Scotland Hampden Glory Nights

1973 Tommy Hutchison and Billy Bremner celebrate Joe Jordan’s header against the Czechs

On the 26th September 1973 Scotland faced Czechoslovakia at Hampden. They knew that a victory would send the Scots to their first World Cup Finals since 1958. As 100,000 fans crammed into Hampden the nation held it’s breath. Even Coronation Street was switched from it’s scheduled slot on the telly until after match. It looked like another sob story was about to unfold when goalkeeper Ally Hunter let an angled shot from Zdenek Nehoda slip through his fingers and the Czechs lead at half time.

In the second half centre half Jim Holton rose to equalise with a towering header and Scotland were back in the game but they still needed another goal. Manager Willie Ormond sent on 21 year old Leeds United striker Joe Jordan to replace Kenny Dalglish. He wore no.16 on his back and with 15 minutes left came his big moment. Billy Bremner hit the post with a shot that rolled along the goal line before being cleared to Willie Morgan on the right. The Manchester United winger crossed the ball into the box and Jordan threw himself at the ball to head home. Hampden roared it’s approval and Scotland held on for a famous 2-1 victory.

Years later Jordan would recall: “It’s a goal I still remember with as much fondness as any other I scored in my career because of what it meant. “There was a feeling of real satisfaction that after so many years of disappointment, we’d done it against a very good team”. Scotland were on their way to West Germany and the 1974 World Cup would be the last chance for players like Denis Law and Billy Bremner to shine on the World stage. Scotland would enhance their reputation in the Finals beating Zaire 2-0, drawing 0-0 with holders Brazil and drawing 1-1 against a skilful Yugoslavia team. Scotland would become the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup undefeated. Joe Jordan scored two goals with his Leeds team mate Peter Lorimer also netting against Zaire.

1977 Kenny Dalglish heads home against Czechoslovakia at Hampden

On September 21st 1977 Scotland faced European Champions Czechoslovakia at Hampden. As 85,000 fans packed into the ground manager Ally McLeod promised the Tartan Army a night to remember. Andy Gray and Czech Captain Anton Ondrus had been sent off in the Cezchs 2-0 win in Prague the year before and both men were suspended for the must win game. Scotland’s midfield of Rioch, Hartford and Don Masson dominated the first half. In the 18th minute Joe Jordan headed home Willie Johnston’s corner. On 35 minutes Czech keeper Michalik dropped the ball under challenge from Jordan and Asa Hartford rolled the ball into the net. Early in the second half Jardine’s header from a corner was flicked in by Kenny Dalglish to give Scotland a 3-0 lead. The Cezchs pulled a goal back but Scotland secured a vital 3-1 victory. The win meant that Czechoslovakia the reigning European Champions failed to qualify for the World Cup. In October Scotland defeated Wales 2-0 at Anfield thanks to a controversial penalty and a Kenny Dalglish header to qualify for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

1981 Joe Jordan celebrates scoring against Sweden at Hampden

In September 1981 Scotland were aiming to qualify for their third World Cup in a row. In a tough group with Portugal, Sweden, Northern Ireland and Israel the Scots were in pole position as they faced the Swedes. Scotland had won the reverse fixture 1-0 in Stockholm the year before thanks to Gordon Strachan’s goal. Scotland made a bright start and Joe Jordan headed home John Robertson’s freekick on 20 minutes. In the second half the Scots found it hard to break down the Scandinavians with Tomas Ravelli keeping them at bay with some fine saves. With 10 minutes left substitute Andy Gray won a penalty after being tripped in the box. John Robertson coolly slotted home the penalty to give Scotland a 2-0 win. In October Scotland drew 0-0 in Belfast to qualify for the 1982 World Cup top of their group ahead of Northern Ireland who also qualified.

1984 Kenny Dalglish celebrates scoring against Spain at Hampden

On the 14th November 1984 Scotland faced Spain in a vital World Cup qualifier at Hampden. Scotland were in a section with Iceland and Wales too and the Scots had beaten Iceland 3-0 the previous month thanks to two great Paul McStay goals and a Charlie Nicholas header. Jock Stein’s men knew that their toughest test would come against the Euro 1984 runners up. With 74,000 fans roaring them on Scotland started confidently. Captain Graeme Souness was dominating the midfield and on 33 minutes they took the lead after Mo Johnston followed in from Steve Nicol’s shot to head home. Just before half time a fine Jim Bett run and cross was headed home by Mo Johnston to give Scotland a 2-0 lead at the break. In the second half Spain came more into the game and they pulled a goal back after Leighton failed to come for a freekick allowing Goikoetxea to head home. On 71 minutes Kenny Dalglish latched onto Davie Cooper’s flick to fire a brilliant curling shot into the top corner. It was the Liverpool man’s 30th goal for Scotland equalling Denis Law’s scoring record. Scotland then saw the game out comfortably to record a memorable 3-1 victory.

However a 1-0 defeat in Spain was followed by a 1-0 defeat at home to Wales and the Scots travelled to Cardiff in September 1985 knowing that a draw would send them into a World Cup Play Off. A late Davie Cooper penalty gave Scotland a point in a 1-1 draw, but tragically manager Jock Stein collapsed and died after the final whistle. His assistant Alex Ferguson guided Scotland to the 1986 World Cup after defeating Australia 2-0 on aggregate, as the Scots qualified for their fourth World Cup in a row.

1989 Mo Johnston fires Scotland ahead against France at Hampden

On the 8th March 1989 Scotland faced France at Hampden. Michel Platini’s team had finished third in the 1986 World Cup and with players like star striker Jean Pierre Papin they would provide a formidable test for Andy Roxburgh’s men. Scotland had made a fine start to their campaign winning 2-1 in Oslo and drawing with Yugoslavia. The Scots arrived at Hampden just one hour before kick off after their coach was caught in traffic. With 65,000 fans roaring them on Scotland took the game to their opponents and it was a familiar face that gave the Scots the lead. Mo Johnston was playing for Nantes at the time and he fired the Scots ahead following a scramble in the box after 28 minutes. With Paul McStay having one of his finest games for Scotland and new cap Gary Gillespie looking assured at the back Scotland continued to push forward. In the second half Jim Leighton made two great saves to preserve the lead before Mo Johnston followed home Steve Nicol’s cross to give Scotland a famous 2-0 win at a rain soaked Hampden. Yugoslavia won the group and Scotland qualified for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, their fifth World Cup in a row one point ahead of France.

Liverpool Record Breakers

1987 Peter Beardsley from Newcastle United for a British record £1.9M

Summer 1987. Liverpool had finished the 1986/87 empty handed. The Double Winners from 1986 had finished second to Everton in the First Division, lost the Littlewoods League Cup Final to Arsenal and suffered an early FA Cup exit on Luton’s plastic pitch. On top of that Ian Rush their star striker had joined Juventus for £3.2M. How would Player/Manager Kenny Dalglish replace him? John Aldridge a life long Red would take over the scoring duties after signing from Oxford United. Exciting winger John Barnes would supply from the wing and Peter Beardsley would provide the link to the forward line.

Peter Beardsley was a skilful striker who had formed a great partnership with Gary Lineker as he won the Golden Boot for England in the 1986 World Cup. Beardsley was a no.10 who operated behind the main striker and his skill and link up play meant he was difficult to mark. Kenny Dalglish had decided to retire from playing and concentrate on managing the team and he saw Beardsley as his replacement. Liverpool began the season at Highbury. On a scorching day Beardsley and Barnes combined and John Aldridge headed home the winger’s cross. A late Steve Nicol header gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory in their new Silver away kit. Liverpool made a flying start to the season and Beardsley scored in wins over Coventry, Derby and Portsmouth. In November 1987 Liverpool faced Everton at Anfield in a Sunday Live Match of the Day clash. Steve McMahon gave the Reds the lead before Beardsley smashed home at the Kop end to give Liverpool a memorable 2-0 win.

In January 1988 Beardsley scored a brilliant solo goal to give Liverpool a 2-0 victory over Arsenal. In the FA Cup Beardsley’s goals against Aston Villa and Manchester City fired Liverpool to the Semi Final against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough. Two John Aldridge goals, the second voted Goal of the Season clinched Liverpool’s place in the Final against Wimbledon. On the 13th April 1988 Liverpool produced one of their greatest ever performances to thrash Brian Clough’s men 5-0. It was Beardsley’s through ball that set up John Aldridge and in the second half Beardsley netted after a brilliant run by John Barnes. Liverpool clinched the title on the 23rd April after a 1-0 win over Tottenham thanks to another Beardsley goal. In the FA Cup Final Beardsley scored again but the goal was ruled out after the referee blew for a foul just before he chipped the ball home. In the second half Dave Beasant saved a John Aldridge penalty and Wimbledon’s shock 1-0 victory denied Liverpool another Double. Beardsley ended the season with 18 goals and his partnership with Barnes and Aldridge was prolific.

