NORTHERN IRELAND 0-2 GERMANY 9.9.2019

You could say that Northern Ireland’s qualifying campaign for Euro 2020 has been a bit like a video game.

Estonia and Belarus, Level 1, negotiated with maximum points. Now for Level 2, Germany and Holland. It’ll be a bit tougher, but we’ll have four lives to use. If we can get a high enough score, we will progress to Level 3 – Euro 2020.

When you look through the instruction manual, Germany and Holland both have weaknesses – They both came into this campaign on the back of two major failures.

For Holland, it was failing to reach the last two major tournaments, not even reaching the Play-Offs.

Germany’s recent failure is a bit more relative. 2018 was ein annus horribulus for them, with relegation in the UEFA Nations League coming on the back of elimination at the Group Stage at the World Cup in Russia.

A lot of countries can only dream of being that rubbish.

If 2018 was ein annus horribilus for Germany, the early games of 2019 were ein annus bouncenbachken, with three wins out of three going into the September games, including an 8-0 win over Estonia.

That winning run came to an end on the Friday before that with a 4-2 home defeat by Holland, a result that generated as many groans in Belfast as it did in Berlin.

The theory being, with Germany already winning in Holland, it would be better for them to win this game. At worst, it would essentially set up a two legged Play-Off between Northern Ireland and Holland for the other qualifying place.

Northern Ireland prepared for this game with a dull friendly win over Luxembourg. It wasn’t ideal to have a match before this game, but UEFA rules stated they had to play a friendly when they weren’t in group action.

You’ve heard the phrase “Fixture fulfilment” in relation to end of season League matches, Northern Ireland’s match against Luxembourg literally was that. I gave it a miss, though I did enter competitions for a free ticket though.

I can’t help it, I like free things, but I don’t want to join the DUP in order to get them.

Within ten seconds of the kick-off, Germany already had Northern Ireland stretched, a long punt from kick-off causing some concern for Northern Ireland’s defence.

They managed to see it out, managing a better start than they managed the last time Germany visited Windsor Park, and found themselves 1-0 up just over a minute into the game.

In fact, it was Northern Ireland who had the first chance of the game with six minutes on the clock, when a stray German pass played Conor Washington through on goal.

A poor first touch allowed Manuel Neuer to get out and make himself big and block the shot. He should have scored. On an evening when clear opportunities could be rare, you have to take them.

If Northern Ireland had went 1-0 up early on, who knows how the rest of the evening would go.

It was clear early on that Germany’s players were unsettled by the atmosphere, and the fact that Northern Ireland players were first to every loose ball.

It looked the sort of night that could have been perfect for Paul Smyth to come on as an impact sub late on if the game was in the balance, but frustratingly, he was missing through injury.

Germany’s first attacking moment of note saw Craig Cathcart slice over his own crossbar after Jonny Evans lost possession. For a brief moment, there was a worry it was going in. Northern Ireland were able to easily clear the German corner.

Who got to the ball first? Craig Cathcart.

Germany’s next moment of frustration saw a long range shot blocked by George Saville full on right in the face. Ouch.

Right at the end of the half, it looked like Northern Ireland were going to have the lead when Neuer parried a cross to Washington, who couldn’t get his feet into position to put it into the empty net, before a combination of defender and keeper cleared the danger for Germany.

Immediately on the counter, Timo Werner was denied by a point blank save from Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Even though Northern Ireland were holding their own, and could justify their claim to be at least level at half-time, Peacock-Farrell was still having work to do.

Not as much work as Michael McGovern had to do when the sides met at Euro 2016 though.

Unfortunately, it all unravelled within two minutes at the start of the second-half, when Marcel Hastenberg spectacularly fired home to put Germany 1-0 up, undoing all of Northern Ireland’s good work in the first-half.

The goal deflated Northern Ireland, both on the pitch and in the stands.

Michael O’Neill responded by bringing on Gavin Whyte for Niall McGinn. It almost brought it’s reward when he got past a couple of defenders to cross for fellow Crusaders old boy Stuart Dallas, who fired agonisingly wide.

