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17 October 2014

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Football

Wembley Wizards 1928

Scotland captain, Jimmy McMullan

© SCRAN

For those Scots of a certain generation there is a list of names which is indelibly marked on the memory and which can be rattled off automatically. These names belong to 11 men who, on a wet spring afternoon in London, pulled off one of the country's greatest ever sporting results, the Wembley Wizards of 1928.

As the Home Championships of the 1927-28 season got under way, the omens for such a momentous result were not good, as Scotland slumped to a 1-0 reverse to Northern Ireland in Glasgow and could only manage a 2-2 draw with Wales in Wrexham. With only one point on the board, and an away trip to an England team which had won at Hampden the year before left, it looked likely that the Scots would finish bottom of the table.

The announcement of the team to face England gave rise to great consternation among the large crowd which had gathered at the SFA headquarters to hear the 11 names read out.

Not only were many of the mainstays of the national team of that time – Davie Meiklejohn, Jimmy McGrory, Bob McPhail and Willie McStay – left out of the line-up, but eight of the players were Anglos! Of the eight, one, Tom “Tiny” Bradshaw, would be making his debut and marking lethal English striker, Dixie Dean.

The controversy deepened when it was discovered that McGrory had been passed over in favour of Hughie Gallacher – not an uncommon occurrence with two such gifted players – but in the knowledge that Gallacher had not played for two months it seemed a criminal decision.

Alec Jackson, the tallest Scottish forward

© EMPICS

The Press were no less unimpressed with the line-up. The Daily Record was seen to announce: "It's not a great side." Hardly a ringing endorsement for the team!

The general opinion on both sides of the border was that England would run out comfortable winners against a Scottish team who were considered not only less talented, but also physically no match for the English, with the tallest of the Scottish forward five being Alex Jackson at 5 feet 7 inches!

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