Intermission - British Leagues and Club Football Recap (Part 2)
British Leagues and Club Football Recap
Part 1


Following the glory of England winning the World Cup in 1990, English clubs were allowed back into Europe following their ban during Heysel with Manchester United winning the Cup Winner's Cup the following year. But the real change in English football was the formation of the Premier League in 1992 and despite all this looking up with the English game and with Euro '96 round the corner being held in England, it would seem everything is going well. However, following an embarrassing exit from the World Cup to Scotland which saw the end of Graham Taylor's time as manager, a lot of pressure is on for England to do well due to being the host nation with Terry Venables taking charge of the national side.

That all being said despite much efforts to try and stamp out much of England's football problems, there has always been several cases in which it has come to the surface which perhaps the most documented case being of a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin which crowd trouble would see the game abandoned which all looked as though it was part of the dark times of the 1980's. So much so that some even suggested that the tournament be moved from England because of this however UEFA wouldn't change their mind and tournament would still take place in England.

Away from the national team, the early 1990's has already seen much change in which has seen the mighty force of Liverpool that had always dominated has now given way to the force of Alex Ferguson's Manchester United who have started to take on the role as the main force in English football however in 1996, Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United would end up stunning the natural order to win the 1995/96 Premier League season and now look forward to show that that victory was no fluke. The question is though will the do or will Manchester United end up putting Keegan's magpies back in their place? Only time would tell as Euro '96 approached...

English League Winners from 1987 to 1996

1987 - Everton
1988 - Liverpool
1989 - Arsenal
1990 - Liverpool
1991 - Arsenal
1992 - Leeds United
1993 - Manchester United
1994 - Manchester United
1995 - Blackburn Rovers
1996 - Newcastle United

FA Cup Winners from 1987 to 1996

1987 - Coventry City
1988 - Wimbledon
1989 - Liverpool
1990 - Manchester United
1991 - Tottenham Hotspur
1992 - Liverpool
1993 - Arsenal
1994 - Manchester United
1995 - Everton
1996 - Manchester United

FA League Cup Winners from 1987 to 1996

1987 - Arsenal
1988 - Luton Town
1989 - Nottingham Forrest
1990 - Nottingham Forrest
1991 - Sheffield Wednesday
1992 - Manchester United
1993 - Arsenal
1994 - Aston Villa
1995 - Liverpool
1996 - Aston Villa


A lot has happened in Scotland since the mid 1980's, with the Old Firm no longer being the masters of the game in Scotland which it had been for what felt like ever since football had begun in the country. This was thanks to the efforts of the New Firm of Aberdeen and Dundee United and eve surprise package Hearts winning the title in 1986, competition in Scotland has become a lot more exciting. Even with Celtic looking in poor shape at the start of the 1990's due to financial problems and Rangers in contrast looking unstoppable, Aberdeen under co-managers Alex Smith and Jocky Scott would prove to be a thorn in the side of the Gers during that period with them most memorable winning the league title at Ibrox on the final day of the 1990-91 season, which ended in the rather ugly scenes with a riot following Aberdeen's victory.

However Rangers would make up for that title as just two years later in Munich, Rangers would win first the first ever Champions League (formally the European Cup) in 1993 against AC Milan and with the league being expanded to 16 teams at the start of the 1993-94 season and one Scottish club would stun Europe just prior to Euro '96. The club in question would be a plucky Raith Rovers side in which following surviving relegation only thanks to league expansion (St Johnstone and Dundee also be spared from the drop) that would go on famous run in the UEFA Cup following their shock victory over Celtic in the League Cup final, that UEFA Cup run would see Raith shock the the likes of Bayern Munich, Benfica and Nottingham Forrest before finally reaching to an end at the hands of Barcelona in the Semi-Finals, the latter of which would win the tournament that season.

Nonetheless, the domestic side of the game looks far more interesting than it ever has been with a feeling that almost any team could have a chance at winning silverware of kind. The national team itself has done fairly well too with that victory over England in the World Cup in 1994 being well loved by much of the Tartan Army and with the Scots having made it to Euro '96, it is hoped that here that they might be able to end 28 years of waiting for a second bit of silverware and a second star above the Lion Rampant badge and no better way than would be to win it at Wembley and new manager Craig Brown will now hopefully lead the Tartan Army to glory.

Scottish League Winners Since 1987 to 1996

1987 - Rangers
1988 - Celtic
- Rangers
- Rangers
- Aberdeen
- Rangers
- Rangers
- Aberdeen
- Rangers
- Celtic

Scottish Cup Winners from 1987 to 1996

1987 - St Mirren
1988 - Dundee United
1989 - Celtic
1990 - Aberdeen
1991 - Motherwell
1992 - Rangers
1993 - Rangers
1994 - Dundee United
1995 - Hibernian
1996 - Rangers

Scottish League Cup Winners from 1987 to 1996

1987 - Rangers
1988 - Rangers
1989 - Dundee
1990 - Aberdeen
1991 - Rangers
1992 - Hibernian
1993 - Rangers
1994 - Raith Rovers
1995 - Aberdeen
1996 - Heart of Midlothian



Perhaps the most up and coming Home Nation would without question Wales. Ever since the early days of football fever from the 1970's and right up into the 1980's which would see the Welsh team not only qualifying but even making a final, the calls of a new Welsh league had been met in, the new Welsh league system would come into itself ready in time for the 1984-85 season thus achieving the dream of having all the Welsh clubs back playing in Wales rather than it's biggest clubs playing over in England with Swansea, Cardiff and Wrexham all becoming known as 'The Big Three', though Newport, Barry Town and Merthyr Tydfil are attempting to challenge them in the hope of gaining glory themselves, something that was never possible during their times in the English league.

From the start of the 1990's, the Welsh league has perhaps to the surprise of no one seen the likes of Cardiff and Swansea dominating the league in ways that wouldn't look all that different when compared to the Old Firm's grip on Scottish football (at least until recently) and given the rivalry that had already existed between the two clubs prior, it has sadly gotten even worse mainly on derby day which reports of riots and much controversy on both on and off field are now almost to be expected in what has made the South Wales derby one of the most explosive football derbies in British football. With the formation of the Premier League on the other side of the border and money flowing into that, there has been some regret from certain football owners who had taken their clubs away from the English league that they had missed out on the money on show.

The Welsh and Scottish leagues would both have nowhere near the money that England would have on offer with even some talks between the two football associations on creating their own sporting channel to try and take on the might of the Premier League; a dream that looks impossible according to many. Despite all the good and bad that has happened in the Welsh game, in just over a decade following the league's formation and the creation of the Welsh League Cup in 1992 along with the FAW celebrating it's 120th anniversary in 1996, what better way to celebrate than to have the national side to qualify for a major tournament and no better than it being over the border in England and maybe even win it? Many hope that Wales will be able to show off it's new look in style.

Welsh League Winners from 1987 to 1996

1987 - Cardiff City
1988 - Wrexham AFC
1989 - Wrexham AFC
1990 - Swansea City
1991 - Cardiff City
1992 - Barry Town
1993 - Swansea City
1994 - Wrexham AFC
1995 - Cardiff City
1996 - Swansea City

Welsh Cup Winners from 1987 to 1996

1987 - Merthyr Tydfil
1988 - Cardiff City
1989 - Swansea City
1990 - Wrexham AFC
1991 - Swansea City
1992 - Cardiff City
1993 - Cardiff City
1994 - Barry Town
1995 - Wrexham AFC
1996 - Barry Town

Welsh League Cup Winners from 1992 to 1996

1992 - Bangor City
1993 - Wrexham AFC
1994 - Cardiff City
1995 - Merthyr Tydfil
1996 - Llanelli

Northern Ireland


Ever since the high of their victory at Euro 1984, football has been seen as the unlikely force to unite a troubled country and even though Northern Ireland have failed to qualify since 1992, there is still the good hope that someday that the Green and White army will be seen and heard at a major tournament, indeed both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland had considered jointly hosting Euro '96 but various reasons would see them pull out of it with some pointing out to the now infamous 'Battle of Gothenburg' being such a situation for such an idea to fall flat, however the idea isn't all that dead though. Though the south would qualify for the World Cup in 1994 with Northern Ireland being the only team from the British isles to not to qualify, they did though managed to make it to the play-off for Euro '96 but fell short to the Dutch in which they were beaten 2-0 in Liverpool; now all hopes now resides if Northern Ireland can make it for France '98.

Unlike the other Home Nations, Northern Ireland has still yet to have a domestic team make the group stage of a European competition though it is hoped by 2004 that once the league becomes professional then positive changes will be seen on the northern half of the Emerald Isle. There has also been suggestions of further border competitions between the two Irish leagues in which could see an all Irish football league take place that in itself would make it a far stronger league. While the idea is supported in principle by both sides, the logistics, power sharing and of course some religious tensions are main factor in such a proposal ever to become a reality. That said, the idea would have unlikely support in which both Sir Billy Bingham and Jack Charlton, both now former managers of their national sides would come together and would start hammering out one solution for a report to take place in the future and with both their sway and clout they have on both sides of the Irish border, the idea might actually have more promise than some ever and could possibly change the very future of football on the Emerald isle with an endgame of, whisper it now, a united Irish national team.

In the meantime however, such talks are many years from even starting, let alone ever such ideas becoming a reality though it remains to be seen as to what the future holds across Ireland but for now, it is hope that there will be an Irish team at another tournament soon enough.

All league winners and cups results remain the same as per OTL

European Cup/Champions League Final results from 1979 to 1996

1979 - Nottingham Forrest
1980 - Nottingham Forest
1981 - Liverpool
1982 - Aston Villa
1983 - Hamburg
1984 - Liverpool
1985 - Juventus
1986 - Steaua București
1987 - Porto
1988 - Dundee United
1989 - AC Milan
1990 - AC Milan
1991 - Red Star Belgrade
1992 - Barcelona
1993 - Rangers
1994 - AC Milan
1995 - Ajax
1996 - Juventus

Cup Winners Cup Final results from 1979 to 1996

1979 - Barcelona
1980 - Valencia
1981 - Dinamo Tbilisi
1982 - Barcelona
1983 - Aberdeen
1984 - Juventus

1985 - Everton
1986 - Dynamo Kiev
1987 - Ajax
1988 - Mechelen
1989 - Barcelona
1990 - Swansea City
1991 - Manchester United
1992 - Werder Bremen
1993 - Parma
1994 - Arsenal
1995 - Dundee United
1996 - PSG

UEFA Cup Final results from 1972 to 1996

1972 - Tottenham Hotspur
1973 - Liverpool
1974 - Feyenoord
1975 - Borussia Monchengladbach
1976 - Liverpool
1977 - Juventus
1978 - PSV Eindhoven
1979 - Hibernian
1980 - Eintracht Frankfurt
1981 - Ipswich Town
1982 - IFK Goteborg
1983 - Anderlecht
1984 - Tottenham Hotspur
1985 - Real Madrid
1986 - Real Madrid
1987 - Dundee United
1988 - Bayer Leverkusen
1989 - Napoli
1990 - Juventus
1991 - Inter Milan
1992 - Ajax
1993 - Juventus
1994 - Inter Milan
1995 - Parma
1996 - Barcelona


And now for something different, the domestic league update as well as Euro updates too! So yeah, few changes here from the last update with some possible big changes on the way regarding the Irish so keep an eye out on that but hopefully if you saw your team in there doing well that you'd be happy if they have had more success here. Anyway, next update we are off to England for Euro '96 and what will we be seeing out there that might be a little different...?

Until then, catch you all later! :)

I can live with the trade off Celtic not winning the cup in 95 but winning the league in 96. Does that save Tommy Burn's job or is it still he and Fergus had a falling out and Tommy said feck it and left.
I can live with the trade off Celtic not winning the cup in 95 but winning the league in 96. Does that save Tommy Burn's job or is it still he and Fergus had a falling out and Tommy said feck it and left.
I'd say he stays on for a little while longer upon winning the league though I'd suspect he'd probably leave sometime towards the end of the decade. How he and Fergus will act ITTL is something I'm not sure TBH.
Chapter 59: Football Comes Home - 1996 European Championship
Chapter 59
Football Comes Home


Some thirty years after England hosting the 1966 World Cup, another tournament would end up being played on English soil which would be the tenth European Championship finals, better known simply by many as Euro '96. The fact that UEFA had given England the nod to host the tournament was a sure fire sign to show that England had started to move from those dark days of hooligans, badly designed stadiums, terrible policing and pretty much all act as a culmination to their redemption. There was even a song to go with that summer of football called Three Lions (or sometimes mistaking called Football's Coming Home) that was to become something of an anthem for the English supporters while even some Scots and Welsh supporter there would have to admit was quite a cracking tune though many Scots would be the first to complain, not surprisingly, over claiming of how they say Scotland is the motherland of football and not England.

Regardless of who really invented football, what mattered was that not only had Scotland had qualified but so too had the Welsh with both Irish teams sadly failing to make the journey across the Irish sea for the summer of football in England; Scotland had finished second in a group behind Russia with their new manager Craig Brown admitting that with the tournament being host south of the border, his job was on the line if he failed to qualify. Wales' journey to England was also one that their manager Terry Yorath was under pressure to qualify to and they did that by causing something of an upset in qualification when they pipped Bulgaria, the team that had stunned many at the last World Cup, to qualification so many hoping to see Bulgaria start another epic run in England was over before it even started.

Then came the night of the draw in which while England would go into the draw as one of the four seeded teams due to being the hosts, there was a strong chance that they could face not one but both fellow Home Nations in the group stage and there would be some far fetched rumours that all three would be all kept apart in the draw by UEFA which was likely to avoid any trouble between supporters. In the end however, Wales wouldn't face England or Scotland for they were drawn in a tricky Group B which featured the likes of Spain, France and Romania with games being played in Leeds and Newcastle. However it would be Group A in which became the eye catching group for that England and Scotland were drawn together in which from then on and until the start of the tournament, that was the only game that the British media seem to talk about which was much to the dismay of the Welsh who felt that they had been all but forgotten about because of that one game.

It was during the build up to the tournament with England having to sit back and await for the rest of Europe to arrive in England, that perhaps one of the biggest pre-tournament blunders happened in which a month before the tournament started, the England team travelled to Hong Kong for a set of friendly games in which while they came away with no real issue to talk about on the pitch, it was off it that things all kicked off. Photos of a drunken rave among England players would hit the tabloid press and thus it caused an uproar with many dismayed that these players who were to represent England had ended up acting like drunken yobs on holiday with Paul Gascoigne gaining the worst of the backlash who just six years prior had been the darling of the nation following England's World Cup victory was now being known for a 'dentist chair' drinking position. Strange how things could quickly turn like that.