He probably should have passed it to Gary McCutcheon or Timmy Adamson instead.

Michael O’Neill made two further subs as his side looked for an equaliser, bringing on Josh Magennis and Shayne Lavery.

It’s not often that Northern Ireland can bring on one of the top 20 goalscorers in that season’s UEFA Cup from the bench.

The biggest thing that gave Northern Ireland fans hope as the game entered the final minutes was that they had scored late in their previous four games to either clinch or win the game.

Unfortunately, the late goal came for Germany, when Serge Gnabry squeezed home from a tight angle.

Within seconds, the game was over officially, having been over theoretically.

Northern Ireland pushed Germany all the way to the very end, but it’s points they need, not plaudits.

By getting points on the board early on, it meant Northern Ireland set down a challenge to Holland.

Holland responded with a win in Estonia, with Estonia unable to repeat their 2-2 draw against Holland in a World Cup Qualifier in 2013.

Now we are pinning our hopes on Belarus repeating their 1-0 home win over Holland in a European Championship Qualifier in 1995.

Of course, we can help ourselves in the double header against Holland in October and November.

Normally, finishing 3rd would be good enough for a Play-Off, but that is not guaranteed due to the UEFA Nations League.

I have a horrible feeling we are going to be royally screwed over by this nonsense. Yet, there are idiots in our support who told us it would help us qualify.

In order to avoid this, we need lots of countries in Pot 1 and Pot 2 to qualify automatically. That is happening in most groups, thankfully.

This might not be the only time I see Germany play in Euro 2020. I’ve booked a few days in Bray to base myself for the Last 16 match at Lansdowne Road. That will be the winner of the group based in England and Scotland v the runner-up of the group in Germany and Hungary.

The night before that is the Green Day/Weezer/Fall Out Boy concert at the RDS, so could be a double header if you’re that way inclined. Might charge a Green Day fan to sleep on my hotel room floor.

When i’m there, I plan on walking up Bray Head on the Tuesday before going to the football. All I need is a ticket for the football.

I’ve booked a few days break in November for Vilnius in Lithuania. I was looking for a (early) Monday to (late) Wednesday getaway or a (early) Wednesday to (late) Friday trip. There were no routes from Belfast that offered these times.

I narrowed it down to Vilnius or Waterford, but for £160, Vilnius was too good to turn down. Don’t worry Waterford, i’ll still have you in my mind to visit you again.

I was hoping to go in October and take in the Euro 2020 Qualifier between Lithuania and Serbia. Unfortunately, the dates of the flights didn’t suit.

I don’t think there’ll be any football on while i’m there, but you don’t need football to enjoy somewhere though it does help.

The options from Belfast are now reduced with Ryanair and Aer Lingus pulling some flights. What’s the point in shiny blue passports if there is nowhere to go?

Funnily enough, I was looking at Malaga as a short visit/football trip.

It is worth pointing out that Brexit won’t restrict our travel opportunities, mainly because there’s fuck all options out there anyway from Belfast.

At least the bridge from Northern Ireland to Balamory will be handy for the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers Cup if Linfield decide to play in it again.

Linfield could have been playing Raith Rovers, could have had a short stay in Edinburgh for that and walked up Arthur’s Seat.

And finally, Linfield’s away match against Institute has been moved to a 1pm kick-off. Not too unhappy with that, means there’ll be less of a rush to get back for Northern Ireland v Holland that night.

Before then, is the away game against Holland in Rotterdam, where due to it’s close proximity to Amsterdam, Northern Ireland will have a decent sized support.

The match could be in Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome. When we go to Rotterdam, we’ll need to bring three points home.

Photo Album

Advertisements

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 29.9.1973

England, Scotland and Wales form part of a collage for the cover of this week’s edition of Shoot, ahead of a big week of international football. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are in World Cup Qualifying action, while England face Austria in a friendly.

In news, Arsenal have used their matchday programme to defend the sale of Frank McLintock by stating that he wouldn’t be getting many first team games in the future.

