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 Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: sammer  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 17:40

It’s an old adage that if you want to win a Scottish cap then it’s a good idea to play for one of the Old Firm clubs. Rangers fans can proudly recite their team from 1963 but even they cannot truly believe that every single player in that team was good enough to be capped for Scotland. When injury removed Caldow and Davie Wilson then lo and behold their replacements- Davie Provan and Willie Johnston- took their place in the national team as well. Alex Scott was once chosen for Scotland despite playing for two months in the Rangers reserve side. And Celtic’s Lisbon Lions had 13 capped players in the ranks, including Ronnie Simpson who suddenly became an international class goalkeeper at the age of 36.

So yes, there is clear Old Firm bias. Ah, but we are told that it’s not just a question of ability: you need players who have big match temperament. That does not explain why it took Alan Gilzean four years of prolific scoring before he was deemed good enough to replace Ralph Brand since Dundee, Kilmarnock and Dunfermline all won trophies and gave a good account of themselves in Europe.

The eleven uncapped players here may not have been better than the established players of their time, but we were never given the chance to find out. I’ve limited my selection from 1965-75.


1. Keith MacCrae


Scotland has never been strong on goalkeepers. Bill Brown and Jim Leighton have a decent record in the goals against column but only an Englishman- Andy Goram- looked the part in my opinion. Keith McCrae kept goal in a similar style to Goram, rarely leaving the 6 yard box and using terrific hand/eye coordination to pull off seemingly impossible saves. As a teenager he’d replaced Peter McCloy in the Motherwell goal and some outstanding performances in the Texaco Cup earned him a big money move to Manchester City. McCrae suffered a series of hand injuries which allowed Joe Corrigan to regain his place and even go on to be capped for England. Since he had a career outside football maybe McCrae lacked the hunger to make the most of his talent but for a time in the early 1970s he looked like he might be the answer to our long standing problem.


2. Les Barr


The chances are you’ve never seen Montrose legend Les Barr play so he might seem a strange choice. I first saw him one evening up against Hibs’ Arthur Duncan after Barr had spent the afternoon shifting furniture which was his day job. Hibs liked to play a ball in behind the full back to exploit Duncan’s pace, but each time they tried this Barr got back and blocked the move with some ease. Not only that, when he carried the ball forward, Barr looked rather like John Brownlie who was playing on the other side of the pitch. Barr was certainly as good as Stuart Kennedy who was attracting attention while then at Falkirk. After netting a remarkable tally of 60 goals Barr did get full time football with Dundee, but by then the pendulum had swung across to Tannadice where outstanding full backs like Ray Stewart and Richard Gough were beginning to break through.



3. John Lunn


John Kennedy, Davie Holt, Francis Burns, Stewart Houston:- even a diehard Scottish football fan would struggle to put a face to some of these names. Yet they were all preferred to John Lunn at left back for Scotland. Although he was an established first team player by the age of 17 Lunn was just too young to take over from Caldow and once Tommy Gemmell emerged as a marauding full back he was left in the shadows. Power and pace were what John Lunn brought to the table; he was rarely beaten on the outside and when he moved inside to support the central defence you could hear his thumping challenges up on the terracing. His driving overlapping runs lacked Gemmell’s flamboyance but Lunn might have been a better bet in a Scotland team under pressure. He would not have had to chase Helmut Haller to kick him up the backside since a trackside cindering would have settled the matter.


4. John McGovern


Three English League titles and twice captain of a European Cup winning side- yet bizarrely John McGovern was never capped for his country. Brian Clough signed him three times but he was overlooked by at least four Scotland managers who presumably judged his game to be a bit limited. McGovern was the classic understated wing half who held his position, could dispossess an opponent and make a quick simple pass, usually to someone with more ability. He knew his limitations and he played to them with great effect for the best part of a decade while charging midfielders like Rioch and Hartford donned the blue jersey. Gerry Francis and Teofilo Cubillas would not have wreaked the havoc they did had John McGovern been playing defensive midfield.


5. Roy Barry


From 1967-1970 Roy Barry was the most uncompromising centre half in Britain. He took no prisoners when he tackled from behind, backing his ability to make contact with the ball just before he flattened the attacker. Forwards then had more leeway too, using elbows and back of the head buts to rattle their marker but that was meat and drink to Roy Barry who relished a personal duel. He led by example and was dominating centre forwards as good as Joe McBride and Colin Stein before taking his heroic style of defending down to Coventry to great acclaim. Until Roy broke his leg we’d all assumed he was indestructible. Would stocky strikers like Francis Lee, Uwe Seeler and Gerd Muller have enjoyed the same success faced with Roy Barry that they did against McKinnon and McNeill? In a word: no.