In Summer 1988 Ian Rush returned from Juventus for £2.8M. John Aldridge was expected to make way but injuries meant that Rush missed a consistent run in the team. Beardsley would finish the season with 14 goals and an FA Cup Winners medal after Liverpool beat Everton 3-2 in extra time following the Hillsborough disaster. It was Aldridge and substitute Ian Rush’s two goals that gave Liverpool victory in a classic Final.

In 1989/90 Liverpool were Champions again and Beardsley chipped in with 16 goals but he was sidelined by the on loan Israeli striker Ronnie Rosenthal in the run in. Critics began to point out Beardsley did not score enough goals. At the start of the 1990/91 season Liverpool won their first eight games and enjoyed a fifteen unbeaten start to the season. The highlight of that run was a 4-0 win over Manchester United at Anfield, with Beardsley netting a hat trick. However Dalglish started Beardsley on the bench for many games and in the new year David Speedie was signed from Coventry and replaced him up front. Beardsley would score 13 goals but new manager Graeme Souness did not see him as part of his future plans and he made a shock £1M move to Everton in August 1991. Peter Beardsley made a total of 159 appearances and scored 59 goals for Liverpool but he assisted many of Aldridge and Rush’s goals. He was sold too soon and he played for Newcastle in later years forming a deadly partnership with Andy Cole.

1991 Dean Saunders from Derby County for a British record £2.9M

Summer 1991. It was all change at Anfield. Liverpool had appointed former captain Graeme Souness to replace Kenny Dalglish in April but he was unable to stop Arsenal winning the First Division and the Reds had finished a distant second. The former Rangers manager broke the British transfer record to sign Wales striker Dean Saunders from Derby County. His father Roy had played for Liverpool in the 1960s. The club record £2.9M signing was joined by his team mate Mark Wright for £2.2M. Peter Beardsley was sold to Everton and David Speedie had left to join Blackburn Rovers. Saunders would partner his Welsh strike partner Ian Rush up front. However it soon became clear that Saunders found it hard to adapt to Liverpool’s patient passing game. At Derby Saunders was used to using his pace to run onto long through balls and he struggled to score in the league, often drifting wide and even taking corner kicks at one stage. He had more success in Europe scoring nine goals in the Uefa Cup before Liverpool lost out to Genoa in the quarter final. The season did end with silverware as Liverpool beat Sunderland 2-0 to win the FA Cup at Wembley. Saunders ended the season with 23 goals but only 10 in the league. In August he scored in the Charity Shield but Liverpool lost 4-3 to Champions Leeds United at Wembley. In September 1992 he was sold to Aston Villa for £2.5M. Saunders scored 25 goals in 61 games, a good record but in truth he did not fit into Liverpool’s style of play.

1995 Stan Collymore from Nottingham Forest for a British Record £8.5M

In Summer 1995 Roy Evans could look back on his first full season in charge with some satisfaction. He had lead Liverpool to the League Cup after beating Bolton 2-1 at Wembley and his team was full of young exciting talent. Robbie Fowler, Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman were among the best attacking players in the country and Evans was an early proponent of the 3-5-2 system having signed John Scales and Phil Babb for a record £3.6M in Summer 1994. Evans though felt he needed to add more firepower. Ian Rush was 34 and Liverpool needed a replacement.

It was a surprise when Stan Collymore was unveiled as the club’s record £8.5M signing. Manchester United has signed Andy Cole for £7M and Evans felt Liverpool needed something different up front. On his debut Collymore curled home the winner against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield. However a magazine article in which Stan complained about the lack of service he was receiving went down badly with his team mates. He struck up a fine partnership with Robbie Fowler and they scored 55 goals between them in 1995/96. Liverpool were a great attacking side and Collymore scored two goals in Liverpool’s classic 4-3 win over Newcastle at Anfield. However they always looked vulnerable at the back and David James was inconsistent. Liverpool reached the FA Cup Final but lost 1-0 to Manchester United after wearing their infamous white suits before the game. The press labelled Liverpool the Spice Boys and they underachieved compared to Alex Ferguson’s men.

In the 1996/97 discipline problems began to dog him as Collymore regularly missed training and refused to move from his home in the Midlands to be closer to Liverpool. He still scored a respectable 17 goals but Liverpool who lead the table for much of the year finished fourth, after a David James horror show in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United, sealed another title for their bitter rivals. Liverpool decided to cut their losses and sold Collymore to his boyhood club Aston Villa for £7M in the close season. Although Collymore scored 35 goals in 81 appearances for Liverpool he never achieved all that he could with the talent and ability he had.

1986-1998 Leighton or Goram?

1988 Jim Leighton in action against England at Wembley

Andy Goram lines up for Scotland at Euro 1992

Scottish goalkeepers had long had a poor reputation. From the hapless Frank Haffey to Stuart Kennedy to George Wood many had been viewed as having ‘Wembley Nightmares’. The English press and media often attacked Alan Rough who had a long Scotland career from 1976 to 1986 and he had travelled to three World Cups, which was some achievement given the current team’s struggle to qualify for them. The English TV pundits lead by Plastic Scotsman Bob Wilson, who claimed to be a Scot but had only been capped twice, also regularly belittled Rough, Bobby Clark and other good goalkeepers like Peter McCloy and Dundee United legend Hamish McAlpine, who surprisingly had never won a cap for his country. Leeds United goalkeeper David Harvey was one of the best at the 1974 World Cup.

Summer 1982 was about to change all of that. Scotland had performed well in the Spanish World Cup in a tough group. They had scored eight goals in their three group games but had conceded the same number, to once again exit the World Stage on goal difference. Jock Stein had decided to make changes as he looked to rebuild the side for the next World Cup in 1986.

In goal Stein had chosen George Wood as his second choice behind Rough but he had failed to convince. So he turned to Aberdeen stopper Jim Leighton. A tall skinny goalkeeper with bandy legs, he lacked a presence in goal but made up for that with his great reflexes and agility. In October 1982 Leighton was given his debut in a 2-0 Euro 1984 qualifier win against East Germany. He had little to do as second half goals by John Wark and Paul Sturrock gave the Scots victory at a Hampden in the process of being rebuilt. After that good start Leighton had a shaky 1982/83 season for the national team. He let in seven goals in his next three games a brace home and away to Switzerland and three in an unlucky 3-2 defeat in Belgium in December 1982, when Pfaff saved Frank Gray’s penalty two yards off his line. At the end of the season Leighton had kept four clean sheets but three had come on an end of season tour of Canada. Leighton had performed solidly at Wembley in a 2-0 defeat against a dominant England side. A draw or a victory would have given Jock Stein the British Championship for the first time but a tired display on a Wednesday in June was a big let down to the mass ranks of the Tartan Army.

Leighton’s main rival for the no.1 jersey was Billy Thompson of St.Mirren. However he only played one more game for Scotland a 2-1 dead rubber Euro 1984 Qualifier defeat in East Germany. Scotland had finished bottom of a four team section behind Belgium, Switzerland and East Germany. Stein’s men had only won one game at home to East Germany and despite a credible 1-1 draw at Hampden against Belgium thanks to a Charlie Nicholas goal the truth was Scotland had been poor and were on thin ice for the 1986 World Cup qualification.

Scotland were drawn in a strong group alongside Euro 1984 Finalists Spain, Wales and part timers Iceland. The top team qualified for Mexico but the second place team faced a Home and Away Play Off to qualify for the 1986 World Cup.

Scotland made a great start with a convincing 3-0 win at home to Iceland thanks to two superb Paul McStay goals and substitute Charlie Nicholas’s header. In November 1984 the team above put on a great display to defeat Spain 3-1 on one of Hampden’s greatest nights. The 74,000 crowd saw two Mo Johnston headers and Kenny Dalglish added the third a famous shot into the top corner to equal Denis Law’s 30 goal Scotland record. Leighton with little to do was badly at fault for the Spanish goal, being caught in no mans land coming for a cross. In February 1985 Leighton had a busy game and performed well in a 1-0 defeat in Spain. Jock Stein brushed off the defeat and was confident the Scots could beat Wales at Hampden in March. In a surprise result Wales won 1-0 thanks to a fine Ian Rush strike and a muscular display by striker Mark Hughes who dominated Miller and McLeish. Scotland had their chances, Mo Johnston rounded Southall but hit the side netting from a tight angle. The defeat was a massive blow. Graeme Souness escaped a red card after kicking Peter Nicholas in the head, and Scotland had no room for error in their final two qualifiers. In May 1985 Scotland defeated England at Hampden for the first time since 1976 and also gave Jock Stein his first Auld Enemy victory in Glasgow.

