(First posted on Facebook March 16th, 2016)
With Oliver Burke being called up to the Scotland squad he will be the first Nottingham Forest player to play for Scotland since Gareth Williams did so in 2002. However, they have provided one or two good Scotland players over the years but surprisingly there’s only been eight in total despite Brian Clough’s team of the late 80’s being filled with them.
The first Scotland player to play for Nottingham Forest was back in 1958 when Stewart Imlach won four caps. Stewart would take part in two or our World Cup Finals games that year playing in the 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia and the 2-1 defeat to France. Stewart’s son Gray Imlach wrote his biography in the book “My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes”. The SFA in practice, prior to the late 60’s, only gave caps to players who represented Scotland in the Home Internationals but on the back of the publication of the book, a public campaign was started to recognise the players who played against other nations and in 2006 this was granted and caps were given retrospectively.
It would be 1970 before another Scot was capped as a Forest player and this time it would be Peter Cormack. Although, Jim Baxter would play for Forest for a couple of seasons from 1967-69, he was never capped for Scotland at this point.
Cormack had been capped four times in the 1960’s as a Hibs player and returned to the national side in 1970 coming on as a sub for John O’ Hare in a Euro Championship Qualifier as Scotland won 1-0 with the aforementioned O’Hare scoring. Peter would gain another four caps making a total of nine with his last appearance against the Netherlands in 1971 in a 2-1 defeat under Tommy Docherty. He would go on to make an impact on the Liverpool side of the early to mid-70’s; indeed he would make the squad for the 1974 World Cup but he would never be capped as a Liverpool player.
In his last match, Peter played alongside Archie Gemmill and John O’Hare, both of whom would be a big part of Brian Clough’s tenure at Forest.
After managing, Derby County, Clough had moved to Leeds for a disastrous time in charge for both him and Leeds and by 1975 had taken charge of Notts Forest. Among his first signings would be O’Hare and Jon McGovern both of whom would have big parts to play in Forest’s successes in the late 70’s with McGovern twice lifting the European Cup as captain. McGovern would never be capped and O’Hare who had been capped as a County player, would never feature again for Scotland after 1972.
However, Forest would have some players who would make a big impact on the Scotland team. Archie Gemmill would also move to Forest from Derby without a detour at Leeds unlike McGovern and O’Hare. Archie had been capped as a Derby player 22 times before moving to the City Ground and would only gain 11 in his time as a Forest player but included in that was his performance in Argentina.
Also, having played for Scotland before was Kenny Burns who had gained 8 caps as a Birmingham City player but he was to win a further twelve as a Forest man including not so memorable performances in Argentina.
And then there was Robbo, John Robertson, an enigma of a winger. A man who did not look like a football player but had a great ability to elude defenders with guile and pinpoint a cross. Robertson would win 26 caps in total at Forest and a final two with Derby County in 1983.
Also, around this time, in 1979 Frank Gray moved to Forest for a couple of years and gained 7 of his 32 caps back then.
There would be a twelve year cap until the next Forest player gained a Scotland cap and it would be Archie’s son Scot Gemmill who would play for Scotland from 1995 to 2003 winning 13 caps at Forest and a further 13 caps for Everton. Gareth Williams would make some of his 5 appearances alongside Scot in 2002 and that would be it until the arrival of Oliver Burke and maybe we’ll see another Forest player get among the caps.
However, older Forest fans from the 1960’s would often describe Bob McKinlay as the best player never to be capped for Scotland. Bob played at Centre Half for Forest from 1951-1970 playing an incredible 685 games for the club, making him the player with most appearances for the City Ground club. A record which will never be beat one imagines.