Scotland: Club, Country & Collectables
David Stuart & Robert Marshall
Pitch Publishing 2019
Hardback 208pp £19.99
When four of the first six club entries in a book about Scottish football are English, then it’s clear that this is an unconventional look at the game north of the border. The result is a wide ranging, intelligent and fascinating review of the ups and (many) downs of Scotland the football nation. Matches, tournaments, individuals and all the ephemera and collectables associated with them are encompassed in this well written and illustrated volume.
This isn’t a comprehensive guide to Scottish football, but it is an entertaining, informative and, at times, personal and subjective panorama of the Caledonian game. Don’t expect to see every club written about but the contributions made by players and managers from Airdrie to Tottenham are chronicled, always with nostalgic illustration. Charlie Cooke on the cover of Soccer Star, Willie Carr in the Coventry programme, or Robert Orrock (one cap in 1913 as a Falkirk player) on a Churchman’s cigarette card, indicate the span that there is. Most of the images come from the authors’ own collections, wide-ranging and replete with both historical and more recent material. The narrative too covers the decades: Willie Paul of Partick Thistle scored four times in his third international but was never picked again, apparently not unusual at the time, and Joe Craig, exThistle playing for Celtic, came on for 14 minutes against Sweden in 1977, scored and, again, was never chosen afterwards.
The book’s second half is an “alternative A to Z”. O is Oceanian opponents, B is Beer and Spirit Labels, and Y is You’ll Never Swap Alone. A wonderful collection of memories, memorabilia, and nuggets of information. Edinburgh brewers Robert Deuchar produced a “Hampden Roar” ale label and Rutherglen Scotch Whisky the “Flower of Scotland” miniatures with labels of legends like George Younger. Graeme Souness got his 50th cap in a 0-0 draw against Australia in Melbourne, a country that’s appeared at four consecutive World Cup Finals, 2006-18, with Scotland absent each time. If you’ve ever looked at some items in your collection and wonder “Why ?”, then you’ll identify with the notion that Craig Brown’s tie and a vinyl 45 recorded live at Gartcosh Social Club to celebrate Scotland’s win at Wembley in 1977 may not be that outlandish.
The presence of the authors at the scenes of Scotland’s more recent ventures on the world scene is used to bring to life tournaments like World Cup 98. The travails of travel and tickets from the days of transit vans heading to Wembley through to Easyjet and packages to away matches are well told. In earlier times the challenges didn’t exist as Scotland’s first 143 internationals were against other British Isles teams. The first official “foreign” opposition was in 1929 in Norway, a match won 7-3 in front of 4,000.
A fascinating, intelligent and pleasing book, full of interest for collectors of all sorts, and for football supporters Scottish or not.