David Marshall heroically rushed to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty in the winner-takes-all-clash against Serbia in November sealed Scotland’s spot at Euro 2020 this summer.
It was the crazy and wonderful side of football for all to see – with the actions of one man managing to set the mood of an entire nation.
Euphoria spilled over into every corner north of the border, and no wonder. After all, the tense, nail-biting triumph ensured that they earned a place in a major tournament for the first time since 1998.
Scotland defeated Serbia in a thrilling penalty shootout to seal their spot at Euro 2020 this summer
David Marshall ducked left to hold out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s effort and seal victory
They have plenty to look forward to. Last but not least a reunion with the ‘Auld Enemy’.
Scotland’s group is rounded out by Croatia and the Czech Republic, but their true glory will come by traveling to Wembley to take on England and put a new spin on the legacy of what remains the oldest international rivalry in the world football.
So, how did tempers begin between the two nations? The resentment goes all the way back to 1870, although this very first match is not in the history books.
Paul Gascoigne’s goal against Scotland at Euro 96 is just one of many standout moments
England and Scotland (pictured fighting in 2016) have long endured a heated rivalry
This is for a very strange reason. The competition was organized by the Football Association, but without any input from their colleagues in Scotland.
As a result, the Scottish team’s players simply lived in London, but had roots going back to Caledonia. On that occasion, the spoils were shared in the Oval in a 1-1 draw.
Two years later, the competition became a fixture in both countries’ schedules. The first official international match between them took place in Glasgow in November 1872.
England welcome Scotland to Wembley in June for their highly anticipated group match
Scotland’s players were then all taken out of Queen’s Park – and the match ended in another 1-1.
Notably, according to the Glasgow Herald, England’s average weight was “about two stone heavier” than their opponents, although Scotland’s technical prowess was praised.
In 1873, after the creation of the Scottish FA, an agreement was made whereby the two countries would enter into each other annually.
These encounters fueled the fires that are currently crackling and hissing beneath the rivalry.
The mutual record between them is very close. England have 48 wins to their name while Scotland has 41 wins. There have been 25 draws.
Scotland’s infamous ‘Wembley Wizards’ team scored five goals against England in March 1928
Scotland captain James McMullan is being escorted off the pitch by supporters in the photo
All that action is sprinkled with the emergence of iconic games, teams and goals. One of the first parties to write themselves into fixture folklore was the 1928 ‘Wembley Wizards’.
Scotland traveled to Wembley with some key players surprisingly left out of the team, and England boasted the legendary Dixie Dean, who would go on to score 60 goals that season, up front.
However, the hosts were shocked and Scotland came out on top after an attacking performance marked by swagger and quality. Alex Jackson scored a hat-trick, with Alex James also on target, in a memorable 5-1 win.
Fresh out of his nation looting five at their old rivals’ stadium, James would boldly insist, “We could have had 10.”
Gordon Banks made a stunning save in 1967 but couldn’t stop England 3-2
Denis Law is wildly celebrated as Scotland go on to beat the world champions
Decades later, in 1967, Scotland sealed another historic victory over England. This one is arguably their most famous to date.
After all, the 3-2 victory came against the reigning world champions and was the first defeat suffered by Sir Alf Ramsey’s history makers since their World Cup glory.
After Scotland once again stunned the Three Lions, it quickly proclaimed itself unofficial world champions.
The 1977 encounter is most memorable for the actions of fans rather than players. Members of the Scotland stalwarts tore up sections of Wembley grass and clambered onto the frames of the goals to toast their 2-1 win.
The 1977 clash between the two countries left Scotland supporters tearing up parts of the pitch
However, the renewed rivalry two years later took on a much more sinister undertone.
In 1979, the wild and unsavory atmosphere at Wembley resulted in 349 arrests and 149 people removed from the site.
Another minor pitch invasion also marred the day – and chaos soon spilled over to the metro network and the streets of the capital. Two supporters were killed.
The dire rivalry between parts of both groups of supporters later spread to Glasgow in 1989. A match staged in the city that year led to 260 arrests.
To date, the only major tournament match between the two countries has taken place at Euro 96. Paul Gascoigne’s iconic goal and celebration at Scotland’s expense led England to believe the trophy would soon be theirs.
Steve Bull scored for England at Hampden in a draw marred by ugly scenes in and around the city
Alan Shearer headed home shortly after half-time to give the hosts the lead, although the celebrations were almost short-lived after Scotland were awarded a penalty after Tony Adams’ foul on Gordon Durie.
David Seaman held on, however, and held off Gary McAllister’s attempt from 12 yards out. Then step forward Gascoigne.
An nimble lift over Colin Henry’s head, followed by a flawless finish, saw his teammates rush toward him to squirt water into his mouth.
Stuart McCall later recalled their memories of the aftermath of the match to the BBC, including a disagreement with Ally McCoist over taking Gascoigne’s shirt home.
Gascoigne’s ‘dentist chair’ party came as England doubled their lead over Scotland
“After the game, we were on the bus and Ally said, ‘I’ve got Gazza’s shirt,’” McCall recalled.
“And I said, ‘I can’t believe you did that, that goal probably kicked us out of the tournament.’ The boys told me to calm down and I tried to keep my face straight.
“No, it’s a shame,” I said. “I would never have taken his shirt, especially after he scored against us.”
“You’re just jealous,” he replied. “Jealous?! I have nothing to be jealous of,” I said, ducking into my bag.
The strike of the former Rangers and Tottenham star is one of the iconic moments of the old rivalry
“I took out mine and said ‘that’s a real Gazza shirt – that’s the shirt he played against us in and didn’t score in – so I got the original!'”
Another memorable meeting between the two old enemies took place in 1999, when a place at Euro 2000 was at stake.
The two-legged play-off saw England narrowly pass Scotland to reach the showpiece, largely in part as a result of the first half of the first leg.
Paul Scholes made himself a national hero after scoring twice for 50,000 taunting Scots at Hampden Park.
The Manchester United star clung to a long ball forward to score England’s first, then doubled his number just before half time after nodding in a David Beckham free kick.
Paul Scholes was in the doubles when England beat Scotland 2-0 in a crucial play-off for Euro 2000
Scotland triumphed in the second leg, coming out 1-0 victors south of the border, but Don Hutchinson’s goal proved only a consolation.
Since then, England have taken three wins from their next four clashes, the most recent of which ended in a 2-2 draw.
A 25 percent capacity means that the simmering and often intimidating atmosphere created by fans this summer may not quite reach the levels of the 70s and 80s.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any fireworks on the field on June 18. Brace yourself.