#FlashbackFriday - Scotland v England: Part Four: 1969 to 2016  

(Part One covering 1870 to 1898 can be found here, Part Two covering 1898 to 1945 can be found here, while Part Three covering from 1946 to 1968 can be found here)

By 1969, for the first time the England v Scotland fixture would be moved to its own day after the finish of the League season in early May.  Prior to this point, club sides either played out their fixtures without players called up for international duty, or saw their fixture rearranged during the midweek.  Now the fixture would usually follow two weeks after the FA Cup Final.  As a result, because the fixture would no longer sit within the 3PM Blackout period, the game at Wembley would now be shown live on Television.


Also, like the FA Cup Final, the England v Scotland fixture as well as becoming a rare example of a live televised Football game, it would also feature on BBC1 and the ITV network simultaneously - which back then accounted for two thirds of all TV channels available within the UK.  Both channels would show the game live for the next fourteen years.   The BBC’s coverage in 1969 kicked off at 7PM, with a panel of summarisers which included Leeds United boss Don Revie and Liverpool boss Bill Shankly.

England topped the Home International group table with a one point cushion over Scotland.  England took the lead with a goal from Martin Peters, before his club mate Geoff Hurst doubled England’s lead.  Colin Stein of Rangers equalised just ahead of half time, however further goals from Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst gave England a 4-1 victory and secured England’s fourth outright championship in five years. 

In April 1970, England headed Hampden Park to face the Scots ahead of preparations for their attempt to retain the World Cup in Mexico over the summer.  The whole of the British Home International Championship would be compacted down to all three fixtures played out in just one week.  England and Scotland were joint top of the table, with the Welsh one point behind.  The ITV network provided delayed Coverage of the game from 7.15PM.


The two sides played out a 0-0 draw (the very first goalless draw between the two sides since 1872!), while at the same time a 1-0 win for Wales over Northern Ireland meant a three way tie for the Championship between England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  England went on to reach the Quarter Finals of the World Cup that year, before losing to the West Germans.

In 1971, the tournament would be played out between the week of 15th to 22nd May 1971, with the climax being Scotland’s journey to face England at Wembley.  Going into the final fixture, England held a one point lead over Northern Ireland at the top of the table.  England took the lead on nine minutes with a goal from Martin Peters (now of Spurs).  Two minutes later, Hugh Curran of Wolves pulled the Scots level.  Two further goals ahead of half time from Martin Chivers made it a Spurs treble and a 3-1 victory for England, who secured the Home International Championship with a one point cushion over Northern Ireland in second place. 

The Centenary fixture between England and Scotland came at Hampden Park at the end of May 1972 (just a few weeks after Wembley hosted the Centenary FA Cup Final).  Four days prior, a goal from Northern Ireland Player Manager Terry Neill had meant that England trailed the Scots by two points in the race for the Home International Championship.  This too would be the first game for Scotland against the Auld Enemy under the stewardship of Tommy Docherty.  A goal for Arsenal’s Alan Ball midway through the first half gave England a 1-0 victory and the Championship shared between England and Scotland.

In 1973, it would be a rare example of England playing Scotland twice in one calendar year.  On Valentine’s Day, England headed to a snowbound Hampden Park to face Scotland in a special fixture to commemorate the Centenary of the Scottish Football Association.  It would also be the first game for new Scotland boss Willie Ormond, after Tommy Docherty left the role to take over as Man United manager.


Highlights of the game would feature on BBC’s ‘Sportsnight’.  After eleven minutes, an own goal from Leeds United’s Peter Lorimer put England ahead.  Things went from bad to worse within four minutes after his club mate doubled England’s lead, followed almost immediate by a third from Mick Channon, meaning that Scotland were three down in the first quarter of an hour.  Late on in the second half, further goals from Martin Chivers and another from Alan Clarke gave England a thumping 5-0 away victory.  

Just over three months later, Scotland headed to Wembley to face England in the British Home International Championship.  Going into the game, England topped the table with a two point lead over Northern Ireland in second place.  A goal from Martin Peters nine minutes into the second half gave England a 1-0 victory over the Scots, meaning a sixth straight tournament either won or shared by the Three Lions.  

