(This article was first posted on Facebook on 19th February, 2016)
Happy Birthday to Jim McInally who will 52 today. Jim had a rather successful period with Dundee United from the mid-80’s onwards and this was rewarded with Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh giving Jim his first cap in April ’87.
Of course, if a Scotland boss is going to say “right son I’m starting you in midfield tonight”, maybe turn him down if it’s against Belgium, in Brussels (almost a good name for a film that) and in a Euro Qualifier. Scotland got humped 4-1 with Paul McStay scoring for Scotland. Sadly for Jim, this was not the worst result in his Scotland career.
A month later and Jim was given a starting berth for the Rous Cup game against Brazil at Hampden. Scotland lost two nil to a very ordinary Brazil side. I only say that not because I was there but because looking at the list of players in the Brazilian team I struggle to remember any except maybe Josimar and Edu.
A subs appearance a year later in March ’88, coming on for Gary Mackay in a friendly against Malta in Valetta that ended 1-1 was his next game. When Jim looks back on his life, he will be able to cast his mind back to this glorious day when he saw Graeme Sharp score for Scotland. Not many can say that. Winning the first of his two caps that day was Open All Mics favourite Derek Ferguson.
Italia ’90 came and went without Jim’s presence in the Qualifiers or even the Finals itself. It was Euro qualifying business that Jim was next on, playing in both qualifiers home and away to Bulgaria both of which ended 1-1.
Scotland qualified for the 1992 European Championships and Jim played in a couple of warm up games; a 1-0 victory over the USA in Denver in the Mile High Stadium (no doubt altitude training for the Championships in Sweden) in which Pat Nevin scored the only goal and 0-0 draw with Norway in Oslo.
Jim made the squad of twenty for the 1992 European Championships and came on in Scotland’s last game as they beat CIS (Russia, blah blah blah) 3-0 in Norrkoping in June of ‘92.
March ’93 saw Jim play in his penultimate game for Scotland, which also featured Dundee United teammate David Bowman; a 1-0 friendly defeat to Germany at Ibrox.
Cap ten and Jim’s final appearance and that of Rangers duo Richard Gough and Dave McPherson was a lamentable 5-0 defeat to Portugal in Lisbon in our failed 1994 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
And so for Jim that was it, but he would play for several years after that and is still involved in football today as the Manager of Peterhead.
So Happy Birthday Jim, forget the lows of defeats in Brussels and Lisbon after all you did see a Graeme Sharp Scotland goal and all the best.