Scots, Wha Hae
Football is all about contrasting emotions; joy and despair, victory and defeat.
How emotions swing one way to the other through the 90 minutes of a match is what generates the drama that attracts people to the sport and makes us fans.
Scotland 2 – Liechtenstein 1 To see a game dramatically turn in the 7th minute of stoppage time (2minutes more than the minimum required) and see a side go from total disaster to total glee, it never stops to amaze.
Hampden Park had started to empty as stoppage time dragged on and a new low point in Scottish football seemed to have been found. Facing Liechtenstein, who sat 100 places below in the FIFA rankings, you would assume a home win was certain but at the clock turned to 96 minutes it was one all, and this was after Scotland had already come from a goal down.
I took a corner in the, what turned out to be, final minute with the last touch of the game to separate the sides. It was a fine header from Stephen McManus and a very welcome 3 points in the qualification campaign but should it have been celebrated as much as it was?
Ultimately you can only beat who is in front of you but when the opposition is of such a low calibre, a last gasp win at home should not be treated with such joy. Admittedly there will be relief but, you would hope, it will pass quickly when even the players should be saying “it was Liechtenstein!!”.
But is also showed us how far the standing and expectations of Scotland has drifted in recent years after.
It is now 12 years since Scotland managed to qualify for a major tournament and on the showing of the first 2 qualifiers for Euro 2012, let us assume it will soon be 14 years, before the next attempt starts. After 5 World Cups and 2 Euro between 1974 to 1998 it looks like the well is now dry and qualification seems so far away after the highs of the John Collins wink at the Stade de France on 10th June 1998. Yet it was another day that ended in disappointment but for 70 minutes, Scotland matched was what viewed as the best team in the world, but what fun it was.
The players joy tonight seemed genuine but the crowd around them, what was left, seemed embarrassed to be celebrating this last minute victory.
In the pantheon of results where will this sit?
I doubt it will register along with the two victories over France in the failed qualification to Euro 2008 or to go back further, the success against the Netherlands in 1978 with Archie Gemmill’s famous goal.