David Marshall plunging across heroically to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty in the winner-takes-all clash against Serbia back in November sealed Scotland’s spot at Euro 2020 this summer.
It was the crazy and wonderful side of football on display for all to see – with one man’s actions managing to define the mood of an entire nation.
Euphoria swept across into every corner north of the border, and no wonder. After all, the tense, nail-biting triumph saw them earn a place at a major tournament for the first time since 1998.
Scotland beat Serbia in a tense penalty shootout to seal their spot at Euro 2020 this summer
David Marshall dived across to his left to keep out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s effort and seal the win
They have plenty to look forward to. Not least a reunion with the ‘Auld Enemy’.
Scotland’s group is rounded off by Croatia and the Czech Republic, but their true glory will come by travelling to Wembley to face England and etching another twist into the legacy of what remains the oldest international rivalry in world football.
So, how did the tempers between the two nations begin? The grudge dates all the way back to 1870, although this first ever match is not recorded in the history books.
Paul Gascoigne’s goal against Scotland at Euro 96 is just one of a host of standout moments
England and Scotland (pictured doing battle in 2016) have long since endured a heated rivalry
This is for a very strange reason. The game was organised by the Football Association, but without any input from their peers in Scotland.
As a result, the players on the Scottish team simply lived in London but had roots stretching back to Caledonia. On that occasion the spoils were shared at the Oval in a 1-1 draw.
Two years on, the fixture was made a staple in the schedules for both nations. The first official international between them took place in November 1872 in Glasgow.
England will welcome Scotland to Wembley in June for their highly-anticipated group match
Scotland’s players then were all taken from Queen’s Park – and the match petered out into another 1-1.
According to the Glasgow Herald, England’s average weight was notably ‘about two stones heavier’ than their opponents, although Scotland’s technical ability was lauded.
In 1873, after the creation of the Scottish FA, an agreement was thrashed out that would see both countries take each other on annually.
Through these meetings, the fires that currently crackle and hiss away beneath the rivalry were stoked.
The head-to-head record between them is very close. England hold 48 victories to their name, while Scotland have 41. There have been 25 draws.
Scotland’s infamous ‘Wembley Wizards’ team netted five goals against England in March 1928
James McMullan, Scotland’s captain, is pictured being escorted off the field by supporters
All that action is sprinkled with emergence of iconic games, teams and goals. One of the first sides to write themselves into the fixture’s folklore were the 1928 ‘Wembley Wizards’.
Scotland travelled to Wembley with some key players surprisingly left out of the team, and England boasted the legendary Dixie Dean, who would net 60 goals that season, up front.
The hosts were left shell-shocked, however, with Scotland coming out on top after an attacking performance characterised by swagger and quality. Alex Jackson netted a hat-trick, with Alex James also on target, in a memorable 5-1 victory.
Fresh from his nation plundering five at their old rivals’ home stadium, James would cheekily insist: ‘We could have had 10.’
Gordon Banks pulled off a wonderful save in 1967 but was unable to stop England losing 3-2
Denis Law is seen wildly celebrating with Scotland going on to beat the world champions
Decades later, in 1967, Scotland sealed another historic triumph over England. This one is perhaps their most famous yet.
The 3-2 victory came against the reigning world champions, after all, and was the first defeat suffered by Sir Alf Ramsey’s history makers after their World Cup glory.
Having stunned the Three Lions yet again, Scotland quickly christened themselves as unofficial world champions.
The 1977 encounter is most memorable for the actions of fans rather than players. Members of the Scotland faithful tore up parts of the Wembley turf and clambered on to the frames of the goals to toast their 2-1 win.
The clash between the two nations in 1977 saw Scotland supporters tear up parts of the pitch
The renewing of the rivalry two years later took on a much sinister undertone, though.
In 1979, the wild and unsavoury atmosphere at Wembley resulted in 349 arrests and 149 people removed from the venue.
Another small pitch invasion also marred the day – and the chaos soon flooded into the Tube network and the capital’s streets. Two supporters lost their lives.
The ugly rivalry between sections of both sets of supporters later extended into Glasgow in 1989. A game hosted in the city that year led to 260 arrests.
To date, the only fixture at a major tournament between the two countries took place at Euro 96. Paul Gascoigne’s iconic goal and celebration at the expense of Scotland spurred England on to believe that the trophy would soon be theirs.
Steve Bull netted for England at Hampden in a tie marred by ugly scenes in and around the city
Alan Shearer guided home a header shortly after half-time to put the hosts ahead, although the celebrations were almost short-lived after Scotland were awarded a penalty following Tony Adams’ foul on Gordon Durie.
David Seaman stood firm, though, and kept out Gary McAllister’s effort from 12 yards. Then, step forward Gascoigne.
A deft lift over the head of Colin Henry, followed by an unerring finish, saw his team-mates rush over to squirt water into his mouth.
Stuart McCall later recalled their memories of the aftermath of the game to the BBC, which include a disagreement with Ally McCoist over taking home Gascoigne’s shirt.
Gascoigne’s ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration came when England doubled their lead over Scotland
‘After the game we were on the bus and Ally says, “I got Gazza’s shirt”,’ recalled McCall.
‘And I went, “I can’t believe you’ve done that, that goal’s probably put us out of the tournament”. The lads were telling me to calm down and I was trying to keep a straight face.
‘”Nah, it’s a disgrace,” I said. “I’d have never taken his shirt, especially after he scored against us.”
‘”You’re only jealous,” he replied. “Jealous?! I’ve got nothing to be jealous about,” I said, and dipped into my bag.
The former Rangers and Tottenham star’s strike is one of the iconic moments of the old rivalry
‘I pulled out mine and said “that’s a real Gazza shirt – that’s the one he played in against us and didn’t score – so I got the original!”‘
Another memorable encounter between the two old enemies took place in 1999, when a place at Euro 2000 was on the line.
The two-legged play-off saw England narrowly edge beyond Scotland to reach the showpiece, largely in part due to the first half of the first leg.
Paul Scholes made himself a national hero after scoring twice in front of 50,000 baying Scots at Hampden Park.
The Manchester United star latched on to a long ball forward to net England’s first, and then doubled his tally just before the interval after nodding in a free-kick from David Beckham.
Paul Scholes was at the double as England beat Scotland 2-0 in a crucial Euro 2000 play-off
Scotland triumphed in the second leg, coming out 1-0 victors south of the border, but Don Hutchinson’s goal proved to be a mere consolation.
Since then, England have claimed three wins from the following four clashes, with the most recent one ending in a 2-2 draw.
A 25 per cent capacity means that the simmering and often intimidating atmosphere created by fans may not quite reach the levels of the 1970s and 1980s this summer.
But that does not mean there won’t be fireworks on the pitch come June 18. Strap yourselves in.