For 31 year old Ricky Lambert it's been a long, long road to glory. Three short substitute chances at Blackpool, then Macclesfield where he also worked in a beetroot bottling factory, Stockport County, a transfer to Rochdale and conversion to a striker, Bristol Rovers, Southampton and W-E-M-B-L-E-Y.
One hundred and sixty seconds after being brought on to replace Wayne Rooney and a corner from Leighton Baines and with HIS FIRST TOUCH he heads the winning goal against Scotland. 3-2 to the home team !!
It was just a friendly, but no ordinary friendly, when the AULD ENEMY meet, one hundred and eleven meetings since the very first international match on November 30th 1872 at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow. 0-0 was the score in a match delyed due to fog.
The last match prior to this week was a European Championship 2nd leg at Wembley in November 1999 when Craig Brown's squad won 1-0. Unfortunately they had lost 2-0 at Hampden Park a few days earlier. Three years earlier I was at Wembley at the previous European Championship Finals to watch England win 2-0. First Alan Shearer's header and then one of the great goals of all time from Paul Gascoigne, who was playing club football for Rangers at the time, and his chip over the shoulder of Colin Hendry to volley past Andy Goram. Scotland had earlier failed to score from the penalty spot, Gary McAllister's shot saved by David Seaman.
I watched many matches between the two rivals on black & white TV until my first live Auld Enemy class in April 1966. Four of us drove up the A1 in a converted mini minor van and got delayed by snow and slush and had to spend Friday night in a pub in Northumberland before continuing the next morning. We were lucky. Those who had driven on the western route by the A6 or by train, were trapped in snowdrifts on Shap Fell and never made it.
We joined 123,052 on the terraces at Hampden to watch a 4-3 victory for The Three Lions. Roger Hunt (2), Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton. The Dark Blues responded with goals from Denis Law and Jimmy Johnstone (2). Two months later England won the World Cup and i was lucky enough to be there.
80,000 fans including at least 20,000 Scots made for great theatre as part of the F.A.s 150th Anniversay celebrations, and the Tartan Army went wild when James Morrison took the lead with a rocket shot that Joe Hart fumbled. A perfect pass from Cleverley for Walcott who cut inside Steven Whittaker to equalize. In the second half Kenny Miller turned Gary Cahill and took the lead again.Shortly after Steven Gerrard whipped in a free kick to Danny Welbecks head who beat McGregor.
Scotland ran out of steam but England still have problems ahead of two World Cup qualifiers early next month against Moldova and Ukraine. An uncertainty in the middle of defence is the biggest problem to sort out if they are to qualify for Brazil 2014. For The Scots, after a win over Croatia and this promising performance, there is hope for the future of a nation rated 50th in the world standings.