In 1974 however, Scotland would be celebrating qualification to the upcoming World Cup in West Germany.  England in contrast failed to qualify for the tournament, after failing to beat Poland at Wembley the previous November.  Alf Ramsey had been sacked by England a week ahead of the start of the Home Internationals, with former Man City boss Joe Mercer taking over as Caretaker manager for England’s summer fixtures.  The Three Lions though did top the Home International Championship with a 100% record going into the final fixture with the Scots – who themselves lost their opening game at home to Northern Ireland.

After four minutes, Joe Jordan of Leeds United put Scotland ahead.  On the half hour, a Colin Todd own goal doubled Scotland’s lead.  With no further scoring and a string of great saves from Peter Shilton, Scotland ran out 2-0 winners.  Amidst the post-match celebrations, Celtic’s Jimmy Johnstone made a V-sign gesture in the direction of the Hampden Park press box, following newspaper criticism of an incident in midweek where he found himself adrift at sea in a rowing boat with no oars, causing the Coastguard to be called to rescue him.  In the summer that followed however, at the World Cup the Scots finished the tournament unbeaten, but failed to progress past the group phase.

The 1975 Home International Championship had been the first for England under the management of former Leeds United boss Don Revie.  The match went ahead during the time of a strike which hit the ITV network, however London Weekend Television remained on air throughout the weekend – along with Westward, Tyne Tees and Channel – to provide ‘World of Sport’ coverage of the game.  Those in other ITV areas were lucky that the game was also covered by the BBC’s ‘Grandstand’. 

Scotland’s visit to Wembley late May 1975 saw the Scots atop of the Championship table, after England were held to a goalless draw to Northern Ireland at Windsor Park and a 2-2 draw with Wales at Wembley in Midweek.  The Three Lions however had had their name on the trophy for the previous eight years, either as outright winners or shared.  1975 was to be no exception, to the dismay of Scots Keeper Stewart Kennedy.


England took the lead with a superb thirty yard goal from Gerry Francis of QPR.  One minute later Ipswich Town’s Kevin Beattie doubled their lead from a header after getting on the end of a cross from Kevin Keegan.  A further five minutes on, Colin Bell of Man City made it three with a twenty yard shot, before Bruce Rioch of Aston Villa pulled one back for the Scots from the penalty spot.  Midway through the second half, Gerry Francis added a second with a twenty yard shot from a free kick before the scoring was rounded off by David Johnson of Ipswich Town with fifteen minutes to go, as England ran out emphatic 5-1 winners to seal the Home International Championship.

In 1976, once again the fixture became the head to head finale as both sides went into the final game on the back of two wins.  Neither side made it to the last eight of Euro ’76, though Wales did (but suffered a Quarter Final defeat to Yugoslavia).  England took the lead at Hampden Park on eleven minutes with a headed goal from Mick Channon – an FA Cup winner with Southampton a fortnight prior.  Seven minutes later, QPR’s Don Masson equalised.


Just prior to half time, the Scots had a call for a penalty turned down as the referee blew for half time just before bringing down Celtic’s Kenny Dalglish.  Four minutes after the break however, a Dalglish shot slipped through the hands of his future Liverpool team mate Ray Clemence.  A rare error from Clem resulted in a 2-1 win for Scotland, as a result won their first Home International Championship outright for nine years.

In the Silver Jubilee year of 1977, Scotland and Wales led the table going into the Scots visit to Wembley.  England in contrast stood one point behind in third as a result of suffering a 0-1 defeat to Wales in the midweek.  This would be the first meeting with England for new Scotland boss Ally McLeod.  The Hungarian referee would remark after the game that: ‘here were two teams both facing South American tours at the end of a long hard season, I thought the players would be anxious to avoid injury - not to try to hurt each other as they were. I did not realize it would be tribal warfare’.


