For your average Leeds United fanatic – or even for an iconic one such as myself – the sight of a club legend in Gordon Strachan having his nose well and truly rubbed in it can rarely be pleasant viewing. Equally, for a devotee of all things righteously White, to behold the over-rated and grossly over-hyped Mr Wayne “Shrek” Rooney filling his boots at the expense of said legend would normally be an uncomfortable not to say painful experience. But last night at Celtic Park, both circumstances came to pass – and yet it was an evening of unalloyed pleasure for any England fan who grew up to a background of Auld Enemy rivalry.
Back in the day, the England versus Scotland mini-war was an annual fixture, alternating between Hampden Park in Glasgow and Wembley, the latter drenched in Tartan every other year as the unwashed made the pilgrimage south. It was the perpetuation of the original and best International Football rivalry; the very first ever match between two countries was Scotland v England on 30 November 1872. 4,000 people saw a 0-0 draw on that occasion – the great days of this fixture were still to come.
The great days of Leeds United also lay far in the future – and in that era of Revie’s Super Leeds, the club boasted a cadre of fine Scottish international players (see picture above) who I and thousands of other United fans worshipped as footballing Gods. But once a year, when England met Scotland, they were The Enemy – and I for one wanted nothing more than to see the likes of Alan Ball, Mike Channon and Kevin Keegan stamp the Sweaties into the turf, North or South of the border. Sometimes it happened, sometimes we were disappointed. I remember regarding Gordon McQueen with a particularly baleful eye after his two goals sank England at Wembley, on a day when the Scots appropriated the crossbars as souvenirs of a memorable win.
Over the years, the two nations battled nip and tuck for historical supremacy, each having periods of dominance. In the almost 142 years since that first fixture, England have edged it. Last night’s victory by 3-1 was the Three Lions’ 47th such triumph, with Scotland trailing in at 41. This latest success must have been one of the most convincing by England, certainly in recent times. Scotland had a job done on them, big time. England’s performance was emphatic, conclusive, and the boys in blue had no answer to the white tide which engulfed them.
This tone had been set right from the first minute with Woy’s Warriors setting a pattern of dominance in the early stages they would maintain throughout. The breakthrough was half an hour coming and somewhat overdue when Oxlade-Chamberlain, somewhat lacking in delivery with the ball at his feet, found a sublime headed touch from Wilshere’s laser-accurate deep cross, finding the corner of the Scottish net. So it remained at the interval but, despite the narrowness of the margin, Scotland had been on the end of a footballing lesson.
The consensus of agreement among the half-time pundits was that the hosts could not afford to go two down if they were to salvage anything from the encounter. This, however, they proceeded to do a mere 90 seconds into the second half as England took a vice-like grip on proceedings. The origin of what proved to be a killer goal was in a crude and stupid foul from Mulgrew who cynically took out the stampeding Ox as the Arsenal youngster raced down the right. Mulgrew was a little fortunate to escape with a mere yellow, but the fallout was to prove fatal for the Tartan Army. From the free kick, the ball was half-cleared and then bobbled about in the Scottish area before sitting up for Rooney to flex his neck and direct a fine header past helpless sub goalkeeper Gordon.
True to the intense rivalry of this fixture, Scotland did appear to fight their way back into the match with a goal after good work between Robertson and Russell ended with the former squeezing the ball between Forster and his near post. England, rather than quailing and succumbing to late nerves, simply appeared to be provoked into further action. The ball was played down the right from the restart and, from a throw in, the visitors contrived a spell of consummate possession under pressure on the Scottish left flank, before Lallana was released into the area to set up a sitter for Rooney’s second of the night.
3-1 and finis. England were probably worth a goal or two more; despite the creditable battling of the Scots, they had in truth been completely outclassed and outplayed. The most jarring note of the whole night was struck by England coach Roy Hodgson in his post-match remarks, when he saw fit to apologise for any offence caused to anyone who might have had their feelings hurt by some anti-IRA chanting from the England support. Things have come to a pretty pass, surely, when a football man in the afterglow of a fine victory should seek to soothe the wounded sensibilities of those negatively affected by anti-terrorism sentiments. It was an odd end to a fine night for England. Scotland, fresh from a run in which results and performances have been positively encouraging, will have a new awareness this morning of their actual place in the scheme of things.
Gordon Brown, Billy Connoly, Alex Sammond, Andy Murray, Nicola Stergeon. Nicola Stergeon, can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating!
I wanted to use something like this in the article, Ropey. Thanks for doing it for me 🙂 MOT
How could you do that list and not include bloody Ferguson
The biggest cheer in our house was when Scotland scored … but the only reason was I had taken a 2-1 England victory at 15/2…. alas old rug head spoilt my pay day…. with regards the anti IRA chants, I have been to Celtic park 3 times in the past and every time there’s boyos on the car park gates collecting for ‘the cause’, maybe Roy should park with the plebs and he’d have a different insight Rob …
Sorry your bet went down Mr O – better luck next time. Perhaps Shrek should return your stake out of his £350k a week…? MOT
Been a while since I posted but I have to say last night reminded me of why I fell in love with Football, two teams going at it, no rolling diving or playacting. The ref who understood the nature of the game was brilliant, letting things go as if it was a contact sport.
England fans were superb, dominating the savages and the songs were perfectly thought out to annoy the socks. Socks always hate it when England assumes ownership of Britain so rule britannia and GSTQ were perfect. Are you scotland in disguise was the best though.
