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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 18:29 GMT

A history of fierce football rivalry

Scotland were sunk by Gazza at Euro 96

Scotland versus England matches have represented all that is good and all that is bad about football since the fixture began in 1872.

BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson reports on past clashes
Hampden Park and Wembley have played host to scintillating battles between the two nations, involving some of the world's greatest players at the height of their careers.

But a bitter rivalry and a thinly-veiled feeling bordering on hatred has often led to scenes which ultimately saw the annual fixture abandoned in 1989.

[ image: Scotland fans revelled in their trips to Wembley]
Scotland fans revelled in their trips to Wembley
The game was blighted by crowd trouble long before the advent of the "soccer hooligan". Scottish fans travelled en masse to London and earned a reputation for their fondness for alcohol.

Inevitably, in the days when drinking at football matches was as common as a half-time pie and Bovril, emotions ran high and often spilled over onto the streets.

Overexuberant fans

In the 1970s, supporters' over-exuberance reached a new level, though football authorities took a much more relaxed view of such activities than in recent times, accepting that a match steeped in centuries of history would be played out in an atmosphere somewhat short of being friendly.

The most remarkable scenes were those at Wembley in 1977. A 2-1 victory for Scotland was reason enough for thousands of Scots fans to invade the pitch following the final whistle.

[ image: The game always sees players give their all]
The game always sees players give their all
Helpless Metropolitan police watched as the jubilant Scots' celebrations brought the goalposts crashing to the ground in the ensuing mayhem.

Though such actions were not violent in nature, they marked the beginning of a period in which many supporters' behaviour became increasingly moronic, with every fixture bringing fresh fears of running battles between both sets of fans.

A ban on alcohol in football grounds did little to quell the violence and, in 1989, despite a great deal of protest, the countries' football authorities decided to discontinue the annual fixture.

Memorable matches

Throughout the 1990s, various attempts were made to resurrect the match but it was 1996 before the countries met again, in the group stages of Euro '96.

Battle of Britain
The Wembley encounter ended with a 2-0 win for England, with Scotland captain Gary McAllister having a penalty saved.

The game will be best remembered for Paul Gascoigne's superb solo goal as he lobbed the ball over Colin Hendry and volleyed past Andy Goram.

Such moments have littered Scotland-England matches over the past century, providing fonder memories than those evoked by battling fans.

[ image: Craig Brown will lead out the Scotland side]
Craig Brown will lead out the Scotland side
In 1967, a Scotland team boasting the talents of Denis Law and Jim Baxter, beat England's World Cup winners 3-2 at Wembley, allowing the Scottish media to hail the team as the best in the world for a day.

Resounding English victories in 1955 and 1961, 7-2 and 9-3 respectively, brought Scottish goalkeepers an unwanted reputation as second-rate, a tag which has been difficult to shake off.

But the Scots got their revenge in 1976 when a Kenny Dalglish shot squirmed between the legs of England goalkeeper Ray Clemence as Scotland sealed a 2-1 win.

Whether one remembers these matches for the passion that they ignite, the football they produce, or the bitter rivalries they prolong, they are always games which provoke debate.

Since both nations qualified for the European Championship play-offs, the public and the media have been consumed by speculation that the two would be drawn together.

Interest in the fixture is as high as ever, and the roar of anticipation which will have gone up in workplaces around Scotland and England bears testament to that.

Safety and crowd control at football matches is now far stricter than in previous years and it is to be hoped the coming matches will be played out in an atmosphere where the action is on the pitch.

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Scotland squad guide

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Great border skirmishes

Generals in the firing line

A history of fierce football rivalry

Fans in court over football trouble

Scotland v England

Lambert out of play-offs

Hendry's double jeopardy

Brown cautious over Hendry injury

The limitations of passion-play

England claim the prize

All quiet after Wembley showdown

Timeline: England v Scotland II

Hooligans face up to smart cameras

Cheers and tears for Scotland