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Scotland & England, Introduction

Despite taking part in many important games for the European Championships and the World Cup, there is one fixture which, to many Scots fans comes above them all:
Scotland versus England. It was a yearly occurrence for over a hundred years, from the first match in 1872 until fears over crowd violence contributed to its cancellation in 1990. The game alternated between Hampden Park in Glasgow and Wembley in London. Despite the perception that Scots players and fans wanted to win the game more than their English counterparts, this was far from the case.

Rivalry between the two nations was further fuelled as players would play against each other for their clubs in the English leagues. And, as players of both nationalities might play for the same club team, defeat in one fixture would mean having to live for a whole year enduring dressing room taunts from the victorious side.

Of all the Scotland v England games, the one which stands out for Scotland fans is the 1967 fixture, which took place at Wembley - as part of the European Championship qualifying rounds. The English team were World Champions, following their historic home win in 1966, and were unbeaten since that tournament. The Scots team who faced them were full of stars like Denis Law, Billy Bremner and the player who typified Scotland’s performance that day, Jim Baxter.

The depth of feeling towards England’s World Cup win held by some Scots, can perhaps best be typified by the reaction of Scotland international Denis Law on that day in the summer of 1966. He refused to allow a fellow Manchester United player – who was English – out of a pledge to play him at golf. When Law heard the score - 4-2 to England – he reacted in the heat of the moment, and according to whichever apocryphal story you hear, either threw his golf clubs to the ground; threw them into a lake, or bent his clubs over his knee. Whatever the truth of the matter, there could be no doubt he took it badly. This strength of feeling was not replicated by all Scots, however, with many happy to see the Germans beaten by their Southern neighbours.

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