First posted on Facebook, August 26th, 2016
Happy Birthday to Don Masson who will be 70 today. I know, some of you are thinking, why are we saying Happy Birthday to that guy, after all he missed that penalty in Argentina. That’s fair enough but does that really tell the story of Don’s time with the Scotland team? It’s funny how we remember that one in Argentina and don’t recall the one he scored at Anfield against Wales to put us there. I think it’s unfair on Don Masson, if you look at his record prior to 1978, it’s as good as anybody’s.
Willie Ormond first picked Don for the start of the 1976 Home Internationals after he had impressed with Queen Park Rangers in the English First Division. His debut came against Wales at Hampden in a 3-1 win, followed by a 3-0 win v Northern Ireland at home as well. Don scored his first goal for Scotland in this match, which was quickly followed by another, an excellent header against England in the 2-1 win at Hampden to give Scotland a clean sweep that year.
A six nil win against Finland at home in September saw Don score his first goal from the penalty spot. Don had only become the penalty taker after Bruce Rioch missed one in the Irish match in May. So who knows how fate may have changed had Rioch converted against the Irish and continued as penalty taker?
Don would first taste defeat in Prague in a World Cup Qualifier against Czechoslovakia, which saw the Scots go down 2-0.
The following season saw wins against Northern Ireland and England at Wembley and a draw against Wales, allowing us to regain the British Championship under Ally MacLeod. This was followed by a summer tour of South America which saw us beat Chile 4-2, draw one each with Argentina with Don scoring from the penalty spot again and then a 2-0 defeat to Brazil.
Don played in two more World Cup Qualifiers at home to Czechoslovakia winning 3-1 and the supposedly away game to Wales at Anfield, where Don scored that famous penalty under immense pressure.
The interesting thing is that, this was Don’s last appearance as a QPR player. He then moved on to Derby County under Tommy Docherty. Tommy’s a great manager if he likes you, if he doesn’t then he can be quite ruthless and make your life a misery. Don would only play 23 times for Derby before being punted to Notts County in the summer of ’78.
It makes you wonder if he turned up for 1978 Home Internationals lacking confidence and zip, which seemed to effect the whole team for that Championship, which saw Scotland draw with the Irish and Welsh and then get beat by England in a lacklustre performance. . . . and then came Peru.
So Don played 17 games for Scotland, which we won 9, scoring 5 goals, which is pretty good going. Happy Birthday Don and all the best, you deserve it.