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[ parts: intro | 1 | 2 ]

The World Cup, 1978, Introduction

Scotland’s World Cup of 1978 remains a pivotal event, not only in the way future Scottish teams would approach World cup finals, but also in the history of the country. In terms of the football, the much heralded run up to the trip to Argentina included claims by the manager, Ally McLeod that Scotland would “bring back a medal.” The excitement ran throughout the country and, unbelievable though it sounds now, the Scotland team were driven around Hampden Park in an open-topped bus, in what can only be described as a pre-victory parade.

All the portents were there that Scotland would have a disastrous tournament, and this they duly did. The team lost their first game to unfancied Peru and then winger Willie Johnston was sent home for failing a drugs test. In their second game they drew with lowly-ranked Iran – Scotland relied on an own goal to salvage a draw. They played well in their last game against future finalists Holland, but it was not enough and they went out on goal difference.

The Scottish football team would never again be driven by such wild-eyed optimism. A more cautious, realistic approach to what they could achieve was brought in.

In terms of the country itself, it has been much speculated that Scotland’s disappointing performance in Argentina led directly to the loss of the nation’s confidence that resulted in the ‘No’ vote given to devolution in the 1979 referendum.

The Act required that 40% of the Scottish electorate (not just of those who voted) had to support the Act for it to come into force. In the referendum of 1 March 1979, the devolution scheme was supported by 52% of those voting, but as this only amounted to 33% of the electorate, the scheme could not be realised. This led to a vote of no confidence in the Government and its defeat in the subsequent general election of May 1979.

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