GRAEME Souness, the Scotland captain, achieved another goal in a notable career when he finished on a winning side against England for the first time at Hampden on Saturday. Having personally been on the losing end to the Auld Enemy in 1978, 1979, 1982 and in 1983, the Sampdoria man played a significant part in what was a sweet victory against the odds.
The Scotsman, 27 May 1985
Scotland 1-0 England
Aggressive and inventive in turn, if not always creatively successful on a fast, awkward surface, Souness was back in top gear against England after successive low-key displays against Spain and Wales earlier this year.
He was the dominating figure in a midfield skirmish where Roy Aitken’s physical presence significantly alleviated the captain’s defensive responsibilities. Neither Bryan Robson nor Ray Wilkins was as tigerish or as constructive for England.
At 35,000 feet on the team’s charter flight to Iceland, Souness was not the type to be up in the clouds on Saturday night, but in common with the rest of the squad, he had taken a considerable lift from Scotland’s first win over England at Hampden since 1976.
“We all feel better for that,” he said, “because victories over England are always welcome. I enjoyed playing in the game so I can appreciate the reservations about the match as a spectacle. I thought it was a typical, British Championship type of match and not at all the kind of fixture England have been used to this season.”
The French referee, Michel Vautrot, found his first experience of handling an all-British match a revelation. Criticised by Bobby Robson, the England manager, for not letting the play flow more, Vautrot said afterwards he soon appreciated that he was blowing for fouls that no-one else in the ground thought were illegal.
It was interesting that in spite of the presence of so many exiles – Scotland had Souness from Italy, Steve Archibald from Spain and Jim Bett from Belgium while England had Trevor Francis, Mark Hateley and Ray Wilkins from Italy – the first contest for the Rous Cup should be such a parochial affair.
There wasn’t so much as a whisp of garlic in this particular British hot-pot of sliding tackles, hustling midfield play and aerial combat up front.
In the latter department, Hateley, who had been such a hit with AC Milan this season, ironically found that what set him apart in Italy just made him one of the crowd in Glasgow.
“It is not common to throw high balls into the penalty area in Italian football,” said Souness, “and Mark is something different over there. But on Saturday he was up against a man who is used to handling that sort of thing.”
Alex McLeish, in common with the rest of Scotland’s back four, delivered just about his soundest display of the season at international level. The big Aberdeen defender gave nothing away in the air and was only threatened once for pace in the match when Hateley broke clear on the left.
The Dundee United full-backs, experiencing tha disappointment of losing the Scottish Cup final on the same ground the week before, seemed to find new resources of resolve. In only his second full international appearance and his first for a year, Malpas was more solid than the absent Arthur Albiston defensively if not quite so tidy going foward. As for Richard Gough, the quality of his performance was summed up by the substitution of England winger John Barnes with almost a third of the match remaining.
Gough, who is in the habit of notching vital goals for his club but had scored only once for his country (against Canada) before the weekend, improved that situation by completing the game’s best move with the ideal finish in the 68th minute.
Gough was involved in the build-up to the goal as the Scots spread the play from right to left and the English defence shuffled back on to the edge of their 18-yard area. McLeish also joined in the move and his contribution through the legs of Hateley to Bett in the outside-left position, was absolutely crucial. Bett’s cross was then nicely judged, puzzling Shilton as to whether he should come or stay, and Gough made the late run to float a header into the corner of the net.
It was all that was needed to separate the teams on a day when rain was so persistent that as many as 9,000 ticket-holders stayed away and watched the game on television.
For the 66,489 who did brave the conditions, there was little to applaud in a first half where the play was dreary and unimaginative. Off the pitch there was crowd trouble as a group of English fans, some waving National Front banners, were led out of the ground. It was the first time one could remember terracing trouble at a Scotland-England game at Hampden as the police stepped in to make 85 arrests.
Back on the field, even as gifted an individual as Gordon Strachan was having trouble controlling the ball on the wet surface. “My first touch was not that brilliant,” said the Manchester United player. “I’ve played better and finished on the losing end in this fixture. But what matters is that we are delighted about getting a result.”
It was an occasion when Scotland fielded two or three players who were a little short of full international class, but nonetheless lacked nothing in the way of commitment. Newcomers like David Speedie and substitute Murdo MacLeod as well as anchorman Roy Aitken (“you can get used to lifting trophies,” quipped the Celtic player) typified the bustling approach.
In short, Scotland did to England who before Saturday had lost only two goals in eight games, exactly what Wales had done to Scotland in March.
If the Scots now take the same encouragement into their World Cup tie against Iceland tomorrow as the Welsh carried into their match with Spain then the season could yet finish on a high note for Jock Stein’s squad.
Scotland: Leighton (Aberdeen), Gough (Dundee Utd), Malpas (Dundee Utd), Aitken (Celtic), McLeish (Aberdeen), Miller (Aberdeen), Strachan (Manchester Utd), Souness (Sampdoria), Archibald (Barcelona), Bett (Lokeren), Speedie (Chelsea).
Substitutes: Rough (Hibs), McStay (Celtic), MacLeod (Celtic), Johnston (Celtic), Sturrock (Dundee Utd.
England: Shilton (Southampton), Anderson (Arsenal), Sansom (Arsenal), Hoddle (Tottenham), Fenwick (QPR), Butcher (Ipswich), Robson (Manchester Utd), Wilkins (AC Milan), Francis (Sampdoria), Barnes (Watford).
Substitutes: Bailey (Manchester Utd), Watson (Norwich), Waddle (Newcastle), Dixon (Chelsea), Lineker (Leicester)
Referee: M Vautrot (France).