I recently bought some cuttings from 1978 just before the World Cup and it’s interesting to get a flavour of things. Somebody recently asked me if at the time, I thought Scotland were going to win the World Cup. Well, to be to be honest I can’t remember thinking that but who knows I was only fifteen at the time. However, it is interesting looking at some of the comments from the TV times 8 page pull-out on Scotland’s chances.
Ally MacLeod: “The thought of Scotland coming back without the World Cup just hasn’t entered my head” Ally goes on to say: “We want to be in Argentina playing the Scottish way: tactics are secondary.”
Brian Clough: “Scotland have a lot of talent, but it must be blended. I have only one reservation I would have dearly loved to have seen Andy Gray in the team: he’s the best centre forward in Britain.”
Mike Smith (Manager of Wales): Scotland have a superb pool of players whom I expect to do well. Of the 16 finalists I pick Argentina, West Germany, Brazil and Scotland to share the first four places.” And he also says “But one word of warning to the Scots: don’t take Iran – whom we recently beat 1-0 – too lightly.”
Ron Greenwood (Manager of England): This World Cup is one of the most open for years. And if a little fortune smiles on Scotland, they could go all the way to the final.”
Danny Blanchflower (Northern Ireland Manager): Scotland have a great chance of winning their group: they have great belief in themselves, they’ve always been brash enough to think they could win anything.”
Sir Matt Busby: They have a very good squad – not just 11 but 20 or more top-class men and that’s very important in a competition that which takes place over three weeks. I am very optimistic – I don’t put it beyond Scotland to win the World Cup.”
So even the great and the good can be wrong sometimes.
Elsewhere in the pull-out it notes that bookmakers William Hill have made Scotland fifth favourites with Brazil, West Germany, Argentina and Holland in front of us. Odds on Scotland to win it were 8-1.
There’s not too much hyperbole in the Radio Times cuttings nor the Sunday Telegraph although it is interesting in their front cover they feature three players that never took part in the World Cup; Danny McGrain was a long term injury and was never part of the squad. Gordon McQueen had been injured in the Home Internationals and although he would travel to Argentina he never regained fitness. Andy Gray was also shown but only made the reserve list for the World Cup. Also on the list were Jim Stewart of Kilmarnock, John Blackley of Newcastle, Arthur Graham of Leeds, Willie Miller of Aberdeen and Coventry’s Ian Wallace.