Former Rangers and Scotland full back Sammy Cox died on August 2nd, aged 91 after a short illness. I can’t tell you a lot about Sammy in terms of what type of player he was; I never saw him play but what I can put in context is his time with the National team. I think it’s important that even although most of us would struggle to know who he was and when he played, we still remember him and his service to Scotland.
Sammy won a total of 24 caps for Scotland from 1949-1954, remarkably Sammy’s record reads W16 D 4 L4. Two of the defeats were to England, one to Austria and Wales apiece. It is also worth noting that fate denied Sammy the chance to play in not one but two World Cups.
I wrote a few weeks ago about 1949 being the Perfect Year as Scotland played four games and won them all that year and Sammy was there right at the start of it. He made his debut on 9th April, 1949 against England at Wembley, a game Scotland won 3-1. A year later, the England game had bigger consequences to it rather than just winning the Home International Championship.
Qualification for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil would go to the two top teams in the Championship that season. By the end of 1949, both Scotland and England were assured qualification but in a moment of hubris the SFA declared they would only go as Champions. Defeat at Hampden to England by a solitary goal in April, 1950 put paid to that idea and so World Cup opportunity #1 passed Sammy by. Given Scotland’s other results around this time, it is sad that players of the calibre of Bobby Evans, George Young, Lawrie Reilly, Willie Waddell and Billy Steel were all denied this chance to shine on the World stage too.
Good consistent form followed the Scots and Sammy over the next few years and similarly the 1954 Home Internationals would be the platform for a World Cup place. Sammy played in all three games with Scotland defeating Ireland 3-1 in Belfast with Charlie Fleming of East Fife scoring two goals on his debut. Of course in true East Fife and Scotland fashion; Charlie like Henry Morris who scored a hat-trick against Ireland on his debut 5 years previously was sent packing back to Methil and never pulled on a Scotland strip again. A three all draw against Wales and funny enough there was no declaration of only going as Champions after that.
In the final game of the Championship and in what turned out to be his final Scotland game; Sammy was given captaincy for the game against England at Hampden. Willie Ormond of Hibs would make his debut that day. Despite Alan Brown of Blackpool giving us an early lead in 7 minutes by the time of Ormond’s goal in 89 minutes England had put 4 past George Farm in the Scotland goal.
Just like Ireland had Gary Mackay to thank for their qualification to the Euros in 1988; Scotland had Peter McParland of Ireland who put two past Wales that day to allow Scotland to go through to the World Cup.
So surely Sammy was not dropped because of the defeat to England and that’s why he never got to the World Cup in ‘54, you may ask? Well, no. Rangers went on an overseas tour that summer and the SFA allowed them to take the likes of Sammy, Willie Waddell and George ‘Corky’ Young with them. Sad but true.
After the World Cup Sammy was never picked again, although both Waddell and Young, who also retained his Captaincy, returned to the fold in the first games after it.
So here’s to Sammy Cox may he rest in peace.
First posted on Facebook August 3rd, 2015