Saturday 10 December 2016

David McWilliams: There is life after default, take a look at Argentina

Published 01/06/2011 | 05:00

I remember it so distinctly. Mum allowed me to stay up to watch it even though it was a school night and it meant going to bed after midnight.

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The reception was appalling on our tiny "PYE" television in the corner of the kitchen. But Scotland were playing Holland in the 1978 World Cup and as Dad's parents were Scottish, this link was enough to give me legitimate bragging rights in national school. But everyone loved Scotland back then; we adopted them. They had Dalgleish, Jordan, Hartford, Gemmill, Souness, Buchan, and Robertson. They were quick and skilful and, of course, we watched them every week playing for Liverpool, Man U, Leeds and Notts Forest.

The game, played in the freezing cold of the Argentinean winter, was extraordinary with Scotland winning 3-2 but still failing to qualify, and then Holland's contentious loss to Argentina in the final. What amazed me in 1978 wasn't so much the brilliant game and Archie Gemmill's outstanding goal, but the wonderfully alien atmosphere as reams and reams of paper were thrown from the stands to greet the players.

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