In­vent­ing A Whole New Ball Game

As the cur­rent na­tional side strug­gles, the past is lit­tered with Scots foot­balling pi­o­neers who took the beau­ti­ful game to the rest of the world

The Scots Magazine - - Roots And Branches - By KENNY MA­CASKILL

ARTHUR Her­man’s book How The Scots In­vented The Mod­ern World could equally have had a foot­ball se­quel en­ti­tled How The Scots In­vented The Mod­ern Game.

For though both the big club teams and the na­tional side have been shorn of suc­cess in re­cent years, there’s not just a rich his­tory, but a story to be told of Scots tak­ing the na­tional game to all cor­ners of the globe.

That was brought home to me when my own club Hiber­nian re­cently sold their star player to big English team As­ton Villa. John Mcginn’s a name I’m sure you’ll hear more of as he’s likely to be a main­stay in the na­tional team for years to come.

He fol­lows in a long line of Scots stars that have headed not just south but abroad. They do this now, though, for far greater earn­ings and too much greater glam­our, given the world­wide me­dia ex­po­sure the beau­ti­ful game com­mands.

In many ways it’s apt that Mcginn should have signed for As­ton Villa, not just as other star play­ers from Hibs have gone there over the years – in­clud­ing one of my boy­hood heroes Alex Cro­p­ley – but the Birm­ing­ham club has Scot­tish roots dis­played in the Ram­pant Lion crest that adorns their strip.

George Ram­say, from Glas­gow, and Wil­liam Mcgregor, from Perthshire, are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked not just with the club but the lat­ter also with the for­ma­tion of the Foot­ball League it­self in Eng­land.

Soon, other Scots were to fol­low as greater wealth and op­por­tu­nity beck­oned even if it was still an age when pro­fes­sional foot­ballers re­tired to run a pub or cor­ner shop, and not on the mil­lions that can now be made.

How­ever, there was one ex-foot­baller who ended up own­ing not just one cor­ner shop but an en­tire chain.

RS Mc­coll – who seems to have sup­plied news­pa­pers to ev­ery adult and sweet­ies to ev­ery child in Scot­land – is also in the Scot­tish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s Ham­p­den Hall of Fame.

Robert Smyth Mc­coll played for Queens Park and St John­stone be­fore sign­ing for the English gi­ants New­cas­tle United over a cen­tury ago. Play­ing 13 times for the na­tional team he scored 13 goals, a strike rate that any cur­rent Scot­tish in­ter­na­tion­al­ist can only dream of.

The 1910 As­ton Villa side

The Sao Paulo state team starred Archie Mclean (front row, sec­ond from right)

George Ram­say

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