“I haven’t felt that good since Archie Gemmill scored against Holland in 1978.”
Mark Renton, Trainspotting.
After missing out thanks to a late Brazil goal in 1974 the Scots were back four years later at the World Cup in Argentina and ready to have another crack at trying to get out of the first round for the first time. Gone were the old guard of Billy Bremner, Jimmy Johnstone and Peter Lorimer with new toe cutters such as Gordon McQueen, Derek Johnstone and Graham Souness joining already established stars such as Kenny Dalglish, Joe Jordan and the plethora of Scots all starring at Nottingham Forest for one Brian Clough.
Despite the failure (again) of Scotland to make it in to the second round and gaggle of half decent players they had in this tournament it was one of the Forest veterans that would be remembered by many. 31 year old Archie Gemmill had been a star for Derby County in their two league title wins and had been a captain for Scotland on over 20 occasions. In the match against the Cryuff-less but still next to unbeatable Dutch, Scotland turned it on in their bid to make it in to the second round.
Scotland had lost to Peru and had somehow drawn with debutantes Iran but a win over the Dutch by three goals would push them in to the next round. Dalglish had scored just on half time to cancel out Resenbrink’s early penalty before Gemmill scored from the spot himself just minutes in to the second half. With the score at 2-1 Gemmill collected the ball and dodged the tackle of one Dutch player and then danced past two more before he took one touch and slipped the ball past the keeper from close range with a brilliant finish.
Whilst pubs, houses and anywhere else football friendly would have been a manic beer drenched mess of celebration from the Isle of Skye to Leith, Gemmill pumped the fist in to the air a couple of times to a pocket of Scots in the crowd then ran back to the middle to get the game underway again and search for that elusive third goal, a model professional thinking about the big picture and not his individual piece of brilliance.
Scotland were on the cusp of getting the required goal but Rep scored just minutes after Gemmill’s wonder strike to keep Holland safe on goal difference and send the Scots home before their postcards yet again. The goal has been seen as probably the best goal by a home nation in a World Cup (Owen’s 1998 classic against the Argies or Platt’s against Cameroon possibly beating it) and has even made it in to the arts. Songs have been written about the goal and as we all know the goal was referred to in Trainspotting by one Mark Renton.
The goal somewhat overshadowed some of Gemmill’s other achievements throughout his career including the league title wins (he would win one more with Forest), the fact he was the first ever substitute in Scottish football and that he was dropped for Forest’s first European Cup triumph in 1979 after falling out with Clough. He is now the manager of the Scottish Under 19 side and is forever known as someone to have scored a goal that was even better than sex and that has to be a memorable moment.