First posted on Facebook on October 15th, 2016
Happy Birthday to Bert McCann who will turn 84 today. Bert played for Scotland 5 times in the late 50’s and early sixties. Motherwell at this time provided quite a few players to the National team including Ian St. John, Andy Weir. Willie Hunter, Pat Quinn, John Martis and Bert.
Bert was first capped in May, 1958 and played at what was used to be called wing-half, kind of like a holding midfielder nowadays. Also making their debuts were Motherwell teammates Andy Weir and Ian St. John but it would be another player making his first start too who would make the first impression; John White, then of Falkirk and soon to move South to Tottenham Hotspur scored within the first minute against West Germany. Andy Weir would hit the second in the sixth minute as Scotland got off to a dream start. The Germans would peg them back eight minutes later but a Graham Leggat goal in the 23rd cemented the Scots lead once more and although they would get one back before half-time the game finished 3-2 to Scotland and the 103,415 crowd were sent home happy. Not too bad a crowd for a friendly.
Although Bert was left out for the next few matches, he played every game of the 1959-60 Home International Series. The campaign started against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast in October 1959. Scotland would win comfortably 4-0 with goals from Graham Leggat of Fulham, John Hewie of Charlton Athletic, John White, by then a Spurs player and George Mulhall of Aberdeen.
Next up was a home game at Hampden in November v Wales. The legendary John Charles would score the Welsh opener but Graham Leggat would hit back early in the second half to give Scotland the draw.
The final game of the series was in April, 1960 and Bert was once more in the line-up. Starting their first games were Frank Haffey of Celtic and Alex Young of Hearts. 129,783 turned up at Hampden as Scotland took on the Auld Enemy. Once more Graham Leggat would score to put Scotland in front but a second half Bobby Charlton penalty would see the teams play out a 1-1 draw. Apparently, the Scots were the better team in this game but were unable to convert their chances, however most of the reports at the time suggest the referring by Mr. Skranko of Hungary was bewildering; he awarded 55 free kicks and England two penalties; one of which Charlton missed and was the allowed to take again due to a movement of the ball in the swirling wind– he missed that too.
If that was to be Bert’s last cap then perhaps he could have been quite happy with his Scotland career, however he was to earn one more cap at Wembley, 1961. Frank Haffey was to make his second and last appearance there too. Scotland lost 9-3 and we won’t go into too many details on that one!
Bert would go on to play for Motherwell until 1965 and move on briefly to Hamilton Accies.
In searching for a photo of Bert, this team one was the only one I could find. This is the line-up for that ill-fated match. The team is as follows; Bobby Shearer, Eric Caldow, Frank Haffey, Billy McNeill, Bert McCann, Dave MacKay
John MacLeod, Denis Law, Ian St. John, Pat Quinn, Davie Wilson, 12th and perhaps lucky man Duncan Mackay.