This was my first Scotland match outwith the U.K. and even if Merlin, Dumbledore and Tommy Cooper had all joined my young brother Allan and I on the terracing behind the north goal in Malaga’s Estadio La Rosaleda the whole experience couldn’t have been more magical. Soccer, sun and sangria – ye cannae whack it!

The genius that was Jock Stein was now in charge and we got off to a flying start with goals from Kenny Dalglish [18 minutes] and John Wark [29 and 32 minutes] giving Scotland a 3-0 half-time lead. Then things got a bit silly when defensive errors enabled New Zealand to score in the 55th and 65th minutes to pull it back to 3-2 and Corporal Jones’ catchphrase ‘Don’t Panic! Don’t Panic!’ began to reverberate thoughout the Scotland support.

For once we didn’t panic and eight minutes later Nottingham Forest’s John Robertson scored direct from from a free-kick to make it 4-2. We got our three goal advantage back when ten minutes from time Tottenham’s Stevie Archibald headed home. Seven goals in a world cup match represented good value for money even if we were ‘bricking it’ at one stage and so we headed back to the ‘sleepy fishing village’ of Torremolinos for a celebratory sherry……

The Spain 82 trip was one of my all-time favourite experiences even although the history books show that there would then follow a defeat by Brazil and a draw with the USSR and once again Scotland were eliminated at the group stage on goal difference.

The attached images include a ‘John Wark Malaga retrospective’ from the Scotland-New Zealand programme for the match at Tynecastle in 2003 plus the Daily Record headline from the Spain 82 match. ‘Glorious Gordon steals show!’ said Alex Cameron proclaiming that Strachan was the ‘Maestro of Malaga’.


Here’s hoping that WGS attracts future headlines such as ‘The Maestro of Marseilles’ or ‘The Laird of Lyon’ but please God, not ‘The fall-guy of Faro’.

Robert Marshall

First posted on Facebook June 12th, 2015