After making a return to Manchester United’s team, Shoot have announced that George Best will be making a return to Shoot as a columnist.

Bobby Moore uses his column to state that England’s upcoming friendly is excellent preparation for the key World Cup Qualifier against Poland.

Shoot suggests that a defeat to Austria might be good for England as they lost a friendly to Austria in 1965 while preparing for the 1966 World Cup, which they won.

England are looking for a favour from Wales as they visit Poland, and Wales manager Dave Bowen promises that his team are going for the win.

Wlodi Lubanski of Poland is interviewed, stating that a win is far from guaranteed for Poland.

Kevin Keegan uses his column to state that the difference between players in England’s First and Fourth Divisions is Skill.

Ally Hunter of Scotland tells Shoot that the fans at Hampden must back the team all the way during their World Cup Qualifier against Czechoslovakia.

Pat Jennings tells Shoot about how Northern Ireland’s fanatical fans at Windsor Park give the side a 1-0 headstart. Unfortuntely, due to The Troubles, Northern Ireland are playing home matches in England, the upcoming World Cup Qualifier against Bulgaria will be at Hillsbrough.

The magazine ends with a poster collage of European stars from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Austria who will be facing UK teams this week.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 31.7.1982

The cover image is of Dino Zoff lifting aloft the World Cup trophy, as Shoot reviews the 1982 World Cup, won by Italy.

As you open the magazine, there is a single page report of the final, with a statistical analysis of the tournament beside it.

There is then a double page profile of the three UK teams at the tournament – England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Shoot then does a more indepth report on the tournament, saying that overall it wasn’t good, but the performances of teams such as Algeria, Cameroon and Honduras meant that expanding it to 24 teams was a success.

Bryan Robson writes in his column that Brazil were the team of the tournament, England would have won it if they had Zico, and that the biggest disappointment was Diego Maradona.

Ron Greenwood is interviewed, saying it had been a great five years as England manager, and that he won’t use his role as an Advisor with the FA to interfere with new manager Bobby Robson.

Phil Thompson uses his column to state he was proud of England’s performances, and that if England weren’t to win it, he would have loved Brazil to do so.

Danny McGrain uses his column to express his pride at Scotland winning the youth version of the European Championship, as well as the emergence of players such as Ally McCoist, David Moyes, Neale Cooper and Scott McGarvey.

Malcolm Allison believes that he should have been appointed England manager, and told Shoot that. Shoot also profiled his current club, Portugese champions Sporting Lisbon.

Ray Wilkins provides a full page World Cup diary for Shoot. He had a shopping trip to Madrid ruined by the weather.

Shoot does a story on Kenny Dalglish, whose international career looks over at the age of 31 after being dropped during the World Cup by Jock Stein.

It wasn’t all about the World Cup. In domestic football, Eddie Gray has been appointed manager of Leeds United, which he describes as a mammoth task.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

I had to wait a while for March’s football watching, but it wasn’t really worth the wait as Linfield slumped to a League defeat at Glenavon then lost the County Antrim Shield Final to Crusaders.

Thankfully, the month got a bit better when Linfield defeated Institute 2-0 at Windsor Park.

The month ended with a flurry of games, three in four days, with Linfield’s trip to Dungannon Swifts being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s opening two Euro 2020 Qualifiers, both at home, against Estonia and Belarus.

Glenavon v Linfield

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Northern Ireland v Estonia

Northern Ireland v Estonia Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November 2018’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

It didn’t get much better the following Saturday, as I headed back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The weekend after, was a double header, the first of which was a first trip to The Brandywell, to see Linfield take on Institute. The next day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

The following weekend, it was yet another trip to Windsor Park, but finally a home win, as an Andrew Waterworth hat-trick saw off Cliftonville.

My football watching for the month ended with a midweek trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on BSC Young Boys in the European Cup, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

I didn’t have to wait long for some football action in September, with Linfield taking on Ards on the first day of the month. I would have to wait a while for a first goal of the month, as that match finished 0-0.