Three minutes before half time, Scotland took the lead with a header from Gordon McQueen of Leeds United.  England were missing Kevin Keegan with an injury.  Kev had just recently left Liverpool to join German side SV Hamburg.  His replacement at Anfield – Kenny Dalglish – doubled the lead for the Scots.  England pulled a goal back from the penalty spot with three minutes to go, after a Gordon McQueen foul on Trevor Francis, however didn’t prevent a 2-1 victory for the Scots – their first at Wembley for ten years. 

As Wales were held to a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland at Windsor Park the night before, that victory won Scotland the Home International Championship for 1977. The post-match pitch invasion however would endure as long in the memory as the result and would be parodied by Baddiel and Skinner’s ‘Phoenix from the Flames’ in the video below.  The pitch would be pulled apart by jubilant Scots fans and strewn with broken glass. 

The match would be England’s third defeat at Wembley in one season and turned out to be Don Revie’s final game with the Scots.  What followed for England would be three drawn matches in South America against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to acclimatize for the Argentina ’78 World Cup.  Don Revie resigned soon after to manage the UAE and ultimately England failed to qualify for the World Cup – making the whole of the 1970s a lost decade with regard to qualifying for major international tournaments.  The Scots however made their way to the World Cup again.  Just ahead of the tournament would be the British Home International Championship.     

England’s visit to Hampden Park would be Ron Greenwood’s first meeting with the Scots.  Going into the final game, England held a two point lead over the Scots, with full points from their meetings with Wales and Northern Ireland.  The Scots in contrast could only manage two draws.  A goal from Man United’s Steve Coppell from a fumble by Scots keeper Alan Rough with eight minutes to go secured a 1-0 win and a 100% record to seal the Home International Championship for England.  Scotland also failed to set Argentina ’78 alight and were eliminated after the First Round Group phase.


In the final Home International Championship of the 1970s, England went into the final game on level points with the Welsh who beat Scotland 3-0 in their opening game, then held England to a 0-0 draw at Wembley.  Scotland stood a point behind in third.  The match would be Jock Stein’s first meeting with the Auld Enemy as Scotland boss.  John Wark of Ipswich Town gave Scotland the lead after twenty one minutes.  The eight foot high perimeter fences, erected after Scotland's last visit two years prior, wasn’t enough to prevent a possibly drunk Scots skinhead invading the pitch and hilariously giving the Police the run around for a minute or so before being apprehended.


Ahead of half time, England equalised with a goal from Peter Barnes of Man City.  Steve Coppell gave England the lead just past the hour mark, which was doubled seven minutes later with a superb goal from Kevin Keegan which started with a run from the half way line interrupted only with a one-two with West Ham’s Trevor Brooking, which gave England a 3-1 win to secure a second successive Championship.   

England’s performances in the 1980 Home International Championship were woefully under par compared to the two years prior.  In their first game, they suffered a 1-4 defeat to Wales at Wrexham, followed by a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland at Wembley.  Scotland accumulated just two points after a 0-1 away defeat to Northern Ireland, but beating Wales 1-0.  On eight minutes, Trevor Brooking gave England the lead, fourteen days after his Cup winning goal for West Ham at Wembley.  A second from Steve Coppell fifteen minutes from time secured a 2-0 victory for England.  The Championship however went to Northern Ireland after a 0-1 win over Wales at Cardiff.   

Also that year would be an England v Scotland Schoolboy international fixture at Wembley, which ITV covered on World of Sport two weeks later.  Among the future stars involved would be Celtic’s Paul McStay, John Robertson of Hearts, West Ham’s George Parris, Alistair Dick of Spurs and Paul Rideout who later turned out for Aston Villa, Bari, Southampton and scored an FA Cup winning goal for Everton in 1995.  Rideout bagged a hat-trick in this game, however the Scots ran out 5-4 winners    

