It’s one of those things that the night of 26th September, 1973 is ingrained in our memories, however we rarely give a thought to the three vital games before this.
Scotland started their World Cup ’74 campaign with Tommy Docherty in charge and with a tricky away match in Copenhagen against Denmark. Although, Denmark were seen as one of the weakest teams in Europe; Scotland’s last trip in a Euro Qualifier in June ’71 had seen us lose one nil to a Finn Laudrup goal. Finn was of course father to the Laudrup brothers Brian and Michael.
Docherty was still tinkering with his team trying to get that right mixture of experience and youth. The line-up for the first game on October 16th, 1972 was Bobby Clark, John Brownlie, Alex Forsyth, Billy Bremner, Eddie Colquhoun, Martin Buchan, Peter Lorimer, Lou Macari, Jimmy Bone, George Graham and Willie Morgan.
In the video clip you can see Lash Lorimer at his best hitting a typical thunderbolt leading to a corner. The corner he hits equally as hard and Macari gets on the end of it to score in 17 minutes. Two minutes later and from a short corner (which sees the normally reliant Arthur Montford describe Morgan as Alex Forsyth), it’s George Graham who hits one across the box for Jimmy Bone of Norwich City to score his only Scotland goal but then again he only ever played twice.
Finn Laudrup interrupts the Scots scoring with a nicely placed free kick which I’m sure his sons would have been proud of.
Into the second half and Bone has been replaced by Joe Harper in 65 minutes, by the 66th minute Joe has scored after some neat play and a nice back heel by Lou Macari. A minute later and Harper hits the post before Lorimer deftly flicks to Morgan for goal number 4.
There is no record of whether or not the players went for a pint after the game that night.
A month later at Hampden and there are some changes to the team with David Harvey winning his first cap in goal. Willie Donachie is in for Alex Forsyth; Kenny Dalglish and Joe Harper start up front in place of Bone and Macari.
Four minutes in and a Lorimer corner is again fired back in by Graham and Dalglish justifies his inclusion by putting Scotland one up. From the second half kick off, a ball is played into the area by Graham, headed on by Dalglish and then Lorimer gets on the end of it to score. Lorimer, however would be sent off in the 87th minute for retaliation.
It finished 2-0 and this would be Docherty’s last game in charge. These two games were vital in getting the Scots to the finish line, however, the third game I mentioned took place long after Docherty had departed for the filthy lucre at Old Trafford. In May, 1973 Czechoslovakia travelled to Copenhagen for their World Cup opener. The Czechs drew 1-1 leaving Scotland with the prospect of winning at Hampden in September, 1973 and qualifying for the World Cup.
And we all know what happened there.