The Scotland Epistles Football Magazine

Scotland Football Fanzine

Happy Birthday Billy Dodds February 5th

Happy Birthday to Billy Dodds, who will turn 48 today. It’s fair to say that in the pantheon of great Scotland forwards Billy Dodds will not be among them, for fans growing up in age of Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish and then latterly Mo Johnston and Ally McCoist, the likes of Dodds, Darren Jackson, Paul Dickov and others of that ilk will not be highly regarded. However, in fairness to Billy, there can’t be too many who worked as hard for the team as he did and he almost gave us the chance for a play-off to 2002 World Cup.
Billy had made his debut as an Aberdeen player in a 1998 World Cup Qualifier against Latvia in Riga in October ‘96 coming on as a sub for John Spencer of Chelsea. Scotland won 2-0 with two excellent goals from John Collins and Darren Jackson. Billy only remained a bit player in the Scotland set-up and was not picked in the squad for the finals in France.
However, in his return to the team in October ’98, Billy who was then playing for Dundee United would make an instant impact. Scotland had been toiling 0-1 to Estonia at Tynecastle and Billy replaced Ally McCoist in the 69th minute. This would Ally’s last cap for Scotland as well as Jim Leighton’s final game. By the 70th minute Dodds had his first touch and Scotland had equalised. However, Scottish fans joy was not to last long, as the Estonians took the lead once more six minutes later. Again, though with pressure from Dodds, defender Hohlov-Simson put the ball into his own net in the 79th minute from a Simon Donnelly cross for an equaliser. Scotland and Dodds were not finished there; as in the 85th minute a clever through ball from Allan Johnston of Hearts who was making his debut, found Dodds in space to score the vital winner.
With this, Dodds began to be first choice striker for Craig Brown and repaid this in the very next game with a goal right on the stroke of half time at Pittodrie in October ’98 to give Scotland a 2-0 lead over the Faroe Islands. Craig Burley had opened the scoring but there were some nervous moments as the Faroes reduced the deficit to 1 goal with a penalty in the 86th minute, however Scotland hung on for the victory.
Scotland had some poor results in the rest of the qualifiers losing home and away to Czechoslovakia, although Dodds only played in the game in Prague in June of ’99; in which Scotland were two goals up with 30 minutes to play, only to lose 3-2. Billy also played in the 1-1 draw with the Faroes.
However, there was a better result in Bosnia-Herzegovina when Billy and Don Hutchison scored the goals to give Scotland a 2-1 victory in Sarajevo.
Despite some poor results Scotland still made the play-offs and caps 14 and 15 for Billy were won in the double header tie against England. Paul Scholes had given England a 2-0 lead in the first half and on a memorable night a Don Hutchison goal in the first half at Wembley saw the Scots push the English all the way for an equaliser that didn’t come. C’est La Vie.
By the time of pre-tournament friendlies with France, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland, Dodds had become a Rangers player. Scotland lost 2-0 to France, drew 0-0 with the Netherlands but beat Ireland with goals from Don Hutchison and Barry Ferguson in Dublin.
Scotland’s qualifying group for the Japan / South Korea 2002 World Cup was quite daunting with Croatia and Belgium both in their group but Scotland played well in the group and only missed a play-off place by two points to Belgium.
Scotland had a slow but steady start to the group beating Latvia and San Marino away from home although the nature of it, wasn’t spectacular as they won in Latvia 1-0 with a goal from Neil McCann in the 88th minute and beat San Marino 2-0 with goals from Hutchison and Matt Elliott.
Billy missed the away game to Croatia but Scotland came away with a point after surviving a tricky opening period, only going down, one nil to a Boksic goal in 15 minutes and then Kevin Gallacher equalised in the 24th minute, that seemed to take the wind of the Croatians sails and Scotland held on for a plucky draw.
24th March, 2001 was a day of the highest highs but ultimately the lowest of lows but hey we were playing Belgium, what did we expect? Scotland got off to a great start at Hampden that day with Billy Dodds scoring in the very first minute and this was added to in the 28th minute as Billy smashed a penalty into the net following a handball and the resultant sending off of Eric Deflandre of Belgium. Scotland should have been home free and a goal in 58 minutes from Wilmots should have warned them but alas in the 90th minute + 2, Van Buyten equalised to give the Belgians a point to shock the nation.
Billy would be among the scorers as Scotland beat San Marino 4-0 four days later with Colin Hendry scoring two and having a wee dig with his elbow too and Colin Cameron getting the other.
1st September and Croatia came to Hampden and Scotland fought out a tough nil nil draw but four days later defeat to Belgium in Brussels, two nil, sealed Scotland’s fate and indeed would be Billy’s last game for the national side. Billy played 26 times for Scotland scoring seven goals.
Scotland won their final game against Latvia 2-1 at Hampden and indeed had played well in the qualifiers beating the minnows home and away, gained a great point in Croatia but ultimately the losing of that late goal against Belgium cost them a play-off place.
Happy Birthday Billy and all the best, among other things, thanks for that 20 minute goal burst in the Estonia game and those first 28 minutes against Belgium. If only, if only, if only . . .


