(First posted on Facebook March 15th, 2016)
Happy Birthday to Ian Ferguson who will be 49 today. Ian is one of those players that will split Scotland fans not necessarily for his Scotland performances of which there weren’t too many but for the club he was affiliated with, for so many years. St. Mirren fans will remember him fondly for scoring the winning goal in the 1987 Scottish Cup Final but most of us will think of him and his time with Rangers and therein lies how we as individuals think of him.
One thing that cannot be disputed is that Ian Ferguson was a winner similar to the way Scott Brown was in recent years; a do or die player for his team, the kind we are perhaps missing in the national team at this time.
Ian’s Scotland career is quite interesting as he was only capped nine times but he played in three World Cup campaigns but never featured in a Euro Qualifying game at any stage. Ian was first capped by Andy Roxburgh ( and this is a sentence I do not expect to write to often) three days before Christmas, in 1988 in Perugia, Italy to play the future World Cup hosts as part of their pre-World Cup preparation plan. Scotland lost 2-0 and Ferguson would be substituted for Gordon Durie of Chelsea in the 71st minute.
February, 1989 and Scotland were on World Cup duty in Limassol, Cyprus. This would be the game Scotland won 3-2 with Richard Gough providing two goals; the last being in the 96th minute. As for Ian, he was not picked to start but replaced an injured Stevie Nicol straight after Mo Johnston’s 9th minute opening goal.
Ferguson would play in Scotland’s next game, the memorable 2-0 win over France at Hampden a month later with Mo Johnston scoring both goals. Injury and luck often plays a part in a players’ International career for Ian tweaking a hamstring injury a few days before Scotland’s next game against Cyprus in April proved to be disastrous with the likes of Pat Nevin, Gordon Durie and others coming in to the side. Scotland would beat Cyprus and it would be four years before Ian played again.
Ian gained cap number four as part of Scotland’s lamentable campaign for USA ’94. He made a subs appearance against Malta at Ibrox coming on in 72 minutes for Gary McAllister. Scotland were already two up with Ally McCoist netting a double, which Pat Nevin would add to in the 84th minute for a 3-0 win.
Ferguson would then play the first 55 minutes against Estonia in June ’93 in another Qualifier up at Pittodrie before local favourite Scott Booth was brought on for Ian. Scotland won 3-1 with two goals from Pat Nevin and one from Brian McClair (a McClair goal, a collector’s item; the equivalent of ‘shiny’ in current football card parlance).
Not for Ferguson World Cup Qualifiers against Switzerland, Italy or Portugal, as once more he was trotted out; this time by Craig Brown in his first game in charge to face a minnow; Malta in Valetta. Billy McKinlay on his debut would open the scoring and Colin Hendry would add a second for 2-0 win for Scotland.
As others teams prepared for USA ’94, Scotland played friendlies away from home in Austria and the Netherlands in April and May ’94. Ian was given the second half in Vienna as Scotland won 2-1 with goals from John McGinlay and Billy McKinlay and 29 minutes in Utrecht a Scotland lost 3-1.
It would also seem as if that was it for Ian, however once more he was given an International recall; this time in 1997 as Scotland faced Estonia in Monaco. This was the rescheduled game, after the farce of the game that never was in Tallinn. Ian would come on, in the 63rd minute for Paul McStay as Scotland drew 0-0. However, with this poor result, the Scottish team was booed off the park. Ferguson was seen to give the ‘V’ sign to the fans and was not chosen again for Scotland.
So there you go, nine games for Scotland including six World Cup qualifiers for three different tournaments, 5 wins and 1 draw. Maybe we should have played him more. Anyway, Happy Birthday Ian down under where you are the coach at Northern Fury and all the best.