My first “Auld Enemy” clash at Wembley Stadium was special. The atmosphere was unique but it was to be tinged with sadness as we lost a 1-0 lead, from a John Wark goal, and ended up losing 3-1 to a Kevin Keegan-inspired England side. My next visit was to be mega memorable.
Dutifully each week myself, my late father and his friends paid our contributions to the Wembley club fund and when two years had elapsed it was off to London. This occasion would also be marked by my first aeroplane flight as we usually travelled by train.
The Wembley weekend is difficult to explain to anyone who never experienced it. A sea of Tartan, St Andrews flags and Lion Rampant flags appeared in every corner of London and the hi-jinx of the Scottish support had long been a bone of contention with the indigenous population; even more so when Scotland won.
Scotland hadn’t beaten England in the previous three Home Nations Championships meetings and this time as the Scottish masses headed south they did so with few tickets as the English F.A and Ted Croker had slashed the allocation normally given to Scottish Football League clubs.
Scotland fans are nothing if not resourceful and the fact that literally thousands of Scots and those of Scots descent live in England provided the avenue for sourcing match tickets. The attendance as I recall was around the 65,000 mark and, as was usually the case, they all seemed to be Scottish.
A massive banner was unveiled in a show of defiance reading “So you tried to ban us Mr Croker?” When we were awarded a penalty and John Robertson of Nottingham Forest stepped up to take it we knew there was going to be only one result as Robbo very rarely missed. He didn’t disappoint.
May 23rd 1981 will long live in my mind and on May 24th the elation I still felt could have almost saw me fly home without the aid of an aircraft!
Memory added on December 22, 2011
What a wonderful memory - I remember the banner you mention. I believe someone actually took a picture of it, had it framed, and presented it to Ted Croker (not a likeable man), who subsequently put it on his office wall as a wee reminder that humility goes a long way.
– Cameron Thomson, January 2 2012 at 14:15