Scottish football celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2023. To highlight the occasion, the Scotland men’s national team will face their English counterparts in a “friendly” (our quotes) on September 12. The match will kick off at 7:45 pm Glasgow time that night in Hampden Park. The fixture against the “auld enemy” (as England is known in some circles) will be part of a year-long calendar of events organized by the Scottish Football Association to highlight the history of the sport. It marks a rematch of what is viewed by most historians as football’s first-ever international fixture.
The Full Scottish by Brian P. Dunleavy
“This fixture is enshrined in world football’s history … and I will be proud to lead our team out at Hampden as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of our national game,” Scotland men’s national team head coach Steve Clarke said in a statement.
Of course, that assumes Clarke will still be in the dugout. Though his side qualified for Euro 2020, as one of the co-hosts, their showing in that tournament left much to be desired. They face a challenging Euro 2024 qualification campaign in a group that includes Spain and Norway (as well as Georgia and Cyprus).
As such, qualification for the tournament itself is by no means assured.
With European football now off the table for Celtic and Rangers, the rest of the Premiership will be more likely to face both clubs’ top players in domestic competitions going forward.
That can’t be good news for some sides—particularly Dundee United (Celtic’s opponent on Saturday), Ross County and Kilmarnock, which have struggled so far this term. For the record, Rangers visit St. Johnstone (currently 8th in the table) on Sunday.
However, even with the obvious gulf in talent and resources between the Glasgow giants and the rest of the top flight, surprises happen, as we were just telling St. Mirren and Livingston the other day.
Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou seems secure in his job, at least for the time being, despite taking “responsibility” for his side’s Champions’ League failings on Wednesday, but the same cannot be said for his Ibrox counterpart, Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
With ’Gers four points behind their bitter rivals, and -13 in goal differential, a slip-up against one of the division’s lesser sides could provide the deciding factor for a club hierarchy anxious to put a shine on things with a potential sale of controlling interest reportedly in the works.
Will said slip-up occur in Perth this weekend? Callum Davidson’s side have pulled off surprise results before, but it seems unlikely. However, a visit to St. Mirren in Paisley just before the break on November 9th might be worth keeping an eye on. Stephen Robinson’s Buddies were the first Scottish side to solve Postecoglou’s Celtic in more than a year, when they beat them in September.
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Photo by Stephen Witchard