Football – 1985 Rous Cup – Scotland 1 England 0 Scotland captain Graeme Souness lifts the Rous Cup trophy at Hampden Park. This was the inaugural staging of what would prove to be a short-lived competition, initially established to continue the then-traditional annual game between rivals England and Scotland following the demise of the British Home Championship. 25/05/1985

Scotland won a vital 1-0 win in Iceland a few days later thanks to an outstanding display by Leighton who saved a first half penalty and a late Jim Bett goal. The victory meant a draw for the Scots in Cardiff in September 1985 would send Scotland into a World Cup Play Off. Leighton played the first half but lost a contact lens and much to Stein and assistant Alex Ferguson’s fury did not have a spare pair, in fact neither even knew Leighton wore lenses. Veteran Alan Rough played the second half and a late Davie Cooper penalty gave Scotland the 1-1 draw they needed. Tragically Jock Stein died after the game and it was left to Alex Ferguson to guide Scotland to their fourth World Cup in a row following a 2-0 Play Off win over Australia.

Leighton would remain the undisputed first choice but in October 1985 Oldham goal keeper Andy Goram replaced him in a goal less friendly with East Germany. The Hampden crowd sang: “you’re not English anymore” (Goram was born in Bury to a Scottish father). Goram would feature in April 1986 in a creditable 0-0 draw in Holland but Alan Rough replaced the injured Jim Leighton against England at Wembley a few days before. The 2-1 defeat gave England the Rous Cup for the first time in a midweek game in front of just 68,000 fans.

Scotland were drawn in the Group of Death alongside an exciting Denmark team Semi Finalists at Euro 1984, West Germany now managed by legendary Franz Beckenbauer and South American Champions Uruguay. Jim Leighton emerged as one of the stars of the tournament for Scotland along with Gordon Strachan. Leighton had made several world class saves, especially in a narrow 2-1 defeat to Finalists West Germany and after the World Cup was regarded as one of Europe’s finest goalkeepers. Scotland once again failed to qualify for the next round after a 0-0 draw with ten man Uruguay who played with a man down for 89 minutes. Steve Nicol missed a great chance in the first half and only a brilliant Leighton save in the second half prevented defeat. The date? Friday the 13th 1986.

Over the next two years Andy Goram rarely played except notably in a 2-0 defeat to Brazil at Hampden which gave the South Americans the 1987 Rous Cup. Goram was at fault for both goals. However the period of 1988 to 1990 was when the rivalry really started between the two men, who were friends off the park. The English media saw an outstanding Leighton display in a 1-0 Rous Cup defeat at Wembley in 1988. Soon afterwards Alex Ferguson signed Leighton for a £750,000 fee, a record for a British goalkeeper. Playing behind Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister two defenders dominant in the air meant United fans had high hopes for their new shot stopper. It did not work out that way. Jim’s lack of physical presence and difficulty with crosses in the more physical English First Division was badly exposed. In a struggling Manchester United team Leighton lacked confidence and found it hard to keep clean sheets. He had some good games but like his team he was inconsistent.

In October 1988 Andy Goram now with Hibernian played confidently in place of the injured Leighton in a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia at Hampden. Fired on by the outstanding Mo Johnston who scored six goals in the qualifying section, Scotland qualified for the 1990 World Cup behind Yugoslavia and ahead of Michel Platini’s French team. Andy Roxburgh a former school teacher had guided Scotland to their fifth World Cup in a row.

Who would be first choice in Italy? Many people felt it should be Goram. Leighton had been outstanding in a memorable 2-0 win over France at Hampden in March 1989, but his poor club form had carried over for his country. He made bad errors in a 3-1 defeat in Belgrade and dropped another clanger as he was beaten from the near the halfway line in a 1-1 draw with Norway at Hampden in November. Scotland went into the World Cup with problems. Brian Gunn had let in 3 goals in a defeat to Egypt on his debut at Pittodrie but a rousing 1-0 win over World Champions Argentina (minus Maradona) in March was followed by defeat to East Germany and a 1-1 draw with Poland at Hampden as Gary Gillespie lobbed Goram for a comical own goal. A scrappy 2-1 win in Malta meant Scotland were in poor form before they faced outsiders Costa Rica, Sweden and Brazil in Group C.

Andy Roxburgh stayed loyal to the men who had guided Scotland through the qualifying campaign. In hindsight he should have gone with men in form with their clubs. Alex Ferguson had ruthlessly dropped Leighton for the FA Cup Final Replay.

Costa Rica inflicted arguably the worst defeat in Scotland’s history a 1-0 loss in Genoa in the opening game. Mo Johnston had been denied by an outstanding Costa Rican goalkeeper. Leighton had little chance with Cayasso’s goal, though some felt he was a fraction slow off his line. Scotland salvaged their pride with a memorable 2-1 win over a fine Sweden side in their next game and Leighton had looked solid. The Scots need a point in their final game against Brazil in Turin to qualify for the next round for the first time in their World Cup history. In a drab game in a downpour, Leighton had handled confidently and made a fine second half save from Romario, racing off his line to save at the striker’s feet. Then Paul McStay gave the ball away and Leighton fumbled allowing Muller to scramble the Brazilians ahead. Scotland had been just eight minutes from glory. Leighton kicked the post in frustration. In the dying seconds Mo Johnston was denied by an outstanding point blank save by Taffarel. He beat the ground and buried his head in the turf but luck had run out for Scotland again. Many believed 1990 represented the end of Jim Leighton’s Scotland career too.

Scotland began their attempt to qualify for Euro 1992 with encouraging 2-1 victories against Romania and Switzerland at Hampden and ended 1990 with a valuable point thanks to an Ally McCoist goal in a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria. The qualifying campaign was memorable for the regular number of call offs before each game but Andy Goram was the regular no.1. Scotland drew 1-1 against Bulgaria again after a last minute equaliser had wiped out a fine John Collins header at Hampden. In a very tough section only one team from Scotland, Romania and Switzerland would qualify for the Finals in Sweden. The crunch games came in September and October 1991. The Scots went 2-0 down to the Swiss in Berne but fought back to earn a priceless point thanks to a Durie header and McCoist strike. In October a Hagi inspired Romania inflected the first defeat for Andy Roxburgh’s men 1-0 after a late penalty. Scotland played their final qualifier against San Marino at Hampden in November and won 4-0 thanks to goals from Gough, McStay, Durie and McCoist. Scotland ended with the record: P8 W4 D3 L1 F14 A7 PTS 11 but their fate was not in their own hands. Romania would win the group if the could beat Bulgaria in Sofia. Hagi had a penalty saved and Romania then took the lead. Bulgaria equalised in the second half but the draw meant Scotland had qualified for the European Championships for the first time in their history.

In August 1991 Andy Goram joined Champions Rangers from Hibs and he carried his confident form into the national team. Scotland had a useful squad in front of Goram with Gough and McPherson, McStay and McAllister and European Golden Boot winner Ally McCoist up front. Once again Scotland were drawn in a Group of Death with World Champions Germany, European Champions Holland and CIS (former Soviet Union). Scotland played well in all three games going down to a late Bergkamp goal when they deserved a point against Holland. Against Germany Scotland put on their best display for years but could not find a way past Bodo Illgner and a 2-0 defeat knocked them out. The Scots salvaged their pride with a fine 3-0 win over the CIS when Brain McClair scored at last for Scotland and McStay and a McAllister penalty sealed the victory.

Andy Goram would remain the first choice for Scotland over the next few years but after Jim Leighton made a return in a 2-0 win in Malta in 1993, both men continued to alternate between the posts. Scotland had failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup but with Euro 1996 being played in England Craig Brown’s men qualified comfortably behind Russia. A 3-5-2 defensive system meant the Scots only conceded three goals in ten qualifying games. That owed much to an outstanding display by Leighton in a goal less draw in Moscow. Andy Goram had withdrawn form a Scotland squad in 1994 stating that “he was not mentally attuned to play” for the national side. Walter Smith also placed him on the transfer list but Goram fought his way back to form and fitness.

As Euro 1996 approached Craig Brown decided to start Andy Goram and he was outstanding in a 0-0 draw against a much fancied Dutch team at Villa Park. Goram also performed well at Wembley making a brilliant save from a Teddy Sheringham header but a famous Gascoigne volley gave England a flattering 2-0 victory after Gary McAllister’s penalty was saved. Goram again produced a superb save from a Turkilmaz header in Scotland’s final game, a 1-0 win over Switzerland at Villa Park. Ally McCoist’s goal was not enough to send Scotland into the Quarter Finals, despite Goram keeping two clean sheets in three games.

Scotland would also qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France, largely thanks to Jim Leighton and an outstanding display in a 1-0 win over Sweden at Ibrox. Although Goram would play in several qualifiers, Jim Leighton revitalised at Hibs went into the World Cup as the no.1. On the eve of the tournament Goram withdrew from the squad after tabloid stories about his private life. Leighton played well in the opening game a narrow 2-1 defeat to Brazil and had little to do in the 1-1 draw with Norway. However Leighton lost two bad goals against Morocco and Scotland crashed out 3-0.

Post World Cup both men wrote autobiographies Leighton slamming Alan Hodgkinson the Rangers and Scotland goalkeeping coach, while Goram criticised Brown for his handling of his pre World Cup withdrawal.