6. Frank Beattie


The Kilmarnock side of the early 1960s ran Rangers close many a time and was based on the strong central defence pairing of Frank Beattie and Jackie McGrory, the Miller/McLeish of their day. Beattie was a tall player with a decent amount of football in him- he’d started as an attacking midfielder- but it was his calmness and all round awareness which marked him out as a good cover defender. Three times he lost at Hampden finals but his greatest hour came when he led Kilmarnock to a dramatic last game of the season title win at Tynecastle, a trophy won on goal average due to their miserly goals against total. When Scotland eventually got round to playing a four man defence John Greig, a strong player but never a composed central defender, was given the covering role. By which time Beattie was well over 30 and as a Kilmarnock stalwart unlikely to be considered for the national team.

I'll put up the attackers later.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: veteraneastender  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 18:13

McRae was notable for his ability to play just about anywhere, in goal or outfield.

I mind seeing him play outside left for Motherwell at Fir Park, and he put in a decent performance.

Incidentally, what was job outside football ?
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: wee eck  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 18:49

Wasn't he involved in newspaper journalism?
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: GG Riva  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 19:15

Oh Sammer, how could you compile such a list and omit Alex Edwards and Alex Smith?

Edwards has to be the finest post WW2 Scottish footballer to have never been capped and Alex Smith made light of his lack of genuine pace with his wonderful awareness, speed of thought and brilliant distribution. At Ibrox, he was moved from his preferred midfield role to makeshift striker and was Rangers top scorer.



Not your average Sunday League player.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 19:25

Yet another stoater sammer we will no doubt get a few additions to your 6 ? or is there more to come ?
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Townsvillepar  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 20:24

Definitely agree with Roy Barry. He was the greatest and toughest centre half I ever watched. He would have run through a brick wall to play for Scotland. My memory of the great win v West Brom at the Hawthorns in the Cup Winners Cup was that Barry was simply magnificent. He won the game for us that night.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: sammer  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 20:30

Relax GG,

It's a numbered team in old formation although playing 4-3-3. I can't find a place for Alex Smith since I've already got three walking pace players in the forwards, but he certainly is a good contender. In fact I'm tempted to put him in at number 8. Players like Smith and Brewster are often considered too slow for international football but that never seems to be a problem for their style of player in France, Spain and Italy- not to mention the South American teams. I'd say that in Scotland we have not recognised thinking players enough and usually gone down the English route of power, work rate and speed. Which are not our strengths.


7. Alex Edwards


Quite why Alex Edwards never won a single cap remains one of Scotland’s footballing mysteries. His precise passing and crossing was obvious from when he broke into the Dunfermline team as a teenager. Very soon he had picked up considerable European experience and played in a cup final at Hampden, developing the experience to control play from right midfield. One problem was that Scottish selectors were wedded to the notion of ‘Wee Blue Devil’ wingers such as had destroyed England 40 years earlier, so Edwards’ style did not suit. There were also questions over Edwards’ temperament but that never stopped Bremner, Law, Jimmy or Willie Johnston collecting caps. It was a travesty. No one could match Edwards’ creative vision during his best years at EEP and Easter Road.


8. Gordon Wallace


Gordon Wallace was the Geoff Hurst of Scottish football, a target man guaranteed to control balls played from defence, ride a challenge and then lay the ball back into midfield. Like Hurst he was also a reliable finisher on either foot but no caps, far less world cup finals, came his way. In 1968 Wallace scored 30 goals to keep Raith Rovers in the top division, which was more than half the team total, and he averaged a goal every other game throughout his career. A move to Dundee saw him link to great effect with John Duncan and Jocky Scott but still no call to represent his country. Wallace was an outstanding all round attacker who could do a bit of everything but probably did not have a stand out skill- such as Jordan’s aggression or Dalglish’s intelligence- to catch the manager’s eye. But everyone who played with or against him rated Wallace very highly.


9. Alan Gordon


If Gordon Wallace was a reliable workhorse then Alan Gordon was a graceful thoroughbred, a tall, slim attacker who moved smoothly across the pitch and timed his jumps to perfection. Only Gilzean would rank above him in the art of headwork and Alan Gordon had enough penalty box savvy to post a 50% strike rate throughout his career. He was a chartered accountant outside football and this perception of being a part time player probably counted against his international chances. He played for both Edinburgh and Dundee clubs but Gordon’s finest years came at Easter Road where he not only fed off crosses from Edwards and Duncan but showed an ability to link up play, dropping deep and steering passes in behind the full backs. The final word goes to manager Eddie Turnbull: ‘The trouble wi you Gordon is that yer brains are in yer heid.’


