Eddie will be 66 on January 17th. Eddie gained a measly twelve caps for Scotland; which is incredible when you think of it. Voted as the 3rd best Leeds United player of all time behind Billy Bremner and John Charles and yet 12 caps. I know we didn’t play as many games back then, the competition for places was great and Eddie did suffer some injuries over the years but 12 caps.
Eddie was a major part of the successful Leeds United team of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s along with fellow Scots Billy Bremner and Peter Lorimer and latterly Joe Jordan, David Harvey and Gordon McQueen.
Eddie was first capped under Bobby Brown in 1969. Due to an injury to Charlie Cooke, Eddie was thrown in at the deep end for his debut, facing England at Wembley in May. Unfortunately Scotland lost 4-1 with Colin Stein scoring the Scots goal from a cross by Eddie, after he had taken on the English full back to hit the bye-line.
Charlie Cooke came back for the next game a week later but Eddie retained his place which meant Cooke, Gray and Willie Henderson were all on duty to supply the front two; Gilzean and Stein. It was Eddie who scored the opener at Hampden against Cyprus in the World Cup Qualifier. Billy McNeill scored the second before Stein hit his four, then Willie Henderson and Tommy Gemmell finished the rout as the Scots won 8-0.
October ’69 and Eddie and Jimmy Johnstone would provide the wide play against West Germany in Hamburg in a vital World Cup Qualifier. Despite a great performance the Scots were to lose narrowly 3-2 and to miss out on Mexico 1970. Johnstone had scored 3 minutes into the game and Alan Gilzean had equalised for 2-2 with 26 minutes remaining. The Scots could not hold out for a point and lost a goal in the 81st minute. Worse was to follow as Tommy Gemmell was sent off for having a kick at one of the Germans in the final minute.
A 2-0 defeat to Austria in our final qualifier followed for our last game of the 1960’s. A period that promised so much but ultimately saw us fail to qualify for a major finals with some of our all-time greatest players being around too.
Eddie would not be involved until the Home Internationals of 1971 and was part of the team that drew nil nil with Wales in Cardiff and then lost one nil to Northern Ireland at Hampden in May that year.
Tommy Docherty would bring Eddie back in for his second game in charge; a one nil victory over Belgium in November ’71 and retained him for the 2-1 friendly defeat to Netherlands a month later in Amsterdam. George Graham scored for the Scots with Johan Cruyff among the Dutch scorers.
It would take almost another five years until Eddie was capped again, as Willie Ormond brought in back into the fold for the Home International series for the first game against Wales. This would be a scoring return for Eddie as he scored the third goal for Scotland. Willie Pettigrew and Bruce Rioch scored the others.
Eddie kept his place for the 3-0 crushing of Northern Ireland a couple of days later and would play against England at Hampden where the Scots won convincingly 2-1 with Don Masson and Kenny Dalglish supplying the goals.
Scotland’s fine form continued and Eddie got among the goals in a six nil rout of Finland in September ’76 at Hampden with Andy Gray hitting a double and one each from Rioch, Masson and Dalglish alaso.
Eddie would miss our first 1978 World Cup Qualifier as we lost 2-0 to Czechoslovakia but returned for the Home Qualifier as the Scots struggled to beat a stubborn Welsh team with an own goal from Ian Evans separating the teams. And that was that.
So what changed? Managers. In issue 1 of the Scotland Epistles magazine, Scott Cockburn writes in an excellent piece about the injustice of Hearts players getting recognised internationally only to move club and be lost to the Tynecastle faithful. However, at no point does he apologise for Hearts stealing Oor Wullie. I know Ally took us to Argentina but I do wonder sometimes what Willie would have achieved in his stead.
Eddie never played again for Scotland with MacLeod opting for Willie Johnston as his outside left but he went on to play for Leeds until 1983 when he finally hung his boots as Player / Manager having played over 500 games for the club.
Happy Birthday Eddie and all the best to you.