Sunday, June 3, 2012
1977 And All That
To round off a previous thread on Scottish football in turn, I read a lovely tribute on the BBC website for condolences upon the death of Slim Jim Baxter of Glasgow Rangers in 2001. Mr Alan Frew in Canada recalled:
When I was a small boy I followed Rangers weekly. One Saturday at Broomfield the park was dangerously swelling to an overfull capacity. For safety boys and girls were allowed out of the crush to sit on the track surrounding the field of play. At one point Slim Jim came beside me to take a throw in when the ref stopped the play for a few minutes. He then started chatting with me, what was my name, what school did I go to etc.When the ref blew the whistle to restart play he said: "Right son, see ye later" and off he went. A never forgotten cherished memory of Jim Baxter.
Also have read in the past week some reflections and memories of the tragic night in September 1985 at Ninian Park in Cardiff when Scotland manager Jock Stein died at the end of a World Cup qualifier. There was much tension and angst in the Scottish dressing room at half time due to the realisation that goalkeeper Jim Leighton not only wore contact lenses but was also having some serious problems with his vision. He was replaced by Alan Rough who made his way out for the historic second half to the motivating words "Good luck, ya fat bastard" from Stein himself.
Stein had personally helped the injured during the Ibrox disaster of January 1971 which lead to 66 fatalities and noted thereafter "This terrible tragedy must help to curb the bigotry and bitterness of Old Firm matches. When human life is at stake this kind of hatred seems sordid and little. Fans of both sides will never forget this disaster."
Days of such footballing glory for Scotland, as fixed around legendary figures of the ilk of Baxter, Stein, Dennis Law, Jimmy Johnstone and Kenny Dalglish (and with consecutive appearances at the 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1990 World Cups) may now be consigned to the realms of history though since the last Royal Jubilee the political dynamics toward national independence have certainly not retarded in any way.
All and everything so fundamentally changed then since the year of Elvis' death, Donna Summers' I Feel Love and Wings' Mull of Kintyre. Indeed even the very physical geography of urban British landscapes have altered dramatically in the same period against crushing deindustrialisation, commercial uniformity and demographic change. This in a country where reflections upon the genuinely glorious past of independence, heroism and national uniqueness now weigh heavily for so many of us against the dread of future socio-economic projections and ludicrous political inertia.
1952 was such a long time ago yet 1977 somehow seems just as far away today.