(Originally posted on Facebook, 9th March ,2016)
Happy Birthday to Gary Holt who will turn 43 today. I’m sure a lot of us had a wee chuckle a way back in the early 90’s when Lou Macari as Celtic Manager announced he had signed two guys from the Army, of course we would chuckle even more when we saw one of his other signings Wayne Biggins play.
However, fair play to Lou, Gary Holt turned out to be quite a good footballer and began to blossom as part of a good Kilmarnock team in the late 90’s; so much so that Craig Brown drafted him into the Scotland squad for a World Cup Qualifier against Latvia in September, 2000. Scotland took the lead through Neil McCann in the 88th minute and to preserve that lead Gary was hauled off the bench and onto the park in Riga to replace Billy Dodds in 90th minute. Craig’s cunning plan work and Scotland managed to hold on to their slender lead although I can’t tell you if Gary kicked a ball or not.
His next appearance was as equally fleeting as once again in the 90th minute he came on as a sub for Paul Dickov as Scotland were holding out in Zagreb for a credible 1-1 draw with Croatia. Dickov himself was a sub at half time. Once more we held out, once more I don’t have a clue if Gary kicked the ball.
Cap three came as a Norwich City player in March 2002, but unfortunately for Gary he was given 45 minutes in the Stade De France in Berti’s first game in charge. Although it was the second half, in which we only lost the one goal, it’s just a pity about the four in the first half.
He must have made a great impression on Hans Hubert as he wasn’t picked for another two years until April 2004 when he started in a friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen. 16 minutes later and he was off injured and replaced by a guy who had even worse luck Peter ‘One Cap’ Canero. Scotland got beat 1-0 which for a Vogts friendly is none too shabby.
However come late May whilst the elite of Europe were preparing for the 2004 Euros we had friendlies against Estonia in Tallinn and at home to Trinidad & Tobago in Edinburgh. Remarkably, we won both games. James McFadden scored the only goal in Estonia and Gary played the full ninety minutes.
There certainly was Sunshine on Leith on May 30th as Scotland beat Trinidad & Tobago as the Scots ran riot in the first half scoring four goals with Gary being quite brave in scoring his second from a diving header and getting clouted by the goalkeeper in the process. Sadly no goals followed in the second half except for Trinidad to make it 4-1, however as Robert Marshall once said we should be proud that we managed to beat not one but two teams, both Trinidad and Tobago. As for Gary he only got 54 minutes of this one. (Lookout on the page for footage of this one.)
For cap number 7, Gary was played at right back for some reason as Scotland reverted back to Berti type and were hammered in a friendly going down 3-0 to Hungary at Hampden in August 2004.
Gary started the first three games of our 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign as for some reason Berti was still in charge. He played in the last 31 minutes of opening games against Serbia which ended in a 0-0 draw. He would then play the first eighty minutes a month later in October ’04 as Scotland lost to Norway 1-0 also at Hampden with Steven Thompson coming on to try and rescue a point.
His final Scotland appearance came in Chisinau, Moldova as Scotland toiled to 1-1 draw with the aforementioned Thomson scoring. That was it for Gary and also for Mr. Vogts as he resigned a couple of weeks later. Gary would go on to play for the likes of Nottingham Forest and Wycombe and for a guy from the army, he carved out a good career for himself in football and is currently a coach at Norwich.
As for the other ‘army’ player Justin Whittle, he too did reasonably well playing for Stoke, Hull City for six years where he was Captain at one point and made over 200 appearances and played over 130 games at Grimsby.
Anyway, Happy Birthday Gary and all the best.