So who was the better goalkeeper? Jim Leighton won 91 caps second only to Kenny Dalglish and kept 45 clean sheets. He also went to four World Cups and is the only Scotland goalkeeper to play in three World Cups. Andy Goram won 43 caps and is the only Scotland goalkeeper to play in the European Championships (so far) and was excellent as Euro 92 and Euro 96. Goram was a better shot stopper and superb at saving one on one chances. He was good at handling crosses but he was shorter than Leighton.

Leighton had great reflexes, superb agility and was a fine shot stopper. However he was vulnerable on crosses and lacked a physical presence. For me Andy Goram was the best but Scotland were blessed to have two great goalkeepers from 1986 to 1998.

Howard Gayle to John Barnes: The Changing face of 1980s Liverpool

1981 Howard Gayle lines up before the European Cup Final against Real Madrid in Paris

Howard Gayle was a trailblazer. Toxteth born Gayle grew up a Liverpool fan. His dream of playing for the Reds came true when he joined from the club’s academy in 1977. Aged just 19 he became the first black player in Liverpool’s first team squad.

“I was simply proud to come from Liverpool and to break new ground by becoming part of an institution that was opening it’s doors to colour”.

The winger found it hard to break into the first team, at a time when Liverpool were blessed with players such as Terry McDermott, Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and young Irishman Ronnie Whelan. Gayle’s finest moment came in 1981. A spate of injuries meant he was on the bench for Liverpool’s most important game of the season. The Reds drew the European Cup Semi Final 1st Leg 0-0 with German giants Bayern Munich at Anfield. So confident were they that they would reach the Final, the Germans had printed leaflets giving directions to Paris and the venue of the the game.

In the 2nd Leg Liverpool received a huge blow when Kenny Dalglish limped off early in the first half. This was Howard’s chance to show what he could do. The pacey winger began to run at the Bayern defence, drawing foul after foul. He was an unknown quantity and the Germans did not know how to handle him. The first half was goal less and Bob Paisley encouraged Gayle to keep running at the Bayern defence. However worried after he was booked, Jimmy Case replaced him in the 70th minute. The 61 minutes in Munich was historic and the title of Howard’s 2016 autobiography.

Howard would start the next game and score in a 1-1 draw at Tottenham. He would feature in a total of five games that season scoring once. Gayle was included in Liverpool squad for the European Cup Final against Real Madrid in Paris but did not feature. With opportunities to play limited, Howard went on to play for Birmingham, Blackburn Rovers and had a stint in America with Dallas Sidekicks. Looking back on the racism he had suffered Gayle later stated:

“Banter is an overused term in football……some things said were unacceptable but delivered in jest, but I was not laughing. The racism was easier to take from the terraces because it was related to your performance. When it comes from the people you work with it hurts.”

Anfield Iron Tommy Smith abused Gayle frequently in training. One day Howard reacted to his insults of ‘black this and black that’ Howard warned Smith to watch his back and Liverpool Captain Graeme Souness came over to him and said: “well done Howard Tommy deserved that”. Smith never spoke to Gayle again.

In 2016 Howard was nominated the MBE for his services to Show Racism A Red Card but he turned it down.

“I had to decline the nomination for the reason that my ancestors would be turning in their graves after how Empire and Colonialism had enslaved them. This is a decision that I had to make and there will be others who may feel different and would enjoy the attraction of being of being a Member of the British Empire and those three letters after their name. I feel it would be a betrayal to all of the Africans who have lost their lives, or who have suffered as a result of Empire.”

Howard Gayle a man a principle and a fine player.

Summer 1987. Liverpool had finished runners up in the First Division to Merseyside rivals Everton. Star striker Ian Rush was sold to Juventus for £3.2M. Kenny Dalglish had decided to give up playing and manage from the touchline and he faced a daunting task to replace the lethal marksman. Scouser John Aldridge had arrived from Oxford United before the end of the 1986/87 season but who was going to supply him? Liverpool splashed out a British record £1.9M to sign Newcastle striker Peter Beardsley. More of a creator than a goal scorer he was seen as a replacement for Dalglish but Kenny had not closed the chequebook yet. His next signing was a surprise.

John Barnes the skilful and dynamic Watford winger wanted to leave Graham Taylor’s efficient but direct team. Still in his early twenties Barnes wanted to test himself in the glamorous world of Seria A, at that time the best and richest league in the world with stars like Platini and Maradona. His former team mate Luther Blissett had joined AC Milan in 1983 but the move had not worked out. John was convinced he could fare better. Arsenal and Tottenham were both linked with him but it was Dalglish who swooped in to pay a bargain £900,000 for the Watford man. Some fans felt that Barnes was reluctant to move to Merseyside but he later claimed that Liverpool were the only team that came in for him. So Kenny had decided to replace Rush with a front three of Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge. That front three would thrill fans at Anfield and throughout the country as the 1987/88 team played such skilful and dynamic football that many Liverpool supporters regard that as the Greatest Ever Team.

1987 L-R John Aldridge, Peter Beardsley and John Barnes

Liverpool hit the ground running and all three players were involved as Aldridge headed Liverpool to a 2-1 victory at Highbury in their new Silver away shirts. In the first few months of the season Barnes was simply sensational. His pace and skill tore teams to pieces. His two memorable goals against QPR in front of Ian Rush and the Match of the Day cameras at Anfield in October, included a famous run and dribble from the halfway line.

However off the pitch sadly there were some narrow minded people who resented a high profile black player at Liverpool. This famous picture from 1987 featured the NF symbol which stood for the National Front, an extreme right wing and racist group.

John Barnes let his football do the talking. Liverpool went on an amazing 29 game unbeaten League run from the start of the season. In February Liverpool were drawn away to Everton in the FA Cup. The Toffees had beaten the Reds in the Littlewoods League Cup at Anfield so Dalglish’s men were seeking revenge in front of the Match of the Day live cameras. What happened at Goodison that day is still shocking over thirty years later.

John Barnes flicks away one of several banana’s thrown at him at Goodison Park.

A tiny minority of Everton ‘supporters’ had thrown bananas at Barnes and the chants of “Everton are white” could be heard on the television coverage. The racists would not stop him. He simply flicked away the fruit and it was Barnes cross that set up the Liverpool’s winner, a Ray Houghton second half header.

John Barnes was named Football of the Year in 1988 as Liverpool romped to the First Division Championship. He had Howard Gayle to thank for opening the way to black players at Liverpool. Soon black players would be the norm at Anfield. There was no turning back.

1996/97 Liverpool Squad

1974: Bob Paisley ‘minding the shop’

In Summer 1974 the UK was a grim place. High inflation and unemployment, Harold Wilson was back as Prime Minister but without a majority. The Labour leader was MP for Huyton but on the pitch Liverpool supporters had plenty to cheer. They had just seen their team demolish Newcastle to win their second FA Cup, in one of the most one sided ever Finals. BBC Commentator David Coleman famously stated: “goals pay the rent and Keegan does his share” and “Liverpool are showing their party pieces'”

Liverpool had been Champions in 1972/73 but had finished runners up to Don Revie’s great Leeds United team in 1974. With the FA Cup win hopes were high that the Reds could go again with one or two new faces and win back the First Division. So when a press conference was called on Friday the 12th July 1974 nobody in the press knew what was coming. Liverpool Chairman John Smith sat alongside a stony faced Bill Shankly read a statement:

“It is with great regret that that I as Chairman of Liverpool Club have to inform you that Mr Shankly has intimated that he wishes to retire from active participation in league football.”

“The board has with extreme reluctance accepted his decision. I would like to at this stage place on record the board’s appreciation of Mr Shankly’s magnificent achievements over the period of his managership”.

The media was stunned. There is famous footage of Granada reporter Tony Wilson announcing the resignation to stunned fans on the streets of Liverpool. “You are having us on” was the disbelieving reaction. It was a ‘JFK moment’ many fans would recall when and where they were when they heard the news. Bill Shankly had been Liverpool manager since 1959 and was about to turn 61. He would come to regret his decision.

To fill the vacancy Bob Paisley was asked to take over. A modest quiet man he didn’t really want the job and claimed he would just ‘mind the shop’ for a while. He would be ably assisted by Ronnie Moran, Joe Fagan and Tom Saunders.

Paisley inherited a fine group of players. Ray Kennedy the Arsenal striker was signed for £180,000 on the day Shankly retired. Scouser Terry McDermott arrived from Newcastle United for £175,000 in November but the majority of the last Title winning squad were still at their peak. Clemence in goal, Tommy Smith in defence, the inspirational Emlyn Hughes and Ian Callaghan with the all action Kevin Keegan and John Toshack up front. Phil Neal a young full back was Paisley’s first signing for a bargain £66,000 from Northampton in October. He would go on to become one of Liverpool’s greatest ever and most decorated players.

In August Bill Shankly led out Liverpool for the final time before they won a bad tempered Charity Shield game against Leeds United at Wembley. Brian Clough lost his first game in only 44 days in charge, but the game is best remembered for the double sending off of Keegan and Bremner, who both removed their shirts in disgust.

