The Top Ten reasons we love the Scots and their football (not counting our last meeting)
10: Glasgow Celtic
The Scottish giants are forever linked with Ireland, from their foundation, through to ex-players and managers. For thousands of Irish football fans, Celtic is their club, and for thousands more, the Bhoys are their second team.
9: Hibernian FC
The other Irish club in Scotland, in fact, was founded prior to Celtic in 1875 by Irish immigrants in Edinburgh and the ties to that heritage can be seen in the club name, colours, and crest. In 2013, Dubliner Pat Fenlon guided Hibs to a Scottish Cup final against Celtic in which the Glasgow side ran out 3-0 winners.
8: Gary MacKay
His winner for Scotland against Bulgaria in Sofia saw Ireland finish top of their qualifying group to reach Euro 88, our first ever finals which kickstarted a revolution under Jack Charlton
7: Ray Houghton
At the tournament itself, in our opening game, a Glasgow-born son of a Donegalman scored the first of possibly the two most important goals in Irish footballing history, a header to beat England in Stuttgart. Six year later Houghton became a hero again netting the spectacular winner against Italy at Giants Stadium, New Jersey.
The Old-Firm, Hearts vs Hibs, Dundee vs Dundee United, no one quite does intensity and noise like Scottish football.
5: The Tartan Army and the national anthem
Like their Green equivalent, the Scottish supporters are renowned for their good nature, big numbers, singing, and ability to enjoy themselves.
When he was appointed Scotland manager, Gordon Strachan stated: “The fans are probably more famous than the team right now. The Irish have stepped in for us but hopefully the Scottish and Irish can get together at a major tournament. It would make one hell of a party”
Long before Neymar and Brazil were singing ‘a capella’, the Scots were perfecting the spine-tingling practice
4: Moments like this
Georgie Samaras paraded young Irish Celtic fan Jay Beatty from Armagh around the pitch after clinching the title in 2013. Last summer the player organised for Jay to travel to the World Cup in Brazil to see Greece’s game against Costa Rica.
3: Gordon Strachan
A wonderful player, the diminutive Edinburgh-native starred for Manchester United and Leeds United among others and was still lining out as sometime player-manager of Coventry City for whom he signed Robbie Keane. His post-match interviews and punditry work have given football fans some legendary quotes.
Reporter: “Gordon, can we have a quick word please?”
Reporter: “So, Gordon, in what areas do you think Middlesbrough were better than you today?”
Strachan: “What areas? Mainly that big green one out there.”
Reporter: “Gordon, if you were English, what formation would you play?”
Strachan: “If I was English I’d kill myself.”
2: Bill Shankly, Matt Busby, Jock Stein, Alex Ferguson
What is it about iconic Scottish coaches? The country has given football some of the greatest managers of all time.
And the number one reason we love the Scots and their football
1: Celtic cousins
Who didn’t smile when Glenroe’s Kevin stopped to embrace Braveheart William Wallace’s Irish companion Stephen in the middle of the battlefield at Falkirk? Our cultural ties go beyond Hollywood make-believe and perhaps are nowhere stronger than in sport. From legendary rugby internationals, to annual shinty games and our history of exporting footballing talent, the affinity between the two countries remains, as expressed by Pat Nevin in the build-up to last November’s Euro 2016 qualifier.
“I was at the Poland-Scotland game and just at the end of it I’m sitting at the press box and there’s a lot of Scottish journalists around and of course Ireland scored a goal in the last second. The whole press box leapt up and celebrated. But as they celebrated, they came back down and thought ‘Oh dear, should we really be celebrating that?’ But the natural thing is to celebrate it and say ‘well we want them to do well.”
Main image: @ScottishFA