Scotland 101 by Tom Brogan – Review
By Karl Hornsey
Tom Brogan has followed up his dissection of Scotland’s 1982 World Cup campaign (We Made Them Angry) with Scotland 101, which, as the title suggests, offers up the details behind 101 of the most interesting, memorable, bizarre and fascinating moments and people in the history of the Scottish national football team. And what a history that involves.
For a relatively small nation, it’s fair to say that the Scots have been involved in more than their fair share of remarkable incidents, and fielded more than their fair share of world-class players. Not to mention the odd rather special manager or two. And so this is, as the sub-title states, an introduction to the national team, with short, sharp chapters giving the reader the perfect amount of information, and leaving them to go off and research the wider picture should their wider interest have been piqued.
As Brogan states, life as a Scotland fan isn’t easy, with several of the highlights bordering on the downright comical, including Jimmy Johnstone’s seafaring antics, the remarkable hype ahead of the 1978 World Cup, courtesy of manager Ally McLeod, and the infamous Wembley pitch invasion of 1977 after victory over the Auld Enemy England. Some of the most famous moment have, of course, been covered in much greater depth elsewhere, but there are some real hidden gems in here, such as the time that Pele played at Hampden Park, the reasons why a ‘friendly’ in 1963 against Austria was abandoned and the curious story of why Estonia failed to even turn up for their World Cup qualifier in 1996.
In among the memorable matches and moments, which begin in 1872 and move right up to March of 2023, Brogan takes time out to offer up potted histories of some of the most famous players and managers in the history of the national side, including Bobby Collins, Bruce Rioch, Ally McCoist and Jock Stein. And it’s the latter of those that I think makes up the most fascinating chapter of all, and the longest by some distance, as Brogan tells the story of the great manager’s death at the end of a World Cup qualifier against Wales in 1985. Or rather, tells the story wholly through those who were there, be that players, supporters, journalists or his assistant on that fateful night, Alex Ferguson. It’s a suitably poignant note among many tales of a much lighter tone, and perfectly highlights the varied and wonderful anecdotes included in this excellent offering.
‘An Introduction to the National Team: Scotland 101’ by Tom Brogan is published by Pitch Publishing