The infamous photo of Gascoigne in one tabloid newspaper that caused much anger
Despite the backlash, the England camp would descend into a 'us vs them' scenario that oddly was not too different to build up that the England team had for Italia '90 when they won it then; would history repeat itself? Of course for some of the England players like Gascoigne who had gone through such negative headlines this was all nothing new to them and the only way to silence the critics was to have a good start in the tournament and with England playing in the opening match with Switzerland, a team that many expected England to do well, now was the chance...

On a cloudy day at Wembley, England kicked off against the Swiss and they couldn't have gotten a better started when Alan Shearer netted in England's (and by the chance the tournament's) opening goal and it would seem that from then on England would only build on and pretty much cast off all the bad press they had gained following the Hong Kong trip...only that it didn't quite happen. England failed to add to their lead and most fans would have been at the very least satisfied that they could at least get over the line with a opening group victory and towards the final ten minutes with the game still 1-0 to England, it seemed that would be the case. Then in eighty-second minute, Stuart Pearce would give away a penalty for Switzerland via a handball which was promptly taken to make it 1-1 and thus would be the final result.

It was a disappointing affair for England though in truth the Swiss did play better in the second half and probably deserved something from the game and with that it would see the press get right into the Three Lions over such a poor opening game in which they knew they had to get a victory over Scotland to be sure of progressing to the knockout stage. Speaking of which just two days later many miles north in Birmingham, the Scots would also start off their European campaign with the Dutch and despite many fearing a Wipeout for the Scots in which saw them playing with their backs against the wall, Scotland would stun many by holding the Dutch to a 0-0 draw which in many ways set them up nicely for their second group game with the Auld Enemy and with it, a long awaited return to Wembley after so many years.

And so after months of build up to such huge game that meant many to both sets of fans and the hopes of both sides chances of going further, all such thoughts on the game however were halted following a terrible situation in Manchester that morning when the IRA detonated a bomb in which despite there being no deaths, there were many injuries and that would add a layer of tension going into that game with England and Scotland. After all the build up, the first half itself would be something of an anti-climax in which Scotland frustrated England from scoring and it was in all honesty a dreadful game of football in which the weight of history was weighed heavily on both teams and things would have to change for the second half.


England vs Scotland at Euro 96
The second half would see England take the lead once again thanks to Shearer and it seemed that Scotland after all their hard work was going to fall apart, only once again, that didn't quite happen for in the seventy-seventh minute with the score still at 1-0 to England, it would so happen that the English gave away yet another penalty and huge chance for Scotland to get a vital goal and it seemed that lightning was going to strike twice for the hosts. Then when Gary McAllister went to take the spot kick, his effort was saved and the huge chance was gone but things were about to get worse when just a few minutes later, Paul Gascoigne would answer all of his critics by scoring perhaps one of the greatest England goals ever and to add to this, his goal celebrations would be one of recreating the 'dentist chair' position, a scene that struck a chord with much of the English press in which the day after, the papers were offering Gascoigne a grovelling apology over what they had said about him before. In the end, England gained revenge following their loss to the Scots in 1994.

For Scotland though it was horrible; their hopes of reaching the next round all rested on a set of results going into their final group game in which not only did Scotland have to win but also needed a help from England by not only beating the Dutch but by clear three goals in which looked to be a tall order given how ropey England had been. It would have been a hard thought to stomach for the Tartan Army in which the mere thought of needing the Auld Enemy to give them a favour was something that none of them would have dared thought about in their wildest nightmares. That said, Scotland would get off to a flyer in which in the ninth and thirty-sixth minute of the game saw Scotland go 2-0 thanks to Ally McCoist who would finally see Scotland score at the European championship.

Not only that, but they had matched the Dutch's goal tally and with news filtering through that England were leading them by 1-0, there was hope that just maybe Scotland would be through. During the early start of the second half, Scotland wouldn't score during the opening period but the game wasn't the only thing that the Scots were keeping an eye on in which during the sixtieth minute of the game, unbelievable news was coming through that England were 3-0 up on the Dutch and something even more remarkable happened, the Scotland fans began cheering for England! This did not go unnoticed by the Scottish players who were well aware that something was up and it only became apparent just a few minutes later when more news came through that England had scored again to make it 4-0 and surely Scotland were through now.


McCoist scores in the ninth minute to open the scoring for Scotland
Literally a minute later after news of England's fourth, McCoist would end up gaining a hattrick when he shot the ball that hit the crossbar but bounced downwards before hitting upwards to crash into the roof of the net and put Scotland 3-0 up on the Swiss. That would be the final result of Scotland in that game and other than a mere consolation goal from the Dutch, Scotland had done more than enough to get through to sneak through in second place on goal difference and with that both Home Nations would be going through with the early exit of the Dutch being something of a shock result. Regardless though, the Tartan Army were planning to enjoy more of their summer holidays down south with hopes of glory by the end of it...

1996 ALT 1.png

Final results of England and Scotland's group at Euro '96

While England and Scotland were the teams getting the most attention in the British press, they were of course far from the only British representatives there in which Wales and it was fair to say their fans felt a little bit putdown due to the lack of attention they were getting and even when they did, few really gave them much of a chance to go through and it wasn't helped as Spain would be in their opening game at Leeds' Elland Road. Funnily for Ian Rush, who just prior enjoyed a highly successful time at Liverpool, had recently been signed by Leeds United and Rush would try to get the locals to get behind the Welsh in their game with Spain. While on Merseyside this might've been possible, the reaction was one of indifference from the people of Leeds who were more interested in how England was doing rather than the Welsh.

Nonetheless, the Welsh supporters made the journey northwards to Yorkshire and certainly out numbered the Spanish support and really did fancy themselves doing well. That confidence proved to be justified in which after just twenty-seven minutes, Ian Rush would rather fittingly net the opening goal for Wales to give them the perfect start to send the Welsh supporters into ruptures. Things would get better in which a clearly shell-shocked Spain didn't seem to know what to do as Dean Saunders ended up scoring Wales' second in the sixty-fifth minute which surely looked like the winner though the final fifteen minutes would be tense for the Welsh in which Spain scored and did look like a better team and were in the hunt for a second goal to tie the game.

A goal that never arrived and thus, Wales would win their opening game 2-1 and that would be the start of a rather disappointing campaign for Spain that summer. Next up for the Welsh was a trip to Newcastle to play Romania in which the team left their team base at Scarborough in the hope of getting a victory that would surely put them through. They would and it would be a early third minute goal from Dean Saunders thanks to a corner kick, Wales would open the scoring 1-0 and to the surprise of many in which the Romanians who had done well at the last World Cup would lose 1-0 to Wales and would end up being a flop in England winning no points and losing all three group games. Not that it didn't matter to the Welsh however for that victory meant that they were more or less through to the next round in which the final group game with France would be just a battle to see who'd win the group.


Ryan Giggs during Wales' game with Romania

The game itself, played at Elland Road in front a Welsh support who were there for a party knowing that they are already done enough to get through, would one in which reality did hit the Welsh in which Blanc would score after just twenty-one minutes and the French team would end up toying with Wales in which though the Welsh side were a half decent team, this French team though was one that had full of promise and considering the fact that they would be hosting the next World Cup it was perhaps not really that much of a surprise being the sort of team they were. That all said, the Welsh did start to feel that they could possibly top the when right in the sixty-ninth minute, Gary Speed would volley the ball into the back of the net to level the game and just who knew what was to happen next.

France were stunned by that equaliser from Wales and right up until the final ninety minutes, it looks as though that Wales were going to not only hang onto a draw but also a victory that would see them top the group. Alas, Loko would break Welsh hearts when he would net a ninety minute winner that would see France win the match and group and send the Welsh into a runners-up spot. A position that with some hindsight would be something of a blessing for the Welsh would be licking their lips and a long awaited return to Wembley and an encounter with a certain rival team...

Regardless though, all three British teams had managed to get through and to be truthful, things were about to begin for them there...

1996 ALT 2.png

Final results of Wales' group at Euro '96

Before anyone says anything, yes I made an error with the wiki box regarding Scotland vs Switzerland and that will be fixed in due course. Anyway here we are with the first update for Euro '96 and it is pretty much the same as the old TL though has been cleaned up and summarised nicely. I must say as I write this, I have some very mixed feelings updating for as of the time of writing, you'll know that Rangers are playing in a European final which is quite exciting for Scottish football but personally I have had some sad heartache for me and my girlfriend for the past five years now have split in which I don't want to go into too much private details but she said that I wasn't to blame but rather many personal issues that she's been going through herself.

Still really sad about this and I'm not really not sure what to think other than I just have to try and keep busy to keep my mind of things. Anyway as always, the fixtures of the last eight as follows.
France vs Scotland

Czech Republic vs Portugal

Germany vs Croatia

Wales vs England
So you know the routine. Until then, catch you all later.
Euro 96 always holds a special place in my heart it's the first tournament I fully remember following it all the 94 World Cup I only followed Ireland but Euro 96 the whole country went nuts for it.
Chapter 60: A Very British Day of Football
Chapter 60
A Very British Day of Football

June 22nd was to be a really busy day in terms for those living across Britain for this was the day that England, Scotland and Wales were all to play on the same day for the hope that they could go further in this European Championship. The first game to take place would be a mouthwatering tie at Wembley in which England would take on the Welsh in what was to be in fact the Welsh's first visit to Wembley since 1975; the last season of the British Home Internationals in which Wales drew 2-2 on that occasions and this would be their first visit since the end of that tournament. That game was to kick off at three in the afternoon and then a couple of hours later at half past six in the late afternoon, Scotland would play at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium where they would take on the French in which pretty much everyone had put their money on France to win.

Regardless though, at least one Home Nation would be moving into the last four and the day was really to be a very British day of football for all concerned. At the start of that hot summer morning at their basecamp located in Bath (having since moved there from Scarbrough following them making it out of the group), the Welsh players had been training in the grounds of a rather fancy looking hotel that was owned by a fellow Welshman who had brought up his location to the FAW and who promised to treat the players and staff well. True to the gentleman’s name, the Welsh contingent were well looked after and often when the players trained in the field next to the hotel, they always had a crowd of curious spectators watching them train. Now it was the day in which Wales was to head to Wembley to face England for a place in the Semis.

It is said that it is a always an exciting feeling whenever a footballer, manager or fan is off to Wembley as it is the place you'd want to go at least once and within the team on that bus, a few of them such as Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Dean Saunders, Ryan Giggs and even Vinnie Jones had all experienced Cup Final glory at Wembley, but yet a Welsh victory at Wembley was a rare thing, something that had not happened in decades and here was a chance to not only get one, but have long term bragging rights over the English of beating them, but also knocking them out as the host nation which was some extra sweeter for many of the Welsh players. When the bus travelled along the M4 and somewhere outside Reading, it was here that the players saw a row of about eight buses all overtaking them, and they were all filled with excited Welsh fans who were either banging on the windows to greet their players or wave their red dragon flags towards them with great excitement.

“Christ look at that,” Vinnie Jones muttered in amazement as the Welsh convoy travelled past them.

“There’s more!” Ryan Giggs, sitting near the back of the bus, called out and pointed to a fleet of cars behind them that had Welsh flags flying from their windows, no prizes as to guessing where they were all heading too as well. It really was an invasion of England by the Welsh with scenes that would have been common to have been happening from the Tartan Army; guess the magnet of Wembley attracted rival fans to come from far and wide no matter how their chances were of victory.

As they were all watching this quite incredible sight, Ian Rush smiled as he gave a wave back at a young child on one of the supporter buses travelling past before leaning forward in his chair to look back and see the rest of the Welsh flag draped cars following in pursuit for London. He had only thing to say to his teammates; “Amazing that, if that doesn’t motivate any of you lads here then God Knows what the hell would.”

A chorus of agreements of ‘hear-hear’ were heard around the bus, but while all the players and some of the staff were enjoying the spectacle outside of their windows, their manager Terry Yorath looked a nervous man. A lot was riding on this game and the weight of history against it, granted England’s rivalry with them was while historic was actually no longer that important as their rivalry with the Scots had taken over that spot, but with them having not played each other since 1984 it only seem to add to the tension to this clash and as the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Granted he was happy to see that his players looked excited and seemed to show no fear for this Quarter Final, he only wished that he shared their feeling of not having any fear. About an hour or two later and then getting into London while winding down the streets to find Wembley stadium, they were greeted with more happy Welsh fans cheering them from the street sides with stories that they had taken over Trafalgar Square much like how the Tartan Army had always done so.

Then they all saw it; the famous twin towers of Wembley. Wherever it was a player’s first time or the hundredth time seeing that sight, it nonetheless filled the players with a sense of importance that they were going to play in yet another historic game to grace the pitch of Wembley. Now the previous excitement that was felt on the bus was replaced with a sudden feeling of seriousness, they all had a job to do for Wales…beat England and get to the Semis. No pressure there as they prepared for that afternoon kick-off on the 22nd June. The biggest game Wales had played in years.


Wembley in full voice just prior before the Quarter-final tie between England and Wales

As Yorath shook hands with his English counterpart, Terry Venables, right before the anthems, there was a sense of occasion about this certain game and that wasn't the fact it was the opening game of the knockout phase. Over seventy-six thousand crammed inside Wembley to watch the game and Yorath looked over towards the away side where no less that fifteen thousand of their own supporters had made it out here and were doing their part to add to already such a cracking atmosphere and that wasn't including the utterly passionate rendition of Land of my Fathers which would surely done enough to get this Welsh side to start this match on the right foot. After another handshake from the two Welsh and English captains, Ian Rush and Tony Adams respectably, at the centre circle along with the French referee, Wales would kick the game off and the match would begin.

Under a cloudy sky, it would be the men in red who looked very keen to start the game and England looked rather sluggish at the start that was only causing the Welsh to find themselves getting right into the English side's face. For those English journalists who must've thought that rather arrogantly the Welsh league was nothing more than a pub or tin pot league, they would've no doubt been feeling a chill up their spine in that moment that their previous thoughts about the league were starting to look rather foolish. In the ninth minute after much pressing from the Welsh, it would be the men in red that would win the first corner of the game and Barry Horne would run up to the corner flag to take this early opportunity for the men in red.

