Written by Craig Brown
I’m fortunate in that I’ve been to 5 major tournaments (WC ‘86, ‘90, ‘98 : EC ‘92, ‘96) having been involved in qualification for 4 of the 5. For the World Cup in 1986 I was invited by the temporary manager, Alex Ferguson, to join the coaching staff once qualification had been achieved by the late Jock Stein in group games and Alex himself in the play-off matches against Australia.
In contrast I was intimately associated with the other 4 successes. As assistant to Andy Roxburgh for matches for the World Cup in Italy in 1990 and the European Championship in Sweden, 1992, it was very rewarding to achieve qualification. The feeling was one of quiet contentment as I was not directly in the firing line. Andy, who succeeded when then only 8 teams qualified, was the man who had to undertake numerous press conferences justifying the squad selection etc.
This experience gave me a bit of immunity to the hype which surrounds successful qualification as, at that time, it was fully expected and anticipated. Therefore, in my time, unlike today, we hadn’t waited more than two decades and there wasn’t the same euphoria. Naturally, there was pleasant satisfaction, maybe even relief that we hadn’t let the nation down. All that resulted, not in an indifferent response but in a relatively low key reaction.
So, in answer to the question, to qualify in my opinion provides a tremendous feeling of delight and satisfaction knowing that the squad has represented our Scotland nation with credit and great pride.
Being a modest man Steve Clarke will have a feeling of quiet satisfaction for a job efficiently done. He will find he receives positive acknowledgements wherever he goes and he will be in great demand to make public appearances and deal with incessant media requests.
The impressive manner of his team’s success emanated from their mental strength. The Scotland Manager has that in abundance. That admirable quality will be required in the forthcoming months.