10. Ian Porterfield


Forget ‘Wee Blue Devils.’ I’m wedded to the idea that every Scotland team should have an arrogant, swaggering, left sided midfielder who likes to take the pee out of the opposition. If he comes from Fife so much the better and if we had been looking for a Jim Baxter replacement then we could have done worse than latch on to Ian Porterfield who also played for Raith Rovers and Sunderland. Porterfield was forgotten until the 1973 FA Cup Final when he not only shrugged off the hacking of Bremner and stamping of Giles but actually gave them a taste of their own medicine into the bargain. His control of the midfield made the unlikely victory possible, and he even scored the winner with his weaker right foot. As a tall, athletic midfielder who trusted his left foot to pick out passes but could also put in a hard tackle, Ian Porterfield might have become Scotland’s Wim van Henegem.


11. Peter Marinello


I’ve put him out on the left wing where he played for Motherwell in case he crowds out Alex Edwards on the right. As a schoolboy Marinello was courted by Stanley Matthews who would have recognised a dribbling winger that could glide past opponents using balance and a change of pace. The open game played by Hibs at the time was a great help to the teenager who very quickly was sending shock waves through the ranks of Scottish left backs. Hibs were top of the league in December 1969 just before he was transferred but he was still short of 20 and if Arsenal, a team based on work ethic, was the wrong club then London was also the wrong city. Marinello was given money but was robbed of that confidence every footballer, no matter how talented, needs. When I saw the dribbling French attacker Rocheteau display his talent at World Cup tournaments I thought that was what Marinello could have been.

I’m the first to concede this is not a very strong Scottish international team. Opponents we would have matched ourselves against such as Austria or Belgium would have beaten this lot. But take any 2 or 3 players from the above and surround them with Bremner, Baxter, Mackay, Law, Dalglish etc and a different picture might emerge.

In context, here’s a ‘team’ that was capped during the same period.

1. Jim Brown (Sheffield Utd)
2. Doug Fraser (WBA)
3. Billy Dickson (Kilmarnock)
4. Bobby Watson (Mothewell)
5. Colin Jackson (Rangers)
6. John Clark (Celtic)
7. Willie Carr (Coventry)
8. Davie Robb (Aberdeen)
9. Derek Parlane (Rangers)
10. Ted McDougall ( Norwich)
11. Paul Wilson (Celtic)
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 21:34

Superb sammer ... I hope G.G. will apologise for his breenge
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Grant  
Date:   Mon 27 Apr 23:15

Quote:

GG Riva, Mon 27 Apr 19:15

Oh Sammer, how could you compile such a list and omit Alex Edwards and Alex Smith?

Edwards has to be the finest post WW2 Scottish footballer to have never been capped and Alex Smith made light of his lack of genuine pace with his wonderful awareness, speed of thought and brilliant distribution. At Ibrox, he was moved from his preferred midfield role to makeshift striker and was Rangers top scorer.


Was doing a pub crawl one day that took me to the Coaledge Tavern last year, what a legend and thoroughly lovely gentleman is Alex Smith. Was fantastic to speak to him.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: veteraneastender  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 08:42

"My memory of the great win v West Brom at the Hawthorns in the Cup Winners Cup was that Barry was simply magnificent. He won the game for us that night."

Along with Jim Fraser who was also outstanding.

Interesting aside about players not being capped for their country - Bent Martin was called up for his international debut for Denmark but declined as he had an important professional exam (he was in banking) the same day.

He was never given another opportunity AFAIK.



Post Edited (Tue 28 Apr 08:47)
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 09:32

Aye vee it was a long 88 minutes after Gardiner scored
West Brom had 4 scotsmen playing in that game
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: GG Riva  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 10:04

''Superb sammer ... I hope G.G. will apologise for his breenge''

Nae chance! I consider sammer a good friend, even though we've never met. He won't be expecting an apology, so he won't be disappointed. I was appalled at wee Mickey's omission - I managed to miss the final sentence of the OP. It's no' a hanging offence, is it? :-)

''Was doing a pub crawl one day that took me to the Coaledge Tavern last year, what a legend and thoroughly lovely gentleman is Alex Smith. Was fantastic to speak to him.''

Smithy is indeed a real gent - anytime I go in there, he wants to give me a pint on the house and I have to tell him to behave himself - and that goes back to long before I talked him up in this wee tribute:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkAwFTZw5vI

You were on a pub crawl that took in the Coaledge Tavern? Your knees must have been well skint in the legs before and after. How many miles did you cover? :-)



Not your average Sunday League player.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: veteraneastender  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 10:46

GG - did Alex ever talk about Berwick 1967, or was that too painful a memory ?