With a swing into the box, Seaman punched the ball over towards Platt who then tried to back pass it to Gascoigne, but his slack shot saw the ball roll near the feet of Ryan Giggs who knew that he had options around him with Dean Saunders on his left and Ian Rush on his right, but instead he decided to go at it alone and with a little sprint forward running past Platt, Giggs fired the ball towards to top right of the net, though Seaman dives the right way to save it. He plans to punch the ball out for another corner, however he only succeeds in accidently punching the ball in slightly the wrong direction in which the ball hits the underside of the crossbar before heading downwards to land over the goal line. To the horror of the English supporters around Wembley, Wales have taken the lead early on in this game.


Barry Horne during the opening minutes of the game
Scenes of the aftermath of that goal become memorable from a Welsh perspective; Seaman lying face down on the ground looking embarrassed, Giggs getting dogpiled by his teammates, the massive roar from the Welsh supporters in celebrations as well of TV pictures of the fans looking utterly euphoric at what has happened and possibly couldn't have asked for a better start in their long awaited return to Wembley. It is then a delighted Yorath smiles for the perhaps the first time that day as he jumps for joy and looks over the ranks of Welsh supporters at their end celebrating and he also can see on the many Welsh flags lying on the ground on the running circle that he can see in black lettering where they have all come from. Wrexham, Bangor, Cardiff, Newport, Newtown, Barry and Llanelli just to name a few as to where most of these supporters have all come from and Yorath hopes that the goal has made it worth while for the fans who made the trip out here.

However that opening goal would in fact only cause the English to wake up and start pushing the Welsh back too as in the fourteenth minute, Shearer nearly got a goal back for England as he sent a ball rocketing forward towards Neville Southall's goal which although the Welsh keeper was sent the wrong way, the ball would clip off Southall's leg and the ball would go out for an England corner, one that this Sheringham almost scored from a header but thankfully for Wales the ball went over the bar and out for a goal kick. As the first half goes along at quite a speedy pace, it's clear that England now mean business and Wales, despite taking the lead, can't seem to put a game plan together as England seem to give them no chance to add to their lead. It would seem that the opening Welsh goal seemed like nothing more than a fluke with the way the game is going.

Then in the twenty-sixth minute, Vinnie Jones accidently makes a stumble when trying to get a loose ball and seeing this, Gascoigne makes his chance to get it and the cheeky Geordie rips through the Welsh defence like it was made of paper and seeing that Mark Bowen tries to stop Gascoigne, the England player passes it over to his left in which Shearer gets the ball and with one simple strike, Shearer sends the ball into the bottom right corner in which poor Southall couldn't get on to it. This time, it is the mostly English fans in Wembley stadium that roar in delight for that England are back in this game and it's game on. For the Welsh, that opening goal did seemed just a little too good to be true.


Gascoigne before sending the ball over to Shearer prior to England's equaliser
While it's fair to say that with the amount of pressing that England had been doing since going behind early on, they did deserve the goal, but not like this when for the most part the Welsh defence had been doing a fine job in keeping the English attacks out. What happened there was nothing more than a case of either great teamwork from England, a moment of bad luck from Wales or both, either way, it was clear that this game wasn't going to be dinge like what some of the other games at this tournament had been. The frustration of losing their lead like was now getting to some of the Welsh players as in the twenty-ninth minute, Ryan Giggs would get the first booking of the game for a challenge on Sheringham when he made a rough tackle in which the French referee flashed the Welsh player a yellow card. The game was starting now to develop into something of a scrappy affair in which both sides seem to make silly tackles and challenges and the referee was finding it rather challenging to keep the game flowing, was the hype and history of this rivalry getting the best of the players?

In the thirty-fourth minute, Southgate would get a booking for a tackle on Saunders that sent the Welsh player tumbling over and his teammates and the fans crying out for action to be taking from the referee. The referee did act by booking the England player and awarding the Welsh a free kick some thirty yard away from the box and Ian Rush stepped up to take it. He curled the ball over an England defensive wall and for a moment as it dipped down towards the left, it looked as if it were going in and Wembley seemed to act like a vacuum in that moment, though it was released when the ball crashed on the crossbar and out for a English goal kick. Ian Rush places his hands over his mouth is shock as he knows he came so close to re take the lead again for Wales and that would've one hell of a free kick had it gone in. The first half was nearing a to a close and in the fortieth minute, Simon Davis would get himself a yellow card for a challenge on Darren Anderton on the left of field and now England had a free kick from quite a good angle on the left of the field some twenty-five yards away from the box.

Gascoigne went up to take it and much like Ian Rush's attempt, it curled over the box and was heading towards the top right corner of the goal, though one difference happened here compared to Rush's attempt...the ball hit the corner and bounced into the back of the net. The talented England maestro had pulled off an stunning free kick that had helped turned the game on it's head; from 1-0 down earlier, England were now leading 2-1 right before the break and what a time to get it. The English supporters roared in delight as Gascoigne celebrated sliding on his knees while punching his fist to the crowd. The Welsh players could only look on in disbelieve at what had just happened, they were on such a high earlier and now they felt they'd gone crashing rock bottom now, all in under 45 minutes.


England manager Terry Venables shouting out orders to the team during the first half

That moment in itself does show that Football can be so cruel at times and on the Welsh bench, Yorath looked over to Venables who looked utterly delighted at how well England had responded before standing near the edge of his box and barked orders to his players to not give up hope yet as they still had a few minutes to sneak something here while yet another forty-five minutes to play yet. However the second goal seemed to energise the men in white as they now utterly battered the shell shocked Welsh players who were now all on damage control as they tried to prevent England from scoring another goal as the game rolled into the dying minutes of the game. Ian Rush tried his best to help his teammates push back as he made a desperate move forward, but he wasn't the player he used to be and now couldn't seem to get himself forward as England now seemed to snuff out any attack the Welsh players might've had.

Thankfully for the Welsh, no more goals came in the first half as the referee blew for halftime though there was a brief scuffle towards the end between Vinnie Jones and Stuart Pearce over something that Jones had said to him during the game and the two hardmen found themselves in a heated argument that players from both sides got involved to try and break up the fight and what had actually happened and the crowd watching this might have thought they had entered into a boxing game. The argument though would come to nothing and it would be nothing more than a storm in a tea cup though that was the least of Yorath's worries. Now had to find a way to get his team back into this Quarter Final, those fans in the stadium and the millions watching over the border to the west all deserved better. Now it was time for him to put his credentials as a manager to show what he could do to help turn his side's fortunes around...

As the second half started, the game turned into quite an open one as both sides seemed to have a sort of freedom about them as they played, almost if neither had anything to lose. One thing was important that if England got another goal, it would surely be game over, however if Wales scored...then who knows just how this game was going to turn out? In the forty-seventh minute, Gary Neville would get a yellow card (a lot was now being shown in this game) for a coming together with Vinnie Jones and for one of the rare times whenever Jones played in a red jersey for Wales, he was the innocent one here as he did nothing wrong. Though he did give the England player a dirty glare and mouthed something to him like, 'I'll see you after this game' to him. Wales would make a substitute in forty-ninth minute when Jeremey Goss was brought off and replaced with Right Winger Jason Bowen to take his place, clearly this was a plan from Yorath to bring in more firepower for his side to get something from this.

However in a rather silly circumstances when he kept going after the offside flag had been risen and the whistle had been blown, he was the latest player to get booked and the English supporters all got a right kick out of that seeing him do something rather foolish. That all being said, Wales did start to look quite tight weren't going to let England get on the ball easily and from the Welsh end at Wembley, there was a sense that something could be up for them. In the fifty-sixth minute, Wales' tight play seemed to pay off as on the right flank of the field nearby the English box, Ian Rush lobbed the ball over towards the box where Bowen managed to get it before back passing it towards Dean Saunders, situated in the box, who found himself surrounded by Southgate and Tony Adams coming right at him, but what followed was a moment of Welsh wizardry as when the two English defenders came at him, Saunders pulled off a Cruyff turn on them and when they were caught at, Saunders slotted home the ball that went into the top right corner of the net that Seaman was too late to get at.

To the shock of the English and the delight of the Welsh, Wales were back in the game thanks to Saunders pulling of one of the goals of the tournament and the big screen at Wembley read England 2 - Wales 2. What a game this was turning out to be. The English players quickly though get back into the game and there is a feeling of that this Welsh side just won't lie down so easily, great for the Welsh fans and neutrals watching but utterly annoying from an English mindset. However in the (rather appropriate, at least from a Welsh mindset) sixty-second minute, Wembley held it's breath once again as Mark Hughes powered forward to out run Tony Adams and looked set to make it 3-2 for Wales and complete a dramatic turnaround but only sadly ended up hitting the side net and a wonderful chance for Wales to take the lead would pass. Nonetheless, Yorath was pleased at his side's performance in getting back at the English.


Saunders celebrates his goal that makes the score read 2-2
Both sets of supporters, while the game was being played, tried to out do each other with viewers watching TV and those listening to radios would've heard the fans going back and forward with the England fans singing Sweet Chariot (popular for the rugby team and only now being used by the football support) and the Welsh responding back with Men of Harlech, almost acting like in the film Zulu funnily enough. The players though, whatever they might've thought of it couldn't think about it for long as they had a game to play and with time slowing creeping by, neither side wanted this game to go into extra time or penalties, the latter being something that the Welsh didn't want to go through again. However the game was now starting to play back into England's hands as they battled to try and find the winning goal and weren't going to stop until they did.

The Welsh players were now fearing like towards the end of the first half, the English came back at them with a goal to take the lead before the break, they didn't want that to happen yet again. In the 72nd minute, England after pressing forward were awarded a corner (their forth of the whole game). It was here when after Platt sent the ball into the penalty box, Shearer got his head onto the ball and despite Southall's best efforts, the ball would slam under the cross bar and hit the underside of the net to give England the lead once again and Shearer ran off in celebration over his goal. Now it was 3-2 to England and few wondered just how Wales were going to get back into this game now? Wembley was now starting to feel like a fortress again and England, with the backing of their large support seemed set to win this game and Wales' brief joy at the equaliser had been cut short once again.

The game itself was turning into a classic of Euro '96 and with the goals and drama in this game, it did feel like it was worth the wait to see these old football rivals come together after all these years. England kept pressing forward to find a forth goal that would surely help them win the game but Wales keep themselves together at the back and playing tight in order to prevent the winning side try and beat them. Seeing this problem they were having, in the seventy-fifth minute, Yorath would make a double switch with both Barry Horne and Andy Legg to come off for Kit Symonds and Chris Coleman to take to their place in order to bulk up their defence and for the next few minutes after this swap, it seemed to work a treat as England couldn't seemed to break down Wales, though it was hard to think if that was really the case or that England had taken their foot off the gas and were now just drawing the game out.


Enjoying the moment, Shearer celebrates with the fans over England's third goal
However there was one more twist in the tale when in the 82nd minute, after a barrage of English attacks, Wales would break forward with Vinnie Jones lobbing the ball over towards Ian Rush who took flight with the ball down the left flank with a whole country roaring at him to find a late equaliser. Because by this point, nearly all the England team had been camped at the Welsh end of the field, Ian Rush had nobody marking him and from twenty yards from the box, he took fire at the goal with it surely to become 3-3...but Seaman got forward and it was only thanks to his right leg that the ball hit against it and the ball went upwards before landing on the roof of the net and keeping the score line at 3-2. England could breath a sigh of relief but for Wales, it was an agonising one as that would've been the only chance Wales could've had to take the game to extra-time.

Eventually the final whistle would blow and the English fans roared in delight that they had made it to the last four of Euro '96 but many would point out that the Welsh put up a fine show and in the end. It had been a tight game that might've gone either way and would be indeed a memorable game for either side to look back on. Perhaps more sad though was the look on Ian Rush's face as he swapped shirts with Shearer after the final whistle, not only was that chance his missed, he knew that this was his final tournament he'd ever be part of and after sixteen years playing for his country, this was it. In a rather cruel twist for Rush, he had said before he hoped to end his time for Wales at Wembley and in some ways, he had done that, though he had been thinking of the final and not the Quarter finals.

The Welsh players walked over towards their supporters who were all giving them a standing ovation for their brave performance and for making them all proud, but maybe more so for Ian Rush who now was in tears as they began chanting his name and starting singing You'll Never Walk Alone, a song that always meant a lot for him at Anfield. He didn't want it to end, but this was it, the end of an era for Wales and how would they cope without him as the World Cup in France in two years time loomed? As everyone left Wembley and the Welsh players and fans headed home, just over two hundred miles to the north in Liverpool that late afternoon, another game was to take place that most British eyes would now turn to...Scotland vs France at Anfield. Could the Scots get past the soon to be hosts of the next World Cup and get to the last four? All would be known within a few hours time...


England players celebrate reaching the Semi finals of Euro 96

Just a couple of hours after England and Wales' thrilling game at Wembley, the Scots would take on France and unbeknown to the many Scots that had invaded Liverpool that day, the organisers were privately happy that the Scots had got this far for good reason. One of the lesser liked memories of Euro '96 was the image of half empty stadiums that didn't included any of the home nations in them, something of which that didn't create a good image for viewers watching from the continent, either it was because of difficultly of getting tickets or maybe the reputation of England's hooligan problem had put fans off from traveling was hard to tell. Even with it being a Quarter-final, there weren't many French supporters in Anfield while the Scots had no trouble in filling the place up, though it was thanks to the Scots that the stadium was being packed out.

There had been many Scots that had managed to get tickets almost soon after their victory over Switzerland but yet oddly not that much to fill the place out, however many more thousands had made the trip south of the border without tickets hoping to find luck in getting tickets and to their surprise, they got more than they bargained for. When many ticketless Tartan Army supporters had gathered at the ticket turnstiles hoping to get in with a traditional 'pay at the entrance' idea, the organises had absolutely no trouble at all of letting many of them in to fill up the last remaining seats at Anfield which all helped to fill out the stadium. In the end, the Scottish support outnumbered the French 3 to 1 and the atmosphere was absolutely buzzing, just what the relief Euro 96 organisers had wanted, also in secret, they hoped the Scots could progress from here.

For many in the know, Anfield was no stranger to the Scots with for starters the great Bill Shankly as Liverpool manager for many years and there was the players that had become household names for the followers of the Reds such as Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness just to name a few. Even the national side and it's supporters were no strangers to area as for those older locals in the area would remember back in 1977 when Scotland played here against Wales when it was used as the latter's home ground in which the Scots won and qualified for the World Cup in Argentina the following year. Even that it wasn't the last time the team had played in the city as they had also played up the road at Everton's Goodison Park in that Semi-final against West Germany in 1966 in which they won 2-1 in a nail biting game.


