereupon a known associate of Jack Charlton managed to do himself a mischief, which required hospital treatment, while making some sort of elaborate protest against Roy Keane has added an uncalled-for element of the bizarre.” backpagefootball

Gordon Strachan v Martin O’Neill: More than Celtic connections
“Football followers with a romantic notion could be forgiven for finding themselves overwhelmed by Scotland’s meeting with the Republic of Ireland on Friday. Martin O’Neill, if anyone needs reminding, returns to Celtic Park, a stadium where he was, and still is, worshipped for the success he brought to the club. He will come up against his successor as Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, who, though not held in quite the same regard by the supporters as O’Neill, nevertheless achieved a great deal in his time in charge.” BBC


Lament For A Lost Scotland

September 21, 2014

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“Only those who have to take off their shoes when they want to count to twenty will ever believe Scotland will one day win the World Cup. There is more chance of Ronald Reagan being voted Man of the Year by the Russians than Scotland achieving total global success. This line of thinking, of course, will shock no one. Just over five years ago Ally MacLeod brainwashed the Tartan Army into actually believing the world was about to be conquered in Argentina and Bruce Rioch was only a fortnight or so away from claiming a very expensive and coveted chunk of gold. Let’s not dwell on that nightmarish episode. Scotland’s balloon wasn’t so much punctured as blown to smithereens. There was an eruption of eggs on the faces of the Scottish fans who genuinely believed Scotland would overcome all the obstacles that stood in the way of their heroes. Peru and Iran changed that state of mind.” In Bed With Maradona (Video)