Here we are in the middle of a double header with the Polish misery behind us and the Gibraltar non-entity in front. Over the years around this time we’ve had some success but quite often it ends up in failure as you will see.

 Five years ago. October 8th and 12th 2010

 Avril Lavinge or Craigie boy as he is known to friends was in charge at this point. The first game was that infamous great tactical gem of going with a 4-6-0. Was it Rubin Kazan v Barcelona where Levein saw it and thought that was the way to go? Big difference Craig, was it was the Czech Republic and not Barcelona; I found it quite insulting at the time that he didn’t think we were good enough to get an away goal against a poor Czech team. One nil; no Plan B; Goodnight Prague.

Then came the game against the World Champions at Hampden a few days later and we almost got a result getting beat 3-2 against Spain . . . sounds all too familiar.

Ten years ago. October 8th and 12th . . . again 2005

Hans Hubert Vogts had started off in charge of our World Cup 2006 campaign in which we were generally very very poor drawing to Slovenia at home and losing to Norway at home too. Still worse was to come on October 8th, with a 1-0 defeat at home to Belarus, their goal had come in five minutes after which came 85 mind numbing minutes of failure to score; possibly our worst game under Watty Smith.

Next up Slovenia away and surely defeat but no this was one the great performances from Scotland in this century as we won 3-0 in Celje. The goals from Darren Fletcher, James McFadden and Paul Hartley were all peaches, if only we played with that freedom and skill all the time. IIRC this victory gained us the highest ranking points for any team for one game that year in the World Rankings. It also allowed us to gain a poor 3rd place rather than a very poor fourth.

Fifteen Years. October 7th and 11th October 2000

Wee Craig Brown was in charge back then. This is one of the qualifying rounds that we actually did quite well and started with a good away win in Latvia thanks to a Neil McCann goal. October 7th and we struggled to beat San Marino but eventually we got the goals from Matt Elliott and Don Hutchison to see us through. 4 days later and a good 1-1 draw with Croatia in Zagreb with Kevin Gallacher netting saw us make a solid start to the group. Unfortunately losing a lead to Belgium in March 2001 and allowing them to claw back from 2-0 down was part of our downfall. Sad to think that two draws with the group winners Croatia and only one defeat to Belgium was not enough to even gain second place.

Twenty Years. October 11th. 1995

We had already qualified under Craig Brown for Euro ’96 coming in runners up to Russia in Group 8 and a friendly was being played this night in Stockholm. We lost two nil in a game that had fives subs come on so it was not taken that seriously

Twenty Five. October 17th. 1990

 Whoo-hoo another tournament we would qualify for, this time with Andy Roxburgh in charge, Euros 1992. Having already beat Romania for our first game in the qualifying on this night we put paid to Switzerland; a team we haven’t always managed to get past. A penalty by John Robertson of Hearts in only his second International and a goal by Gary McAllister in his fifth game saw us win 2-1.

Going back further October 16th, 1985 was Alex Ferguson’s first game in charge after the untimely death of Jock Stein. Scotland drew 0-0 in a friendly against East Germany. We would fail to score in five games out of the ten that Fergie was in charge, which would ultimately see us fail in Mexico ’86.

October 15th, 1980 saw us draw 0-0 with Portugal in a World Cup Qualifier at Hampden but we would still make it through to Spain ’82 under Jock Stein.

October 29th, 1975, goals from Dalglish, Bruce Rioch and Norwich City’s Ted McDougall would see us beat Denmark 3-1 but a 2-1 home defeat to Spain the year before meant the damage had already been done in this tournament under Willie Ormond.

1970 and there was fewer games played back then and the nearest is in November 17th, that year which saw us beat Denmark 1-0 at Hampden under Bobby Brown with a goal from Derby County’s John O’Hare.

  1. If you think Thursday was miserable this one was too.

Scotland faced Poland at Hampden in a qualifying game for the 1966 World Cup on October 13th. A team full of stars including Billy McNeill, John Greig, Billy Bremner, Denis Law and Alan Gilzean went one up in the 14th minute through Billy McNeill but Poland would score not one but two goals in the last six minutes to win the game. After that, we were chasing our tails but did beat Italy one nil the following month with a goal in the 88th minute. However, with Italy beating us 3-0 in Naples a month later it was them that headed towards World Cup ’66. Of course had they known that defeat to North Korea and the ignominy that awaited them back home in Italy that followed; perhaps they might have thrown the game against us.

David Stuart.