Being quite possibly the worst footballer Scotland has ever seen (no I'm not Joe Tortolano!) made an invite to Wembley all the more surprising. Not just to me, you understand, but to every member of my family and every mate who has ever had the misfortune to share a football pitch with me at any time. "But, you don't play football" was a very popular retort from many when I told them the news of my impending visit to the twin towers! However, I wasn't put off and Thursday October 19th saw me returning to Wembley for the first time since Live Aid some 15 years previous. I, along with as many Scottish "names" as Umbro could find, had been asked to play in a Scotland select against an English select which would be the last time that the 2 countries would face each other at the famous stadium before impending renovations were to bring an end to the landmark twin towers. The plan being they could launch www.umbro.com and raise money for the NSPCC.
The last official Scotland goal at
Wembley is celebrated
As the 3 Scottish radio representative arrived (myself, Forth FM's Mark Findlay and Tay FM's Mickey Gavin) the realisation of what was actually about to happen began to hit us. We arrived into the large welcoming hall between the towers which was bedecked with glorious moments of Wembley past; Henry Cooper Boxed there, Manchester United won the FA Cup there, some wee guy in shorts lit the Olympic flame there and England apparently won some tourney back in the 60s there. Alongside all these sporting moments was a picture of Rod Stewart (who had performed there, presumably) and low and behold after I had glanced at the picture of the original Cockney Scot I turned around and there he was in the flesh! There was a rumour that he was playing but we all thought it was just hype. Mind you, the story was in the Daily Record - so we should have known better! Yes it was true - Rod The Mod was our captain for the night, Christ, this was serious and by this time I was about crapping myself!
Anyways! We met up with some of the other team-mates, Justin Currie (Del Amitri), Kevin McDermott, Bobby Bluebell (The Bluebells), Dougie Vipond (Ex-Deacon Blue drummer , now Sportscene presenter), John Leslie (Star of TV and police cell), Edith Bowman (MTV Presenter), Johnny McHelone (Ex Altered Images, Ex Hipsway and now Texas bass player), Bryan (ugly one from Westlife going out with Kerry from Atomic Kitten) and headed down, like little schoolboys on Christmas morning, to the famous, and slightly tatty dressing room with the only real footballing legs Dixie Deans and Bobby Murdoch (Coach). Now, looking upon our team it would be easy to say that our chances were slight, given the fact that there was hardly one physically fit person among us. And when you looked into the England dressing room and saw the likes of David Platt, Nigel Benn, that Offiah rugby geezer and Audley Harrison (the HUGE boxer who won Gold in Sydney) - you may also have said that we would quickly be physically outdone! PANTS! Bobby Murdoch stood in the middle of the dressing room and gave us our pep talk. "Lads, you're at Wembley. You're playing England". He didn't need to say anymore. WE WERE READY!
A quick change of shirts (the new away ones were too similar to the England Red) and we were marching up the famous tunnel leading to the famous pitch and then, without warning, we all burst into a rousing rendition of "Flower Of Scotland". It didn't matter that each of us were more comfortable with a pack of Marlboro Lights and a pint of lager than a pair of lycra shorts and a gym - we were indestructible! In fact I was feeling so hyped up, I turned to Audley Harrison and snarled "hey, you're mine". I think he knew I wasn't entirely serious!
So, team photo's followed and then the moment we were all waiting for arrived, kick off! I didn't make the starting 11, although I was promised I'd get on at some point - by this time I didn't know whether I wanted on or not. Part of me was chapping at the bit at the prospect of playing at Wembley, the other part of me dreading the prospect of humiliating myself in such an important game.
Scots Captain Rod Stewart (sns)
Things got worse. THEY SCORED. Shortly afterwards Bobby Murdoch turned to us and said "Right! I need wan o' yees tae come oan as Centre Half!" He looked me straight in the eye and said "You, big man! come on. Tell Justin to move wide and you go centre half". I must now confess, I had no idea WHERE centre half's position actually is, but by this time, I wanted on. The moment arrived.
Grant Stott is coming on for Scotland against England at Wembley Stadium.
Now, the previous 12 words you have just read are words that, until recent events, would have had more chance of coming together in print than the words "Rangers Player Decides To Play For Free". Remember, I am mince at football, for years I have been likened to Bambi When Ice Skating, Daniel Day Lewis in "My Left Foot" and most recently a "newly born giraffe" running about a pitch. So to find myself in these surroundings is scary. Very scary. Not as scary, mind you, of finding myself with the ball at my feet. AARRGH! What the f#*k do I do now?. Aim for a Scotland shirt. I did and failed. Time to make amends, I thought. I quickly ran back up the pitch into our goal area, Nigel Benn is on the ball heading for goal, his first touch lets him down and the ball is heading out for a by kick. I tackle him anyway. He appeals for the penalty, but the ref waves play on. I'm not saying I was late, but when my tackle went in, my brother was already taking the by kick! Anyhoo, the ball is up the park and Justin Currie is running up the wing with the ball, a quick cross into the penalty area, it falls neatly to Mark Findlay who wasted no time in putting it away. England 1- Scotland 1.
That's how it remained at half time. I opted to stay off for the start of the second half. I had ran about stupid of a good 8 or 9 minutes by this point and was on the verge of collapse. Wembley is a huge pitch you know! England score again, bloody offside if you ask me, but no, it stood. England 2 - Scotland 1. Time for another shuffle and I'm back on. This time in defence with Dougie Vipond and Alex Ferguson's son keeping a close eye on me and making sure I don't stray. Next thing I know we've scored! Bryan from Westlife cracked a shot which hit off the post and rebounded right into the path of that man Findlay again, who deftly volleyed it into the top right and corner. England 2 - Scotland 2. Pressure was now on, and as I pranced around the area, trying to look like I knew what I was doing, Rod Stewart is brought down in the penalty box. PENALTY! And we get it. Mark Findlay was desperate for the hat trick, but it was decided that legs of footballing stock should take this one and Alec Ferguson's son Mark rattled it home. England 2 - Scotland 3! And despite a late flurry from England causing our goalie to pull off a couple of very important saves (including a double punch whilst in mid air - don't ask!) we survived and the final whistle blew and we went mental! We had done it! A bunch guys, drunks the lot, probably, came together for one night, but put on the shirts and beat the English on their own turf. Next it's bathtime and then onto the party supplied by Umbro who had set up the whole thing for many beers and talking to team-mates equally stunned by what we've just done.
Down to Wembley, play for Scotland against England and win.
Ahhhh. Life just couldn't get any better.