Scotland manager Craig Brown prior to match starting at Anfield

It would seem that Scotland enjoyed a good record playing on Merseyside and now here was to be yet another game in the city and one they hoped to win once again that would send them into the last four. Speaking of Dalglish, he had been doing his part in encouraging the Scouse population to get behind the Scots, well, mostly the red half of the city, but nonetheless those who did were more than happy to cheer on the Scots though there was an equal number of them who were rather indifferent to the Scot's cause. When it came round for the teams to emerge from the famous Anfield tunnel, both sides were greeted by a deafening roar as looking round the Tartan cladded Anfield, it was clear that the Scots had already won the match on the amount supporters being here but yet as the game started, it seem that it was going to be France's night. However, there was one glimmer of hope for the Scots and that was that they wouldn't have to face Eric Cantona. The talented Frenchman had become a hero at Manchester United and was looking set to captain the French squad at Euro '96, however in the previous January he would be involved in infamous and well documented kung fu kick on a Crystal Palace supporter would see him banned for for eight months for playing football and worse was that he would never play for his country ever again. This was of course very good news for the Tartan Army to process for sure.

The early five minutes of the game were with the French as they pushed the Scots back into their own half and some cynics would think that the Scots looked well out of their depth in the knockout stage and that the victory over Switzerland seemed liked a mere fluke. It wouldn't be until the seventh minute in which the Scots did a run on the counter thanks to Durie, but who was brought down the French captain Deschamps who was quickly booked by the Spanish referee, Nieto. Nonetheless seeing Scotland trying to get something early in this game was one of great relief for the Tartan Army that it wasn't all going to be one way traffic in this game. From the Scotland bench, Craig Brown had been rubbing his chin in thought as he watched his side struggling to find their footing in the game.

He looked up towards McCoist up in the French half who had sadly done pretty much nothing in this game due to his teammates trying hard to keep the ball out of their own half as then in the tenth minute, Zidane fired a shot that Goram had to knock over the bar and give the French a corner, one that Karembeu nearly headered home but Goram managed to dive the right way to prevent the ball from going in. That attempt from Karembeu was however to the moment in which Scotland started to play more out off their half, helped by the backing of their large support trying to cheer them on to go for an attack as in the thirteenth minute, McCall launched the ball clear up towards McCoist down on the left French flank and the Scottish player made a mad dash with the ball in which he managed to find himself getting past Guerin and Lizarazu, a run that had most of the Scotland fans rising to their feet thinking that something might be on for something here.


Karembeu during the early moments of the game with Scotland, note France playing in their away kit

He would cross the ball into the French penalty box in which John Collins found himself running to try and connect the ball as it was flying right past the French goal. He tried to get his foot on it for what looked to be an easy shot, instead he must've missed it by a fraction of a inch and the ball flew out for a French corner while Collins and his teammates could only realise in despair at how close they had come to scoring, and the groan from the Tartan Army showed. What a chance to take the lead. It is interesting to think that after how well the classic 4-4-2 system had worked for Scotland in their last game with Switzerland, Brown felt that the formation he had been determined to use for anytime Scotland would play would likely get mashed up by the French if they played by that system so instead it was a surprise by many to see Brown deciding to go for a more continental 5-3-2 formation which some in the Scottish press had suggested would help Scotland do better.

But as the old saying went, if it isn't broke, don't fix it, and that was happening with Scotland who had looked unsure and disjointed as this new formation and what to do with it, in some ways it was a miracle that they hadn't gone a goal down with how much the French had been mauling at them. Thankfully after seventeen minutes of the game, Scotland eventually seemed to settle into a routine that while they might've not been going forward as much as they would've hoped for, they were starting to reduce the amount of chances the French were trying to get on the Scots. The previously mostly nervous Tartan Army began making a lot more noise to the point that the French supporters seemed to be drowned out by the constant singing and chanting by the Scottish crowd. In the twenty-third minute, McCoist fired an impressive volley from twenty-five yards out from the box that was flying into the top left of the French goal, but their keeper Lama managed to get his hand on the ball to knock it away and Scotland's first corner kick of the game.

Durie tried to header it home but instead sent the ball flying way over the crossbar, Brown would've been happy to see his side trying their hardest to create chances which was what they were doing, but sadly they weren't really taking them and he feared that they might be punished for such misses. In the twenty-seventh minute and to Brown's horror, that fear seemed to come true as France managed to break out on the counter down on Scotland's left flank thanks to Zidane and he was only managed to be stopped by Tom Boyd with a brilliant sliding tackle in which the French players cried for a foul, but the referee seemed determined to keep the game flowing and waved his hands for Scotland to play on. The game was now starting to become quite a surprisingly open game in which perhaps no one though might be possible with everyone thinking the French might pull it off.


Scott Booth acting as a shadow striker in a rare 5-3-2 formation for Scotland
As the first half headed towards the final ten minutes, it was like both sides were trying to see if the other would dare the other to come forward as chances were coming from both sides looking to find that opening goal to end this first half on a high. It felt that all twenty-two players were all going out for it and even though it was still 0-0, it was anything but a dull affair. However in the thirty-seventh minute, Scotland would win a free corner down on the left side of the French box which looked very tempting for the Scots to try and nick a goal here with McCoist going up to take it while he watched blue and white shirted players all moving about inside the box to try and be in the right position to collect the ball. McCoist would take it and the ball would end up being headed away by Blanc who sent the ball over towards Loko who immediately ran with the ball towards the Scottish half and it was then seen to the horror of all the Scots, it became apparent that nearly all of them had been placed within the French half and now their defence had been left woefully left open and there for the taking.

Perhaps in that moment most of the Tartan Army couldn't bare watch as Loko ran with, other than Colin Hendry hot on his tail, virtually nobody around him to try and stop the French player. He would make a long shot volley from just over the half way line inside the Scottish half and it was now down to Goram to act as a hero and try and help his country again. The ball was curling down into the bottom right of the Scottish goal and Goram dived into that direction when it must've felt like it had all gone in slow motion as the ball neared the goal. By the skin of his teeth, Goram would just get his hands onto the ball and held it close to him fearing like as if it were to suddenly try to wriggle from his grasp. He couldn't quite tell how long he lay on the ground for, but when he did stand up again, he was greeted with a rapturous applause from the Scotland fans in Anfield and even though he breathed a sigh of relief, TV footage showing close up shots of him would then show him angrily shouting at his teammates for such a calamitous bit of bad defending that it was only thanks to him that it didn't get worse for his country.

Into the last five minutes and now the French were showing determination to try and find the opening goal in the closing minutes and once again, much to the dismay of the Tartan Army, the Scottish players were stuck back into their own half as they now tried to defend and keep the game score less, though from the Scotland bench, Brown was standing on the touchline yelling orders and motioning for his players to try and get out of that area and pump the ball forward, surely they could do better than this? In the forty-first minute, a frustrated captain Gary McAllister found himself clattering into the French captain, Deschamps, right on the edge of the Scottish box with the French crying out for a penalty, instead the referee pointed for a free kick right on the edge with the Scottish captain getting a yellow card for what had happened. For what felt like the millionth time that day, the Tartan Army and Scotland fans everyone all held their breath as they waited for Zidane to take the free kick.


Karembeu in action during the final moments of the first half

He would run up and it seemed like it was going in with Goram looking like he was going to miss the ball, but instead the ball clattered on the crossbar to go out for a Scottish goal kick and Zidane turned away in disgust for his failure of missing what could've been a wonderful way for his country to take the lead in these closing minutes. Ironically, the miss would see Scotland start pushing forward following the goal kick, but further controversy was to follow. Into the second minute of three minutes of added time prior before the end of the first half, McCall would weave the ball through the legs off Djorkaeff and sent it on towards Booth who made chase on the left flank on the counter for Scotland to try and make an opening of their own. The crowd roared him on and he would fire a shot towards the left side of the French goal in which he somehow managed to weave it's way through as the ball went off the side of Lama and saw the ball bulging the side of the net.

Scotland had scored and Booth wheeled around to celebrate with his teammates, but then he notice that the referee wasn't pointing to the centre circle and instead was pointing for a French goal kick. Confusion became apparent on the Scots who looked over to the linesman wondering at first if Booth had been offside, but yet no one, not even the French players, could understand what had just happened, but whatever the strange reason why the goal had been chalked off sent tempers to boil over. Half time would be blown following Lama's goal kick, but as soon as the referee blew to end the first half, he found himself surrounded by angry Scottish players demanding to know what had just happened to not include the goal with TV footage of the moment becoming quite remembered from the game, though perhaps of the wrong reasons.

The booing the stadium from the frustrated Scottish fans was heard all around with it very likely that many watching the game in pubs in Scotland would've all thrown their beer cans at the TV screen in anger over the disallowed goal. The poor referee wasn't helped that round the player's tunnel, several Scottish fans were surrounding it and beginning to swear and insult the referee by either giving him the finger or even throw coins at him. In conclusion, the first half ended on a rather sorry state of affairs which was a great shame considering how exciting the game had been despite the score suggesting otherwise. Nonetheless as Craig Brown followed the players down the tunnel, he knew their supporters deserved better than this and had to build up his players in the hope of getting a lucky break here. But what was a Scotland manager to do? Another forty-five minutes would lie in wait for both sides to try and break the deadlock, question was who would managed to do it?

By the time the second half started, as well as the tempers of the angry Tartan Army (having all ranted to each other about how they felt they'd been cheated), the game started off at quite a gentle affair in which both sides seemed like they didn't want to go out all guns blazing from the moment of kick off. Craig Brown's advice for his team was simply to keep plugging away and take a risk of going out and making attempts to open the scoring. Some would've felt that Brown would've reverted back to 4-4-2 after how much the 5-3-2 formation hadn't really helped Scotland that much, but it was a surprise to see nothing was changed as Scotland would keep that formation. Indeed, it would seem that Brown's choice to keep faith in this unlikely formation was now starting to work as Scotland get the first clear cut chance of the second half in which Booth raced forward with Durie and McCoist following him nearby in the fiftieth minute.

Booth would cross the ball over inside the box in which McCoist got his head on the ball and just as the Tartan Army were about to roar in celebration, Lama managed to somehow pull off an super human save to save his side from going down. How he managed to pull of such a save was anyone's guess, not that the French supporters cared for keeping themselves in the game. France would respond in the fifty-fourth minute with a free kick due to Collins bringing down Zidane and he would send the ball crossing towards the box in which Goram one again saved the ball for what must felt like his billionth save of the game, he was getting rather to know that ball very well. As much as it was great to see Scotland making inroads inside the French half, some fans must've felt that of a consequence were leaving their defence wide open for a French attack and Deschamps would be the one to try and ask Scotland questions in the fifty-ninth minute as he would let fly a volley towards the goal, though it would be a wasted shot for France that went way over the bar and into the gloating Scotland fans behind the goal. Just who was going to open the scoring?

In the sixty-eighth minute, after a rather long lull in the game in which the tempo and flair from earlier seemed to dry up for both sides, all seemed to suddenly come back to life again in which Durie ran near the box French box after a blazing run forward in which all the Scotland fans in that stadium must've all been screaming out for him to shoot as he got right on the edge of the penalty box, but he was taking down by Blanc and by the cry of disapproval from the Scotland fans, many expected a booking for the French defender and for Scotland to be rewarded with a penalty. What happened next perhaps left much in disbelieve as instead, the referee thrusted a yellow card into the face of a flabbergasted Durie for what the referee said was due to a dive, even though many nearby where it happened and watching the replays on TV could all clearly see that it was indeed a penalty, the referee just had the rotten luck of being situated in a area that didn't give him a clear view.


The Tartan Army during the second half at Anfield
The Scotland players once again surrounded the Spanish referee who just couldn't believe at their bad luck for this all to happen to them again, surely their was any cheating going on here, right? The crowd voice their disapproval as they chanted the referee as a blatant cheat who they thought clearly had it in for the French to do well in the game. Brown himself was starting to wonder just what did they have to do in order to win this game when it felt like the whole world was against them and to make matters worse, Scotland nearly allowed France to take advantage of them during their argument with the referee that Hendry had to act to defend a counter run by Djorkaeff by knocking the ball off the French player's feet and out for a throw in for the men in white. Once the referee had managed to force the Scottish players back to play the game again, the game became more a stuffy affair in the mid field as neither side were barging to let a goal in, this rather mind numbingly boring style of play from both side would go on for a further twelve minutes with pretty much nothing happening, other than the French manager, Jacquet, bringing on Pedros to replace Loko in the hope of using fresh legs to try and snatch a late winner.

By the time the game wheezed along into the seventy-second minute, it looked clear that both sets of fans seemed aware that this game was going into extra-time and the thought a more of this restricted play must've been a dreadful thought for all concerned. In the seventy-sixth minute however, Pedros tried his best to break the deadlock as he found himself running circles round the likes of Calderwood and McKinlay, neither of which could stop him, and with him right on the left side of the Scottish penalty box and sent the ball curling towards the top left corner of the goal with Goram making a dive into that direction. Instead the ball clattered on the corner post and bounced out for a goal kick for the Scots, with the French player placing his hands on his head in annoyance that his brilliant little run had all come to nothing in the end. The Scots tried their absolute best to find the opening goal too with McCoist trying out a similar attack to Pedros not long later in the eighty-second minute, but unlike the Frenchman, McCoist's ball went flying over the bar and didn't seem to trouble Lama at all.

The players looked exhausted and frustrated for seemingly getting nowhere in this second half and this feeling was shared by the Tartan hordes in Anfield as well as the small number of French supporters who must've felt that they should've flattered the Scots by now with the talent they had in that side. Frustration would come to a head once again in the eighty-ninth minute when McCoist and Thuram came together near the corner flag on the French half and although it was a Scottish throw in due to coming off the French's defender's foot, it was hard to tell just by how close the two players had been and the two of them ended up getting into a playground fight trying to blame the other who was at fault.


Even Pedros can't stand the thought of the game going into extra time during the closing minutes of the game with Scotland

Even when the referee came over to point for a Scottish throw in, he had to defuse the situation between McCoist and Thuram who had began shoving each other over just showing how angry this game had made both players. The referee would instead book both players as a way to try and bring the point to them of trying to calm down. It would be the last act of the 90 minutes as the game would now start extra time and both managers went onto the field to get their respected sides ready for another thirty minutes to play for, but there was one way the game could end sooner that expected...Golden goal. The rules of that were simple, whoever was to score within the thirty minutes from now, would end the match as in sudden death and win the game outright, it seemed like a good plan for Brown to use to their advantage and began to tell the players of what to do...