Likewise the ECWC Final loss to Bayern later that year ?
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 11:03

I have great memories of Alex Smith as a player and was gutted when he went to Rangers I don't think he played as often for them than he would have if he had stayed at EEP
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: LochgellyAlbert  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 11:08

Quote:

Buspasspar, Tue 28 Apr 09:32

Aye vee it was a long 88 minutes after Gardiner scored
West Brom had 4 scotsmen playing in that game


Still remember Asa Hartford being outstanding for WBA, was he not only 16years old at the time?🤔
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: GG Riva  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 12:09

Quote:

Buspasspar, Tue 28 Apr 11:03

I have great memories of Alex Smith as a player and was gutted when he went to Rangers I don't think he played as often for them than he would have if he had stayed at EEP


You're joking, BPP. Smith was a regular at Ibrox when fit. He was moved up front when Jim Forrest and Dandy McLean were made the scapegoats for Berwick and punted. He was their top scorer, two seasons in a row, I think, from memory.

VEE, have never talked about Berwick with Alex, but when you look at the Rangers line up, they should have won with their hands in their pockets. Ironically, they made the ECWC final, losing by the only goal to Bayern. Maybe if they'd still had Forrest and McLean up front....



Not your average Sunday League player.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 13:22

Topic Originator: GG Riva like | nolike
Date: Tue 28 Apr 12:09

Quote:

Buspasspar, Tue 28 Apr 11:03

I have great memories of Alex Smith as a player and was gutted when he went to Rangers I don't think he played as often for them than he would have if he had stayed at EEP


You're joking, BPP. Smith was a regular at Ibrox when fit. He was moved up front when Jim Forrest and Dandy McLean were made the scapegoats for Berwick and punted. He was their top scorer, two seasons in a row, I think, from memory.


Maybe getting mixed up as usual G.G. :)
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Grant  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 13:42

Quote:

GG Riva, Tue 28 Apr 10:04

Smithy is indeed a real gent - anytime I go in there, he wants to give me a pint on the house and I have to tell him to behave himself - and that goes back to long before I talked him up in this wee tribute:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkAwFTZw5vI

You were on a pub crawl that took in the Coaledge Tavern? Your knees must have been well skint in the legs before and after. How many miles did you cover? :-)


We started in Lochgelly weirdly, once we'd finished walking around there it was a taxi to the coaledge, would've been a fair walk!

He refused to keep the change aswell, what a man.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: Townsvillepar  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 20:49

I had the pleasure of going to the Coaledge with my brother, his partner and my brother's mate in September last year. Alex Smith was one of my heroes and I was really disappointed that he went to Rangers. Our night at the Coaledge pub is one of the best nights I have ever had. Alex is such a character and a lovely man. We had the best laugh and I was in my element. Alex had been to Australia and had a great memories of his trip there. He put his hat with corks hanging from it on and it made my night. The banter that night was first class. Truly a great man.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: GG Riva  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 21:46

Quote:

Townsvillepar, Tue 28 Apr 20:49

I had the pleasure of going to the Coaledge with my brother, his partner and my brother's mate in September last year. Alex Smith was one of my heroes and I was really disappointed that he went to Rangers. Our night at the Coaledge pub is one of the best nights I have ever had. Alex is such a character and a lovely man. We had the best laugh and I was in my element. Alex had been to Australia and had a great memories of his trip there. He put his hat with corks hanging from it on and it made my night. The banter that night was first class. Truly a great man.


We were all gutted when Alex was transferred to Rangers, Townsville, but if it's any consolation, he didn't want to go, but £51,000 was a record between 2 Scottish clubs and the Pars needed the money to balance the books, so he was told the fee had been agreed and expected to sign for the Glasgow club.

You will know that back then the clubs held all the power - they could refuse any number of repeated transfer requests as they did with Alex Edwards and Roy Barry, before eventually conceding defeat, or they could tell a player he'd been sold. With Smith it was done amicably. He went because he loves the Pars and can be seen in the Main Stand at every home game, come rain or shine, even if it's quite an effort for him as both his knees are goosed with arthritis.



Not your average Sunday League player.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: sammer  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 22:03

' if it's quite an effort for him as both his knees are goosed with arthritis.'
So he's quicker now?

Apologies for the cruel terracing humour. Alex Smith was my father's favourite Pars player ever and when I saw him in his prime I could see his influence on a game of football. He combined two positions really: creative wing half and attacking inside right. Alex was only average height but had a great ability to time runs into the box and get on the end of crosses from either wing. His shooting was pretty brisk too from around the edge of the box. But my lingering memory is of Alex carrying the ball effortlessly on the counter attack and making a well judged pass to develop play. The old saying, 'Let the ball do the work' was never truer than for Alex Smith.
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 Re: Cap in Hand
Topic Originator: veteraneastender  
Date:   Tue 28 Apr 23:48

"Aye vee it was a long 88 minutes after Gardiner scored"

I could not get to The Hawthorns - watched it on the big screen at EEP - it blew down in the heavy wind not long after Pat G scored, then there was a scurry along the terracing to find the other screen.

Two things I mind - it was a freezing cold night - and the WBA keeper, the late John Osborne, had a plastic finger.
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