The goals flew in during my next match, as Linfield beat Warrenpoint 5-0, before taking in Northern Ireland’s first ever UEFA Nations League match, a 2-1 home defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The month ended taking in three further Linfield matches, home wins against Dungannon Swifts and Ballymena United, as well as a draw at Coleraine.

Linfield v Ards

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-1 BELARUS 24.3.2019

If Estonia’s last visit to Windsor Park was one of Northern Ireland’s lowest points in recent years, Belarus only previous visit to South Belfast was one of the highest points.

It was a gloriously warm Friday night in late May 2016. We didn’t know if the heat was because of the sunshine or because of Will Grigg. We were seeing the team off in their last home game before heading to the European Championship in France, we were on an unbeaten run, we were going to win it.

If you hadn’t seen such riches, you could live with being poor.

We loved the experience of going to a major tournament, and all the little spin-offs such as sticker books, send-off home matches and newspaper pull-outs, we want to do it all again in Euro 2020.

It will be tough though, with Northern Ireland in Pot 3 behind two former European Champions and two heavyweights. However, Germany and Holland are two heavyweights trying to rebuild their reputation after humiliating failures in recent years.

However, 3rd place may not be enough for Northern Ireland to secure a Play-Off place thanks to the farce that is the Nations League.

If the group goes to form based on the seedings, Northern Ireland finish 3rd and Belarus 5th, Northern Ireland won’t be guaranteed a Play-Off whole Belarus will be on the basis of winning their group in League D.

There were idiots in our support who kept saying the UEFA Nations League was a great opportunity to help Northern Ireland qualify. How? It is nothing more than a reward for mediocrity.

There will be a 3rd place team who misses out to a team who finishes 5th or 6th in their group. This will blow up in a big way in November.

Northern Ireland would be guaranteed a Play-Off if Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria qualify automatically. Bosnia-Herzegovina blew a 2-0 lead at home to one of their main rivals, while Austria have lost their opening two games in the weakest group. Useless showers.

Northern Ireland can only help themselves, and they found themselves camped in the Belarus half in the opening minutes of the game, but the best they could offer was a Paddy McNair shot saved by the keeper.

Kyle Lafferty had a shot turned around for a corner, a corner which brought Northern Ireland their opening goal when Jonny Evans found himself free in the box to head home from close range.

Pointless stat, but it was Northern Ireland’s first goal in the first-half of a competitive game since Chris Brunt scored against Czech Republic in 2017, nine games ago.

All the clichés about not giving Belarus something to defend and the floodgates opening for Northern Ireland were soon wiped out within a couple of minutes when a shot from Ihar Stasevich was deflected and looped up and over Bailey Peacock-Farrell. It was like a recreation of Andreas Brehme’s goal against England at the 1990 World Cup.

I was behind the goal it was scored in, and you knew what was going to happen as soon as the ball looped up. Windsor Park fell silent, apart from a small pocket of Belarus fans in the corner of North Stand and Railway Stand.

This was a game that Northern Ireland had to win, and the best way of making that happen looked like it was going to come down the left hand side with the duo of Jamal Lewis and Jordan Jones, where most of Northern Ireland’s play was going to.

Jones looked like he was going to set up a second for Northern Ireland but his cross went agonisingly across the box but nobody was able to get on the end of it.

Paddy McNair had a shot blocked as Northern Ireland’s pressure continued in search of a second goal that would not come.

As each minute passed, it became inevitable that Northern Ireland would turn to their bench.

First up, was Josh Magennis for Niall McGinn, then it was Liam Boyce for Kyle Lafferty.

You might say i’m being biased, but I was hoping that the third sub would be Paul Smyth.

It wasn’t, as Shane Ferguson came on for Jordan Jones. It was a sub that made sense though, as Jones was getting into good position out the left but the final ball was missing. If Ferguson could get into the same position, his left foot could provide a final ball that could be productive for Northern Ireland.

A small section of supporters in the quadrant between The Kop and North Stand began singing “Kop Stand Kop Stand, sing us a song”, to which The Kop responded “Who are ya? Who are ya?

