By Keiran Fleming
After what was a disappointing return to the major international stage for Scotland, Steve Clarke will be looking for his men to bounce back when they come face-to-face with ‘Auld Enemy’ England.
Both nation’s footballing history have been intertwined ever since their first meeting in 1872, making it the oldest international fixture in world football. 4000 spectators watched the groundbreaking bout at Hamilton Crescent in Partick as it ended goalless.
Since their historic meeting in Glasgow, Scotland and England have battled it out on the pitch 114 times with the English winning 48 and the Scots winning 41. The 115th match between the pair will be one of the most important in Scotland’s history. A win may be all that is needed for Clarke’s side to progress into the knock-out rounds for the first time ever.
Here are five of the biggest games that have ever taken place during their 149 year rivalry.
The Wembley Wizards
Both England and Scotland were off to a terrible start in the 1928 British Home Championship. Scotland lost to Ireland and drew against Wales; England lost both their opening games. Even with the slow start there was still an electric atmosphere surrounding the clash at Wembley. 11 train loads of supporters arrived in London from Glasgow the night before the game. The opening 45 minutes were closely contested, with Huddersfield Town’s Alex Jackson and Preston’s Alex James putting the Scots ahead before half-time. The second half became one of the most memorable in Scottish football history. Jackson completed his hat-trick and James scored a second putting the visitors up five goals to nil against their fierce rivals. A minute from time the English managed to grab a consolation but the party in the away crowd had already started. The Wizards would never be selected en masse again following their triumph across the border.
Unofficial Champions of the World
England followed their 1966 World Cup win with a 19 game unbeaten run. Their impressive form would be halted at Wembley in 1967 by familiar foes Scotland. The Scots went into this match as the clear underdogs even though they started four of Celtic’s Lisbon Lions and stars such as Denis Law, Jim Baxter and Billy Bremner. The visitors took the lead early on with a Law goal. Lennox would double their lead with just 12 minutes left on the clock. English talisman Jack Charlton did suffer an injury early on but manager Alf Ramsay was unable to sub him off, therefore he decided to put Charlton up front. This seemed to be a stroke of genius when Charlton scored the first goal for England. Jim McCalliog soon re-established the Scot’s two goal lead making the score 3-1. Geoff Hurst managed to score a goal a minute later but it wasn’t enough for the reigning world champions. Jim Baxter famously toyed with his opponents by doing keepie uppies during the dying embers of the game. After the game Scotland playfully claimed that they were the unofficial world champions.
The Invasion of Wembley
The 1977 face-off with the ‘Auld Enemy’ is less remembered for the 90 minute match but more for the scenes following it. Gordon McQueen thundered Scotland ahead when he met a crossed free-kick with a powerful header. Kenny Dalglish then doubled the lead by scrambling the ball over the line. Mick Channon converted a late penalty kick two minutes from time but it would only be a consolation for England. After the final whistle the Tartan Army rushed the pitch in celebration. Fans were lifting their heroes in the air and scaling the framework of the goals, eventually breaking the crossbar.
Welcome to the Gazza Show
The last time Scotland qualified for the Euros was in 1996 and they were also drawn in a group with England. Before the game at Wembley, Flower of Scotland was drowned out by boos coming from the home crowd. The first 45 minutes were closely fought, finishing 0-0 with Scotland having the better of the chances. Alan Shearer put England ahead early on in the second half with a headed goal. A Tony Adams’ foul in the 76th minute gave the Scot the opportunity to equalise from the spot. Gary McAllister’s pen was saved, infamously spoon-bender Uri Geller claimed to have moved the ball from the spot whilst he sat in a helicopter hovering above Wembley. Minutes later Paul Gascoigne, who was plying his trade for Rangers at the time, scored one of the most iconic goals in the competitions history. Gazza cheekily dinked the ball over Colin Hendry’s head before lashing a volley home, doubling their lead. Scotland would fail to qualify from the group and England would crash-out in the semi-final.
Last Minute Heartbreak at Hampden
It has been four years since Scotland last faced the ‘Auld Enemy’ in an instant classic at Hampden. The first 45 minutes ended goalless but it was followed by a breathtaking second half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finished from close-range in the 70th minute and with three minutes to go it all but looked like England had cemented the win, until they gave away a free-kick. Leigh Griffths stepped up and hit a curling effort past a diving Joe Hart. Scotland got another free-kick given their way, once again Leigh Griffths stepped up to stun their historic rival, sending the Tartan Army into a frenzy. Strachan’s men were seconds away from beating England for the first time since 1999 before Harry Kane tapped a volley in at the back post to equalise.