Originally posted on Facebook on March 6th, 2016
Martin Buchan will 67 today. Martin gained a total of 34 caps in a period stretching from 1972 to 1978, appearing in two World Cups for Scotland. At times though, Martin seemed not to be the first choice of Scotland managers, despite in many ways never letting the team down with solid performances in defence.
He was first capped as an Aberdeen player in October, 1971 in Tommy Docherty’s first game in charge coming on as a sub for Eddie Colquhoun of Sheffield United in the 60th minute against Portugal at Hampden. Scotland had just gone into a 2-1 lead with John O’Hare and Archie Gemmill netting and that is how it finished.
Martin started the next game up at Pittodrie, lining up alongside of Pat Stanton of Hibs in Scotland’s final Euro Qualifier against Belgium, a month later. John O’Hare would score the only goal.
He would move to Manchester United in February, 1972 for a fee of £120,000 and would be back in the Scotland line up as a left back for the injured Willie Donachie for the Home international against Wales in May ’72 which Scotland won 1-0 with Peter Lorimer scoring the goal.
Although Billy McNeill and Bobby Moncur of Newcastle had been utilised by Docherty as the central pairing during the Home Internationals; as Scotland embarked on a trip to Brazil to play in the Independence tournament, they were left behind and Martin alongside Eddie Colquhoun established themselves as the Doc’s first picks. They played together in all three games and also in Scotland‘s first two 1974 World Cup Qualifiers against Denmark away and at home, which Scotland won comfortably 4-1 and 2-0 respectively.
Both Martin and Colquhoun featured in Willie Ormond’s first game in charge; a 5-0 thumping by England at a snow covered Hampden. Colquhoun never played again for Scotland and Buchan dropped out of sight for a while too.
Martin made his return to the Scotland side in March ’74 to face West Germany in a friendly in Frankfurt. Scotland lost 2-1 but Martin did enough to convince Ormond to reinstate him to the team and so Martin faced Northern Ireland and Wales in the Home Internationals with clubmate Jim Holton as his defensive partner; Scotland losing out to the Irish 1-0 and then beating Wales 2-0 with goals from Dalglish and a Sandy Jardine penalty.
He was injured for the England game and John Blackley of Hibs, ably took his place as Scotland ran out 2-0 winners with Jimmy Johnstone putting in a memorable performance.
Holton and Buchan lined up together again in the last game before the World Cup with Scotland struggling to beat Norway 2-1 in Oslo with late goals from Kenny Dalglish and Joe Jordan. It was expected that Buchan and Holton would start against Zaire but injury to Martin meant his place once more went to John Blackley.
He would however, return for the draws against Brazil and Yugoslavia in the World Cup and would retain his place for the first game after this; a 3-0 friendly victory over East Germany at Hampden.
Injury must have kept him out the next game as Willie Ormond went with a defensive pairing of Kenny Burns and Gordon McQueen, who had three caps between at this point for an important Euro Qualifier against Spain at Hampden in November, ’74. Scotland lost 2-1 but with Buchan back in the team for the game in Valencia in February ’75 alongside McQueen, Scotland came away with a credible 1-1 draw in Spain. However, in terms of qualifying the damage had been done in that first game.
He would only gain one more cap in the ’74-’75 season, in a one nil friendly victory over Portugal in May at Hampden with the likes of Colin Jackson of Rangers and Frank Munro of Wolves being chosen ahead of him; a pattern of being in and out of the team was established and over the next season or so, he would see McQueen and Tom Forsyth of Rangers become first choice.
However, once more a tour of South America would bring him back into the fore as McQueen did not travel for 1977 tour and Buchan formed a partnership with Forsyth for the games against Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Buchan captained the side for the Argentina game in the absence of Bruce Rioch. He captained Scotland on only one other occasion, a home Euro Qualifier against Romania in December, 1975 which Scotland drew 1-1.
In his 27th cap Martin would make an important contribution as he was brought on as a sub for Sandy Jardine in October ’77 as Scotland were battling it out with Wales at Anfield for a place in the World Cup in Argentina. It would be a rare sight to see Buchan advance into the opposition half in a Scotland shirt but as the Welsh are pushing Scotland for an equaliser after Don Masson’s penalty, it is Buchan we see running up the right wing and he plays the perfect cross for Dalglish to head majestically into the net and it’s Argentina here we come!
Martin’s next two caps came, fitting in for Willie Donachie at left back, firstly in a Home International against Ireland and then the first game of the World Cup with Donachie suspended for the opening game. He was chosen to play there whilst Kenny Burns took up McQueen’s vacant central position as Gordon had been injured playing Wales at Hampden a month earlier. We all know what happened and for the game against Iran, Buchan is chosen to line up with Kenny Burns in defence. We will skip over that one too and in the final group game it is Buchan and Forsyth that make up the central pairing as the Scots defeat Netherlands 3-2.
Scotland’s first three games after the World Cup sees Buchan and McQueen line up as a pairing. Jock Stein having taken over the reins from Ally MacLeod after the first; a defeat in Vienna against Austria.
However, by the start of the 1979 Home Internationals, Jock began looking elsewhere and we start to see Alan Hansen and Paul Hegarty make their debuts and indeed Stein would go with Kenny Burns for a while too and so Martin’s Scotland career would come to end. However, he would make over 450 league appearances for Manchester United before ending his career at Oldham in 1985. Martin also has the distinction of being the only player to captain winning teams in the Scottish and FA Cup, a record we may never see broken.
Happy Birthday Martin and all the best.
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