Scotland qualified in the autumn of 1973 for the World Cup finals. In the two general elections of 1974, the SNP vote peaked from a base that had started at Winifred Ewing’s Hamilton by-election success in 1967.
It gained 11 Westminster seats and 30 per cent of the vote in the October 1974 poll in a year when Scotland, but not England, had qualified for the world’s most prestigious football tournament.
It is a moot point, however, whether the Nationalists’ success was in any way linked to a national frenzy that year over football.
The outcome of the referendum may depend partly on the atmosphere that will surround the Commonwealth Games this summer. But it will not be because Scottish athletes were successful in various events, and politicians on the Yes side associated themselves with that success. It will be part of a perception that the Holyrood government is competent and can help project the country well on a world stage.
It is that reputation for competence – whether you agree with its policies or not – that may well swing undecided voters towards the cause of autonomy.
The public may find politicians parading with accomplished athletes distasteful and regard it as cynical, but they do appreciate an administration that can show it has the ability to hold high- profile events in a cost-effective and attractive manner.
Scotland, as part of Team Great Britain, won 14 medals across nine sports at the 2012 Olympics and had six medallists who won seven gold medals between them.
This fantastic achievement for Scotland brought huge pride to us and certainly to the additional legions of fans of Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray, who reside elsewhere in the UK.
Heather Stanning, Tim Baillie, Chris Hoy, Katherine Grainger, Scott Brash and Andy Murray were a credit to their sports and an inspiration to all aspiring young sportspeople in Scotland and the UK.
Only two of the seven gold medals were individual: Chris Hoy and Andy Murray.
The other five gold medals were won by Scots as part of a team, and this is a wonderful example of the strengths, aspirations, success and opportunities, afforded to Scots, as part of the Union, by pooling resources, facilities, top-end medical support and the very best elite coaches.
The “team” gold medals would not have been won in an independent Scotland.
Every one of the six Scottish gold medallists had to leave Scotland to further their talents and take their careers to the next level. Not one gold medal was won by a Scot residing and solely training in Scotland. Unfortunately, the infrastructure does not exist.
Why does “sport”, a devolved matter to the Scottish Government, merit only three pages in the 649-page white paper?
Are we seriously contemplating denying our current and future sportsmen and women access to a Union in sport, which works, is hugely successful and operates for the benefit of all our existing and aspiring young people? I fervently hope not.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.