The British Home International Championship of 1981 would be an oddity in that it was the only peacetime tournament during its lifespan to have failed to have been completed and hence, produced no winner.  In May of 1981, tension in the Northern Ireland troubles had begun to increase in relation to the Maze Prison hunger strikers and the death of Bobby Sands on May 5th. Northern Ireland played their only fixture in a 0-2 away defeat to Scotland.  The two home fixtures that had been scheduled at Windsor Park in Belfast were cancelled amid civil unrest (against the wishes of the Thatcher government).  An interesting quote came from a statement from the Welsh FA, in that that they had wanted the game to be played, but: 'in the end it was the players who decided things. This decision could be the beginning of the end of the Home Internationals’

Scotland’s visit to Wembley however went ahead as normal.  In this game, you can see that the Scots pre-empted the Premiership by a dozen years in bearing the surnames of players on the backs of their shirts.  It was actually an idea following on from North American sports and in fact, something the NASL (the North American Soccer League, which at the time played host to such big name Football stars as Pele, Bobby Moore and George Best) had long carried out.  In the event, a penalty from John Robertson of Nottingham Forest led to a 1-0 victory for the Scots (despite a tip off from Robertson's former Forest team mate Trevor Francis to England keeper Joe Corrigan of Man City on what way to dive).     

The Championship returned as normal in 1982, with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all having qualified for the Espana ’82 World Cup which was to follow shortly after the tournament.  It also went on under the backdrop of the ongoing Falklands War conflict.  England went into the final game with the Scots at Hampden Park with a 100% record.  Scotland however dropped a point at home to Northern Ireland and lagged behind England by one point.  A goal from Paul Mariner of Ipswich Town on thirteen minutes was enough to secure a 1-0 win for England.  This would be the final time that Ron Greenwood would face the Scots, as he was set to retire from the role after Espana ’82.   

In the World Cup however, England were eliminated without defeat.  After three straight wins during the opening group phase, two draws saw England crash out in the second group phase.  Northern Ireland defeated their Spanish hosts and won their first round group, but like England couldn’t get past the Second Phase.  The Scots for the third tournament in a row couldn’t get past the first round.


Further signs that the British Home International Championship was on the wane followed in 1983, when Scotland’s visit to Wembley was moved from a Saturday to a Wednesday evening.  This occurred on the recommendation of the Ministry for Sport, after requests from police and local authorities who wanted to avoid large groups of Scotland fans roaming around London on a Bank Holiday weekend.  FA Secretary Ted Croker admitted that: ‘the fixture has been in jeopardy for some time, we are desperately trying to preserve it and this is undoubtedly an experiment’.


The midweek meeting also meant that for the first time since 1970, the game would not feature live simultaneously on both the ITV network and BBC1 (the game had only appeared on the latter).   Scotland’s visit to Wembley for 1983 was the first time that the new England boss Bobby Robson would face the Scots.  This would be the first time that the teams would be separated by goal difference, rather than the tournament shared should the teams finish level.  Both England and Scotland went into the final game level on points.  Man United’s Bryan Robson had put England ahead on twelve minutes.  Six minutes into the second half, Aston Villa’s Gordon Cowans bagged another to secure a 2-0 victory for England and their fourth outright Championship in five years.     

In 1983/84, the Home International Championship reach the landmark of one hundred years since its inception.  Despite this, it would be the tournament’s final year.  On August 19, 1983, the FA’s international committee voted in favour of England withdrawing from the British Home Championship.  The Scottish FA soon followed suit.  Both respective associations felt that Northern Ireland and Wales were neither strong enough sides and that they were no longer a big draw in terms of attendances – Northern Ireland’s visit to Wrexham to play the Welsh in May 1982 attracted a crowd of just 2,315.  Among other concerns would be ongoing hooliganism problems, as well as security fears surrounding the Northern Ireland Troubles, which at this point were still ongoing.

Despite the fact that the English and Scottish FA’s felt that their priorities lay elsewhere in 1984, not one of the Home Internationals had qualified for Euro ’84 and the tournament would be the associations’ only chance of international silverware.  England’s visit to Hampden Park on 26th May 1984 would be the very last British Home International Fixture.  Northern Ireland topped the group on three points, but both England and Scotland stood one point behind and either could win the tournament with a victory.  The game would be covered by the ITV network, live on ‘World of Sport’.

