Strachan backs rivalry revival

Gordon Strachan is keen to see the return of regular clashes between Scotland and England.

Last Updated: 22/07/13 at 16:20 Post Comment

Gordon Strachan: Would welcome more Scotland vs. England games

Gordon Strachan: Would welcome more Scotland vs. England games

Gordon Strachan wants to see the return of regular clashes between Scotland and England - with the profits generated being reinvested in rearing young players north and south of the border.

The Dark Blues boss has named a 29-man squad to take on Roy Hodgson's Three Lions side at Wembley on August 14.

The match - which is being held to celebrate the Football Association's 150th anniversary - is the first staging of the world's oldest international fixture in 14 years.

Scotland have met their neighbours just three times since 1989 after a creaking fixture list and the rise of hooliganism prompted the abandonment of the annual meeting with the 'Auld Enemy'.

But Strachan says next month's game should signal a permanent revival of the contest.

Asked if he would like to see the game played more regularly, he said: "I think so and we could use the money it generates for grassroots football on both sides of the border.

"I think everyone would accept it - the players would love it, the fans would like it and I think grassroots football would benefit from it.

"A lot of people would like to see it happen more regularly, that's for sure."

Strachan took England on four times as a player but his sole victory came at Hampden in 1985.

However, his personal memories of a game won by a Richard Gough header stretch only to his own disappointing performance.

He does have happier recollections of the 1977 meetings of the teams, which saw the Wembley turf torn up and crossbar snapped by celebrating members of the Tartan Army after Gordon McQueen and Kenny Dalglish struck in a 2-1 win.

"It's a special occasion for everybody and, yeah, I'm going to enjoy it," said Strachan, the first Scotland boss to lead a team south since Craig Brown's side registered a 1-0 win in an ultimately unsuccessful Euro 2000 play-off campaign in 1999.

"I've enjoyed every game so far as a manager. It's been a great experience for me and I'm lucky. There's not too many that get to manage their national side down there at Wembley against England.

"I was there as a supporter in 1977 - I was there on my honeymoon actually.

"There's a bit of turf in some house in Broughty Ferry in Dundee that the [current owner] doesn't know comes from Wembley.

"I was invited on the pitch by a policeman, actually. Me, my wife and my best man were the only ones left stood on the terracing. He just looked at us and went 'On you go,' so we went on.

"I was there in 1996 and I was at the game in 1999 when Don Hutchison scored a header. I've enjoyed every occasion so far. I hope to enjoy this one too."

And Strachan, who will be backed by a 20,000-strong travelling support, added: "I remember having a real bad game here at Hampden in '85. I was taken off but we were 1-0 up at the time but I was poor. Richard Gough scored.

"I never won with Scotland at Wembley but I was part of the group that won in '77. Honestly, I felt part of it. When you are there as a supporter, you feel part of that win.

"You feel at one with the players. You are part of the victory, the occasion.

"I've done it all in these games - I've been a supporter, I've played and now I'll manage in it and I know fine well that it has to be a collective attack. But that's not a problem, we will be together as a group - supporters, players and staff.

"The players are not stupid, they know that this game is important.

"But everyone will enjoy it. Whether you are doing anything, playing table tennis even, playing against England is an occasion that we have to win."

Celtic skipper Scott Brown will return for the Wembley trip after missing last month's World Cup qualifying win in Croatia with a hip injury.

But the injured trio of skipper Darren Fletcher, defender Gary Caldwell and striker Steven Fletcher will all miss out.

Sunderland forward Steven Fletcher is nearing a return from ankle injury while his Manchester United namesake Darren is hopeful that the colitis that has plagued him for the last two years is nearly at a manageable state.

However, Strachan was reluctant to speculate on when he will be able to call up either player again.

"I'll leave it to the clubs to tell you what is going on rather than me," he said. "But they are top players and top blokes. They will be missed, that is for sure. The quicker they get back the better."


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