By the time extra time started, it was starting to get dark and the floodlights were starting to go on. The difference now with Scotland was they had finally ditched the 5-3-2 system and had reverted back to 4-4-2 and with the more encouraging attacking play that Scotland were starting to show in the early stages of extra-time, it seemed that the players were happy to go back to a system that they knew worked for them and in some ways by this point they had nothing to lose. The game would suddenly be turned on it's head when in the ninty-fourth minute, Thuram would strike Booth on the counter when he made a sliding tackle that sent the Scot flying and landing awkwardly on his side which looked like he was in great pain. It seemed as if Thuram had forgotten he was already booked and the Scottish audience roared out for action to be taking and the referee ran straight up to the French player and showed him a straight red card for such a challenge.

All hell seemed to break loose and both sets of players ran to surround the referee expressing their view on the matter with the Scots keeping a close on their fallen teammate, now looking clearly needing medical attention while the French tried to make their point that it was a harsh choice for the referee to make. Nonetheless, both Booth and Thuram went off the pitch, though it would be the Scot that would leave on a stretcher while the Frenchman made his way down the tunnel while be goaded by the delighted Scottish fans around the tunnel. It would then fall for John Spencer to take Booth's place in the team, though many wonder that even if Scotland were to go through, would that be the last they'd see of Booth at this tournament?

Scotland now played with determination as if they were getting revenge for their fallen teammate and the ten men of France team looked rattled and seemed short of ideas, now was the chance for Scotland to get something here Brown thought as he motioned the players forward for a last final push. In the ninety-sixth minute, Spencer would win a corner for Scotland in which many players got round in the box ready to get on the ball. The ball at first was headered backwards by McAllister looking like it was going nowhere, before then it just so happened to head in the direction of Durie who headed the ball to his left and the ball went right past the hands of Lama and finally hit the back of the netting. Golden goal for Scotland!


Durie, in the middle of the huddle celebrates with his teammates of getting the golden goal.
Anfield erupted, probably not in the way that it had done in recent years regarding Liverpool FC, and anyone outside the stadium must've thought that a bomb must've gone off giving the noise that the Tartan Army made as they celebrated widely. Images of those celebrations are remembered fondly by many who watched it on TV, Durie racing to the corner flag and sliding on his chest before being piled up by his delighted teammates before giving him further congratulations, the Tartan Army trying to start a pitch invasion and the look of utter heartbreak on all the French players there who all lay on the ground in despair at what had just happened. For a team that was set to be the next world cup hosts and were expected to do well here in England had come up short and that was to really sting for Les Bleus.

It was hard to tell if Scotland deserved the victory or not, but given some of the controversial choices that they had been the subject of in this game, they would've felt that justice had been earned here though some felt that if Cantona had played then this game would have ended up being very different with likely France utterly smashing the Scots here. Not that the Tartan Army cared for that; Scotland were through the Semi finals of a tournament for the first time since 1968 and throughout that night in Liverpool, the Tartan Army celebrated widely into the night while the celebrations were also replicated north of the border. Now the Scots would made a short journey east over to Manchester where they were to play in the last four, surely it was possible, right...?

And here we are with another Euro '96 update. Pretty much the same as what came before though a few tweaks made to tidy things up. Anyway, final four fixtures as they stand:
Scotland vs Czech Republic

Germany vs England
--------- know what to do. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this update and I'll hopefully see you all very soon! :)
Chapter 61: Czech-Mate
Chapter 61

Just four days after their dramatic victory over France in Liverpool, Scotland and the Tartan Army made the short journey eastwards to Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester for their Semi-final clash with fellow surprise package Czech Republic. It must be noted that many of thousands of Scottish fans who'd made the trip to Liverpool had decided to stay put and make the short trek to Manchester with scenes of the Tartan Army selling out almost every hotel there was in the city and perhaps most of the North West. Some were camping roughly or even going as far as sleeping under bushes or in bus stops which would become remembered scenes for many in Euro 96 of the Tartan hordes in nearly every available spot you could think of and there was more than a likely chance that anyone who was part of this great adventure would remember how they stayed down there and all the shenanigans involved. The team in contrast had stayed at their surroundings in Stafford which they had done throughout this tournament but also that it wasn't far for them to travel to Manchester from there.

Once again, the organisers had been happy to see that Scotland had done well to go on as supporters wise, the Czechs had only brought along a measly five hundred supporters with them to cheer on their side, didn't they know how such a big game it was for them to see their side get that far for the first time since 1976? With such low numbers and with most of the Manchester population not willing to watch such a game, the Tartan Army had no trouble of packing out Old Trafford in which the fifty-five thousand seater stadium was completely sold out, vastly overwhelming the woeful numbers of Czech fans in the stadium and in doing so made the ground feel like a home game for the Scots, which in some ways was true as they were granted the position of the 'home' team in this match. The game was massive in many ways for the Scots as it was for the Czechs as it was the first time Scotland had been in the last four of a major tournament since 1968 and the whole country had been gripped by football fever in which pretty much everybody in Scotland talked nothing but football, the thought of playing a final at Wembley and the feeling of it being thirty years since their only appearance at a World Cup final seemed to indicate that fate might smile on the Scots. The Braveheart feeling was there among any Scot.

While the many thousands of Scots inside Old Trafford and watching the game live on television, down in the Old Trafford dressing room kitted out in their all dark blue shirt and shorts and sitting on the benches awaiting for the go ahead to make their way towards the tunnel, the tension among the players was there as the realisation of how big this game was only starting to dawn on each of them, something like this might never happen again and most likely see them unlikely to show face in Scotland ever again. There was a bit of sadness too for poor Scott Booth, who had been injured in the game with France and despite the best efforts, it turned out that even if Scotland got to the final, his injury was that bad that he'd be unable to compete for any further games for Scotland and with a reluctant heavy heart, Craig Brown had to send Booth home.


Tartan Army in Manchester prior to the game with Czech Republic

There was a bit of change too for the line-up as the formation was to change yet again, this time to a 4-3-3 with an attacking forward three line up featuring McCoist, Durie and John Spencer in the hope of banging in much goals as possible. It was a format that seemed most comfortable with the players to try something different. There were however some players dropped for the game with perhaps the most notable one being Tom Boyd dropped to the bench in favour of Tosh McKinlay which shock many at why Brown would do that especially as Boyd had played well in the last game. However, when one thought about it, it made sense, Boyd was already on a yellow card and if Scotland were to get to the final and he was to get another card in this game, he'd be suspended for the final and Brown didn't want to lose any player now, especially after the sad affair with Booth being sent home.

For many minutes, the players were silent as they sat there waiting for orders. Even the likes of John Collins, Andy Goram and Ally McCoist who would often get the players excited for a game were also silent as if doing anything might ruin Scotland's chances out on the field. With about 10 minutes until kick off, the door opened and in stepped Craig Brown before going over towards the whiteboard (in which he'd gone over the game with the players earlier) and he didn't say anything for a while as the players waited to hear whatever he had to say to them. Finally, after a dramatic long silence, he spoke.

"Gentlemen, here we are about to play in a Semi-final for a chance to play at Wembley for the final...that's all you need to know from me."

The Scotland players gave each other confused looks at their manager's choice of words. A gleam in Brown's eyes followed as he paused again to take in their reactions before he spoke again, his voice always sounding like to some that he was on the verge of crying. "I'm not going to say any last things before we go out, as I have someone here that you'll all possible know who I'm referring too and will know what to say..."

The Scotland manager then looked over towards the door and as on cue, another person entered the room and the players were both stunned yet oddly not surprised at who entered the dressing room; Alex Fergusson. The current Manchester United manager and former manager for the national side seemed like a no brainer choice when the players thought about it as to who was to give them final words of encouragement. When the Scots arrived in Manchester, he'd been trying all he could to get the local Mancunian population to get behind the Scots though he had an indifference response from the locals, perhaps down to two factors that his side has lost the title to Kevin Keegan's Newcastle side that season and that perhaps the major factor was that pretty much everyone in Manchester was at this moment doing last minute shopping for drinks as later on that day in the other Semi-final, England were to take on Germany and one couldn't fault them for having their interests elsewhere.


Fergusson and Keegan posing for a photo just prior to Euro '96, they would be at each other's throats again regarding their countries...

That being said, the prospect of an all British final at Wembley, thirty years after the last one in the very same stadium was a really tempting prospect to dream of but right now there was the small matter of this game to win first. Alex Fergusson was wanting to make the most of it and with the team awaiting to go out, the Manchester United manager decided to give the team an extra boost.

"Results will always make or break a team," Fergusson began. "Here you stand ninety minutes away or more from a final...our first since 1968. There have been many sides that have failed to get this far since then, myself included I'll admit. But here you stand, you are the ones who broke the chain and are rewriting history as you go along, and you don't know just how you are making people feel about this. You hear that?"

He paused and pointed towards the ceiling where they all hear the muffled sounds of the large Scottish support in the stadium in which they could be heard singing Loch Lomond that was being played on the stadium's PA system. Hearing the fans singing out of their hearts was enough to bring the hairs on the back of the players that really showed them what this game meant for the nation.

Seeing their reaction, Fergusson carried on speaking. "Hear that? That's all being sung for you. Go out there, this is your time, not those Czechs, so go out and take it."

That was all that was needed. Grabbing the captain's armband and place it on his arm, Gary McAllister stood up and looked over to his teammates and gave them a nod. "Come on lads, let’s do this!"

The players all got up and now all finding their voices and looking fired up to make their way to the tunnel, as they left, both Brown and Fergusson gave each of the players a pat on the back as they left the dressing room. The players, led by their captain, would join the Czech players in the tunnel and waited with baited breathes for the moment it was time to walk out into the stadium known as the theatre of dreams to many, fitting considering Scotland's own dreams of a return to Wembley.

As the two teams walked out, they were greeted by a thunderous roar that seemed to hit them like a wall and as they looked around, apart from one corner of Old Trafford and a scattering of Czech supporters dotted around the stadium, the vast majority were there for the Scots as Saltire flags and Lion Rampant flags flew all around, plus even some had tried to throw ticker tape out onto the field like what they'd do in South America, though it did look rather poor in comparison. Nonetheless after the anthems were sung and the two managers shook hands, the game began with the Scots kicking off first and right from the get go, the Scots had started on the front foot with the new formation for the team looking like it was doing wonders for them compared to the ropey look they had in the game with the French. Craig Brown felt that unlike in that last game in which his side were clear underdogs, here he felt both sides were more evenly matched with each other which he predicted in his pre-match press conference that it could be quite an open game with either side having a chance to win it.

Just as he predicted, Scotland would get the first shot on target in the fourth minute when they won the first corner and McCoist nearly managed to header the ball in but was stopped by the Czech keeper, Kouba. Then just a mere five minutes later, Šmicer responded with a volley from thirty yards outside the box in which Goram had to knock over the bar and concede a corner kick for the Czechs, an attempt that proved to be an easy catch for the Scottish goalkeeper before he knocked it up the park for his side to try and get something out of it. After seventeen minutes of play, no goals had been scored though it had been one hell of a contest with either side trying everything to find the opening goal and this game was hardly a snooze fest that some might've thought, it was looking to be classic if things were to remain the way they were.

However then in the nineteenth minute, a tackle from John Collins on Němec would see the Czechs be awarded with a free kick from twenty-five yards away from the Scottish penalty box and many began to gather round the box getting ready to get onto the ball as Drulák stood over the ball and awaited for his orders to start the free kick. The Czech player gazed over at the goal with intensity as he felt he could do something here, the whistle blew and with a great run up, he sent the ball flying over the wall of Scottish players and it curled downwards into to bottom right of the goal in which Goram failed to get his hand on it and all he could do as he hit the ground was watch the ball land into the side of the net before slamming his fist on the ground. The Czechs were a goal up and Old Trafford was silenced apart from the small group of celebrating Czech supporters. To lose a goal by a free kick was a painful one for the dark blue shirted players and now they had to find a way back into this game.


Drulák during the game
The Czechs tried to press forward again, but this time the Scottish midfield and defence were doing more than enough to not only hold off any attacks but actually go in attack to try and make inroads inside the Czech half. In the twenty-fourth minute, Durie made a run down on the left flank of the Czechs before he rolled the ball over back towards Collins as a way to avoid being stopped by Nedvěd who had been coming at him before he lobbed the ball up and over towards Spencer who looked like he had a good shot on target as he found himself racing into a woefully defended box. Pretty much every Scot in that stadium and watching on TV screamed at Spencer to shoot in which he let fly on for goal and in which Kouba went the wrong way. However it was cries of agony were to be greeted next as although the keeper went the wrong way, Spencer had the bad luck of having the ball coming off the keeper's left boot and which sent the ball ballooning over and out for a Scottish corner kick.

On the touchline as Brown watched the corner kick attempt getting easily cleared away and back into the middle of the park, he could feel the weight of history on his shoulders and knew just what it what it would mean for his fellow countrymen to get to the final. He just hoped that the eleven players playing in dark blue wouldn't throw it away. Then in the thirty-first minute, after a period in which the Scots had started to play much better and were the ones in the ascendency, Scotland went on the counter attack again with Spencer this time running down on the right flank with him looking over to see McCoist nearby motioning him to give the ball to him. With Rada shadowing him and looking like he was going to make a sliding tackle on the Chelsea player, Spencer made a long cross over towards the box in which McCoist, running down the centre like a mad man, leapt forward almost if he was trying impersonate Superman (Or Christopher Reeve whoever you might've spoken to then) before he manged to connect his head with the ball before slamming it forward into the left of Kouba who couldn't get his hands on it with such force that the ball looked like it might rip the net open.

For those who happened to be standing outside of the stadium, the roar around Old Trafford indicated to anyone as just who scored. The Scots had equalised that not only was much deserved but a goal a that was worthy of a Semi-final and as McCoist found himself being surrounded by his delighted teammates and the Scottish flags around Old Trafford all manged to unfurl themselves in celebration, Craig Brown saw over towards the Czech bench that their manager, Dušan Uhrin, was looking over his team sheet and was no doubt looking for ways to improve his side after losing their lead like that. The Tartan Army had found their voice again and the noise they made was not only deafening and completely drowned out the Czech supporters to the point were it made them look non-existent, but drove on their side as they quickly became the twelve man here with it looking like they might have more goals to score as following McCoist's goal.


