I COULD have kissed him,” chuckled Gordon Brown, reflecting on that ecstatic moment when his extraordinary eldest brother, Peter, had slung over the appropriately angled, but far from easy, instep conversion that exorcised a Twickenham bogey dating back to 1938.
England 15, Scotland 16;
The Scotsman, 22 March 1971
And judging by the alarmed alacrity with which Scotland’s captain shooed away the fraternal congratulations, Peter maybe feared he would. As a conversion, it ranked with the rather longer but no more dramatic kick with which John Taylor pipped Scotland six weeks ago – a conversion itself conservatively classed by Joe McPartlin as the finest since that of St Paul.
Cheerfully reminding himself – even while many of his compatriots could not bear to look – that he had slotted a penalty from roughly the same position two years ago and that there hadn’t seemed too much to it then, Peter Brown bisected the posts virtually dead-centre.
And what a difference one point either way makes; a thought neatly underlined by Selwyn Lloyd’s sally at the post-match dinner that but recently, in the House of Commons, he had seen Hector Monro looking very grave after squeezing through with a majority of only two – and here he was now grinning hugely with a majority of one.
To be 15-8 down to England at Twickenham with some nine minutes to go and yet win sounds like the most agreeable form of fiction. Nonetheless, there is no escaping the fact that, till the unforgettable denouement, it had mostly been a match of stultifying mediocrity; that England themselves were certainly no great shakes and that we had already yet again sunk like the proverbial stone to the foot of the international championship.
However, the great thing is that what is only our third ever win at Twickenham is indelibly in the book. No doubt after Bannockburn there were plenty to say that this was the poorest English army for years – but all we remember now is the result and Peter Brown’s predecessor, Robert the Bruce.
In truth, it is doubtful if eclectic XVs chosen from the previous hundred years of the Scotland-England story could have survived Monsieur Durand’s refereeing to give us anything remotely resembling a classic. His positioning at, say, the line-outs was so bizarre that one half expected him to take out a sketch book and pencil, since an artist’s impression was the best he could have hoped to be vouchsafed.
Again, M. Durand has scarcely a word of English. And though there were incidents when, assuming him to be a man of delicacy, that was perhaps as well, it did mean that the players remained in the dark concerning his more obscure decisions, the complexity of opinions at the set scrum often resembling a Paris traffic jam.
With the surface treacherous, the Ian McLauchlan-Fran Cotton duel – which had at least one echo of Frazier’s 15th round versus Cassius Clay – sometimes led to the scrum collapsing.
However, Duncan Paterson pillaged the only semblance of a heel John Pullin took against the head, while the one Quintin Dunlop notched was very timely.
Many in high places were impressed by the extent to which McLauchlan appeared to have taken the running out of the obviously promising young Loughborough prop.
We had our expected edge in the line-out, though Peter Brown was not wholly satisfied with the way our supremacy at the throw-in often ebbed. We had much the better of the rucks – though the forwards were almost unanimous that the close-quarter work had been very punishing.
Almost unmolested by comparison with the Irish match when he so often received the ball in a cloud of green jerseys, Paterson had his happiest international, a central figure in every Scottish score. Turner – often denied the kind of flat passes he craves by the fact that Monsieur Durand was in the way – held the Scottish back division together and produced one of the best and longest torpedo-spun punts ever seen at RFU headquarters.
Alastair McHarg was again useful in his own inimitable way, while Gordon Brown – beginning to add a new authority to his honest industry and other virtues – was far and away the outstanding lock forward afield. Though there were ominous rumours that his Lions berth was now very much touch and go, Rodger Arneil had probably his best international of the season – clearly relishing the belated Scottish decision to station him at No 8 on the English throw.
Rea, as he has been all season, was straining at the leash, sharp as they come – and clearly fancied his chance against John Spencer who, predictably for so big a man, looked, after his injury, in need of much hard work.
Arthur Brown opened with an encouragingly aggressive fall and stuck to his guns all afternoon, although quite frequently in trouble from some really magnificently judged up-and-unders from the like of Cowman and Page – searching kicks made all the more malevolent by the swirling Twickenham wind.
England: R. Hillier (Harlequins); J. P Janion (Bedford), C. S. Wardlaw (Northampton), J. S. Spencer (Headingley, capt.) and D. J. Duckham (Coventry); A. R. Cowman (Loughborough Colleges) and J. J. Page (Bedford); D. L. Powell (Northampton), J.V. Pullin (Bristol), F. E. Cotton (Loughborough Colleges), P. J. Larter (Northampton), N. E. Horton (Moseley), A. L. Bucknall (Richmond), R B Taylor (Northampton) and A. Meary (Broughton Park).
Scotland: A. Brown (Gala); W. C. C. Steele (Bedford), J. N. M. Frame (Gala), C. W. Rea (Headingley) and A. G. Biggar (London Scottish); J. W. O. Turner (Gala) and D. S. Paterson (Gala); J. McLauchlan (Jordanhill College), Q. Dunlop (West of Scotland), A. F. McHarg (London Scottish), G. L. Brown (West of Scotland), N. A. MacEwan (Gala), F. C. Brown (Gala, capt.) and R. J. Arneil (Leicester).
Referee: C Dunard (France).