Posted: 8/14/2013
Title: SCOTLAND'S FLOWER WILTS AT THE LANE

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      It was way back in 1314, on June 24th,  and Robert The Bruce had defeated the English under King Edward ll at The Battle of Banockburn near Stirling. A couple of decades ago the Scots finally said that they didn't want to sing and play God Save the Queen at international rugby and football matches any more, and 10,000 votes chose Flower of Scotland over Scotland the Brave.

      It celebrated that past victory but to me it sounds more like a funeral dirge. I vividly remember waiting outside the Estadio Gigante in Cordoba, Argentina for over an hour for the media bus when famous journalist Hugh MacIlvanney sang a dirge after Peru had beaten the Scots 3-1 at the 1978 FIFA World Cup. Joe Jordan had opened the scoring after 14 minutes but two goals from Teoflio Cubillas and one from Cesar Cueto gave the South Americans victory.  I was a freelancer and doing a daily report for the local TV channel in Cordoba and more.

      Last night at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, home of The Blades, and the oldest professional stadium in the world, the young guns of England put their Scottish counterparts to the sword by the comprehensive victory of 6-0.  After a woeful U 21 performance under coach Stuart Pearce at the EUROS in Israel, where they lost all three group matches and didn't score a goal from open play, Roy Hodgson took over for one night only. I saw Pearce in the hotel bar attached to the stadium where I enjoyed a pre match large hot chocolate.

     After the match Hodgson he was full of praise for the lads who he thought showed that many were ready for action in the full national team. It was 1-0 up after three minutes from Nathan Redmond and then the slaughter continued for an hour until it was six. Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Connor Wickham tortured their opponents. Sterling, Wickham, Shelvey, Ross Barcley and Tom Carroll were on the score sheet.

     By that time many of the small contingent of 200 visiting fans, surrounded by 20 security personnel decided that was enough and left the Jennifer Ennis lower stand and adjourned to The Cricketers Arms pub across the road to drown their sorrows in Kelham Island Brewery Ales.. Until August 1973 The Lane (opened for cricket in 1855), was a three sided stadium with a cricket pitch for Yorkshire County CC as well as Sheffield United.

    Before the match I told my friend Craig Brown, Scotland's most succesful manager, and the last one to defeat England at Wembley in November 1999, not to dismantle the goalposts if Scotland won. In 1977 The Scots won 2-1 at Wembley and there was a post match pitch invasion. The goalposts were dismantled and the turf dug up. A then 20 year old on his honeymoon called Gordon Strachan admitted being one of the horde. He said that he was too small to swing on the cross bar but he did take some turf home to his house in Broughton Ferry near Dundee for whom he was playing at the time.

      If Scotland win again on Wednesday, the current Scotland manager, now 56, may still want to try and swing on the bar in celebration.

      The match last night was to commemorate the founding of KICK IT OUT 20 years ago and to celebrate the first black player to represent England at any level, in THIS VERY STADIUM, when Laurie Cunningham played for England  U 21's.in April 1977 against Scotland U 21, and scored on his debut.  His brother and other family members were presented to the crowd of 27,500 prior to kick off.

      I remember being in the stadium to watch this creative player who was at Real Madrid for a while, play in the 1988 FA Cup Final at Wembley, for Wimbledon in the upset 1-0 victory over Liverpool. Tragically he was killed in an auto accident in Spain the following year.

     After the match I told Craig Brown, who was on his way to Wembley by road late last night after the Sheffield match, to sleep well, because GAZZA had retired !!!

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