A delighted McCoist and Durie celebrate over Scotland's equaliser

The Czech Republic looked rattled and unsure just what to do here and looked like that they were there for the taking and the Scots looked liked they doubled their advantage in the thirty-fifth minute when Durie thought he'd managed to score after making a brilliant run, but his goal had been marked offside. At this point during the final ten minutes of the first half with the red shirted players looking disjointed, Scotland should've gone in for the kill and try and take the lead with how well they were playing, but instead and maybe much to the slight disappointment of the Tartan hordes up on the terraces, the Scottish players seemed more keen on drawing the game out as if they thought this was the right thing to do.

It's hard to know how this was suppose to work out and some feared that Scotland would shoot themselves into the foot and this style of play would help give the Czechs time to get themselves back into the game as some feared and almost gave the Scots a heart attack in the forty-fourth minute when Drulák nearly retook the lead for his side as he sent the ball just shooting past the post in which Goram failed to get on it. A damn close shave in which had it been just a inch or too facing the other way, it would've gone in and all that hard work that Scotland had done to get back into this game would've been all for nothing. Somewhere up in the VIP seating section at Old Trafford, Alex Fergusson could be seen shaking his head in disbelief at that moment and checked the time to see how how long there was still to go.

The Tartan Army were also in that moment keeping a close eye on the clock or their watches as the first half closed out into the final moments, their voices suddenly become silent again as the Czechs looked like the ones more likely to score now in the dying moments. Thankfully after a bit of touch and go defending and some wasteful Czech finishing, the first half came to an end and one that the Tartan Army could breath a sigh of relief that they hadn't lost a goal in those final moments of the game in which would've been an almighty sucker punch. Neither manager looked happy with Uhrin feeling that they had been wasteful to try and snatch a lead while Brown felt that they shouldn't have rested like that and should've scored another and would regret that set of tactics of his. Either way, another forty-five minutes loomed for someone to become a hero or a villain...

The Second half didn't start off in a blaze of glory but rather quite a gentle pace as both sides simply knocked the ball around as if neither wanted to try and blow their load this quickly. Šmicer at the start of the second half had been taking off and in his place saw Patrik Berger filling his place on the field and it would be the sub that nearly turned the game on it's head in the forty-ninth minute when after a defence blunder from McAllister over a slip, the Czech player shot forward snatch the ball off the unfortunate Scot's feet and raced towards the Scottish penalty box. Thankfully for the Scots, Berger's volley would just fly over the bar and McAllister's blushes were spared, though the look on his face afterwards seemed to indicate that it could've been all so different there.

Almost if to try and make up for that blunder, John Collins would work alongside Stuart McCall on his right as they tried to work a shot to hand up towards the Scottish forward three and McCall would give the ball up towards McCoist he tried to volley the shot on target but Kouba again saved the ball, this time with his hands. It would get rather heated in the fifty-fifth minute when McCall would manged to get Berger to divert him off the field and allow the Czechs to get a throw in, however Berger and McCall would get into a spat with each other with the Czech player accusing the Scot that he had been rough and looked over towards the Swedish referee, Leif Sundell, for him to act and give the Scottish player a yellow card, instead the referee would merely give the Scot a verbal warning any Czech watching must've felt that there were looking to not their day as they felt it was clearly a yellow card that should've been shown.

Despite the early part of the second half looking good for the Czechs, like what had happened with the Scots in the first half, they slowly let their good play go to waste as it would lead for the Scots to go forward and try and go in to find a second goal that would, depending on how tight this game was progressing, looking like whoever scored next would be the winning goal and that wasn't meaning golden goal. Brown didn't want to drag the game into extra time like they had done in the last game as even though they had managed to get the job done there, playing for more than ninety minutes he felt was always going to be physically demanding one for his side and that wasn't going to be good if they were going to make the final.


Berger on the move before his argument with McCall
Despite the early part of the second half looking good for the Czechs, like what had happened with the Scots in the first half, they slowly let their good play go to waste as it would lead for the Scots to go forward and try and go in to find a second goal that would, depending on how tight this game was progressing, looking like whoever scored next would be the winning goal and that wasn't meaning golden goal. Brown didn't want to drag the game into extra time like they had done in the last game as even though they had managed to get the job done there, playing for more than ninety minutes he felt was always going to be physically demanding one for his side and that wasn't going to be good if they were going to make the final. In the fifty-eighth minute, Scotland should've gone ahead when McCoist ran down the centre in which he threaded his shot over towards Durie who made a cheeky chip over the Czech keeper and looked worthy of it being a goal...if it was one however. In the middle of celebrations from the dark blue shirted players, confusion followed when the referee ruled off the goal and instead pointed over towards the Czech goals for a goal kick. Cheers quickly turned to jeers from the Tartan Army when they realised that Durie's goal had been chalked off with the Scottish players demanding an answer why.

While it was clear that Durie's first goal was clearly offside in which nobody complained about, this ghost goal was baffling as there seemed like no way of explaining why it had been not included with it either being perhaps conspiracies to hamper the Scots or perhaps the most likely answer was that it was just a bad refereeing choice that he felt was offside even though it clearly wasn't. The Czechs though didn't mind as on the contrary, they felt it was karma after McCall never got a yellow card from earlier. Then it would get worse for the Scots when, still in a foul mood after Durie's ghost goal, the sixty-third minute would see the Czechs move forward to try and break into the Scottish penalty box thanks to a lightning run from Poborský in which Calderwood had to make a challenge to stop him, but in the heat of the moment, he hadn't realised that he had brought down the Czech player in the box and the referee pointed and blew his whistle for a penalty.

Cue a mass outpouring of cries of disbelieve from the large Scottish support. Calderwood was quickly shown a yellow card and his teammates all gave him looks of disbelieve and some of anger, especially for Goram who now had to save his country from going a goal down as Berger would step up to take the penalty, all around Old Trafford many Scots, who at club level didn't like Goram, now all prayed for him to save them and forgive him. With a blast on the Whistle, Berger made a run up and hit the ball into the upper part of the goal in which the Scottish goalkeeper was sent diving to the left and away from the ball, however the ball would instead slam against the crossbar, curled up into the air and landed on top of the net. The Scottish supporters roared in delight as poor Berger placed his hands over his head in shame of missing a penalty while a delight Goram would get up and slap his hand on the part of the crossbar in which the ball had hit.


Durie before his goal was wrongly chalked off
This bad miss from the Czech Republic would be the moment in which the Scots needed to get back into the game and this time would not take any chances as the Czechs seemed to lose their nerve as they were pushed back with their captain Němeček in the sixty-ninth minute being booked for a tackle on McCoist that did look worrying at first for the Tartan Army with how forceful the challenge had been and had many with their hearts in their mouths at that point. Thankfully, he managed to get back on his feet after some quick medical attention and as applauded by the Scottish supporters for carrying on. Scotland would come close to taking the lead in the seventy-fourth minute in which Collins would fire a shot to the right of the goal but instead saw his shot cannon off the post where Durie tried to run in on the rebound only to see his shot get saved by Kouba and poor Durie must've wonder just what did he have to do to score.

Even if Scotland were to win this game, this wasn't going to be Durie's game. A change would then follow for Scotland in the seventy-eighth minute when Brown had noticed Calderwood looking unhappy since his booking and looked to be trying to make a another challenge that saw the very real danger of himself getting a second yellow and being sent off. As of a result that minute, Brown opted to take off Calderwood and in his place brought on Middlesbrough defender Derek Whyte in the hope of having more cool heads here needed for the final push that the Scots were going for. Scotland were now starting to pile on the pressure in the final ten minutes of the game with the feeling swirling around Old Trafford among the Tartan Army being that Scotland were going to win this as the Czech Republic were now looking very ropey and holes in their defence line was only inviting not only Scotland's forward three to go in, but also the midfield too who felt they odd to have a go as McAllister at one point had a shot on the volley in the eighy-second minute though it hit the post and out for a goal kick. Back in the Scottish technical area, Craig Brown stood on the edge shouting at his midfield to not break their shape and leave it to the attacking forward three to do the job.

Then after much pressing forward, and a booking in the eighty-fourth for Nedvěd for a shirt pull on McAllister, Scotland had managed to get themselves a corner kick in the two minutes later and the tension in Old Trafford was there, almost if a bomb was somewhere in the stadium and nobody knew where it was. Durie stood by the right corner flag awaiting to take it as he saw his teammates rubbing shoulders with the Czechs trying to find a decent area for them to try and get something on the ball. When the whistle blew, he crossed it into the box in which Celtic defender Tosh McKinlay would leap up into the air would put away the ball to his left in which the ball went heading towards the post and Kouba scrambled over to try and save the shot, but instead the ball went off the post and into the back of the net, GOAAALLLL!!! For the Tartan Army, players and those on the Scottish bench, memories of what happened next are hazy, McKinlay would run over towards Brown with his teammates in hot pursuit to embrace the manager before being dogpiled by his teammates, the Tartan Army let out a deafening roar that seemed to shake Old Trafford to it's foundations with fans hugging random people next them, most being complete strangers but who were all in that moment united in celebrating the goal that surely was going to send the Scots back to Wembley for the final.


"We're going to Wembley!" The Scottish players and Craig Brown celebrating McKinlay's goal

McKinlay had scored his first goal for his country and wasn't one that nobody would ever forget, even up in the VIP section, Alex Fergusson couldn't contain himself and punched his first in the air for that in few minutes time, Scotland were going back to Wembley, only this time...the final. After the delighted Scots stopped celebrating, the Czechs who were previously heartbroken at losing that goal were now fired up and began to charge at the Scottish defence to snatch a late equaliser to take the game into extra time, though the chanting and singing from the Tartan Army up in the terraces drowned out the sound as flags were flying all around the stadium and in some ways seemed to put off the Czechs from trying to concentrate on getting a goal as the noise made them make some foolish mistakes in losing the ball easily. By this point, the Czechs looked like spent force who couldn't do nothing to help themselves and nobody noticed that towards the end saw many police officers starting filling in the gap between the stand and the field as if they felt a pitch invasion was likely to follow and giving some of the mental scenes up around Old Trafford, they must've felt they'd have good reason too with thoughts of the Tartan Army's pitch invasion at Wembley in 1977 in their minds.

Despite the final, long closing minutes of the game, plus the addition of three added on minutes with many Scots biting into their fingernails or not baring to look amidst the rising sound of the Tartan Army, a shrill whistle was heard and with it came utter madness. The Tartan Army tried to invade the field but where held back while the roar that followed the final whistle was insane, Brown embraced all those who had been with him on the bench while the players on the field couldn't believe what they had just done, McCoist and Durie both lay on the ground hugging each other for pulling off this historic victory and for Durie, all his misfortunes with him not getting a goal were quickly forgotten about. Craig Brown would eventually be carried on the shoulders of some of the players and giving a lap on honour around Old Trafford were the Tartan Army give the Scotland manager a standing ovation. Hard to imagine that prior to his arrival he was voted as the fourth most likely person to manage the national side. Now he had proven all the doubters wrong and deep down was likely hoping that those who doubted him would form an queue to kiss his backside for forgiveness.

It took the Scots and hour after the final whistle to get out of Old Trafford as many wanted to stay and milk the moment and even when they did, most of Manchester had been taking over by the Scots who partied long and hard into the early hours of the morning, and that wasn't including the madcap scenes back home as the country celebrated reaching it's first final in twenty-eight years and they would be joined soon after by their arch rivals...hopefully. Later on that day just as the Tartan Army was still drunk on victory, England would take on Germany at Wembley with the hope that the Auld Enemy would be reuniting with the Scots at Wembley in few days time. The summarise the game, the Three Lions would get off to a flyer with a goal from Shearer to put England in front, only for the Germans to score shortly after and 1-1 would be the score after a full ninety minutes and thus, extra-time would take place. During that time, it would be a tense affair and then Paul Gascoigne would show up and the whole country went wild that night...

Oh yes, the rematch of the century was on...

And so we come near to the end of Euro '96 and a chapter that has several changes to it but for the most remains roughly the same. And yes, England win that game which is pretty much the same but with Gazza scoring that goal that should have been. Bit of a cheat to just make that game a small summery but yeah, not much to do there other than perhaps in TTL that Gazza is a somewhat better player here that means he gets his foot on the ball here.

So anyways, as I write this, Scotland will play Ukraine tonight and I really don't know who to root for here other than I hope it will be a good game though there is the sad new that Andy Goram has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, quite awkward to write about him in TTL considering what is happening to him IRL, all the best to him. With that I hope you enjoyed that update and see you next Wednesday for the grand finale of Euro '96...see you there!
Selfishly I want Scotland to win tonight but equally, if Ukraine pull it off and beat the Welsh I wouldn't be too disappointed with the result.
Chapter 62: The Rematch Of The Century
Chapter 62
The Rematch Of The Century

June 30th 1996; a day that many in the UK would be be looked back on as a 'where were you moment?' in history. As viewers in the UK tuned to watch the final of Euro '96, it was said that just over thirty-four million of them would be hooked to watch a football match, but not any normal match that was for sure. Perhaps the best way to sum up the day was when Match of the Day Presenter, Des Lyman, began the broadcast with a now famous set of words for the viewers.

"Hello, it's June 30th and we're at Wembley for the 1996 European Championship Final; England against Scotland...and this time, it's not a dream."

He had said a similar sentence prior to the opening game of the tournament with a sense of hope and jokiness as he said it, now he had repeated again to act as something of a call back.

For anyone in the UK between the days of the 26th and 30th June, there was only one thing that was one thing on everyone's mind; football and the ultimate bragging rights. The final being one featuring England and Scotland, their first meeting in a final since that legendary final in 1966, had undoubtedly sent the country into a craze about glory and nightmares about what might included in the following game. Interestingly, the odds of such a final at the start of the tournament were placed at two hundred and twenty one to one and any optimistic or daft minded person who had gone out to place a bet on that then no doubt in that moment would have been feeling very pleased in their judgement at netting a healthy profit.

In the early hours of the moment, people from the likes as far as Aberdeen to Southampton were all heading to Wembley to witness such a historic final, perhaps a famous moment in British history and well remembered that day would be scenes on the M6 Motorway in which Saltire and Lion Rampant cladded cars and buses carrying thousands of happy Scots down south must've been quite a scene to watch in the flesh. With many going to Wembley, a sell out crowd of over seventy-six thousand no less was expected with demand being so great that organisers admitted that they could have sold out the allocation three times over given the hype surrounding the match. Both English and Scottish supporters would inviably run into each other at various service stations and while sadly there were a minority of fights between supporters, thankfully the vast majority of which was all well behaved with fans on both sides joining in in many forms of banter and singing though there was that tension there of failing to win.