Scotland took the lead with a headed goal from Aberdeen’s Mark McGhee.  Arsenal’s Tony Woodcock pulled England level nine minutes from half time with an excellent crashing drive.  With no further scoring, Woodcock’s goal would make history as the final goal of the Home International Championship.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw.  All four sides finished the 1983/84 tournament on three points, however the four positions would be would be decided on goal difference.  The ultimate irony however would be that despite England and Scotland citing the lack of strength of the opposition as their reason for withdrawal, the winners of the last ever Home Internationals were Northern Ireland, with Wales as runners up.          

Despite the axe falling on the British Home International Championship, the annual England v Scotland fixture limped on for another four years under the guise of the Rous Cup – named after former FIFA President Stanley Rous.  In 1985, the first Rous Cup fixture was played amidst arguably the worst month in the history of English football.  A fortnight earlier had been the double disaster of the Bradford Fire and the death of a young child after a wall collapsed onto a car amidst rioting between Leeds United and Birmingham City fans.


Meanwhile, there were no Liverpool players available due to their involvement with the ill-fated European Cup Final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussells, four days later, where thirty nine mostly Italian spectators died in a crush which resulted from Chaos that followed rioting between the two sets of fans.  The atmosphere of the time had led to the game being switched to Hampden Park away from Wembley due to fears of crowd trouble over a bank holiday weekend from visiting Scots fans with their English counterparts.


The matter provoked debate in parliament as to why it would be less troublesome playing out the game at Hampden rather than Wembley.  Labour MP for Newham and future Sports Minister in the Blair government, Tony Banks, suggested it was because the Scots had been more successful at eliminating football hooliganism than the English authorities, however north of the border there had also been a European Cup Winners Cup tie between Celtic and Rapid Vienna earlier in the season, which had to be replayed at Old Trafford after an opposition player had been hit and injured by a missile, so the Scots were not immune from such trouble during a period in social history which also saw the inner cities riots such as Broadwater Farm and Brixton, as well as the year-long Miner’s Strike.


Ahead of the Scotland v England fixture, as well as after, there had been rioting between the two sets of fans.  In the event, Scotland secured a 1-0 victory with a headed goal from Dundee United’s Richard Gough, to seal the inaugural Rous Cup. 

That defeat was the first of a record three straight defeats for the Three Lions.  England headed to Mexico after this game to play three games to acclimatize for the World Cup the following year.  There followed two further losses to Italy and Mexico, before a surprise 3-0 win over the auld enemy, West Germany.  The 1985 fixture between Scotland and England game was the last for Jock Stein in charge of the Scottish side, after the former Celtic manager collapsed and died of a heart attack after a hard fought World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Scotland at Cardiff’s Ninian Park in September 1985. 


Between here and the Mexico ’86 World Cup, the Scots would be managed by the incumbent Aberdeen boss Alex Ferguson.  Scotland qualified via a play-off with Australia.  Bobby Robson’s England would also qualify for the tournament.  The preparations involved for the World Cup meant that the Rous Cup fixture at Wembley would be played on St. George’s Day in April.  The game would be covered live on the ITV network.


Just ahead of the half hour, England took the lead through a headed goal from Terry Butcher of Ipswich Town.  Two minutes ahead of half time, a headed goal from Glenn Hoddle of Spurs doubled England’s lead.  Just short of the hour mark, Terry Butcher brought down Charlie Nicholas leading to the Arsenal star having to exit play with a dislocated Shoulder.  Though it looked as if Nicholas was brought down outside of the penalty area, the French referee pointed to the spot.  Graeme Souness of Sampdoria successfully converted the penalty, however couldn’t prevent a 2-1 victory for England to take the 1986 Rous Cup. 

In the World Cup, Fergie’s Scots were eliminated in the first group phase after acquiring just one point.  England after a poor start managed to scrape through to the Quarter Finals before being eliminated by Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ – the Argentinians going on to win the Mexico ’86 World Cup.  Oddly enough, at the time of Graeme Souness scoring from the penalty spot against England at Wembley, the former Liverpool captain had already been announced to take over the role of manager of Rangers from Jock Wallace at the end of the season.