EVERY England player worked hard & fought for the shirt, thats the first time thats happened in a long time. I haven’t enjoyed watching England for close to decade now because any talent was lost by lazyness but not last night, everyone did their bit & it was great.
I wish they had voted Yes so we could have got rid of em but none the less a great nights entertainment & put them in their place.
Just proves how we still regard this fixture,On paper England don’t appear anything out of the ordinary,but because it’s an international “Derby”,all the players up their game,and England in particular played more as a team which is what we expect them to do every game.A joy to watch for a change,reminded me of how we played against Blackpool in the first half! It’s just whetted my appitite for Saturday. MO.T.
Rob – I will always remember the 1974 World Cup and being incredibly proud of the fact that their were 5 Leeds players in the Scotland squad, (surely it should have been six, but I am assuming Eddie Gray was injured?). Over the years like you, I have always staunchly supported England, but also took a keen interest in how our other Leeds players did on the international stage. Correct me if I am wrong, but at one point did we not have three international captains playing for Leeds, namely Billy Bremner (Scotland), Terry Yorath (Wales) and Johnny Giles (Republic of Ireland). I also recall that Trevor Cherry was captain of an England Football League fixture? There cannot be many teams that can boast this international recognition from one club at one time?
I well remember boasting happily about just this fact. It said a lot about the multinational make up of the team, as well as its uniform excellence. Cherry did in fact captain Leeds in an England game away in Australia, so I seem to recall.
What happened to your socialist credentials, Rob? I detest the IRA, the INLA, the UVF, the UDA and members of the Parachute Regiment who murdered innocent people on these islands during “The Troubles”. But that awful time is long past, thankfully.
I read somewhere that an England fans’ representative described this ditty you refer to – much loved in the past by the BNP, C18 and the NF in the past, and the EDL and their Neanderthal ilk today – as an “expression of Englishness”.
The same expression of Englishness as when C18 England “fans” wrecked Lansdowne Road during a friendly? At a time when the likes of the BNP were particularly active and carried out attacks on Irish people like myself in London, where I lived at the time. Mind you, I got a few of them back as a member of Anti Fascist Action who cleared the streets of such filth.
Maybe the current EDL and their fash bedfellows – and you, Rob, by the sounds of it – should move on.
The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 and even the IRA have moved on.
Get with it.
It just jarred with me for some reason, although I take on board the vast majority of what you say. Perhaps if the England post-match reaction had been couched in similar terms, I wouldn’t have felt so nettled. It just seemed a rather facile reaction and smacked of appeasement to those in and around Celtic Park who still sympathise with what the IRA were all about. But I should make clear – and I’ve said in the past – I’ve never subscribed to the view that the IRA were any worse than most of the other paramilitary groups, and some of the loyalist factions were among the worst; something never acknowledged by the UK media or authorities.
Fair play, Rob. MOT
Fair play, Rob. Sorry for jumping down your throat.
It’s just that I’ve always seen the “No Surrender” chant as a veiled anti-Irish thing (anti-“catholic” in the context of Scotland, where the exploits of loyalist sectarian strike-breakers and killers, the Billy Boys were celebrated with gusto, in a society that is still marred by sectarianism).
I see it as an anachronistic slur by gobshites who are just stirring it, implying that we paddies are all IRA heads and have no reason to complain if not. A bit like someone throwing a banana at John Barnes back in those awful days, and when he complains saying he needn’t worry, as he’s not a monkey. If you know what I mean.
But really they should just move on, for goodness sake.
Anyway… here’s hoping for a good result v Blackburn.
Keep up the good work.
Cheers fella – I can well believe a lot of this stuff is an irritant after all this time and with all the history. It’s not an area I normally stray into, as I’m grievously under-informed. Just that, on this occasion, Hodgson’s response seemed glib and facile.
Three points at Blackburn would be just the job – MOT
Personally I think Rooney is a changed man in recent times, hes grown into his captains role and is working hard for his country (So good lad as far as im concerned)
Watching England last night was a throwback to the good old days….I really enjoyed watching it and as you say the atmosphere and urgency given to it by players and fans made it stand apart from the international dross weve seen from all countries (bar the USA) in recent times…..
I even viewed Roy Hodgson as a headless lemming with no real strategy being given to his team but I have to be fair England looked a proper team last night and England seem to have formed a bit of backbone on the back of a 6 game win streak…..
Fair play to the lads, fair play to the new Captain and fair play to Roy.
Nice to see ya to see ya nice pls dont go for so long as there is fuck all to read on newsnow when your not around hope all is well with u and da famliy
Thanks, man – all serene, happily. Hope that’s the case too in the 72 household – MOT
Which song were they singing rob? If it was the one also having a go at the pope, then I think hodgson was right, its one thing having a dig at murderous terrorist, its another matter all together having a go at all catholics.
Scotland games are always a weird one for me with the strong Leeds & Scotland associations. I’m just not that up for them, with a) being much more bothered about club than country and b) all the Leeds legends from north of the border.
Is happily do a deal with the devil for Leeds to be back where they belong even if it meant England never winning anything again.
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It was the “no surrender to the IRA” one, Ste.
Oh fair dos then. I assumed with Roy apologising it was the “fuck the pope” one, which would be out of order.
Incidentally did you see the Leeds fan with the “BECKFORD END” banner at the Portugal / Argentina match 😀
I did indeed, quality 🙂