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Chick Young's view

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

And so the device continues to tick menacingly on.

Scotland's bomb squad tampered with the explosive situation with glorious success at Hampden against Macedonia - but the big bang still threatens.

The national team are still in the World Cup. Or, if you like, we're not out of it yet.

It's a time bomb all right; one false move and our dreams of South Africa are blown to smithereens. The worry is draining me of sleep and tearing at my levels of concentration.

James McFadden scores against the Netherlands in 2003
James McFadden's goal gave Scotland a 1-0 win over the Dutch in 2003

First came the anger and the if-onlys. If only we had played as we did in the second half of the Macedonia game before now. If only we had included David Weir and James McFadden against Norway in Oslo. If only Craig Gordon hadn't been injured.

And if only the referee hadn't been so incompetent in his handling of the affair that led to the unjust McFadden booking that keeps him out of the Holland match. I say match, but this is more a moment in time.

The whole affair was an exercise in gutless refereeing. Alan Hutton's spectacular bicycle kick clearance saw the ball batter off the face of Ilco Naumoski, who may or may not have felt in as much pain as his antics indicated but who had already shown an energy for playing possum if he tripped over a crisp packet.

In any case, the game raged on to the edge of the Macedonian area, where the German official - Wolfgang Stark - did eventually halt the game. Naumoski, of course, was fine and the action was restarted with a drop ball.

Scott Brown did absolutely the right thing in competing for it. He rattled the ball off the shins of Igor Mitreski to win a corner - and did the clueless German official book the Macedonian players who then threatened the Scottish midfielder?

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Too right he didn't. Instead, he flashes a yellow card at the innocent McFadden in a token gesture of a display of his control.

It was former Alloa boss Terry Christie, I think, who once wrote to every manager in the land telling them, no offence, but his teams would be contesting every drop ball.

And quite right too. This is football, not a church social.

And yet, in a heartbeat, the mood had changed. Brown's swagger, his playground arrogance, his absolute determination not to be bullied swung everything. Scotland metaphorically took off her jacket and invited Macedonia behind the bike sheds.

We were magnificent in the second half. From the goalkeeper outwards, there was not a failure.

If only I could find a car with an engine that purrs like Hutton's, if only I could find the secret of eternal youth like Weir, if only I could have for one night the energy of wee Scotty Brown.

James McFadden is shown a yellow card against Macedonia
McFadden will be missing for Scotland this time through suspension

And if only the Good Lord could have blessed me with the gift of the glorious McFadden.

His are skills that made us love the game. The dancing feet and gallous audacity, the fearless jinking of wee Jimmy Johnstone, the peerless Baxter-esque swagger. Oh Faddy, you are what we are all about.

So what is to become of us now?

We could have been home and dry in second place. Had Kris Boyd been put on instead of Chris Iwelumo against Norway at Hampden: that, in truth, was the one for me where points slipped unnecessarily from our grasp.

We still need a miracle. The time bomb continues to throb. But at least we are still in the ball game.

If Scotland win against the Dutch then Hampden will be so high it will be recorded by UFO spotters.

In 50 years or so of watching football there, this might be the best night of the lot and, believe me, there has been some competition.

Will we do it? Honestly, I don't think so, but let's go out with a bang.

All it's going to cost us is a bomb.



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see also
Scotland 0-1 Netherlands
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Burley is defiant despite defeat
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Snelders points the way for Scots
07 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Pick your Scotland XI
10 Nov 05 |  Internationals


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