Ross McCormack’s stag do is currently raging on across in Los Angeles. He isn’t there. The striker is nearly 7,000 miles away heading to Malta with Scotland. He marries fiancée Courtney in Spain in two weeks, and a belated return to international football has precluded him from his own stag trip.
He wouldn’t have it any differently. His pals are living it up in California and McCormack should be there as the centre of attention. Instead, he is fighting for some limelight with Scotland in friendlies against Italy and France.
The 29-year-old Fulham striker has forced his way back into Gordon Strachan’s squad after 23 goals in 49 club appearances this season. Recalled from a two-year absence for the March friendlies against Czech Republic and Denmark, he kept his place this time. It has come at a cost as he has been forced to forsake the trip to America.
“I had my stag do booked. I should be in LA just now but there was no hesitation,” explained the former Rangers, Motherwell and Leeds player. “It was just a case of: ‘Of course, yes’. A group of the lads are away on the stag just now. I’m scared to look at my phone. When we come back from France I’m flying straight from Glasgow to London to Spain for my wedding.
“I booked the stag do just before the last squad was named. To be honest, I didn’t even know that friendlies had been arranged for the end of the season because I hadn’t been in any squads and I didn’t have any itineraries. I just thought: ‘That’s a perfect time, the season’s finished, just go away and enjoy yourself.’ At that time, I still didn’t know about these games.”
Will he be permitted another stag do at a later date? “No, time’s up. I don’t think the missus will be having that one,” he added. “I just fly straight over to Spain and get married a week later, but we’ve got a ton of things to organise. I’ve got two best men. They are two best mates from school.”
There are no texts on his phone. “It’s more Snapchat these days.” He daren’t look at what is going on. McCormack is too focused on Scotland right now and knows this is a priceless opportunity to cement his place ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
“I totally understand, despite scoring goals, why I wasn’t in squads before,” he admitted.
“The manager has got a few good strikers to pick from and most of the time he plays one up top. He maybe only takes three or four strikers away so someone has to miss out. There are other guys who have missed out on this one.
“You just need to keep your head down and, if the call comes, then it’s great. If it doesn’t, then you just keep going.
“As soon as you spit the dummy and say you’ve retired then people in the game look at you in a different light. That has never been my style. I was out of the squad for 18 months to two years but I’ve come back in, managed to get a game and I’ve been called up again.
“I’m happy to keep working away. People from the outside probably wondered why I wasn’t in the squad and probably assumed I was in a bad place or my head was gone. It didn’t really affect me because when an international double header came up, then it was the only time you got a couple of days off to spend with your family.”
McCormack has been a frequent scorer in England’s Championship for many years now. He still only holds 12 Scotland caps, and a move up to the Premier League has thus far eluded him. He has plenty of ambition left inside and openly yearns for a crack at the big time.
“I want to be playing in the Premier League,” he said. “I never, ever think to myself I should be playing in the Premier League because there are so many good players playing there. You come away and you see a lot of these Scotland boys in the Premier League and you’re a little bit envious because they’re playing against the best players in the world and I’m a tier below them.
“It’s been something in my mind as the years have gone by. I will be 30 in August so time’s running out. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that opportunity but it’s something I’d love to do.”