First posted on Facebook, May 24th, 2016
Happy Birthday to Brian Irvine. Former Aberdeen defender Brian will turn 51 today. Brian gained 9 caps from 1990 to 1994. The 1990’s saw the age of the Alex McLeish and Willie Miller as the main central pairing for Scotland come to an end and saw players like Dave McPherson, Craig Levein and Alan McLaren vie for that central position. It also saw Brian Irvine who had taken over in the Aberdeen defence following Miller’s retirement in 1990 stake his claim. Brian had started out at Brockville with Falkirk before moving to Aberdeen in 1985.
Brian would actually start in the first post-Italia ’90 game in front of a paltry crowd at Hampden of 12,800. Scotland took on Romania in their opening European Qualifier in September, 1990. John Robertson of Hearts was also starting his first game and in the 37th minute latched on to a McCoist knock down to equalise following an early goal from Romania. It would be McCoist who would score the winner in the 75th minute. Also making his debut that night would be Tom Boyd of Motherwell who would come on in the second half.
It would be quite a few more years ‘til Irvine was capped again with the likes of those mentioned above filling the role. It would be March ’93 before Brian was back in the team as he faced Germany in a friendly at Ibrox. The Germans would win 1-0 through a goal by Karl-Heinz Reidle. This is one the very few recorded friendly victories by Berti Vogts on Scottish soil unfortunately he was managing Germany at the time.
Brian would miss Scotland’s next game versus Portugal and after a dreadful defensive display in Lisbon, he was given his chance to make his mark. Brian would play seven games in a row slotting in alongside Colin Hendry who was making his debut in Tallinn, Estonia as the Scots won 3-0 with goals from Kevin Gallacher, John Collins and Scott Booth.
Brian would see out the rest of Scotland’s failed World Cup campaign; firstly with the home game against Estonia at Pittodrie which Scotland won 3-1 thanks to a rare Brian McClair goal and two from Pat Nevin.
Scotland then drew one each with Switzerland in September ’93, which also took place at Pittodrie and followed this up with a 3-1 defeat to World Cup ’94 Finalists Italy, in Rome. A final 2-0 win in Malta saw their campaign come to a close in November ’93, a game in which Craig Brown would take over as Manager following Andy Roxburgh’s resignation. Goals in Valetta would come from Billy McKinlay in his first Scotland game and Colin Hendry.
Brain would play in two final games in April / May ’94 as the Scots first of all defeated Austria 2-1 in the Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna with goals from debutante John McGinlay of Bolton and Billy McKinlay.
Brian’s final game would be against the Netherlands in Utrecht in which he was to score the Dutch third goal with a Duncan Shearer goal providing the only highlight on a night where the Scots were beaten 3-1.
And that was it for Brian. Brian would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis the following year but would come back from this to continue playing with Aberdeen until 1997 where he would move on to Dundee and then finish playing with Ross County. As for Scotland, a few months after Brian was left out of the team Colin Calderwood would make his first appearance and begin his long partnership with Colin Hendry.
Happy Birthday Brian and all the best.