The FIFA Files
The FIFA Files are a short run of stories featuring the World Cup. This first one doesn't have a Spurs connection but it’s a tale that deserves to be recalled and will I expect bring a smile, unless your Scottish. The country qualified for the 1978 finals in Argentina and despite no European team ever winning the trophy on that continent the Scots believed it was their year to the extent they had prepared the stamps to mark their victory.
Such was the belief that they could win the trophy the Royal Mail had designed two stamps to celebrate the triumph. Forward planning is important but possibly this was a little too optimism. Today the stamps are on display at the National Postal Museum.
The Scots optimism was such that before they held a sending off which the press dubbed a victory parade at Hampden Park which attracted 25,000. The manager Ally McLeod informed the media “You can mark down 25th June 1978 as the day Scottish football conquers the world." Then In a TV interview he was asked "what will you do if you win the World Cup” He replied “Retain it.”
Things could of gone better, upon arrival the team bus broke down as they left the airport. In an era when managers produced dossiers on their opponents he admitted he did no homework on his first opponent, Peru, and didn’t even know what position their players would be in. He clammy told the assembled reporters his team talk had been when the goalie gets the ball ‘just hoof if long.’ Peru won 3-1.
Things got worse after that game when their own winger Willie Johnson failed a drug test and was set home (he claimed he had taken a cold remedy). Next up it was Iran who held them to a 1-1 draw. McLeods behaviour at press conferences became more erratic. He claimed the Iran result was the fault of the hotel. It seems their swimming pool had no water in it and his players had been unable to relax.
They went into the final game needing to beat Holland by three goals. The Dutch played in second gear throughout. Scotland did produce one moment to remember when Archie Gemell scored a superb solo goal, the Dutch upped a gear scored and changed down. Scotland won 3-2 and went home. Holland went on to be runners up. Upon their arrival back in Scotland the team was met by small handful who hurled abuse. The Scottish FA stood by their man but he left the post soon afterwards.
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