JOHN Beattie is preparing for another weekend of hi-jinks when he joins the rest of the last Scotland team to win at Twickenham on a trip down memory lane today.
The 1983 side will leave Edinburgh Waverley Station at 6.30 this morning in a carriage that has been hired out by the captain of the day, Jim Aitken, for the start of a journey that, 30 years ago, ended in triumph. Beattie will join the likes of John Rutherford, Roy Laidlaw and Jim Renwick for this afternoon’s Calcutta Cup match in the hope that Scott Johnson’s side can remove forever the unwanted statistic of their 22-12 win being the last over the Auld Enemy on foreign soil.
Then, as now, Scotland were not given a hope of defeating their rivals, having lost three games in a row and arrived in Richmond knowing there had been just one Scotland victory there since the Second World War. Yet, the men wearing the thistle with pride upset all the odds and celebrated in style afterwards, mischievously running up a huge bar bill for England skipper John Scott.
Beattie, whose son Johnnie hopes to copy his dad’s success after being restored to the team, is looking forward to the reunion. He said: “I’m going to the game and will be sitting with the team that won in 1983. Jim Aitken is hiring a railway carriage and taking the whole team down. So, the whole team that won 30 years ago, the last time they won [at Twickenham], is leaving Waverley Station at 6.30 in the morning.
“We are getting the train down, having lunch at London Scottish and then the RFU has kindly given us all tickets. Then, we’ll meet afterwards and stay in the same hotel we stayed in way back when. It sounds great. My memory of the game is signing all the drinks – every drink, including every supporter we met. We signed them all to the England team captain’s room. So, their bill was maybe £5,000! We also kidnapped a piano player, with piano. The guy tried to go but we wheeled him through to another room and he played songs all night.”
Beattie added: “Two years ago, I was given a DVD of the 1983 game. I was expecting to view a disorganised shambles and me having a bad game. Actually it was okay, and I was okay. In fact, we were better than okay. We bordered on the insane at times in terms of abrasiveness. David Leslie, the wing forward, was scary, Roy Laidlaw was superb, and John Rutherford, was our biggest back, guiding the likes of Roger Baird and Keith Robertson.
“I’m going to be part of a 1983 team reunion at Twickenham but I’m actually very wary of looking back like this every two years, remembering distant wins. It is magical to be with the other players but pathetic of us as a rugby country not to have been better than this. I want the current Scotland team to consign us to history.”
The former British Lion is fully aware how difficult it will be for Beattie junior and his team-mates. Hesaid: “It’s been hard for Johnnie. It’s been two years, two shoulder operations, kind of didn’t make it at Glasgow and then he went to France and got his chance. He’s loving it and playing well.
“But winning’s difficult. You don’t just go down to Twickenham and win.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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