The previous generation of Scottish internationals didn’t know what it was like to play against England. The current generation must fear never knowing what it is like to win against this country’s most ancient and greatest rivals.
The World Cup qualifier at Hampden on 10 June will be England’s first visit to Mount Florida in almost 17-and-a-half years. It will be an encounter that will see Robert Snodgrass – today named William Hill international player of the year by the Scottish football writers – looking to complete the Auld Enemy stadium double.
The midfielder was one of Gordon Strachan’s more effective performers in the 3-0 World Cup qualifying loss at Wembley last November. That marked his second appearance in the fixture at England’s home after three years earlier he shone as Strachan’s side were downed in a 3-2 defeat – notable for being the first meeting between the nations for close on 14 years.
Snodgrass missed the 3-1 friendly defeat by England at Celtic Park the following year so the encounter in three weeks’ time provides him a first opportunity to face England in his native Glasgow.
Whatever the ups and downs of his 23-cap, six-year international career to date, he presents 10 June as difficult to eclipse for importance after Scotland gave themselves the slenderest qualification lifeline with the home win over Slovenia in March.
“It’s massive. I don’t think you’ll get a bigger game in a Scotland jersey than this one. It’s huge,” said the 29-year-old West Ham midfielder. “It’s one we’ve all been looking forward to. Wembley is out the way and that horrible taste in the mouth.
“If we’d taken our chances we’d have probably won that game. To now have them in our own back yard with a packed house will be huge. We’re looking forward to it.”
Sad to say that it would be a step forward if Scotland were even able to restrict England to two goals. Snodgrass’s reference to opportunities being missed in their last meeting is an acknowledgement of his squandering the best early opening.
“Yeah I do,” he confessed when asked if he thought back on that moment. “I think to myself if it had gone in it might have been a different story. We had a couple of good chances in the game.
“It’s part and parcel of the game. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn’t. We want to make sure it does this time.”
Since his £10.2 million January move to a club now appearing uncomfortably ensconced in the London Stadium, Snodgrass’s positioning hasn’t always seemed to be working for him. He is candid to admit that Slaven Bilic’s belief in where he is best suited has yet to allow him to feel as content on the pitch as he does off it.
“The football side in terms of scoring and creating goals hasn’t really been at the level I’ve had in the past,” he said of his five-month spell in the capital. “But other teams have played me in right midfield which has allowed me to cut inside or in behind the striker.
“I’ve been playing left midfield a lot at West Ham which has been tough. Left midfield has never really suited me down the years.
“I’d hoped to build on what I’d done during the first half of the season and the nine goals I scored, and I’m just waiting on my chance. But the manager has put me there and I’ve got every faith in what he’s doing.
“We’ve had a couple of chats. We’ve spoken about my position but then the lads have done really well so I’ve had to bide my time. I’m a realist, I understand football and situations in the game.
“I’ll keep working hard as I always do, striving to get that run of games and wanting to prove I can score goals and kick on. West Ham is a massive club and I want to do well. I want to create the same sort of feeling I’ve had at every other club. I want the fans to see this lad means business. I just need to get that chance.
“The management staff and the fans have been tremendous. The other staff have been great in helping me to settle too. I feel like I’ve been there for five years so it’s been great in that aspect.
“I’ve settled really well with the boys. It’s one of the best squads I’ve been in. But on the football side it’s taken a bit longer to get going.”
Snodgrass has even felt at home at a club that, with Bobby Moore as its figurehead, has always been synonymous with England’s 1966 World Cup success.
“There are lots of pictures of the West Ham guys who have done so well with England around the new stadium. There are lots of lads who have a tradition with West Ham but also the England connection.
“It’s funny because the players’ liaison guy at West Ham, a guy called Tim De’ath, used to be the chef at West Ham. He’s now also the players’ liaison guy for England as well. We’ve been having banter already about the game. It’s been good craic because he’s such a good guy. He’s been massive for me along the way, helping me settle in.
“It’s important every club you go to has people like him, guys who know the people, know the city and understand what you’re looking for. They just get it. Tim is exactly that. He’s such a down to earth lad. He’s right up my street. I’ve already thanked him a lot of times for all the help he’s given me so far.
“But I’ve also told him I want to beat him on 10 June. I think all of them will be cheering for England but it’ll be massive for us if we get that result.
“He won’t be getting any thanks off me that day. If we beat them I’ll be absolutely abusing him afterwards. If we get beat I’ll be keeping my head down, going on holiday and I’ll see him in four or five weeks…”