The Souness revolution brought a major change in the relationship between English and Scottish football.  For over a century, talented ‘Scotch Professors’ headed south of the border for the riches of the English Football League.  With the post-Heysel ban from European competition however, Rangers had seen an opening to break the bank and bring top English talent to the Scottish League.  Of England’s Mexico ’86 squad members, centre half Terry Butcher and goalkeeper Chris Woods headed for Ibrox to secure the first League title for Rangers in nine years.  In the 1987 Rous Cup fixture at Hampden Park, Woods and Butcher became the first Scots based England players to face Scotland for twenty seven years.


The format of the Rous Cup had changed in 1987 to include a visiting South American side that would play both England and Scotland.  The very first year saw the visit of Brazil and four days prior at Wembley, England played a 1-1 draw with the South Americans.  England’s visit to Hampden Park would be new boss Andy Roxburgh’s first meeting with the Auld Enemy and captured live by BBC’s ‘Grandstand’.  The game however ended in a dour 0-0 draw.  Three days later, Brazil left Hampden Park with a 2-0 victory over the Scots to take the Rous Cup for 1987.           

In 1988, England had comprehensively qualified for Euro ’88 and were semi confident of making waves ahead of the tournament.  The Scots on the other hand had failed to qualify, losing out to Jack Charlton’s Eire side in the qualifying group phase who England were due to face in the First Round of the tournament in West Germany.  The formality of the Rous Cup formed part of England’s pre-Euro ’88 warm up.  The visiting South American side had been Colombia, who the Scots had drawn 0-0 with at Hampden Park in midweek.


Scotland’s visit to Wembley returned to its traditional Saturday afternoon slot after an eight year gap and was captured live by the ITV network.  A Peter Beardsley goal after twelve minutes was enough for England to defeat the Auld Enemy 1-0.  Three days later, Colombia came to Wembley to face England in the final Rous Cup fixture.  A 1-1 draw won England the tournament, the equaliser for Colombia had been scored by the tragic Andreas Escobar, who six years later would be murdered for his own goal against the host nation in the USA ’94 World Cup, which saw an early exit for the much fancied Colombian side.

Twelve months on saw the final Rous Cup tournament, with the visit of Chile.  The event was overshadowed by the Hillsborough disaster of a few weeks prior and the extension of the League season due to the disruption it had caused to the League programme.  As a result, many players from clubs still participating in league fixtures were absent from proceeding, particularly Liverpool and Arsenal players as the two sides were still battling for the League Championship.  Gary Lineker was also missing due to suffering from the effects of Hepatitis.  This meant that a makeshift England side which included an odd strike force of Nottingham Forest’s Nigel Clough and John Fashanu of Wimbledon.  As a result, Chile held England to a 0-0 draw in front of a poor crowd of just 15,628.

England’s visit to Hampden Park followed on, one day after Arsenal’s dramatic last minute victory over Liverpool to steal the 1988/89 League title.  Chris Waddle had been in fine form for Spurs at the back end of the season to receive interest from French club Marseille, to whom he transferred to over the summer.  John Barnes’s absence meant that Waddle found himself recalled to the first eleven.  The Spurs winger seized his chance by putting England ahead on twenty minutes with a fine header.  John Fashanu had been replaced by Steve Bull on the half hour.  Bull had been the third tier top scorer with Wolves and had never played regular top tier football before.  With eight minutes left to play, Bull marked his debut with a goal, which secured a 2-0 victory for England.

Three days later, a 2-0 victory for Scotland over Chile at Hampden Park in front of just 9,000 fans meant that England had won the last ever Rous Cup.  England’s visit to Glasgow the previous Saturday however resulted in further violence between opposing fans.  The England v Scotland fixture came to be seen as a relic from the footballing past and faced the axe going into the new decade. 

