ALLY McCOIST will join the ranks of the Tartan Army at Wembley tonight hoping that Gordon Strachan’s boys can give the Scottish game a massive shot in the arm by beating old rivals England.
However, memories of what might have been will come flooding back into the mind of the Rangers manager as he soaks up the atmosphere of the first clash against England in 14 years. McCoist still maintains that he should have taken the infamous Wembley penalty against the hosts at Euro 96 and if he had scored the Scots would have gone on to achieve a famous win.
However, Gary McAllister missed from the spot then Paul Gascoigne killed the dream with one of his best-ever goals. Tonight McCoist hopes the underdog Scots will have better fortune to give our game a timely boost.
He said: “I’m going down to the game and obviously I’ll have my tartan gear on and I’ll need to look out the Bay City Rollers trousers. I think we’ll do alright. Gordon, in typical Scottish fashion, achieved an unbelievable result with half a squad in Croatia.
“Just when we thought we couldn’t have any more call-offs he put together a team which arguably achieved one of our best results in many a year. But we’ve done that for so many years. We have turned in performances you wouldn’t think we could against better opposition.
“So I’m really hopeful that will be the case again down at Wembley. I just hope it’s a good experience and everyone can go and enjoy it.”
McCoist faced England four times in his career and his best result was a goal-less draw in 1987. Time has not healed the pain of Euro 96. Scotland had worked their way back in the game after Alan Shearer had headed England in front and McCoist remains convinced that a Scotland equaliser would have let to a famous victory.
He said: “It’s probably my biggest regret that I didn’t take that penalty kick. Gary and I talk about it every time we see each other – nearly 20 years on. Gary and I are thick as thieves. We played together for the Fir Park Boys Club team when we were 13 and 14.
“I remain convinced that if we scored that penalty we would have beaten them. You will not convince me otherwise but it’s all hypothetical of course. It was actually quite bizarre because I stood on the edge of that penalty box and – people think I’m mad when I tell them – watched that ball move just before Gary hit it. I would stand in a court of law and say that the ball definitely moved before he struck it. Gary actually hit it well but David Seaman got lucky and it hit him more than anything else but it was missed. It was a savage blow because it changed the course of the match.
“The tide had turned in the game. Alan Shearer scored with a great header but we forced our way back and when Tony Adams brought down Gordon Durie to win the penalty we were definitely on top. I remain convinced that had we scored we would have gone on to win. There was a heck of a lot of pressure on England from all quarters.
“They had drawn their opening game 1-1 with Switzerland when Kubilay Turkylmaz scored a late penalty. They got a huge boost when Seaman saved that penalty and then, of course, Gazza produced that bit of magic to score their second goal. They probably should have gone on to win the tournament. They lost to the Germans in the semi-finals but that game could have gone either way and had they got through I’m sure they would have beaten the Czech Republic in the final. But going back to that penalty – it’s one of the great sad ‘ifs’ in our careers!”
The last time Scotland played – and beat – England at Wembley, the Tartan Army were stunned when former Rangers and England striker Mark Hateley joined them and celebrated Don Hutchison’s winner. Hateley won’t be in London tonight but he’ll be tuning in to see how Gordon Strachan’s men get on.
“I was at the last one at Wembley in 1999, when Scotland won 1-0,” he said. “In fact, I was in the Scotland end that night. I chose to be there.
“What happened was that I’d gone to the game with a few of my Scottish friends and we had quite a day of it – I think!
“I was cheering for both sides. I’m delighted that they’ve brought the England v Scotland game back. It’s a massive game, the oldest international fixture in the world.”