Scotland legend Joe Jordan reveals in a new BBC ALBA programme that the Tartan Army didn’t just break the crossbar following the Scots’ famous 1977 Wembley win – half a dozen kilted fans broke into the away dressing room and were waiting in the bath for their heroes returning from the pitch.
Produced by purpleTV for BBC ALBA and presented by Alex O’Henley, Tartan Pride documents the rivalry between Scotland and England since the world’s first ever international fixture was staged in Glasgow in 1872.
A story of emotional, cultural and historical significance that continues to resonate more than 140 years on from that first meeting, the film explores the players and fans involved as well as the effect the rivalry continues to have on Scottish society.
Legends including Denis Law and Joe Jordan as well as former managers Tommy Docherty and Craig Brown give their thoughts on the Scotland-England clash, and they are joined by ex-internationalists including Gordon McQueen, John Robertson and John Collins.
We also hear thoughts from former England stars Kevin Keegan and Terry Butcher, who provide an Auld Enemy perspective, whilst broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove, Dr Kat Lindner, Lecturer in Media and Culture, and sport historian Dr Matt McDowell help set the context for how the fixture became such a special part of both the sporting calendar and Scottish culture in general.
The film looks back to those initial Scotland v England meetings, and includes drama reconstructions of the inaugural fixture at Hamilton Crescent cricket ground. Thirty years later, 26 supporters lost their lives at the clash when part of a stand collapsed at Ibrox Park where the match was being played in 1902. Using an eye witness statement from the subsequent Ibrox Disaster Enquiry, the programme features a re-enactment of one supporter’s first-hand account of the tragedy.
As the fixture moves on throughout the 20th Century, Stuart Cosgrove, Craig Brown and Joe Jordan all reflect on the popularity of the contest as tens of thousands of fans saved money to make the biennial away trip to Wembley
That includes the famous 1977 fixture at the London ground where goals from Gordon McQueen and Kenny Dalglish helped the visitors to a 2-1 win – and the Tartan Army helped themselves to large parts of Wembley including the broken crossbar and chunks of the pitch.
But for striker Jordan, who won 52 caps between 1973 and 1982, it was the aftermath in the entrails of the old Wembley – rather than chaos caused by the thousands on the pitch – that created his fondest recollection.
Joe said: “My memory of it is when we came down the tunnel and went into the dressing room and there were about six guys with kilts in the bath. How they got in I’ll never know.
“They were in the Scottish dressing room and they were actually in the bath – singing.
“That was something I’d never experienced and never have done since. That was going just a little bit too far. But there you go, they enjoyed it. And they got a free wash.”
Denis Law, who was travelling on the London Underground after that same fixture, also remembers the sight of the Tartan Army with their Wembley ‘mementoes.’
Denis said: “I was coming back on the tube from the match. It is difficult to believe these things but I met these guys with the crossbar. If you’ve ever lifted a crossbar you’ll know it is unbelievably heavy. It is enormous.
“They’re on the platform at the station and I asked them, ‘Where are you going with that?’
“‘Well, we’re going back to catch the tube from London.’
“They wanted to take the crossbar onto the underground. I couldn’t believe it.”
Yet, as former England captain Terry Butcher explains, the importance of the fixture was just as keenly felt between the players as it was with the fans. For Butcher, who was playing with a host of Scottish internationalists at Rangers, he missed no opportunity to ensure everyone knew his allegiances.
Terry said: “I pinched a training top from England that had the Three Lions on it and I used to wear that for training at Rangers every day. I was fiercely proud wearing that, especially with Davie Cooper, Ally McCoist, Ian Durrant and all these people.”
But as Butcher explains, the rivalry could be put aside occasionally – at least for one Scotland legend.
Butcher added: “We used to have England versus Scotland on a Friday and that was war. It was unbelievable. When you look back you do wonder how we didn’t get more injuries on that Friday morning. It was so competitive as everyone wanted to beat the English.
“Yet, funnily enough, Graeme Souness used to play for the English when he was fit to play. What about that!”
The Tartan Army weren’t quite so charitable when setting aside their allegiances, and Butcher remembers one particularly interesting welcome the English players received en route to Hampden in the 1980s.
Terry explains: “We used to see as a team how many drunks we could spot on the England bus as we travelled to Hampden.
“On one occasion, we stopped at the traffic lights with the police escort. This drunken Scotsman, with his kilt and a can of beer, came up and actually headbutted the coach. I couldn’t believe it. The players said ‘wow’.
“He obviously fell backwards. Unbelievable. You’d only get that at an England v Scotland game.”
Produced by purpleTV and directed by Margot McCuaig, the programme will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on Thursday 1 January 2015 from 9.00 until 10.00pm. It will be repeated on Friday 2 January at 11.00pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer.