When England and Scotland were drawn together in the same group for World Cup 2018 qualifying, it’s likely that the news was greeted with rather different emotions by a) the supporters of either side and b) those tasked with arranging policing and security for what is sure to be a rowdy occasion on Friday night. The bottom line is that football fixtures don’t get more passionate than England vs Scotland.
The origins of international football can be traced back to the famous ‘Battle of Britain’ encounters of the late 1800s, and the animosity between the two countries – some Scottish journalists even today refer to England solely as the ‘Auld Enemy’ – continued throughout the Home Championship matches which ran every year up until 1989. Nowadays, with England vs Scotland fixtures so rare, they seem to take on an even greater significance.
Naturally, the bookmakers are favouring an England win – particularly as this match will be played at Wembley Stadium – but as the pick of the matches played between these two sides over the last century or so proves, it pays to expect the unexpected.
England on Cloud Nine Courtesy of Hapless Haffey
1961 was the year, and just five years prior to England’s unforgettable World Cup triumph of 1966 they were busy handing out a record thrashing to the Scots.
The 9-3 win featured England goals from the likes of Johnny Haynes, the legendary Bobby Robson and a hat-trick from Jimmy Greaves, although it was the performance of Scotland keeper Frank Haffey that would go down in the history books.
He was at fault for five of the English goals, and would almost immediately emigrate to Australia following the game. Haffey is part of footballing folklore that dictates that all Scottish goalkeepers are, well, a little inconsistent.
Scots Revenge Against World Cup Winners
The 1967 fixture, again at Wembley, was perhaps Scotland’s finest hour against England. Sir Alf Ramsey’s men had lifted the Jules Rimet trophy just a year prior, but the Scots were not to be daunted.
The 3-2 scoreline did not flatter the Scots and rather humbled the hosts, as Scotland’s Jim Baxter introduced the world to showboating in the latter stages with his ‘keepy uppy’ time wasting tactics.
The Dark Days of Football Hooliganism Emerge
It would be churlish to suggest that the 1977 encounter between England and Scotland was where football hooliganism was born, but for many of the 98,000 in attendance and millions watching at home this would be their first exposure to the needless violence that troubled the sport in the late 1970s-1980s.
The match itself was rather uneventful; Scotland won 2-1 courtesy of goals from Gordon McQueen and Kenny Dalglish, and it was the antics of the Scottish fans after the game that made the headlines for all the wrong reasons: the Wembley seats were torn up, thousands of ‘fans’ invaded the pitch and the infamous scenes of the goalposts being shattered live on to this day.
For England fans of a certain vintage, Euro ’96 was an absolutely halcyon tournament for English football. Hosting the event, Terry Venables had cobbled together a solid Three Lions outfit that in Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham boasted a deadly duo up front.
Not for the first time, England and Scotland were paired together, and with the Home Championship a distant memory this fixture was more eagerly anticipated than normal. It was Shearer that gave England the lead, but then Scotland were awarded a penalty when Tony Adams chopped down Gordon Durie. But David Seaman saved Gary McAllister’s spot kick, and almost immediately after Paul Gascoigne received the ball in the Tartan Army’s half. He chipped the ball over Colin Hendry’s head before volleying home a stunning finish; a wonder goal met with one of the most iconic celebrations in history.
The more recent history between these two sides has been no less frantic, and it is interesting to note that Scotland – no matter where their game is at – always seem to raise their levels at Wembley Stadium. You may recall their 1-0 win there in 1999, or that in their last visit in 2013 they twice led before succumbing to a 2-3 defeat.
Patriotism often comes before a fall, but backing Scotland with a +1.25 Asian Handicap at 11/10 might just be the best bet you place this weekend.