Liverpool made a good start to the season and won five of their opening six games. Their unbeaten run was ended at Maine Road in mid September. In Europe Liverpool progressed to European Cup Winners Cup Second round after a record 10-0 thrashing of the hapless Norwegian part timers Stromsgodset. However the 1973 Uefa Cup winners went out in the next round on away goals to Hungarians Ferencvaros.

In truth Paisley was struggling to find the winning formula. He chopped and changed the team trying to find the winning balance. Liverpool had never won the League Cup and suffered an embarrassing defeat at Second Division Graeme Souness inspired Middlesbrough in November. At the top of the table former Champions Derby County now managed by legendary Scot Dave MacKay were the team to beat. Bobby Robson’s Ipswich and Merseyside rivals Everton were also strong contenders.

Arsenal came to Anfield in November and inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Paisley’s men, despite Ray Kennedy scoring against his former club. Keegan and Toshack were still a potent front pair but Phil Thompson was still struggling to cement his place in the back four. The Reds only won one of their next six league games drawing four of them. Critics in the press claimed that Paisley did not know his strongest team. There were rumours that Emlyn Hughes and Tommy Smith did not get on. Some people claimed that Bob was too nice and not a big enough personality or character to replace Shankly. In truth Paisley was a man of few words, softly spoken and few people understood his Geordie accent.

On the 1st February 1975 came the turning point of Liverpool’s season. They had played well but lost 2-0 at Arsenal as ex Evertonian Alan Ball scored twice. The players held a team meeting after the game. Joe Fagan a genial character apparently tore into the players and Ronnie Moran reminded them that they were Champions just two years before and that they had to be more consistent. Liverpool then went on a long unbeaten run, losing just once in fourteen games. They thrashed high flying Ipswich 5-2 at Anfield, beat Tottenham and then Champions Leeds United 2-0 at Elland Road.

Liverpool ended the season with a convincing 3-1 win over QPR at Anfield. However it was not enough. Too many dropped points away from home and eleven defeats in forty two games left the Reds two points behind 53 point Champions Derby County, who won their second First Division Title since 1972.

All Bob Paisley won in that first season 1974/75 was the Fair Play Trophy. The following season would be different. Liverpool would dominate at home and in Europe as ‘Uncle Bob’ would eclipse Bill Shankly and prove to be the most successful manager in Liverpool’s history.

1977: Scotland’s Greatest Year

1977 the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year. North of the border there was a new King of Scottish football. His name was Ally MacLeod. He was about to take the Tartan Army on the most exciting eighteen month journey that they had ever had. This blog is all about that first year 1977 and it’s triumphs and glories.

On the 29th April Scotland began the year with a Friendly against Sweden at Hampden. A crowd of 22,659 saw a comfortable 3-1 win for the Scots with goals from Asa Hartford, Kenny Dalglish and substitute Joe Craig on his debut. The game would prove to be Willie Ormond’s last game as Scotland manager. He had led the team since 1973 and had resigned to take over at Hearts. The SFA approached Jock Stein but he turned down the job. Ally MacLeod left Aberdeen to become the new Scotland manager.

There was a feeling at that time that Scotland needed a manager that was better in media. Ally was always good for a headline or two but he possessed a fine football brain. He had led the Dons to the 1976 League Cup beating Rangers in the Semi Final and coming from behind to beat Celtic 2-1 in the Hampden Final. Ally did not have long to prepare for his first game, away to Wales on the 28th May.

Scotland were the reigning British Champions. They possessed a very strong midfield with players such as Bruce Rioch, Asa Hartford, Don Masson, Archie Gemmill with skilful winger Willie Johnston supplying the towering Joe Joran and Kenny Dalglish up front. At the back Alan Rough had established himself in goal and in Danny McGrain Scotland had a world class full back. Gordon McQueen was an imposing centre back, so Ally had a very talented pool of players to choose from.

Ally had famously described in his 1979 Autobiography his first meeting with the players: “My name is Ally MacLeod and I’m a winner”. Could Scotland get off to a winning start? On a hot day in Wrexham Wales and Scots cancelled reach other out, although Hartford missed a great late chance, the game finished goal less.

Scotland’s next game was at home to Northern Ireland. A crowd of nearly 45,000 were treated so a fine display of attacking football. After Dalglish had broken the deadlock in the first half, Gordon McQueen drove home the second goal Dalglish completed the scoring. A 3-0 win set up the Scots for their trip to Wembley.

Saturday 4th June 1977 would go down in Scotland folklore. It was a day in which the Scots showed a television audience of millions in one of the few live matches shown in those days, that they had a team to be proud of. It was Scotland’s first win under the Twin Towers since 1967. The 2-1 victory was the second year in a row that the Auld Enemy were beaten by the same score line. The final score flattered England. A towering header from Gordon McQueen had given Scotland a half time lead and Kenny Dalglish fired past Ray Clemence to give Scotland victory, just as he had done at Hampden the previous year. A late Mick Channon penalty, which was booed by the 50,000 plus Scots in the huge Wembley crowd was little more than consolation for Don Revie’s men. Scotland had gained revenge for their 5-1 thrashing on their previous visit to Wembley in 1975.

Overcome by excitement and national fervour, and fuelled by a rise in nationalism the Tartan Army invaded the pitch, took down the crossbars and dug up the Wembley turf. Denis Law ran into some of the Tartan Army in a pub later that day: “Denis come look at the turf, we’ve got all three penalty spots”. Scotland had retained the British Home Championship and Ally MacLeod was a winner.

Scotland then flew to South American for a post season Summer Tour, in preparation for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. First up were Chile in Santiago. The game was controversial and there were protests against it being played after military dictator Augusto Pinochet had seized power in a violent coup in 1973. Indeed the national stadium was used in mass torture of dissidents, a claim denied by the Chilean authorities.

On 15th June in front of just 17,000 fans Scotland ran out 4-2 winners. It was another encouraging performance. Ally resisted making too many changes for the tour and Alan Rough played in each game. Two Lou Macari goals an Asa Hartford goal and a Kenny Dalglish strike gave Scotland victory.

Next up were World Cup hosts Argentina in Buenos Aires.

In a bad tempered game, notable for Argentina lining up with Daniel Pedro Killer in defence, Scotland held their own to gain a 1-1 draw. Don Masson had given the Scots the lead from the penalty spot before Captain Daniel Passarella equalised for Argentina from a dubious penalty of their own. Willie Johnston was sent off in response to a series of vicious fouls and ‘Bud’ would endure another nightmare when he returned to Argentina the following year. Ally’s team had become to take shape: Rough in goal, McGrain and Donachie at full back, Buchan and Forsyth at the back (McQueen was injured) a sad omen for the next World Cup, with Rioch, Masson, Gemmill at the heart of a powerful midfield. Joe Jordan and Kenny Dalglish were the first choice strike force, although Lou Macari was an admirable replacement for the injured Leeds man.

On the 23th June 1977 Scotland completed their South American Tour with a glamorous fixture against Brazil in Rio. Second half goals from a Zico free kick and Cerezo inflicted defeat on the Scots but MacLeod had reason to be pleased with his Summer’s work. He had led the team to victory against England at Wembley, retained the British Championship and gained vital big game experience on a pre World Cup Tour of South America.

In preparation for the vital World Cup Qualifier against Czechoslovakia at the end of September, Scotland faced fellow Eastern Europeans East Germany in East Berlin. Leeds United goalkeeper David Stewart saved a penalty on his debut and only Scotland cap and the 1-0 defeat did little for morale. Ally was confident things would be alright on the night against the European Champions at Hampden.

The Czechs did not travel well and a huge crowd of 85,000 filled Hampden for the vital Group 7 qualifier. A win for either side would put them within touching distance of Argentina. The Czechs had won the reverse fixture 2-0 the previous year after Andy Gray was sent off. An early Joe Jordan header and Asa Harford strike settled the nerves before Dalglish’s second half header sealed a fine 3-1 victory.

The acid test for Scotland would come away to Wales in October. After crowd trouble in their European Championship tie against Yugoslavia in Cardiff, the Welsh were forced to play their tie outside their country and settled for Anfield. Close to the border it seemed like a logical choice, plus the large gate receipts would help the struggling Welsh FA. Sadly for Mike Smith’s men the Tartan Army snapped up most of the tickets. There were barely 5000 Welsh fans in the 50,000 crowd.

In a pulsating game Peter Sayer went close for Wales in the first half. Kenny Dalglish claimed a penalty but there was no score at the break. Wales almost took the lead but John Toshack’s lob was tipped onto the crossbar by Alan Rough. Then came the game’s turning point. Scotland were awarded a penalty following Joe Jordan’s challenge from a throw into the Welsh area. Initially it looked like a clear handball by Welsh defender David Jones, but the replay appeared to show both players lifting their hands towards the ball and Jordan’s long-sleeved arm making contact with the ball. Jordan then appeared to kiss his hand. Jordan denies both claims to this day. French referee Robert Wurtz was adamant and Don Masson coolly slotted home the penalty. Scotland sealed the victory after Kenny Dalglish headed home Martin Buchan’s cross. At full time Ally MacLeod saluted Scotland’s 2-0 victory. ‘Argentina here we come’ roared commentator Archie MacPherson. The Scots were on the march with ‘Ally’s Army’.