Within a year, both England and Scotland were preparing for the Italia ’90 World Cup without a fixture against each other.  For the first time in 120 years, there had been no fixture against the Auld Enemy in any form whatsoever.  Another symbol of change had been the fact that, though traditionally the Scots side would be full of players plying their trade in England, the situation was now reversed in that the side which provided the highest number of players for England’s Italia ’90 World Cup squad would be Scottish side Rangers (with former Everton stars Gary Stevens and Trevor Steven joining Chris Woods and Terry Butcher).


Paul Gascoigne’s tears at the Italia ’90 World Cup heralded a new era for English football.  Meanwhile in the late eighties, Rangers somewhat pre-empted this when Graeme Souness had persuaded millionaire businessman David Murray to buy into Rangers and plough his money into the side, attracting a huge number of non-Scots talent into what was predominantly a league made up of Scots players less than five years prior.  Many other Scottish League sides followed suit in attracting non-indigenous talent north of the border.  This had gone some way to disrupting the steady production of ‘Scotch Professors’, making it big in their home League before making it big south of the border.


One of the last big name English players to be enticed by Rangers to head North of the border during the David Murray days had been Paul Gascoigne, who headed there from Italian side Lazio in 1995.  Gazza had set the Scots League alight as Rangers won their eighth league title in a row in 1995/96.  This however also coincided with the fact that after a seven year hiatus between fixtures between England (now managed by Terry Venables) and Scotland (now managed by Craig Brown), the two sides were drawn against each other in the group phase of Euro ’96 – the first major international football tournament to be held in these Islands for thirty years.  The two sides had been drawn in Group A alongside Switzerland and the much fancied Holland.

Ahead of Euro ’96, the England side embarked on a tour of the Far East and uproar resulted when over £5000.00 worth of damage had been caused on the plane ride back home to England.  In the opening fixture, England were also held to a 1-1 draw with the Swiss at Wembley.  Along with outraged press reports of players out on the town the evening after the match, the press were also scathing of England’s performance, with Paul Gascoigne bearing the brunt.  Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail had proclaimed: ‘Gazza must Go . . . the Guzzler dries up to leave coach Venables no option’, going on to add that: ‘England must sling out Paul Gascoigne on his earring. They must devise a way to play without this playboy relic of what once might have been a great playmaker’.


Forty eight hours on, Scotland exceeded expectations by holding the Dutch to a goalless draw at Villa Park in Birmingham.  Forty eight hours before England were to play Scotland, the Dutch secured a 2-0 victory over Switzerland, meaning that a victory would be all the more important to either side in their hope of progressing to the Quarter Finals.  Back at Wembley, England and the Scots got to half time with no score.  After half time, Terry Venables’s England side emerged in the second half with a greater amount of vigour.


Eight minutes after the re-start, Alan Shearer of Blackburn Rovers put England ahead after getting his head to a Gary Neville cross.  With around twelve minutes to go, England skipper Tony Adams was adjudged to have brought Gordon Durie of Rangers down in the penalty box, with the Italian referee awarding a penalty to Scotland.  Gary McAllister of Leeds United stepped up to take the penalty, however Arsenal’s David Seaman in the England goal had guessed right to punch the ball away to safety.


Within a matter of minutes, the ball had been at the other end of the pitch, with Paul Gascoigne chipping the ball over his Rangers team mate Colin Hendry, before crashing the ball into the Scots net on the volley.  With no further scoring, England secured a superb 2-0 victory over the Auld Enemy to set them up for their final group phase match with the Dutch the following Wednesday.

In the final game of the group phase, the Scots bagged a 1-0 victory over Switzerland at Villa Park.  Surprisingly, over at Wembley at the same time, a shock and awe performance from England saw the three lions take a surprise four goal lead over a Dutch side practically at war with itself.  As it stood, the Scots were heading for the Quarter Finals and their first qualification beyond the first group phase in a major international tournament.  After Dennis Bergkamp pulled one back for the Dutch however, it would be Orange Army heading to the last eight alongside hosts England and not Scotland.  The Three Lions progressed as far as the Semi Finals of Euro ’96 before crashing out to the Germans on penalties.

