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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Remembering the Auld Enemy Or Confessions Of A Masochist

Written by on January 12, 2011 | 13 Comments »
Posted in England, General, Scotland

The news that consideration is being given to resurrecting the Home Internationals as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Football Associations brought a few thoughts to mind and more than a few memories.

The General Secretary of the FA, Alex Horne, went to great pains to make it clear that it any such endeavour would be limited to 2013 and it would not be mark a permanent return to yearly international soccer calendar.

It must admit to having mixed feelings about reviving the competition that ran for a century between 1883/84 and 1983/84 with the only breaks for two World Wars and the troubles in Northern Ireland which voided the 1981 edition.

Any hope that a round robin tournament involving England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales would somehow better equip these countries for international competitions such as the European Championships and the World Cup should be stillborn. Knocking the ball about? More a case of knocking each other about. Just think of the “passion” brought to local derbies in UK but in this case played at an international level.

I shudder to think what Fabio Capello would think of bodies clattering into each other at a rate of knots while the ball is of only passing interest to the combatants. Every historical grievance and national injustice – real and imagined – captured and presented within 90 minutes of what would be labelled as soccer.

On the other hand some of my greatest football memories are of the build up to the game against England or even better, being there. (Pause for second thoughts – some of my worst soccer moments have been after losing to England!)

English fans and players would always say that games between the Auld Enemies meant far more to the Scots than it did to them. Personally, I never bought that one and thought it a case of talking down the importance so it could be easily brushed off when they lost.

You can also tell how much it really meant to English fans by how quickly those that remember the time when Scotland and England matches were an annual occurrence can rattle off the scores and dates when England administered a sound thrashing.

1955 7-2; 1961 9-3; 1975 5-1; all at Wembley or more commonly known as the place where Scottish goalkeepers went to die. With each mistake a stake through the heart and each giving rise to a thousand jokes about Scottish goalies.

Noted Scottish football historian Bob Crampsey once said of Fred Martin who stood between posts in 1955 “when the mood was upon him, he could be very good, but at other times, he played exactly as you would expect an inside-right to play if shoved between the posts.”

The goalkeeper in 1961 was Frank Haffey and it led to the line “What’s the time? Nine past Haffey”

Within two years Haffey had left for Australia. The story goes that Denis Law (who also played in the 1961 game) bumped into Haffey Down Under while on a promotional tour nearly 40 years later. Haffey told Law that he was thinking of heading back to Scotland for a holiday but Law advised him that he should give it a few more years before he could safely show his face.

Then there was Stewart Kennedy in 1975 – any Scottish supporter who witnessed that performance cannot do anything but remember Kennedy whenever he sees a goalkeeper wrapped around a goal post.

Ironically the loss in 1961 had a restorative impact on Scottish fortunes and was to be the last in a run of ten winless games against England.

Scotland would win four, draws two and only lose once in the next seven years – the Golden Years. Included in the four wins was a hat trick of wins in 1962, 1963 and 1964 the first of which was Scotland’s first win over England in a quarter of a century. And of course there was the 1967 win.

There was also a rebound from the 1975 loss with wins in 1976 and 1977. Perhaps it was in 1976 that the goalkeeping curse passed to England?

As violence – as opposed to good natured property damage – took a grip of the game in the late 70s and 80s the annual match up just became too much of a bother and faded away.

Is it worth reviving? Probably not – it might be better just living with the memories, good and bad.

13 responses to “Remembering the Auld Enemy Or Confessions Of A Masochist”

  1. There are three types of England v Scotland game. The ones I remember with joy, the ones I remember with devastation and the ones I seem to have no memory of at all.

    But I’d rather leave it that way. Reviving this fixture will haul Scottish football back to the parochialism of the 60s and 70s when beating England was all that mattered.

    Other than to distract the English public from how uncompetitive their side has become against the big teams, I can see no benefit in this at all for Scotland.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RICHARD STRYPE. RICHARD STRYPE said: RT @BobbySoccerRep: Bring back the Scotland – England game, or there again maybe not; confessions of a masochist […]

  3. Gus Keri says:

    this is something I never thought I will see. Kelly is right back and Johnson is left back.
    Torres with excellent goal.

  4. Gus Keri says:

    Agger has been demanding a starting spot. In his two starts under Dalglish, he was responsible for both goals.

  5. The fact that I can remember the Home Internationals as well as I can remember the World Cups of the same period is a telling indictment of British insularity when it comes to soccer.

  6. Gus Keri says:

    Blackpool should give Liverpool lessons on how to defend.

  7. Rossoneri Red Devil says:

    Liverpool’s defending was pretty terrible, but Charlie Adam looked amazing…..AGAIN.

    With the new wave of Premier League starlets like Adam, perhaps the future would look bright for Scotland if the Home Internationals were revived.

  8. RRD – But they all seem to be midfield players.

  9. Soccerlogical says:


    Forlan to Juve…. make sense?

    The Spaniard seems in need of a new challenge and Juve need an outright goalscorer.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    Spaniard, Uruguayan… whatever the hell these millionaire soccer stars are!!!!

  11. Six goals so far is not a good return. Needs to something to spark him

  12. Gus Keri says:

    Another surprise result in the Asian cup today.
    One of the favorites, Saudi Arabia, lost to Jordan 1-0 and became the first team to be eliminated from the tournament.

  13. John Bladen says:

    Thanks for the Crampsey joke, Bobby… a ray of sunshine in an otherwise cold and miserable day!

    RE: the home internationals… after England’s showing in RSA, I mentioned in passing to my niece that it looked like England would have to find another International competition to enter, since they can’t get out of R16 in the WC, and sometimes don’t look like qualifying for Euro…
    Sad to say, but I don’t even think they’d necessarily be guaranteed a win in the Home ints…. such is the state of English football.

    I’d be interested in the internationals being resurrected, but only at U23 or U20 level. What do you think? An annual U23/U20 tourney…

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