With the World Cup just around the corner, I thought I’d choose a football book for this week’s meme combo. My choice is ’78: How a nation lost the World Cup by Graham McColl. This is the story of the train wreck that was Scotland’s campaign at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. I was only twelve at the time, but I still have vivid memories of the events of that summer. Goodreads has the following description:
In the summer of 1978, 30,000 delirious fans paid good money to wave off the Scotland team, fully expecting them to return home from Argentina with the World Cup. The whole country was behind the soon-to-be-crowned champions, but eight days later the team was back, having spectacularly failed.
Now for this week’s excerpts:
Book Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post. If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’
The beginning of ’78:
There did not appear to be a lot in common between Ally MacLeod and Prince Charles during the late 1970’s. MacLeod, the Scotland manager, was a refined rabble-rouser whose infectious enthusiasm led thousands of people to follow in his wake; Charles, the heir to the British throne, had an uncertain, hesitant presence in public.
An interesting beginning to what turns out to be an interesting book. I read it a few years ago, but I may read it again soon.
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
It’s that simple.
From page 56 of ’78:
Scotland’s slack performance had not been received warmly by the crowd at a packed Hampden but Ally remained upbeat in the only way he knew how. ‘I know the supporters want wins and not experiments,’ he said, ‘but if we come back from Argentina with that gold cup, everything will be forgotten.’
Needless to say, that gold cup didn’t come back to Scotland that summer, or any other time for that matter, but it was an interesting period of time, that’s for sure. I still remember the sense of numbness and unbelief following the defeat to Peru and the draw with Iran. The crazy thing is that we could still go forward if we beat Holland by 3 goals in the final group match. With a 3-1 lead at one point, it looked almost possible, especially with Archie Gemmill’s goal in the 68th minute coming with plenty of time left to get the result we needed. However, the Dutch scored another goal three minutes later and the dream slowly died.
I’m looking forward to the World Cup in Brazil in a few weeks time, despite the fact that once more neither of my countries – Scotland and Canada – will be playing there. I think that Spain will be hard to beat again, but there may be a few surprises as the tournament unfolds. It will be a great month of football anyway, regardless of who wins.