As the day wore on, it had gotten rather cloudy over London and giving the fact that the whole tournament had been blessed with warm sunshine all round was seen as something of a disappointment for some, but some would've joked that if this was going to be an all British final at Wembley, then it would only be fitting that the weather would reflect this. Even though the game was to start at 7pm, many fans getting to game were delayed due to some horrendous tailbacks on the roads, especially on the approach to London from the north, with the organisers even considering to delay the kick off by twenty minutes if this was to continue, thankfully this was never carried out as with just twenty-five minutes before kick off, Wembley was filled up with there not being a single seat left in the stadium. The thoughts of this being a repeat of 1966 were not lost on anyone as both sides had gotten a half of the stadium for their supporters with the remaining seats going for the sponsors, various FA members from other countries and random competition winners, as the same thing had happened then.


Hours before kick off, all good nature between rivals
To say the atmosphere inside that stadium was electric would be an understatement, both sets of fans tried to outdo each other on the Wembley terraces that nobody seemed to bother at the closing ceremony that was taking place. However that change when Baddiel and Skinner, along with Lightning Seed's Ian Broudie, would get the crowd on their feet, well, the English half, to join in with a mass singalong with their hit song Three Lions (or sometimes mistaking called 'Football's Coming Home') that had now hit No.1 in the charts following England getting to the final. However not to be outdone, Rod Stewart would serenade the Tartan Army with his cover version of Purple Heather (Wild Mountain Thyme) which had been made the unlikely song for Scotland's Euro '96 campaign. As strange as it might've been for a football game, it was nonetheless a far greater improvement of a rather infamous song of his he'd done for the Scotland team back in 1977...

Speaking of the above mentioned performers, they weren't the only celebrities on show. If one was to look to various parts of the stadium and over at the VIP box, one could see that it was pretty much a 'Who's who' of the British celebrity circuit with the likes of the English side containing Michael Caine, John Cleese, Tom Baker, Joanna Lumley, Catherine Tate and all of the Spice Girls just to now a few while the Scottish celebrities there featured Billy Connolly, Ewan McGregor, Alan Cumming, Kelly Macdonald and the band Del Amitri were all there. But even that wasn't the end of famous faces there as also in attendance were quite a number of the players who had taking part in that final of 1966 which included Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Ray Wilson, Jim Baxter, Gordon Banks and Billy Bremner, the latter being the last time he'd be at Wembley before his death a year later. Perhaps more remarkable was the appearance of the hattrick hero in that game, Duncan Edwards, being at that game for despite having suffered a stroke and being bed ridded during the start of last month, he had ignored doctor's orders and was determined to see England play in a final at Wembley, the sudden appearance of him there was enough to see him get a standing ovation by many for his sheer determination that everyone knew him by.

Last but not least was the appearance of the Royal Family that day in the royal box with the Queen being granted the honour of presenting the trophy to the winning team. Apparently the press had been making rumours that Diana, Princess of Wales, was to be there too and was the original choice to present the trophy to the winning team, however during that time, her marriage to Prince Charles had broken down and a divorce was on the way so she turned down the offer of being there. However, she did give both teams well wishes and congratulations of getting this far and wishing the best team well. As the closing ceremony finished, with memorable finale of a spine tingling sing along of You'll Never Walk Alone in which saw the rare occasion of both sets of supporters singing together, the pitch cleared in preparation for the teams to walk out, chances were likely that there was at least someone in that vast crowd who had been a spectator in 1966 who was wanting to be part of history again.


The English side of Wembley in full cry prior to kick off
Also there was another very likely thought that both sets of fans were reflecting past victories other the opposing side with the English thinking of not only that final in 1966 and that recent game just a few days ago, but also that 9-3 thrashing they'd giving the Scots back in 1961. For the Scots, they might've thought about either 1967 or 1977 and some very elderly types there would perhaps think of the Wembley wizards of 1928 in which they humiliated the English 5-1. Now though, another game in that long collection of England/Scotland games was about to join that famous list. With such an atmosphere and the fact the two sides were to face each other again in a short space of days, the demand from the general public grew with the British Home Championship to return, however it seemed that their hopes all fell on deaf ears. Finally the moment came in which out of the Wembley tunnel, the teams emerged and the roar that welcomed them to the pitch was incredible with flags and scarfs flying all around Wembley.

Oh yes, regardless of how the final was going to go, the fans had made the atmosphere worthy of a final, now it was all down the players to do their part for the game. The players all stood facing the royal box as their anthems were being sung and thankfully this time neither side booed either anthem, though this was perhaps the fact that the Royal Family were in attendance and both sides had decided to put on their best behaviour. One final thing to do before the game had begun as the players were still lined up was that the match officials would all shake hands with the Queen as she came as she went along the line to wish them all well for the final though where her loyalties lay; she'd be the one exception of being a neutral. Eventually and after all that, the match would begin with a number of familiar faces that had all played a part in that game, even the referee, Italian Pierluigi Pairetto, had been part of the last game the two sides played in was here too.

Thanks to vocal encourage of the large English support in Wembley, England would start the match on the front foot and for all the years that the Tartan Army had often drowned out the English support on their many visits to Wembley, here they were finding it hard for a change as the English look set to try and make life difficult for the Scots.
On the bench, England manager Terry Venables was a nervous man. The deep lines on Venables face seemed more pronounced as cameras focused on him, according to the mindset of the English press however, his England side was not only just expected to win the final, they were to walk it; crushing the Scottish underdogs under their boots. The golden goal winner from Gascoigne over the Germans in the Semi-final had sent the press into a frenzy thinking that this certainly theirs to lose now and in some ways they might've had a point.


View of the Scottish half of Wembley prior kick off
With the formation of the Premier League, the wealth and the size of the teams' average attendance in contrast with the Scottish league, the English game didn't exist in a different league to the Scots, they played in a universe to them. The England manager thought otherwise what his fellow countrymen though of the Scottish and even Welsh leagues. To get to a final with a team that, with perhaps the exception of McCoist, didn't have any superstars was a hell of an achievement that seemed to show that teamwork was the main deal in football so in no way did Venables envy his Scottish counterpart, Craig Brown, in that regard. As much as it was an all British final plus the overwhelming view that England were favourites and that Scotland were major underdogs here, the England manager knew very well that football was unpredictable and had first hand experience to prove it at during his time as the manager of Barcelona, his side were humbled by Dundee United on their run to their eventually victory in the 1987 UEFA Cup. When the English did win the World Cup in 1990, few English commentators seemed to disregard the fact that a quarter of the team all played for Glasgow Rangers and the Scots would cheekily remark that they won the World Cup that year. A few Scottish sides had gotten to European finals and had the English press forgotten when during the 1994 Cup Winners Cup Final saw Arsenal suffer an embarrassing loss to Dundee United and a year later, Aberdeen would reach a Champions League final in which although they lost, who had all seen that coming if getting that far?

Plus even this year, Raith Rovers had been the shock team of Europe as they had pulled of an run in the UEFA Cup by reaching the last four before falling at the hands of the eventually winners Barcelona and Paul Gascoigne himself played in Scotland, so all in all, in no ways was the Scottish league some crackpot tin pot league that Venables thought a view that was not only narrow minded but even insulting in truth. Bottom line, Venables saw the Scots as a worthy appointment for the final. However his thoughts were broken when in the eighth minute, after much English domination, England would win the first corner kick of the game in which Gascoigne would run up to take the corner. With hearing the blast on the whistle, he swung it over inside the box in which Shearer would leap into the air to band in the goal towards the bottom right of the goal in which poor Goram couldn't get his hand on it in time and Shearer ran off in celebration as the English half of Wembley erupted as fans celebrated with utter joy of getting the perfect start while any Scot there could only groan and facepalm at going behind early on in this game. All except for Craig Brown who looked with a thoughtful expression, there was still plenty of time to turn this game around and sometimes getting an early lead he thought could always be a problem.

Funnily enough, the game had started almost identical of how the Semi final with England and Germany had begun with England starting off very well only for the Germans to come back into the game very soon after and that was happened with the Scots. Shearer's early goal would help, for better or for worse whoever you spoke to, get Scotland back into the game as they starting pushing forward to try and find an equaliser with the first chance Scotland had of the game being a stunning attempt in the thirteenth minute in which thanks to a cross from John Collins would cross the ball over towards McAllister who would volley an almighty shot from forty yards out from the box that Seaman had to get his hand on it to prevent it from going in. It would've been a stunner had it gone in but there was now grounds for cautious optimism for the watching Tartan Army. England certainly did have most of the possession in this half so far, but the Scots were really putting up a spirted fight that was only helping their supporters roaring them on to find the equaliser.


Shearer enjoys the moment of getting an early goal for Scotland
In the eighteenth minute, Tony Adams would foul John Collins some thirty yards away from the penalty box and had given the Scots a free kick in which looked to be quite a good position for McAllister to try his luck from. With many holding baited breathes as he awaited for the referee to blow his whistle to begin the kick and the Scotland captain sent the ball curling downwards but unlucky for him, Seaman dived the right way and got both hands on the ball. England may had been in front but it was starting to look clear now that they were rocking as Scotland were probing them all over. Venables sat them with a hand rubbing over his mouth as he watched his England team looking disjointed in places and his only hopes were that they didn't give the Scots a goal in this first half, though in the twenty-first minute, Sheringham would try and help add to England's lead as he managed to find his way inside the Scottish penalty box thanks to some schoolboy defending from the Scottish backline and it was once again Goram who came to the rescue as he dived to his left to grab onto the ball, he wasn't going to let England try and score into his own net again in this game.

Back and forth the ball went up and down the field with both sides really going for it as was the feeling of how much it would mean to win this final. Time and time again Scotland would try everything to find the equaliser in which many Scots watching the game live on TV felt they deserved as they nervously drank their beer across living rooms and pubs throughout the land. The game itself was also getting quite fierce with tackles as the game rolled along into the twenty-seventh minute in which it felt every player all had a point to prove with their countries' pride at stake and more surprisingly was that neither a yellow or red card had been shown by the Italian referee who instead was motioning for both to play on as a way of keeping momentum in the game flowing. Then in the thirty-second minute, Pierce was trying to get his head on the ball thanks to a cross from Southgate, John Spencer however would leap up into Peirce's space where he managed to divert the ball forward and with that he kept on running with many Scots in the stadium rising to their feet feeling that something was about to happen.

Spencer would pass the ball towards McCoist who was no inside the box and look set to score, however rather than thump it in, he instead let the ball roll behind. This to many at first looked like a stupid waste to throw away such a good chance, however it was part of a training ground exercise as Brown watched with him mouthing the tactics he had told the players to himself. The ball itself would roll back towards John Collins he came rushing like a runaway train and with a furious strike towards goal, slammed the ball into the underside of the roof of the net in which Seaman couldn't do nothing about and the fears of the English had come true, Scotland were back into the game! The Tartan Army in Wembley roared with delight this time as the English were now quiet as they could only watch Collins get surrounded by his teammates and there was an incident of one happy yet heavily drunken Scot tried to get on the field to celebrate, but was pushed back to the terraces. 1-1, now anything could happen.


Going for goal, Collins before his equaliser for Scotland
Scotland had been on the rise for a quite a bit of the game and now that goal would surely do more than enough to help them press on to try and find another goal to end this first half on, how glorious from a Scottish perspective to be leading at halftime at Wembley, in a final of all places?! England now looked rattled and frustrated as in the thirty-sixth minute, McCoist nearly made it worse for the host nation as he found himself inside the box as the ball was crossed over by Durie on his right and despite pulling of a strong header onto goal, Seaman would make that McCoist's attempt wouldn't get anywhere near from going over the line. However shortly after that attempt from Scotland's lucky talisman, England would find themselves back in the game and responded with a long range shot from just over the halfway line in the forty-second minute when Paul Ince tried to pull off a long range shot that went flying towards the goal that as it got closer, looked like it might land in the Scottish goal and Goram would have to leap up to nudge the ball over the ball and land on the roof of the net to give England a corner kick.

Cue the great relief from the Scots that they had gotten off the hook that time. However that attempt would only inspire the rest of the English players to press forward to find not only the lead, but delivery a sucker punch for the Scots right before half time. As the game now went into two minutes of added time of the first half, the English had now began to put the Scots on the ropes and many of the Tartan Army were checking the watches or looking up at the big screen wondering how much time they had left. England were like a wounded animal that was out to punish the Scots for them trying to pull of an upset and then within the very last seconds of added time, Sheringham would gallop down the left Scottish flank with the likes of Boyd and Hendry all trying to stop him, but he would let one fly when he was just on the outside of the box and sent it hitting the post before going in for goal.

The English began to celebrate, but that was quickly cut short when it was seen that the linesman had raised his flag up for offside and before the English players could respond to that, the referee blew for halftime and it would come as a relief for the Scots to have time to recover, though the last second offside moment did not go down well for the English as Shearer would lead a protest on the Italian referee trying to point out that it was onside and not off. Most of the Scottish players would leave the field, though some stayed behind as they tried to get in the action as by now eight furious England players were surrounding the referee like a swam of angry bees as he tried to leave the field. So much so that tempers looked like they were going to boil over ("Would her Majesty like to witness a punch up?" McKinlay would joke under his breath as he tried to help the referee get away).


"He's got it wrong!" Shearer and Ince argue with the referee over Sheringham's ghost goal
It was a pity that such an exciting final so far was being marred with a rather sorry state of affairs. In hindsight, the English players would agree that the goal was offside, but in the spur of the moment and with pride riding through their veins, it could only had ended up like that. For Craig Brown, he was delighted at his team getting back into this game at showing good character, now they had to go out and start off on the front foot in the first half in the best possible way. And as the sky began to get darker by that point as the sun started to set over Wembley, his thoughts were on what to say to his players and his own memories, or rather nightmares of 1966 that he hoped to banish for good here. All he needed was his players was to stand up and be counted and put on a show the thousands of Scotland fans in Wembley and as he walked into the tunnel, he looked back at seeing many of them chanting their hearts out. They deserved it surely.

Craig Brown's team talk had been simply about keeping the English back and frustrating them as he felt that would help lead to Scotland finding a second goal. He had also presented to the players a truckload of good luck cards from school kids across Scotland that all had little messages of support for them to win which was heart-warming to say the least, though there was one message from a kid in Dundee who had seemly wrote saying 'Good luck Scotland and beat those dirty English bastards!' It was unknown if it was actually written by some kid or was in fact written by some random Tartan Army support who had sent it in as a joke. Nonetheless the team all found it hilarious and would return out on the field to start the second half with a notable spring in their step and for Craig Brown, he knew how much this final matter to many of his fellow countrymen, but he really felt the tension about this game though with regards to the final in 1966.

