YOU will, I hope, never find me jumping gladly onto any media-driven bandwagon demanding the sacking of Scotland’s Team Manager or Head Coach. Long years watching from the side lines have taught me, the Scotland manager's job is, like its England equivalent – The Impossible Job.
It doesn't matter who we appoint, the system will always beat them. Scottish football is broken, and, there is no desire within the game up here to fix that system. Until it is, we will continue to stumble along, winning a few games, losing more and, sadly, I have to believe, we will not be qualifying for the big shows – the World Cup or European Championship finals – any time soon.
I had a wee think back this morning; the first Scotland international I can recall ever actually reading about was the 4-2 loss to England, on 3 April, 1954. Now, this was the 232nd full Scotland international, the first in which we had a Team Manager in place – Andy Beattie. The team was still picked by the SFA Selection Committee, however – some jobs were too-important to be left to the professionals. The match was both a Home International Championship decider and a World Cup Qualifier. England and Scotland had already qualified for the 1954 World Cup finals, this match merely sorted-out which team finished top of the qualifying group, in actuality the Home Internationals that season.
Anyway, Scotland finished a distant second, and, true to form, the selectors panicked – only Bobby Evans, Bobby Johnstone, Allan Brown and Willie Ormond of the Hampden XI survived for the next international, a friendly against Norway, one month later. Five new caps were drafted-in, just one month and three warm-up games before Scotland’s debut on football's biggest stage.
That debut came against Austria, in Zurich, on 16 June, 1954. The SFA had decided: “Switzerland, that's in the Alps, snow and skiing, we had better have thick, winter-weight strips”. They also decided, that while FIFA required them to name a 22-man squad, only 13 would travel, and of these, only one, Fred Martin, would be a goalkeeper.
They landed in Switzerland, to find temperatures in the high seventies. They didn't provide matching training gear for the players, who had to bring their own. The team which started against Austria had a total of 52 caps between them, Allan Brown, winning his 13th cap, was the only one whose caps total was in double figures.
Bobby Evans, the most-capped player in the 13-man squad, didn't play, while regular Scotland captain George Young, Sammy Cox, who had led the side against England and Willie Waddell, the three Rangers players who were then Scotland regulars weren't there – Rangers had a North American Tour going on at the same time, and would not release their Scotland players.
It was a shambles. And, to complete the clusterfuck, Manager Beattie resigned between the Austrian match and the second game, against World Champions Uruguay, which, as every Scot interested in football knows, finished 7-0 to the South Americans. Scotland were home before the post cards.
“Things will change” the Tartan Army were told. Aye Right. Four years later they again had a Team Manager, Sir Matt Busby. Like Beattie he was part-time, the selectors still picked the sides. Sadly, Busby, still recuperating from the injuries he received in the Munich Air Crash in February, 1958, was unable to travel, leaving trainer Dawson Walker of Clyde in charge.
As in 1954, we were on our way home early, after drawing with Yugoslavia and losing narrowly to both Paraguay and France. We failed to qualify for the 1962, 1966 and 1970 finals, before setting-off on a good run. We qualified for the Finals in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1990, but, although unbeaten in West Germany in 1974, we never got past the preliminary group stages.
We failed to qualify in 1994, before reaching the finals in France in 1998; since when, zilch, no qualifying success has come out way.
We have qualified for just 9 of the 17 World Cups we have entered – a 53% pass rate. We have then son a mere 4 of the 20 matches we have played in those 9 final tournaments – a 20% success rate. However, Our World Cup qualifying record is a lot better than our European Championships one. Here we have qualified a mere twice from 13 attempts – a 15% pass rate. In the six games in the Euro' finals we have won just twice, drawn once and lost the other three games – a 33% winning rate.
Overall, we have qualified for 37% of the international competitions we have entered, winning just 23% of the matches in those finals. So, we don't really DO international competitions. Our expectations should not be high when it comes to competing on the biggest stages.
BUT – and I know this game was not a competitive one, but a FRIENDLY. However, regardless of the status of the match, surely we can expect to beat CANADA. Come-on, Scots and Canadians have a lot in common, we were the leading European nation when it came to colonising that wonderful country. Our shinty was the inspiration for Canada's national sport – ice hockey, while they, like Scotland, love curling. But, football – gie's a brek!!
And, as I understand it, the Canucks didn't send a full squad to take us on at Easter Road on Wednesday night. They are ranked 117th in the world, we are 67th, not great I accept, but, 50 places above the Canadians. Drawing at home to the Canadians was the equivalent of some Highland or Lowland League team getting a draw against Celtic at Parkhead.
We should perhaps congratulate all those broadcasting companies, who opted-out of broadcasting Wednesday night's match live; just as we can understand why the vast bulk of the Tartan Army passed on the game, while acknowledging the support of those 9000-plus masochists who chose to attend. But, when it gets to the stage where guys like me, who have been following Scotland for all those years didn't give a shit about the game – it's time we had real, serious, meaningful change to Scottish football.
If things don't change, we are only going one place – down the stank.
Again I say, with heavy heart:
“We're awe doomed – doomed Ah tell Ye”!