First published on Facebook on April 5th, 2016
Richard Gough will turn 54 today. Although, born in Sweden and raised in South Africa, Gough was eligible for Scotland due to his father being Scottish. He would earn 61 caps, scoring 6 goals in total including those two vital ones against Cyprus in February 1989 that would see us through to Italia ’90 and of course his winning goal against England in the Rous Cup in 1985, which we posted an image of few days ago.
Richard gained his first cap as a Dundee United player, coming on 30th March, 1983 against Switzerland in a Euro qualifier. It probably went by unremarked upon at the time due to his fellow debutant Charlie Nicholas. Prior to the match Nicholas was getting all the hype and it seemed in the 76th minute that he announced himself on the World Stage with that truly remarkable goal but alas it was not to be for Charlie.
As for Richard he had slotted in at full back and retained that position for the next 14 games on the trot, scoring in his sixth game against Canada in the Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton as Scotland won 3-0 in the second game of a 3 game Canadian tour.
Gough didn’t start in the first two qualifiers for Mexico ’86, home wins against Iceland and Spain but played in the defeats to away to Spain and at home to Wales. The Welsh defeat was followed two months later in May, 1985 by one of Gough’s highs in a Scotland jersey as he scored the only goal in 1985 Rous Cup game against England at Hampden.
This was followed a few days later with a win in Reykjavik with Jim Bett scoring the vital winner in the World Cup Qualifier against Iceland in the 86th minute.
This would leave Scotland only needing a draw against Wales in September to progress to the World Cup playoffs with Australia. As we all know; Scotland did gain that draw thanks to a Davie Cooper penalty but lost a great man in Jock Stein who passed away, that night too.
Scotland would win the first leg of the play-off without Gough, but he returned for the second leg in Melbourne to perform as part of the rear-guard that ensured the Aussies would not get a foothold on the tie with an early goal. The game ended nil nil.
Alex Ferguson had taken charge of the Scotland team before the World Cup and he flavoured his teams with a lot of Dundee United players and Gough would play in each of Scotland’s group games. The Scots lost to Denmark, then West Germany 1-0 and 2-1 respectively but failed to breach the Uruguay defence even after they had been reduced to ten men in the first minute and thus failed to continue in the competition.
After the World Cup and by the start of the qualifying campaign for the Euros in 1988, Gough had become a Tottenham Hotspur player, having won 26 caps during his time at Tannidice. This was a poor campaign for Scotland starting with a couple of goalless draws at home to Bulgaria and away to the Republic of Ireland followed by a defeat at home to the Irish. Gough would only play in the first few games and in May ’88 would once again play in the Rous Cup as a Rangers player. Although, the Scots would defeat Colombia at Hampden they were narrowly defeated by England at Wembley.
February 1989 would see Scotland win 3-2 in Limassol, Cyprus with Gough providing the second goal and the third in the 96th minute to rescue all three points for Scotland in what would ultimately prove to be the vital qualifying points difference between France and Scotland for second place in the group and qualification for Italia ’90.
Gough would play in only one game of Italia ’90 and for only 45 minutes of the opening defeat to Costa Rica, a recurring foot injury would mean he would head home for treatment at Ibrox shortly after the conclusion of that game.
Richard wouldn’t return to the Scotland line-up until February ’91 and was given the Captaincy for a friendly game against the USSR at Ibrox with fellow Ranger Oleg Kuznetsov scoring the only goal in the 88th minute. Gough would seem to be the stand in captain for a while but by the time of the Euro Finals of ’92 he would captain the side throughout the tournament. The Scots would lose to 1-0 to the Netherlands and then 2-0 to Germany before recording a fine 3-0 win against C.I.S., which was the nomenclature that the remaining States of the USSR went by at that time.
The campaign for the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. would prove to be an individual and collective failure for Gough and the Scotland team. During a 3-1 defeat to Switzerland in Berne in September, ’92, Richard was sent off for handling the ball. Andy Roxburgh would excuse Gough for this; saying the ball hit a sprinkler and bounced up and he instinctively stopped it with his hand. It might excuse a goalkeeper not so much a defender, methinks.
Worse was to follow and a heavy defeat to Portugal in Lisbon would prove to be Richard’s last game for Scotland. He would go on to play for Rangers for quite a few years to come but criticism of the Scotland management style of first Roxburgh and then Craig Brown would see him left out in the cold. After leaving Ibrox, he would play for a number of clubs including stints in the U.S.
Happy Birthday Richard and all the best.