Good point actually, who are they? Are they Kop? Are they North Stand? What stand are they in?

It looked like the winner was never going to come.

With just minutes remaining, the ball fell to Josh Magennis. It was set up for him to shoot but he couldn’t get a clear strike on goal.

He ended up passing it, and within seconds, was on the end of a cross, finding that elusive space to turn the ball home. Windsor Park erupted in celebration.

He doesn’t score many, but when he does, it’s vital. That second goal against Greece, breaking the deadlock on a frustrating night in San Marino.

Even his consolation goal against Germany felt important at the time.

The common consensus, would that this would be enough for Northern Ireland, but it almost wasn’t.

With less than a minute of injury time remaining, Bailey Peacock-Farrell had to save at the feet of a Belarus striker who looked set to score from a few yards out.

Northern Ireland held on and got the win, making it two wins out of two.

They were two games they were expected to win, but they still had to go out there and get the win.

Elsewhere in the group, Germany beat Holland 3-2.

It’s hard what to want when Germany meet Holland. Logically, a draw wouldn’t be bad, but it might not be a bad thing if Germany win both games.

That means that if Northern Ireland win away to Belarus and Estonia, and even if they lose home and away to Germany, they will effectively be in a Play-Off with Holland.

Given the choice, you’d rather be in that situation with Holland than Germany.

Even though Holland and Germany are both trying to rebuild their reputations after humiliating failures in recent years, it is Holland who have had the greater fall, and failure to reach the last two tournaments will still be on their mind until they get over the line in this one.

Due to their involvement in the UEFA Nations League, Holland won’t be playing any qualifiers in June while Northern Ireland play twice. This makes them even more of a must-win set of games than they already are.

If we do, we’ll have a nine point advantage over the Dutch, and put all the pressure on them come September.

For once, the UEFA Nonsense League will be doing Northern Ireland a favour.

Northern Ireland v Belarus 2016

Photo Album

 

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-0 ESTONIA 21.3.2019

The last time Estonia visited Windsor Park, it was one of Northern Ireland’s lowest points in recent history.

It was October 2011, nearing the end of Nigel Worthington’s second full campaign as manager, both of which saw group favourites (Czech Republic/Poland in 2010, and Serbia in 2012) fail to qualify and minnows take advantage of it, but we weren’t the minnows taking advantage.

If Slovenia can reach a World Cup, why can’t we? If Estonia can reach a European Championship Play-Off, why can’t we?

It was grim, we couldn’t win a game, it felt like we would never win another game, and nobody wanted to play for us.

Unsurprisingly, Nigel Worthington’s time as manager was up, a new man was needed to take us forward.

That man, was Michael O’Neill, but it wasn’t instant. A poor qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup saw Northern Ireland be in Pot five for the expanded Euro 2016.

Suddenly, it all clicked, Northern Ireland won their group and went to France. They almost went to Russia. Now, they were wanting to head to, um, any one of thirteen countries co-hosting Euro 2020, for their second successive European Championship.

It would be tough though, as Northern Ireland, now in Pot three for Euro 2020, found themselves in a group with Germany and Holland.

Oh well, but even if we finish third, we’ll have a shot at the Play-Offs.

Well, no, that’s not guaranteed, thanks to the sham that is the UEFA Nations League.

Northern Ireland’s first foray into that competition wasn’t exactly glorious, losing all four games and being relegated. Quite how, I don’t know, Northern Ireland had enough chances to win all four games.

That frustration was worse when you saw Austria’s group – Poland, Latvia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Israel. If Northern Ireland had that group, we’d be very confident of qualifying automatically from that.

Northern Ireland had a chance with just over a minute on the clock, with Niall McGinn dragging a shot just wide, failing to emulate Ivan Sproule scoring an early goal against Estonia at Windsor Park.

Paddy McNair then had Northern Ireland’s first really chance of note when he headed over from close range when he really should have scored. Craig Cathcart had a header easily saved before Jordan Jones dragged a shot just wide, as Northern Ireland went in search of the opening goal they so desperately needed.