1991: This is the End

Sport, Football, Liverpool FC Team-Group 1990-91 Season, The Liverpool team pose together for a group photograph with the Manager of the Year award, two League Championship trophies, and Charity Shield, Back Row L-R: Ray Houghton, Alex Watson, Mike Hooper, Gary Gillespie, Bruce Grobbelaar, Ian Rush and Glenn Hysen, Middle Row L-R: Ronnie Moran, Ronny Rosenthal, Steve Staunton, Gary Ablett, Jan Molby, Barry Venison, David Burrows, and Roy Evans, Front Row L-R: John Barnes, Steve Nicol, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish (Manager), Ronnie Whelan, Steve McMahon and Peter Beardsley (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

Summer 1990. The country basked in record sunshine and Italia 1990 saw people fall back in love with football after the hooliganism of the 1980s. At Anfield it was business as usual. Kenny Dalglish had lead Liverpool to the First Division Championship for the third time. Loan signing Ronnie Rosenthal had made a big impact in the run in and the Israeli international signed for £1M from Standard Liege. He was the Reds only new player that close season. Glenn Hysen had enjoyed a fine debut season alongside the ageing Alan Hansen. However Gary Gillespie was injury prone and in and out of the side. Steve Nicol was reliable as ever at right back, with David Burrows solid at left back. Barry Venison and Gary Ablett provided more defensive cover but in truth Liverpool should have signed another centre back. Jan Molby could also play as a sweeper but the great Dane’s best position was in midfield, supplying Ian Rush who was as deadly as ever up front. Liverpool’s top scorer in 1989/90 was John Barnes, the Football Writers Player of the Year.

In August Ronnie Moran led Liverpool out to face Manchester United at Wembley. The Charity Shield was seen as more of a pre season friendly, but the rivalry between the clubs meant there was plenty at stake for both Scots Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish. In front of over 60,000 fans John Barnes second half penalty meant the game ended 1-1 and the Shield was shared by both teams for six months.

Liverpool started the season as favourites but many people also tipped Arsenal to win back the Championship they had snatched so dramatically at Anfield in 1989. The Reds began their title defence with a 3-1 win at Sheffield United. Liverpool beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 in their first home game of the season, and a brilliant John Barnes strike gave them a 2-1 over last season’s runners up Aston Villa at Anfield. After a rare win at Wimbledon Liverpool faced Manchester United in front of ITV’s cameras at Anfield. On a special afternoon Peter Beardsley scored a hat trick in a 4-0 victory. Kenny Dalglish knew that their next game at Goodison would provide a sterner test. In an exciting end to end game Liverpool won 3-2, with Ian Rush yet again punishing Everton for claiming he was not good enough to make the grade.

Liverpool then won four of their next five games before they came to London to face England World Cup heroes Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker at White Hart Lane. David Burrows man marked Gazza out of the game and Liverpool won 3-1 against a Tottenham side led by future England manager Terry Venables. Wins against Luton and Coventry followed before the Reds were held to a 2-2 by Manchester City at Anfield. On the 2nd of December Liverpool and Arsenal, both sides still unbeaten in the league met at Highbury for a live Sunday ITV fixture. Arsenal had lost 6-2 at home to Manchester United in the League Cup in midweek but Dalglish still named a defensive line up, in effect a 5-3-2 formation that left Rush and Barnes isolated up front. On an unhappy afternoon, George Graham’s men ran out 3-0 winners. Liverpool ended the Christmas period with a draw at QPR on Boxing Day and a 1-0 defeat at Selhurst Park again live on ITV on the 30th of December.

1991 saw Liverpool splash out in the transfer market. Eyebrows were raised when Dalglish signed Scotland striker David Speedie from Coventry on a £675,000 fee and he joined Millwall winger Jimmy Carter at Anfield. Many questioned if they were ‘Liverpool players’ and fans worried they may be out of their depth playing for the Reds. Speedie hit the ground running. After Glen Hysen had handled and a Steve Bruce penalty had given Manchester United the lead on a poor Old Trafford surface, the Scot fired home after a brilliant Barnes run and cross. The 1-1 draw kept Liverpool at the top in their race with Arsenal for the Title. On the 3rd February Everton came to Anfield. Howard Kendall had returned from Manchester City and the Toffee’s were keen to gain revenge for their defeat at Goodison. In an exciting game, Speedie was the two goal hero in a 3-1 win. It started to look like Speedie was an inspired signing, just as Ronnie Rosenthal had been in the previous season.

On the 17th of February the Reds faced Everton at Anfield again in the 5th Round of the FA Cup. The game ended goal less, but many felt Everton were denied a penalty when Pat Nevin was tripped in the box. The replay took place three days later at Goodison. The game was a classic dubbed the ‘game of the decade’ and many observers rated it as the best ever Merseyside Derby. In a see-saw game Liverpool led four times, including 4-3 in extra time but Everton fought back to draw 4-4. Dalglish had stated after the game: ‘if anybody has ever seen a better game send me a video of it’. The game summed up Liverpool’s season. They were great at scoring goals, a double by Beardsley, Rush’s customary goal against Everton and a brilliant John Barnes strike in extra time. However the same defensive frailties were on display. Without the injured Hansen and Gillespie, Gary Ablett had partnered Glen Hysen, with many people wondering why the experienced Steve Nicol had not played at centre back. Grobbelaar looked shaky in goal and Liverpool always looked like conceding. Both sets of fans went home both happy at the prospect of another replay at Goodison a few days later.

In February 1991 the Gulf War was dominating the news. A coalition of US, European and Arab armies were in the process of forcing Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army from Kuwait. There was one event that soon was splashed on all the newspaper frontpages. On Friday 22nd at a hastily arranged press conference Kenny Dalglish stunned the world of football by announcing his resignation as Liverpool manager. The stunned reaction of Liverpool fans mirrored the shock resignation of Bill Shankly in 1974. Kenny said that ‘the pressure had built up’ and that he ‘needed a break after many years in front line football.’ Soon the media speculated that a dressing room bust up after the Everton replay or even an argument between Peter Beardsley’s wife and Marina Dalglish was the reason Kenny quit. Neither was true.

The twin disaster’s of Heysel and Hillsborough had taken their toll and and Kenny felt that he was unable to make decisions. Later he wrote that he wanted to move Jan Molby to sweeper against Everton but was talked out of it, then he knew that he had to step down. Chairman Noel White had revealed that Kenny was offered a break until the end of the season but he refused. Michael Parkinson the pompous interviewer slammed Kenny for ‘not knowing what real pressure was’. Few people took any notice. It was left to Ronnie Moran to take the reigns. Alan Hansen had joked that he was taking over but announced his retirement a few days later.

Liverpool lost 3-1 on Luton’s awful plastic pitch. Many of the Liverpool players hoped that Moran would replace Kenny full time but he wanted to remain as a coach. John Toshack was offered the job but turned it down. He was still smarting from the 1982 snub when he was promised the job, but Bob Paisley stayed on for another year. The distractions soon affected Liverpool’s form. Liverpool lost the Replay 1-0 to Everton and George Graham’s Arsenal were now top of the table. They were a formidable team, who only conceded eighteen league goals. Though they were deducted two points for an early season brawl at Old Trafford, the Gunners would only lose once away at Chelsea in 1990/91.

They effectively sealed the Title in March after Paul Merson’s goal gave Arsenal a 1-0 at Anfield. It was only a fine display by David Seaman that had denied Liverpool. Liverpool displayed their best and worst form in run in. They thrashed Peter Shilton’s Derby County 7-1 but also threw away a lead to just beat Leeds 5-4 at Elland Road. The defensive problems were there for all to see as Kenny’s failure to buy a new centre back came back to haunt them.

In April former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness resigned from Scottish Champions Rangers and became the new Liverpool manager on a five year contract. In the 1992 Liverpool annual Ian Rush stated: ‘Graeme is the ideal choice to replace Kenny’. ‘He knows the Liverpool way and will not change things too much’. ‘I’m sure he will get us back to the top’. Little did we know then that Souness’s reign was the beginning of Liverpool’s long decline that would last until 2020.

In hindsight Roy Evans would have been a better choice to replace Kenny. He would not have ripped up the team as quickly as the abrasive Scot, who sold key players like Beardsley, McMahon, Staunton, Ablett, Gillespie who still had much to offer. Liverpool splashed out a record £2.9M on Welsh striker Dean Saunders as Beardsley made a shock move to Goodison Park. Derby defender Mark Wright was signed to replace Alan Hansen and Glenn Hysen but he England international had an injury plagued season. Souness’s new training methods had led to a spate of injuries and Liverpool finished in a miserable 6th place in 1991/92. The Reds did win the FA Cup in their Centenary Year, but Souness had undergone a triple bypass heart operation before the Final and his ill advised decision to speak to the reviled Sun newspaper poisoned his relationship forever in with many fans.

