It’s not been easy supporting the Scotland team these past 20-odd years. Growing up, I was accustomed to a limited amount of success in that we qualified for the finals of the World Cup in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1996, 1990 and 1998. OK, once we got there, we never really acquitted ourselves and were always among the first teams to be knocked out at the initial group stages, but just being involved made for exciting summers.
We’ve not come close to getting to any Finals since 1998. Indeed, there have been a number of humiliations and far too many low points along the way ever since.
There was, when the qualifying draw was made for the 2022 World Cup, more hope than normal on account of us having improved under manager Steve Clarke and from being put in a group where we had a chance of at least finishing runners-up in. But then, the football matches got under way and the hope evaporated. The first fove games, played in March and September 2021 were very uninspiring. We drew at home against Austria and away in Israel, our main rivals in the group, and while the defeat away to Denmark wasn’t unexpected, the manner of it – a 4-0 thrashing – was a horrible watch. Yes, we had eked out home wins against the Faroe Islands and Moldova, the two minnows in our group, but we now had to more than likely win all remaining five matches to have any hope of realising the dream.
On 7 September 2021, we pulled off a surprise 1-0 win in Vienna, thanks to a goal from a penalty awarded after a debatable VAR review, seriously putting a dent in the hopes of the Austrians.
On 9 October 2021, we scored a goal in the fourth minute of added-on time at the end of the match to somehow snatch a 3-2 win at home to Israel.
On 12 October 2021, it almost came horribly unstuck, but a goal in the 86th minute saw us eke out a necessary three points in the Faroes.
The Danes were continuing to do us favours by winning their matches against Austria and Israel, and all of a sudden a path to qualification was open.
On 12 November 2021, we travelled to Moldova where a fine performance resulted in a 2-0 win, meaning we had secured second place in the group and a shot at glory.
Last night we played our final qualifying match against Denmark, a side that had breezed through its previous nine games, winning them all and indeed only conceding one goal along the way. Anything other than a win would have meant our next step would be an away match, in March 2022, against one of the other runners-up with a better record than us, most likely against a side that was far higher than us in the world rankings.
Last night, Scotland beat Denmark by two goals to nil. It’s undeniably our best and most important win in a generation. Twelve teams will be involved in the next stage of the qualifying process, and last night’s win means we are guaranteed a home match, and unless we are terribly unlucky with the draw, we should be playing against a side who we can beat. Do that, and we get down to the final six, with one more match to be won if we are to get to the finals. The draw is next week……
There was a lot of post-match adrenalin, and I decided that it would best be served by pulling together, for the first time in a couple of years, a new one-take 60-minute mixtape. I hope it meets with your approval.
mp3: Various Artists – Just Maybe…
Look At The Sky – Sons of the Descent
Ex Stasi Spy – Luke Haines
One Piece At A Time – Michelle Shocked
Fiery Jack – The Fall
Blues For Ceausescu – Fatima Mansions
Get Up – Sleater-Kinney
Firestarter – The Prodigy
Born Free – M.I.A.
Radio Free Europe – R.E.M.
I Sold My Soul On E-Bay – Swansea Sound
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Blue Boy – Orange Juice
Take The Skinheads Bowling – Camper Van Beethoven
Definitive Gaze – Magazine
Hey Heartbreaker – Dream Wife
Go Wild In The Country (12″ version) – Bow Wow Wow
Some you’ll know, while others may well be new to you. It’s well worth a listen, even if I say so myself. And Taylor Swift straight into Orange Juice works perfectly.
Tune in tomorrow for some unexpected but welcome news.