If Northern Ireland could get it, they could charge on and win this game comfortably. If Estonia got it, it could be a long night against a team set up to defend, now with something to defend.

The most curious thing about Estonia’s play in the first-half, was their goalkeeper always kicking out wide from goal kicks, usually conceding throws or possession.

All that Estonia could offer as an attacking force in the first-half was a couple of corners that were easily cleared.

If the first-half was a false start, the second literally was as Estonia had to kick off three times before they got it right. That third time was to ironic cheers. Hopefully, Northern Ireland fans would be cheering at some point for real as Estonia are kicking off, this time after a goal.

Northern Ireland began the second-half a lot quicker, outing more pressure on Estonia’s goal. That pressure was rewarded on 55 minutes when an attacking move which saw Northern Ireland seem to always have one more player and were a pass ahead get rewarded when Niall McGinn finish into The Kop.

Despite being 1-0 up, Northern Ireland still needed a second goal just to be sure.

They got a reminder of that when Estonia got in behind Northern Ireland’s defence, only for Bailey Peacock-Farrell to make himself big and deny Henri Anier.

Any nerves that may have been in Windsor Park were soon gone when Goerge Savile won possession (I originally though it was going to get pulled back for a high foot by him) before launching an attack which resulted in him being fouled for a penalty.

Steven Davis made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-0, and secure the Northern Ireland the points.

They could have secured them by a bigger margin, but Josh Magennis, now on as a substitute, enduring a frustrating evening, hitting everything except the back of the net, but he never hid when he got the ball next time. Thankfully, the misses weren’t costly.

With a Play-Off spot being determined by UEFA Nations League placings, 3rd place won’t be enough for Northern Ireland. It would only be enough if Austria and Bosnia qualify automatically.

Austria lost their opening game, but no need to panic, it was against the team who is Pot one in their group, while Bosnia won.

Northern Ireland can only help themselves, they simply had to get twelve points on the board before facing Holland and Germany. They have three of them.

On to Belarus, arriving at Windsor Park three days later.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 14.9.1985

England’s new star striker Gary Lineker shares cover space with Ian Rush, ahead of a vital week of World Cup Qualifiers, with Rush stating that Wales will destroy Scotland.

Rush gets a double page spread, saying that Wales will win and set up a Play-Off against a team from Oceania, due to Scotland missing the suspended Graeme Souness.

Unsurprisingly, Scotland think they will get the win, according to Shoot columnist Willie Miller.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw, a result which sent Scotland into a Play-Off against Australia, which they won 2-0 on aggregate to reach the World Cup in Mexico.

The game will be remembered for the death of Scotland manager Jock Stein, who collapsed on the touchline moments before the final whistle.

Sammy McIlroy gets interviewed about Northern Ireland’s game in Turkey, expecting Turkey to provide difficult opponents despite losing 8-0 to England earlier in the group.

Kevin Sheedy gets interviewed about Republic Of Ireland’s chances of reaching the World Cup, stating that they can do it. Sheedy had yet to win an away game in his international career, and would need to start doing so, with trips to Switzerland and Soviet Union coming up.

England’s game against Romania is previewed, with manager Bobby Robson singing the praises of Gary Lineker, who had only made his international debut earlier that year.

Bryan Robson uses his column to focus on players who are aiming to head to Mexico next summer, such as Adrian Heath, Paul Walsh, Peter Davenport, Steve Williams and Remi Moses.

Celtic’s new star Alan McInally gets a double page spread, while Rangers also get a double page spread. Well, Queens Park Rangers.

Justin Fashanu also gets a profile as he hopes to get Brighton promoted from the Second Division.

Charlie Nicholas uses his column to express his fears after Scotland manager Jock Stein considers picking only domestic based players after having problems getting access to English based players.

One Scottish striker not worried about not getting picked is Kenny Dalglish, also player-manager at Liverpool, telling Shoot he’ll have no hesitation in dropping himself.

Meanwhile, there is disharmony with the West Germany squad, due to a row breaking out between Berndt Schuster and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Schuster was currently in international exile due to a disagreement with manager Franz Beckenbauer.