Scotland Glory, Tears & Souvenirs


Founders of the Scotland Epistles Magazine, Robert Marshall and David Stuart have produced a book which is published by Pitch Publishing and is available now. Here are links to Amazon, the Book Depository which posts Worldwide for free and WH Smith, who currently have the best deal on the book.—Glory–Tears—Souvenirs/9781785313318—glory-tears–souvenirs/9781785313318

Happy birthday John Collins (January 31st)


Happy Birthday to John Collins who will turn 49 today. John was capped 58 times for Scotland scoring 12 goals, which ranks him equal twelfth alongside Billy Steel and Alan Gilzean. Only two of his goals were from penalties including that one from France ’98.
Happy Birthday John and all the best.

Youth Side – early 80’s.


A photo of a Youth team; not many made it to Full International level but that guy at the front certainly did.

26th January.


On this day in 1884 Scotland took part in the very first British Championship Match against Ireland at Ballynafeigh Park, Belfast. Scotland won 5-0 with doubles from William Harrower of Queens Park and James Gossland of Rangers, with Abercorn’s John Goudie scoring the other. Other teams represented at the game include Kilmarnock Athletic, Vale of Leven, Annbank, Dumbarton, Boswell and Arthurlie. Scotland went on to win the first Championship with victories over England (1-0) and Wales (4-1) both played at Cathkin Park, Glasgow.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the match but here’s Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain from 1976 holding aloft the Bristish Championship Trophy that was awarded from 1935 onwards.

Happy Birthday Shaun Maloney (January 24th)


Happy Birthday to Shaun Maloney who will turn 34 today.
Shaun has 47 Scotland caps in total, scoring 7 goals including 4 in the 2016 Euros campaign.
Shaun provided one of the great moments in that campaign with his wonderful finish to give us victory against the Republic of Ireland at Celtic Park.
Happy Birthday Shaun and all the best.

Happy Birthday Alex McLeish (January 21st)


Happy Birthday to Alex McLeish who turns 58 today. Alex gained 77 and is third in the all-time list behind Kenny Dalglish and Jim Leighton. So here goes. Jock Stein gave Alex his first cap against Portugal in March, 1980 in a fine 4-1 win at Hampden in a Euro Qualifier. Of course being a Euro qualifier despite this great result we were already well out of contention, finishing fourth behind Belgium, Austria and Portugal. Thank goodness we still had Norway to prop us up. Also making his debut that night and for his only cap as an Aberdeen player was Stevie Archibald who despite his pedigree i.e. Spurs, Barcelona and Clyde never quite sparked in a Scotland shirt, only scoring 4 goals in 27 appearances. Although Alex would start in the first few games of the campaign to reach Spain ’82, by season ’81-’82 he seems to have fallen out the picture with Jock Stein preferring to play in the main Alan Hansen alongside Willie Miller, which as we all know proved to be a mistake come the World Cup. Alex did get game time during the World Cup, making a 30 minute appearance as a sub in the game against Brazil.
Throughout the qualifiers for Mexico ’86, Jock Stein had gone with the Miller / McLeish partnership as would his club manager Alex Ferguson for the play-offs against Australia, however Alex would play in the in opening game against Denmark and would then miss the final two games. Alex and Sir Alex seem to differ on their stories as to why he never played more games.
Alex would finally get to play a big part in the World Cup Finals for Italia ’90 where he played in all three games against Costa Rica, Sweden and Brazil. After, the World Cup Alex would play in the first few games of a finally successful Euro campaign but by 1991 was being left out for players such as Craig Levein, Richard Gough and Dave McPherson (that can’t be right, can it?). A final swansong in February 1993 in a World Cup Qualifier against Malta would be Alex’s last appearance in a Scotland shirt. He would of course go on to manage Scotland rather successfully in some ways, in 2007 but like many a fan it rankles with me that he jumped ship to an average English club side in Birmingham City at the first opportunity.
Happy Birthday Alex

Happy Birthday Colin Calderwood (January 20th)


Happy Birthday to Colin Calderwood who will turn 52 today. Colin was capped 36 times for Scotland appearing at both Euro ’96 and France 98. He was central defence partner to Colin Hendry on 26 occasions.
Happy Birthday Colin and all the best.

Happy Birthday John Robertson (January 20th)


Happy Birthday to John Robertson who turns 64 today. In any list of great Scotland wingers Robbo has to be up there with the best. A twice winner of the European Cup with Nottingham Forest, planting a cross on the head of Trevor Francis for the only goal in the ’79 triumph and then scoring the winner in the 1980 victory.
He may not have looked like a footballer but his ability to get to the byline and eke some space to deliver a perfect cross was uncanny.
John gained 28 caps for Scotland scoring eight goals including that penalty winner against England at Wembley in 1981. John also scored from a well worked free kick against New Zealand at the World Cup in 1982.
Happy Birthday Robbo and all the best.

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