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February, from the Latin word ‘Februum’ meaning purification – how ironic or how apt as it has been mostly a shit month for Scottish International Football and me personally. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to pretend that I have received a Valentine’s card – and I’m in my fifties now. As for the football well by my reckoning, since the end of the second world war Scotland have played twenty matches in the month of February and have won just seven of them.
For post-war Scotland our opening match of the calendar year was usually in April but on 24 February 1968 we played England at Hampden in a British Championship match which doubled as a Euro qualifier. Scotland had to win the match to reach the last eight but could only draw 1-1 with the World Champions – Celtic’s John Hughes cancelling out an early goal from Martin Peters in front of an incredible crowd of 134,000.
Our first post-war victory in February came about in 1978 when as a preparation game for the World Cup Finals in Argentina, Archie Gemmill and Ian Wallace dodged poisoned umbrellas to score and help Scotland beat Bulgaria 2-1. Our other February successes came against Northern Ireland twice [1992 friendly and 2011 Carling Cup], Wales [1984 British Championship] plus World Cup Qualifying wins over Israel [1981], Cyprus [1989] and Malta [1993].
Two other drawn matches worthy of a mention came about versus Saudi Arabia – a friendly  in the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on 17th February 1988 plus the ‘replayed’ World Cup qualifier versus Estonia in Monaco on 11th February 1997. I’d be curious to hear any tales about the 1988 trip – was it all soft drinks, sandals and suntan lotion?
It has to be said however that we have taken some right ‘seeing-tos’ in February with Valentine’s day 1973 being the worst. As part of the SFA’s Centenary celebrations England came to Hampden and pumped us 5-0. So much for cross-border romance.
Two years previous and our modern-day courtship with those Belgian Bi-linguals began with a 3-0 Euro Championship beasting in Liege. Now fast forward to a World Cup Finals warm-up in 1982 and a 3-0 shafting from Spain in Valencia’s Estadio Luis CASANOVA.
And then, on 18th February 2004 the Welsh Wallopers put four past Scotland without reply in a friendly match at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium with Robert Earnshaw [the one-time Morton striker] hitting a hat-trick.
Just for the record, the four Scottish Keepers who were unable to keep their hands on their ha’pennies and give us clean sheets were Bobby Clark [Aberdeen], Jim Cruikshank [Hearts], Alan Rough [Partick Thistle] and Rab Douglas [Celtic].
Our most recent February match was in 2012 when on the 29th of the month we drew 1-1 with Slovenia in a friendly match in the Bonifika Stadium, Koper. Christophe Berra netted the equaliser for Scotland and in accordance with tradition, he no doubt received proposals of marriage from some of the Tartan Army Babes in attendance that evening.
Searching desperately for something more positive to say I would point out that originally our February fixtures had went well with a 5-2 victory over Wales in a British Championship match in 1900 – which was played at Pittodrie three years before the current [Newco?] Aberdeen FC were formed.
A year later on 23rd February 1901 Scotland then thrashed Ireland 11-0 at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Rangers’ Robert Hamilton and Alex McMahon of Celtic got four goals each in what is Scotland’s record victory.
I’ll close with an associated musical memory – ‘January, February’ by Dunfermline Diva, Barbara Dickson which was released in 1980 and which contains the highly appropriate line  ” You’ve sent me on the road to one more broken heart.” Hey Babs, if you are referring to the Scotland football team,then all I can say is – ”Too feckin true, Doll!”
Robert Marshall