A dispute with broadcasters means that no club games in England are televised, so Shoot does double page photos of some of the best action.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 20.5.1978

Frank Worthington is one of the cover stars, as Shoot looks forward to the British Championship, while looking back at he 1977-1978 season.

Shoot did a double page spread previewing all six games in the British Championship, accompanied by facts and figures of all the teams.

England, who didn’t qualify for that year’s World Cup, took the title, winning all three of their games.

In adverts, there was a full page advert for the following week’s edition, which had a free World Cup wallchart.

Ray Clemence uses his column to state that England are desperate to beat Wales, having suffered their first ever Wembley defeat to them in 1977.

England beat Wales 3-1 at Ninian Park in their opening game of the competition.

In news, a thousand fans signed a petition to the IFA for the lifetime bans from international football imposed on Bobby Campbell and Bertie McMinn, for an off-field incident at an underage tournament in 1975.

Bobby Campbell was a non appearing squad member at the 1982 World Cup, so obviously, the petition was successful.

17 year old Craig Johnston has broke into the Middlesbrough team, after borrowing £632 from his dad in order to get to England.

Coventry City are in danger of being known as “The Curly Kids”, with seven players all having perms.

Elton John got a full page feature. Yes, the nephew of 1959 FA Cup Final goalscorer Roy Dwight. In 1979, he was the chairman of Watford, just promoted from Division 4. As ever, he wanted a Number 1 – Watford to be in Division 1.

He was full of praise for the management team of Graham Taylor and Bertie Mee, and stated he was nervous watching games, even more than when he is on stage.

Elton had big plans for Watford, wanting to build a 30-40,000 capacity stadium, and a pitch with synthetic turf.

Elton was looking to other clubs for inspiration “I would like us to achieve the professionalism of Liverpool, the facilities of Aston Villa, and the organisation of Coventry”

There is a further double page spread on the Home Internationals, with a player from each side giving their thoughts ahead of the games.

Andy Gray uses his column to express his disappointment at only being a stand-by player for the World Cup, but he was hoping to make up for it by helping Scotland to a third successive Home Nations title.

Shoot does a double page spread on Birmingham’s two clubs, with new City manager Jim Smith hoping to wake up what he describes as “A sleeping giant”, while Ron Saunders blames injuries for Aston Villa’s failure to build on their 4th place finish and League Cup win in 1977.

There is a poster of John Greig’s Testimonial, where Rangers beat a Scotland XI 5-0.

Trevor Francis poses in an NFL uniform, as he is about to head off on a short-term loan to Detroit Express during the pre-season.

Little did he know it then, Francis would make English football history less than a year later with his next move.

In world news, Sepp Maier has signed an Amnesty International petition for the release of political prisoners in Argentina. Talking of Argentina, Alberto Tarantini is being paid by his country’s FA as he is without a club. That year, he signed for Birmingham City. Spain defender Jose Camacho was ruled out of the World cup through injury, while priests in West Germany have been sent a schedule of World Cup games, in order to avoid clashing services with matches.

Daniel Passarella gets a double page interview ahead of the World Cup. When asked about Peru, he said he wasn’t impressed with them. That didn’t come back to bite them, as Argentina beat Peru 6-0 in the 2nd Round group stage.

In adverts, you could get four World Cup posters (of the four groups) in Wimpy. All you had to do was buy a burger and milkshake.

Martin Peters gets a profile, where he states his favourite band is Bread, and he would most like to meet Miss Piggy.

Shoot dedicates a page to a new trend in football – perms, with a photo collage of footballers who have perms. Meanwhile, John Greig says fans have been telling that Rangers should replace Scotland in the World Cup, after they beat a Scotland XI 5-0 in his Testimonial.

Gordon Hill uses his column to state that, following his departure from Manchester United, if he didn’t rejoin his former United boss Tommy Docherty at Derby County, he would have gone to America to play.

To finish, getting people in the mood for the World Cup, is a double page spread on the club form of Scotland’s squad, as the tournament in Argentina approaches.