He could, at the age of twenty-six at that time, remembering being in a pub for the final and his memories are tinge with joy and regret. He could remember Denis Law's opening goal that sent him into a state of frenzy, however then came Duncan Edwards' hattrick heroics to stab at the heart of Scotland. As soon as Edwards scored his third goal, he left the pub in state of despair of losing a final to the English. Granted some pride was restored a year later when they got revenge on the English at Wembley and the following year when Scotland become victorious in Rome, but the pain of 1966 still affected him and he never imagine he'd ever get Scotland back into a final at Wembley again, let alone being against England and 30 years later no less. This was perhaps the only chance they'd get at being here again and what a way to wipe away thirty years of hurt for the Scots for not that year but also winning their first bit of silverware in twenty-eight years.

Funnily enough, Brown would have to admit that the occasion of it being England had actually made him forget that they were out to play for silverware and was only reminded in the dressing room when John Collins suggesting that if they won they'd need to add two stars above the Scotland badge. Anyway, as Brown focused on the game, he was pleased to see his side start of the second half very well with it looking like they had no trouble in pushing back the English as if they had nothing to fear from them now. Then in the 48th minute, McCall would lob the ball up towards Durie who swung the ball over towards McCoist inside the penalty box however his run would be brought to a crashing halt when he was brought down by a pretty poor tackle by Tony Adams which led to the referee to point to the stop and blow his whistle in which the Wembley crowd knew what that meant...penalty to Scotland!


Early moments of the second half prior to the penalty being awarded
The Tartan Army roar with delight with the added bonus of seeing the England captain getting a yellow card for his troubles though quickly the realisation of what had happened the last time Scotland tried to take a penalty caused many to think twice. David Seaman had saved Gary McAllister's penalty in that very same location a couple of days ago and it was just a crazy situation of lighting striking twice with McAllister preparing to take another spot kick on the very same spot where he missed against the same goalkeeper. It was brave of him to go up there again and attempt to make amends when others in the team could of do it, but the Scotland captain had to lead the way and as he waited for the referee to blow his whistle to begin the kick, a deathly hush fell around Wembley as no one knew what to expect. The referee blows his whistle, McAllister charges forward, fires the ball right now the middle with Seaman diving to his right and with that, Scotland take the lead and a huge weight is lifted of the shoulders of the Scotland captain as the players and Tartan Army celebrate with delight.

It was incredible; Scotland were leading England 2-1 at a final! Even if you weren't supporting Scotland, it wasn't hard to feel happy for the Scotland captain who did looked to be close to tears that he had redeemed himself from a few games ago and could that be the winning goal for the Scots? The pudgy looking Craig Brown leapt in the air while punching his fist upwards like a boxer. The scenes of utterly delighted Scots were one no one would forget as flags were be waved around like mad, strangers hugging each other and bits of beer were flying around the air and soaking everyone and anyone could imagine the scenes north of the border following that penalty. However, as much as was a fantastic start for Scotland for the second half, there was still a long way yet to go. By now, Venables had ran over to the touchline and was yelling out at his players to move as they kicked off from the centre circle. His plans he had made for his team during halftime had now gone out the window and now they'd have to improvise. "Come on lads!" Venables yelled at the English players. "You're all worth more than them, what are you waiting for?!"

As the Tartan Army cranked up the noise levels in Wembley, the Scottish players looked a bit wary now. At this point one would've thought they would try and add to their lead and bury the English, instead they seemed like they wanted to hold them off and frustrate them more with perhaps one such moment in the fifty-third minute when McCoist tried to channel the skills of Jim Baxter by recreating his famous 'keepie up' routines in which the Scots cheered in delight at what he was trying to do, those these antics did not go down well with the English as almost as in a party pooper moment, David Platt would clean the ball straight off the feet of McCoist which like a pantomime villain, the Scots booed Platt as he sent the ball up the field to his fellow teammates. England would nearly get back into the game when Platt himself in the fifty-seventh minute would swing a shot in the hit the crossbar. The Scots had been warned; England were getting back into this and it looked like it was going to get a bit physical soon.


Scotland fans after taking the lead over England
In the sixtieth minute, the first yellow card of the game would be shown for Scotland as McCall would get booked for a tackle on Shearer and England would get a free kick from it and Gascoigne would be up to take it from twenty-five yards away from the box. He would swing the ball up towards the penalty box in which Sheringham would get his foot on it. Everything seemed to go in slow motion as Goram dived into the direction of the Englishman and Sheringham went to fire on goal. The ball however hadn't connected on his foot that well and instead of going straight as he wanted, the ball scuffed off his foot and went tumbling over the right of the goal and crashed out for a goal kick in which poor Sheringham placed his hands on his head in dismay while his fellow countrymen groaned an anguish, oh how that would've the equaliser. Despite this, Venables now looked confident as he crossed his arms watching his side going all out to get themselves back in it, more of this pressing of the Scots and they'd surely get the goal they craved for.

Both sets of fans looked nervous as the time ticked away, England were paying well but were still behind and running out of time while the Scots were pinned back into their own half while holding onto their lead and they swore the clock seemed to go at snail's pace, the tension was being felt all around Wembley across the country. In the sixty-fifth minute, both sides would make a substitution as Caulderwood was brought off for Scotland in exchange for Craig Burnley to play in an unfamiliar defender role and as a way of adding some extra attacking force for the line. England would make a change in midfield when Ince was brought off for David Barmby to take his place, clearly both sides were going to throw everything forward to win this game and both managers looked determined to finish the game in ninety minutes. The tempo of the game then suddenly decreased as it looked like the weight of history and the exhausting performance for both sides was catching up to the players and it did look for some concerned minded folk that the teams were running out of ideas to try and win the game.

This was reflected in how oddly quiet Wembley got as looks of fear and concern seem to grip fans on both sides of the divide as it was looking increasingly clear that nobody had any idea how this game was going to finish. Scotland's ultra defence style had only led the English players to gather in confidence to the point when David Seaman had become a forgotten figure in the game and spent more of the time gazing up at the screen showing how much time was left...they were now into the seventy-sixth minute, fourteen minutes left from a loss to the Scots. Could they turn it around? Then a minute later as Platt was charging inside the box, Boyd would make a desperate tackle that saw him bring the Englishman tumbling to the ground and made his teammates and the English supporters cry out for a penalty of their own. To their relief, the referee had already blew his whistle for a penalty in which the English knew they had a chance to grab an equaliser and poor Boyd was shown a yellow card for his troubles.


Gascoigne during the second half with England 2-1 down

All eyes turned towards Shearer as he walked up to the spot to take the penalty, but then he was stopped by Gascoigne who began explaining something to his teammate which went on for about a minute. Then to utter shock of many, Shearer stepped back and allowed Gascoigne to take the honour of takin the spot kick. Over on the English bench, Venables was furious at just what was going on. It was a bizarre situation as to why Gascoigne wanted to take the spot kick, however it would soon dawn on many as to why he wanted to volunteer. With him being Goram's teammate at Rangers, Gascoigne knew how to beat Goram on penalties and it was actually a clever scheme from the Geordie. What followed next would be one of the funniest moments in any football moment in which Goram would try and recreate Grobbelaar's famous 'spaghetti legs' routine he did in the European cup final of 1984 as a way of trying to distract his Rangers teammate.

However Gascoigne would grin at him and would repeat the Scottish keeper's moves by repeating the routine himself; the two Rangers teammates, in perhaps one of the most important moments in their lives for their national teams, had decided to get involved in a ridiculous schoolyard antic. It would be a moment that anyone there at Wembley or watching on TV would never forget; a glorious mix of gamesmanship, humour and bravado. Gascoigne's plan would prove to be a success as he would slam the ball into the top right of the goal and give England the equaliser they deserved, but after the antics just there, few would funnily enough ever remember the goal. Once the game got underway again with ten minutes plus added time to follow, England now moved forward to go in for the kill and snatch a late winner in under ninety minutes. Dread was now settling in for the Scots and the strangeness of it all; Scotland's own penalty had been cancelled out by an English penalty that was scored by a man who played his trade in Scotland. Something that just felt so typical for the Tartan Army and an irony not lost on any of them.

Despite England looking very strong in the closing minutes, Scotland weren't now going to sit back as in the eighty-third minute, McCoist would rip through the English backline and try and score a dramatic goal, but his shot went off the left post and out for a goal kick. Two minutes later, Shearer tried to get his second of the game with a volley, but it went way over the crossbar for this time a Scottish goal kick. Both sides were now doing everything they could to try and snatch a late winner to end the game as a grandstand finish as both wanted to end the game in ninety minutes and not to go into extra time or penalties. Yet despite the best efforts of both sides in a heart stopping finale, the fulltime whistle was blown with the sides firmly deadlock and extra-time with golden goal now loomed. The game had been a classic game in all sense of the word and now Venables and Brown would have to gear their players up for more football to be played and the many fans around Wembley wearily awaited for extra time to begin.

Both sides had gotten this far thanks to getting a golden goal in the games they'd had won in the Knockout phrase so they knew how useful golden goal would be, plus neither side wanted to go to penalties. So after Scotland made a swap for Kevin Gallacher to come for John Collins, the game restarted and now the tension could be felt around Wembley more than ever. Golden goal was simple enough for anyone to understand, one shot, you're dead. The sound at Wembley became rather muted as it felt among the fans that someone was die suddenly and nobody knew what to do other than bite fingernails. Slowly both sides started to grow in the second half and then in the ninety-eighth minute, Scotland found themselves moving up the field in which Spencer was up near the box where he saw McCoist racing towards it in the centre and he would roll it over in which Seaman was caught off guard and he was nowhere near McCoist as he slid in to a goal that was frankly gapping for him and the Scots cried out for him to tap it in and win the game...instead as he slid in, he went in with a bit too much force that he saw in his horror the ball bouncing off his foot and almost into the Wembley terraces of Row Z full of stunned Scots.

It would a nightmare moment for Scots that looked set to be their moment, so much so that the referee was almost about to blow his whistle and point to the centre circle to end the game. Instead a shocked and despaired ridden McCoist lay there on his back with his hands over his face and would have to get helped up by Seaman pulling him up, he didn't have any time to think about it as he had to get back into the game as England were now on the front foot to try and snatch the winner though everyone knew that England had been left off the hook big time and had to make sure that they wouldn't get caught out again. England kept pressing and yet the Scots were putting up a good defensive performance to try and frustrate the English from coming at them. Then in the 102nd minute, after much pressing from England, Platt would swing the up towards Sheringham near the corner flag who in turn would thump the ball up towards the penalty box in which a mad scramble would follow in which Goram leapt up to try and knock it forward, but he did not notice to his horror that Shearer waiting in the area and realising his mistake, he ran back towards the box to try and grab it, but all he could see was the ball racing right past him and getting lost amidst the nylon netting. Goal for England!

The Golden Goal had been scored and that meant England were the victors of Euro '96 and their first ever European Championship title. A minor pitch invasion from English fans followed but quickly dealt with, then again who could blame them for such emotions? For the Scots, it was a real painful one, lightning had struck twice losing out in a final in the same location as was thirty years ago and the players all sat there on the field looking shell-shocked as they could only congratulate and watch the English celebrate with each other. The hopes of a revenge result for 1966 had gone and the players felt they had let their fans down as Craig Brown went on the field to try and comfort them. However in a tearjerker moment, with many Scottish tears being shed, the players went up to Wembley half of Scottish supporters to applaud them as a matter of thanks, and the fans all rose as one and gave each and everyone of those players who wore dark blue a standing ovation and long drawn out version of Flower of Scotland that even if you weren't a Scot was still heart breaking to know that after such unfair odds at them (eighty-eight to one odds to win the whole thing) and against what everyone thought they could do, Scotland had done far greater than what anyone else thought was predicted from them.


The look on Scotland fans say it all following England scoring the golden goal
Venables was delighted, after such harsh words from the press at the start of the tournament and him pulling a victory at Euro '96, even if perhaps he had done it the hard way, this victory would no doubt help him keep his job and look forward to taking the team to France for the next World Cup, but being the gentleman as was didn't forget to share his commiserations for Brown and the rest of the Scottish team and wish them all well for the future. In a great gesture of first applauding the Tartan Army for the atmosphere they had shown, he order the English players to perform a guard of honour as the Scots went up the Wembley steps first to collect their runners up medals and applaud them, a nice touch that went down well.

Finally, Tony Adams (who had nearly become the villain of the piece over giving away that penalty) would lead the team up the steps to collect the trophy from the Queen and was greeted by a roar from the English supporters as he rose the famous trophy above his head, though many Scots couldn't bare to watch after how they had lost the game and those who did could only watch with tears running down their faces, more so with the players with a now famous shot of a tearful McCoist, wearing his runner's up medal, looking on with regret and just what might've been had be scored that goal. Once the English players went back on the field to celebrate with their families and share more photos with the press, Paul Gascoigne ran over to hug his upset Rangers teammate.

"Good game, Ally," Gascoigne expressed.

"Aye...aye, well done mate." McCoist replied sadly.

"See in France then," Gascoigne added, hinting at the prospect of them both playing at France '98, and while the Geordie would get the chance to play a part in next World Cup and be proving right on that prediction, this tournament would sadly be the last time that Ally McCoist would play for Scotland at a tournament due to his age and that it was highly unlikely that he would never be able to get to a final with his country ever again. The end of an era, but a new one would be there on the horizon as soon, both teams would make the journey over the English channel in what was the final World Cup of the century and no one knew just what to expect in two years time across the English Channel. For now though, football had most certainly come home.


Well Played, both sets of fans congratulate each other at the end of the game

1996 ALT 3.png

Final results of the knockout stage of Euro '96

And there we are, Euro '96 is done and while it does end with an English victory on home soil like with the old TL, a few changes here in which I decided to let McAllister have a second chance of getting his penalty which is always a nice thing to see, hell I'm stunned that no one has done a 'WI McAllister scored that penalty' as who knows what might have happened then. For now though, next up is that we are off to France for the 1998 WC and after that, we'll get something new that I didn't do in the old TL in which is covering Euro 2000 which I feel many of you will like to know how well that'll end up.

For until then though, catch you all later for the next update! :)

Last edited:
Before Euro 2020, Dad's last big memories of Scotland were France 98. He would have probably cried from this. WE WERE SO FECKIN CLOSE!
I've probably said it before, but I just cannot grasp how much detail, storytelling and writing you put into every single post.
It's almost incomprehensible. Incredible. Keep it up.