In truth as he later admitted, he should have resigned at the end of season. He limped on until January 1994 but was forced to resign after a humiliating defeat at home to Bristol City in the FA Cup. Roy Evans would replace him. However 1991 really was the beginning of the end for Liverpool. Kenny Dalglish would lift the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers at Anfield in 1995. The Reds never recovered from his resignation.

1998: Jambos hit the Jackpot

Season 1997/98 was one of the most dramatic in Hearts proud history. Former full back Jim Jefferies had returned to Tynecastle in 1995 vowing to build a team that the fans could be proud of. This blog will focus of five key games from a season that would end in Scottish Cup Glory.

30th August 1997: Hibernian 0 Hearts 1 The first Edinburgh Derby of the season was a scrappy affair. In front of 15,000 fans at Easter Road winger Neil McCann had given the away side the lead after seven minutes. Paul Ritchie and Neil Pinton were booked in the second half but Jeferries men held on for a narrow victory.

1st November 1997: Aberdeen 1 Hearts 4 Hailed as the team’s best performance of the season so far, Hearts ran riot at Pittodrie. Trailing to a Dean Windass strike at half time, Hearts roared back in the second half. Two goals by Austrian Thomas Flogel and strikes by Neil McCann and Jambo legend John Robertson gave Hearts a famous win.

8th February 1998: Hearts 1 Celtic 1 A dramatic injury time equaliser by Angolan striker Jose Quitongo against table topping Celtic earned the Jambos a point. The crowd of 17,657 were treated to a sound defensive performance by Hearts limiting the Bhoys to a Jackie McNamara goal before half time. Jefferies praised the character of his team and felt they had shown that they could compete with the best teams in Scotland.

4th April 1998: Scottish Cup Semi Final: Hearts 3 Falkirk 1 at Ibrox A dramatic game saw The Jam Tarts go through to their second Scottish Cup Final in two years, thanks to two late goals against a stubborn Falkirk at Ibrox. An early Stephan Adam goal was cancelled out five minutes from time by Kevin McAllister. Jefferies men would not be denied though. Another Adam goal in the last minute plus an injury time Neil McCann strike sent Hearts to Parkhead for the Final.

Saturday 16th May 1998: Scottish Cup Final: Hearts 2 Rangers 1 at Celtic Park Hearts were looking for revenge. Walter Smith’s men had denied Hearts in both the 1996 Scottish Cup and League Cup Finals. The 1996 League Cup Final was a painful 4-3 defeat at Parkhead. Rangers were favourites in Walter Smith’s last game in charge before joining Everton. Celtic had snatched the Championship on the last day of the season denying the Gers 10 In a Row.

Jim Jefferies was quietly confident. He knew that if Hearts made a quick start Rangers ageing team would find it hard to come back. In their white away shirts Hearts took the game to Smith’s men from the start. Former Rangers defender Dave McPherson lined up against his former club. Hearts legend John Robertson was on the bench. In the opening minute Hearts had a dream start and took the lead from the spot after a foul on skipper Steve Fulton. Colin Cameron fired past Andy Goram. Could Hearts hold on? In truth they didn’t need to, as all the Rangers possession led to few chances. At half time Walter Smith urged his men to take the game to Hearts but soon the Gers were trailing 2-0. A long goal kick by Rousset was left to bounce by Amoruso and Stephan Adam nipped past him to fire past Goram, who got a strong had to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.

Rangers then through everything at Hearts, Rousset made several fine saves before half time substitute Ally McCoist fired the Gers back into the game in the last ten minutes. Just before full time McCoist was tripped and fell inside the box. Hearts fans breathed a huge sigh of relief as the referee gave a free kick just outside the box. The full time whistle soon blew and Hearts had won the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1956.

Steve Fulton and club captain Gary Locke still in his club suit, lifted the Cup in front of legions of Jambos fans at a sun drenched Parkhead. It was a glorious achievement for a young Hearts side. For Rangers it was a sad end to Walter Smith’s career at Ibrox but Rangers bounced back to with the Treble in 1998/99 under Dutch manager Dick Advocaat. The day belonged to Hearts and thousands lined the streets as the brought the Cup home.

1991: ‘You are making the biggest mistake of you’re life’

Season 1990/91 was one of the most dramatic in Rangers history. It would mark the start of a glorious period of success under legendary manager Walter Smith but few people could foresee what a dramatic time it would prove for the Gers and Scottish football.

In Summer 1990 Graeme Souness had led Rangers to his third Championship since 1986 and the Gers had retained their Title ahead of Aberdeen, as Celtic slumped to 5th place. In the transfer market eyebrows were raised as midfield hardman Terry Hurlock was signed from Millwall. Mark Hateley joined from Monaco for £1M and exciting Dutch winger Peter Huistra joined from FC Twente. Classy Russian sweeper Oleg Kuznetsov would also join from Dynamo Kiev for £1.2M, but sadly he would suffer a bad injury and missed most of the season. Rangers sold Derek Ferguson to Hearts and inspirational defender Terry Butcher was sold to Coventry in November after he had refused to play in the Skol League Cup Final against Celtic at Hampden.

Rangers made a solid start to the season. A Terry Hurlock goal had earned a draw at Ibrox against Liam Brady’s Celtic in September. In the European Cup Rangers had thrashed Valletta 10-0 on aggregate. In the Skol Cup Rangers beat Aberdeen 1-0 in the Semi Final at Hampden to set up an Old Firm Final. On the 28th October Rangers came back from a goal down to beat Celtic 2-1 at a rain soaked Hampden. Mark Walters and and extra time Richard Gough goal gave Rangers the League Cup for the fourth time in five years under Souness.

In November substitute Ally McCoist had given Rangers a 2-1 win at Parkhead. It had been a tough season for Super Ally. Mo Johnston and Mark Hateley had formed a good partnership up front and Ally was nicknamed the Judge for always being on the bench! Off the pitch Graeme Souness was in an increasing battle against STV as he banned his players from speaking to the broadcaster and the SFA. He had been given another touchline ban and there was a feeling that he had taken Rangers as far as he could. Souness’s great ambition to make a mark in Europe was ended by eventual winners Red Star Belgrade 4-1 on aggregate in the European Cup Second Round.

On the 2nd of January Rangers won the first Old Firm clash of the year 2-0 at Ibrox, thanks to goals from Mark Walters direct from a corner kick and Mark Hateley. Celtic would gain revenge in March by knocking Rangers out of the Scottish Cup, as the Gers had two players sent off at Celtic Park. In the league Rangers were clear at the top but Aberdeen were close behind them. A 1-0 defeat at Pittodrie in early March was followed by a 3-0 defeat at Parkhead at the end of the month. The wheels were coming off at Ibrox.

Ally McCoist was forced by Souness to make a public apology after a day at the races. This did little for team morale. Kenny Dalglish had resigned as Liverpool manager at the end of February. Souness was soon linked with the Reds job but in the Rangers News Souness declared: ‘I will never leave’. In April the news leaked out that Souness had agreed to take over at Liverpool at the end of the season. Chairman David Murray was furious. He informed Souness that he had to resign immediately as the speculation would damage the Gers Title run in.

At a hastily arranged press conference at Ibrox, Souness sat stone faced as Murray informed the media that Graeme was ‘making the biggest mistake of his life’ leaving Rangers. Souness had wanted to take assistant Walter Smith with him to Anfield, but he was announced as the new Rangers manager. It was a proud moment for a lifelong Rangers man.

Rangers had just four league games left in their bid to win their third Championship in a row. Smith started with a 1-0 win against Dundee United at Ibrox after Rangers had won at St.Mirren by the same score line. Rangers then travelled to Fir Park for the penultimate game of the season. They were thrashed 3-0 and the defeat left Aberdeen with their fate in their own hands. They knew that a win or a draw at Ibrox would give them the Championship for the first time since 1985.

For the first time since the 1960’s both Title contenders would face each other in a final day shoot out to decide the Scottish Champions. Rangers were ravaged by injuries as Walter struggled to put a team together. Former Rangers midfielder Jim Bett would be a key man for the Dons, Bett had turned down a move to Ibrox to stay at Pittodrie. Would he come back to haunt the Gers? In front of a packed Ibrox Rangers rose to the occasion. The Champions took the lead from a towering Mark Hateley header from a Mark Walters cross. The Englishman added a second at the start of the second half following a goalkeeping fumble, but the Dons claimed he had been in an offside position. Aberdeen could not find a way back and at full time Rangers had a famous 2-0 victory. Archie Knox Smith’s new assistant from Manchester United celebrated as Nigel Spackman lifted the famous old trophy. Against the odds Rangers had retained the Championship and things were about to get even better in the blue half of Glasgow.

