Thursday, February 11, 2010

English WAGs helped inspire Scotland to 1990 Grand Slam victory over England

I am sure my fellow resident on these pages, Brian Moore - with whom I have more than once enjoyed banter on the airwaves - will welcome a calibrated alternative view of the events of March 17, 1990, when Scotland beat England to win the Grand Slam at Murrayfield.

Glory day: Chris Gray, David Sole and Finlay Calder celebrate during the 13-7 Grand Slam victory over England at Murrayfield Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Brian believes – understandably given the way the sky fell on England that afternoon – that almost supernatural forces propelled Tony Stanger across the line for the Scots' winning try.

In his book, Beware of the Dog, which has rattled a few cages north of the border, Brian states that antipathy towards Margaret Thatcher, loathing of the poll tax and downright xenophobic anti-Englishness were behind Scotland's greatest ever victory on the rugby field.

Well, it is certainly true that the Iron Lady was not held in the highest regard in Scotland but the day she was demonised at a sporting event was when she turned up at Hampden Park for the Celtic v Dundee United Scottish Cup final in 1985.

She was greeted with a mass display of red cards in protest against health service cuts and then had to sit through a barrage of songs and chants of such profanity – including one about her husband, Denis – that they cannot be hinted at here.

By contrast, Murrayfield, with its large numbers of supporters drawn from the Scottish public and private school system, was much more like Thatcher's natural constituency.

As for the poll tax, while substantial numbers protested by refusing to pay in Scotland, there was no civil disorder.

In fact, the worst violence, which left5,000 injured and led to 339 arrests – happened in Trafalgar Square exactly two weeks after David Sole's side won the Grand Slam.

On the other hand, a certain frisson may have been created by the evident assumption on the part of several English players that they had only to turn up to collect the prize – hence their insistence on being photographed underneath the posts with the rugby WAGs an hour before kick-off, an event noted by the home support and players.

And, as my wife and I left Murrayfield that day, we came across a white woollen sweater trampled into the mud.

It bore the red rose crest, around which were the words "England 1990 Grand Slam Winners".

I have always regretted that we didn't take it home and stick it in the wash.

Still – and my dear friend Brian will be the first to say as much – it is never too late to cleanse the doors of perception.

Scotland V England Hospitality

Six Nations Hospitality

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