After both sides qualified for the France ’98 World Cup, Scotland again crashed out in the group phase, while England too faced an early exit to Argentina on a penalty shoot-out.  In the qualification round for Euro 2000, held in Holland and Belgium, both England and Scotland finished runners up in their respective groups, meaning that they both relied on a play off to qualify for the tournament.  Both sides found themselves drawn against each other for the last international game which either side would play before the turn of the millennium.  The play off took place two years after Tony Blair’s Labour government had offered Scotland a referendum on devolution, to which the Scots had voted yes to their own devolved parliament.  The build up to the play off would be covered by a Channel 4 documentary called ‘Cheer Up Kevin Keegan’.

England at this point would be managed by Kevin Keegan, while the Scots had Craig Brown in charge. The first leg would be played at Hampden Park.  Paul Scholes of Man United put England ahead on twenty one minutes.  Three minutes before half time, a free kick from Man United’s David Beckham had found the head of his club mate Paul Scholes to bag his second to double England’s lead.  England therefore took a two goal cushion to defeat back at Wembley four days on.  

The following Wednesday at Wembley, England failed to build on the momentum of the previous Saturday.  Don Hutchinson of Everton had pulled one back for the Scots, seven minutes before half time.  England held on to their slender lead for the remainder of the second half.  Scotland left Wembley with a 1-0 victory, but it wasn’t enough to stop England progressing to the finals Euro 2000.  The qualification campaign had been England’s least convincing for a long time, but ultimately successful.  The Three Lions however could not progress beyond the group phase the following summer.  Also, over the eighteen years which have followed that play-off game, Scotland have failed to qualify for a single major international tournament.

There then followed a fourteen year gap before the two sides would meet again – the longest ever gap between England v Scotland fixtures.  An international ‘friendly’ fixture between the two sides however would be arranged in August 2013 at the new Wembley Stadium, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Football Association.  On eleven minutes, West Brom’s James Morrison (born in Darlington and represented England from Under 17 to Under 20 level), had put the Scots ahead with a superb twenty yard shot.  Arsenal’s Theo Walcott equalised for England.


Four minutes into the second half, former Rangers star Kenny Miller - by this point turning out for Vancouver Whitecaps - had restored Scotland’s lead.  Danny Welbeck of Man United drew England level again eight minutes into the second half, before Southampton’s Ricky Lambert secured a 3-2 win for England with a goal twenty minutes from time.    

Part of the contract the Scottish FA arranged to participate in the friendly at Wembley was a return fixture the following season, which took place in Mid-November 2014 at Celtic Park in Glasgow.  England took the lead with a goal from Arsenal’s Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain just past the half hour.  Two minutes into the second half, Man United’s Wayne Rooney doubled England’s lead.  Andrew Robertson of Dundee United had pulled a goal back for the Scots with seven minutes left to play.  England secured the victory with a second goal from Wayne Rooney five minutes from time, as England ran out 3-1 winners.    

The oldest rivalry in World football was revived once again when England and Scotland were drawn together in Group F of the UEFA qualification group for the 2018 World Cup Finals, to be held in Russia.  The first meeting between the two sides was to be held at Wembley Stadium on Remembrance Day in November 2016, with Scotland turning out in an historically unfamiliar pink kit.  The two sides went against the orders of FIFA to not put a poppy on their shirts for the game – a practice which had sprung up in recent seasons, but which FIFA claimed to be a political symbol.  The English FA faced a fine of £35,000 for doing so, while the Scots were also fined around £16,000.  In the game itself, goals for Liverpool pair Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana, as well as Chelsea’s Gary Cahill meant a comprehensive 3-0 victory for Gareth Southgate’s side.

And so on to Saturday.  England currently head Group F of the UEFA World Cup qualifying group with a comfortable four point cushion over second place Slovakia.  Despite their poor showing in international tournaments in recent years, England have not lost a qualifying defeat was losing to Ukraine in October 2009.  Scotland in contrast were the only home nation from the British Isles to fail to qualify for Euro 2016 and sit in fourth place after two defeats in qualifying to date.  Barring any surprises this Saturday, it's hard to see England leaving Hampden defeated for the first time since 1985.