Mark Hateley gives Rangers the lead

11 May 1991: Mark Hately (left), Walter Smith (centre) and Chris Woods (right) of Rangers celebrate with the trophy after winning the Scottish Premier League match against Aberdeen at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland. Rangers won the match 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/Allsport

Scotland: The Rous Cup Years

1984 had seen the demise of the annual British Championship. The tournament was the World’s oldest International football competition and it had run for a Century since 1884. In truth it was only the Scotland v England fixture that held much interest. The Tartan Army didn’t care very much if Scotland won the Home Championship, as long as they beat the Auld Enemy. The games involving Wales and Northern Ireland were poorly attended but ironically in the last edition, Wales had beaten England and Northern Ireland were the Champions. They got to keep the trophy which is held at the Irish FA. The Auld Enemy clash was lucrative with huge crowds at Wembley and Hampden and it was one of the few games shown live on the BBC and ITV.

The Annual Auld Enemy clash would now take place in a new Tournament the Rous Cup named after the former head of FIFA Sir Stanley Rous. In 1985 Scotland were due to travel to face England at Wembley. The Heysel disaster led to the death of thirty nine fans after rioting at the European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus. English hooligans had ran amok for years abroad and after pressure from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, UEFA banned all English clubs from Europe. The Tory Government feared trouble from travelling Scotland fans at Wembley. After consulting the FA, the SFA agreed to move the game to Hampden Park. The match programme contained an explanation for moving the game from the late SFA secretary Ernie Walker. Many Scotland fans had saved up for the last two years for the trip to London, so there was deep resentment that the Tartan Army would be denied their Wembley weekend.

Jock Stein had never beaten England at Hampden. In fact Scotland had failed to score in Glasgow against the Auld Enemy under him, going down to a 2-0 defeat in 1980 and losing 1-0 just before the 1982 World Cup. Scotland were without the Liverpool players Nicol, Hansen and Dalglish. Stein would give a debut to Chelsea striker David Speedie and Roy Aitken a centre back at Celtic would play in midfield, alongside Scotland Captain Graeme Souness, who flew in to play the game from Sampdoria in Italy. The game was a 74,000 sell out but the heavy rain and live BBC coverage meant that just 66,000 fans were at Hampden. Sadly some National Front flag waving England hooligans caused trouble at the and there were over fifty arrests.

On the pitch England were lead by ‘Captain Marvel’ Bryan Robson alongside Wilkins, Hoddle and Barnes in a powerful midfield. With Souness, dominant the first half had few chances. Terry Butcher was rarely troubled by Barcelona striker Steve Archibald and at the other end Jim Leighton had little to do. There would have to be a winner, as a draw would result in a penalty shoot out. On sixty eight minutes Scotland took the lead. Dundee United right back Richard Gough headed past Peter Shilton from a Jim Bett cross. Could Scotland hold on? Alex McLeish was outstanding and even the introduction from the bench of Chris Waddle and Leicester City striker Gary Lineker failed to make an impact. Scotland hung on for a famous 1-0 victory. It was a perfect tonic for the Scots before a vital victory in Iceland a few days later. Jim Bett’s goal gave Stein’s men a vital World Cup qualifying win, thanks to a first half Leighton penalty save.

23 April 1986 – England v Scotland – Rous Cup – The England team pose with their trophy: back l to r – Mark Hateley, Gary Stevens, Glenn Hoddle, Dave Watson, Chris Waddle and Terry Butcher,: Front Trevor Francis, Steve Hodge, Peter Shilton, Peter Reid, Gary Stevens and Kenny Sansom – (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside via Getty Images)

On 23rd April 1986 Scotland faced England at Wembley. St George’s Day was not a good omen for the Scots. The midweek game led to another low crowd of 68,000 fans way down on capacity. Alan Rough returned in goal for the injured Leighton, aiming to be the first Scotland goalkeeper to win three times at Wembley. Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen were unavailable. David Speedie without a goal for his country, started alongside Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas up front. Charlie had a poor game on Scotland’s last visit at Wembley a 2-0 defeat in June 1983. Alex Ferguson was acting Scotland manager, combining the job with his club side Aberdeen, after the tragic death of Jock Stein.

Scotland began the game confidently forcing a series of corners and free kicks. Against the run of play England took the lead. A free kick needlessly conceded by Willie Miller was headed home by Terry Butcher after Gough had failed to clear the ball. Scotland were unbeaten in their last eight games but were soon 2-0 down. Kenny Sansom’s long range drive was parried by Rough and Glenn Hoddle headed the follow up home. At the start of the second half Ferguson moved Gough into midfield with Nicol switching to right back. Butcher was dominant but Gough’s presence unsettled England’s defence. After Gough had exchanged passes with Nicholas, he was hauled down by the Ipswich man an the Scots were awarded a penalty. England claimed the trip was outside the box. Nicholas injured his shoulder and was replaced by Chelsea winger Pat Nevin. Scotland skipper Graeme Souness fired past Peter Shilton and Scotland were back in the game with over half an hour remaining. Despite forcing a stream of corners and free kicks England held on with only an Aitken effort and a late Speedie header threatening to take the game to penalties. Alex Ferguson claimed Scotland had not deserved to lose but Peter Shilton lifted the Rous Cup.

In 1987 in a bid to increase interest and revenue, Brazil were invited to join, to make the Rous Cup a three team competition. In front of 92,000 fans Brazil drew 1-1 at Wembley after Mirandinha’s goal cancelled out a Gary Lineker header.

England arrived at Hampden as favourites. Andy Roxburgh’s men had been thrashed 4-1 in Belgium in April. England fielded Rangers Captain Terry Butcher who alongside Chris Woods, had lead Rangers to the League Championship, under Player/Manager Graeme Souness. England Captain Bryan Robson had Waddle and Hoddle alongside him and Mark Hateley partnered Beardsley up front. A crowd of 64,000 witnessed a poor game live on the BBC. Robson and Waddle both went close for England and Hateley had a goal ruled offside. At the other end Brian McClair and Ally McCoist were starved of service. Scotland’s best chance followed a fine run by Paul McStay, but Charlie Nicholas hit the bar from a few yards out. The game finished 0-0, the first score less Auld Enemy game since 1970. Brazil beat Scotland 2-0 a few days later but the score flattered the South Americans, who lifted the trophy in dark blue shirts.

In 1988 after Argentina and France had declined invitations to take part, Columbia were invited to play for the Rous Cup. In front of just 20,000 fans Scotland in their new Umbro kit could not find a way past the South Americans and the game finished 0-0. Scotland travelled down to Wembley for their first Saturday Auld Enemy clash since 1981. Sadly the game was marred by trouble in the ground and before and after the game. Over 100 arrests were made and one fan sadly died. On the pitch England dominated in front of 70,000 fans. After Beardsley had given England an early led, only an outstanding display by Jim Leighton kept the Scots in the game. With Richard Gough keeping star winger John Barnes quiet, Scotland came more into the game in the second half and only a fine save with his legs by Peter Shilton denied substitute Kevin Gallagher from earning the Scots a draw. England followed up their 1-0 win with an entertaining 1-1 draw with Columbia a few days later and lifted the Rous Cup for the second time at Wembley.

The future of the annual Auld Enemy clash was being debated. After trouble in Glasgow in 1987 and again in 1989 this would be the last game between the two teams until Euro 96. Daily Record reporter Ken Gallacher’s “Lets bury this game” headline summed up the thoughts of many. In truth the game was no longer seen as important. England faced a crucial World Cup qualifier in June against Poland and the Scottish game was viewed a distraction for Bobby Robson’s men. Chile had been invited this time but they attracted little interest. Just 15,000 fans saw England draw 0-0 with the South Americans at Wembley, though that was due to a tube strike.

Scotland took to the field looking for their first goal in the Rous Cup since 1986. England lined up with Peter Shilton wearing a Scotland shirt after a mix up by the kit man. Scotland were on a fine run under Andy Roxburgh after beating Michel Platini’s France 2-0 in March. 63,000 fans were hoping for a morale boosting win. Sadly Roxburgh would not see his team score in any of their three games against the Auld Enemy. An early Chris Waddle header had given England the lead. Scotland fought back well with Shilton saving from McCoist and McPherson going close. Peter Grant forced a fine save from Shilton in the second half and Ally McCoist was unlucky to see his shot bounce wide. Steve Bull on for the injured John Fashanu latched on to a long ball and fired past Leighton. He went close again but was denied by the Manchester United stopper. The Hampden crowd emptied after Bull’s goal and full time brought a depressing 2-0 defeat. Terry Butcher and the pacey Des Walker looked imperious at the heart of England’s defence. Scotland completed the competition with a 2-0 win over Chile in front of just 9,000 at Hampden with a debut goal by Bayern Munich bound Alan McInally and a Murdo MacLeod strike. England had won the Rous Cup for a third time but few people mourned it’s demise.