This Thursday in the UK sees Scotland vote in a referendum over whether they should be independent from the rest of Great Britain. The upcoming result – which is too close to call according to the most recent polls – will have huge financial, social and military implications for both countries, as well as for the residual DVD sales of Braveheart.
But most importantly, the rich relationship between English and Scottish soccer may also change.
Liverpool has a historical bond with Scotland stretching all the way back to when LFC was founded. Then owner John Houlding hired 13 players from north of the border to fill out his newly formed squad. This team of Macs – as eight of the players had the word Mac in their surnames – won the league in 1901.
Since those days, the Liverpool history books swell with key players and managers from Scotland. Ian St John and Ron Yeats were vital when Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time in 1965. Striker Kenny Dalglish, midfield general Graeme Souness and defender Alan Hansen were the spine of the team that dominated England and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Dalglish also went on to win three titles as manager in the 1980s – plus he won the league as coach of Blackburn in 1995, making him one of only three men ever to coach two clubs to league glory.
However the most important Scot in Liverpool’s history was Bill Shankly, who managed the club from 1959 to 1974 and is considered to be the founding father of modern Liverpool. His legacy is instilling the Liverpool way of pass and move soccer and the songs still sung about him at Anfield to this day.
But it wasn’t just at Liverpool that the Scottish influence can be felt. Jock Stein was the first British manager to win the European cup – in 1967 with his Celtic side. The team from Glasgow beat inter 2-1 and was made up of players all born within 10 miles of Celtic Park. Stein was great friends with his contemporary Scottish coaches – Shankly at Liverpool and at Manchester United Matt Busby. Busby oversaw one of the United’s greatest ever sides, with players like George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law and they were the first English club to win the European cup in 1968 – a year after Stein’s Celtic.
Fast forward to the 1980s and George Graham managed Arsenal to two league titles. Nowadays, coaches like David Moyes, Paul Lambert, and Owen Coyle continue the tradition of Scottish managers in England – though to be fair with differing levels of success. And of course, there is one man who I have to mention. Love him or loathe him, Sir alex ferguson is arguably the most successful manager from Britain’s shores. He won the Scottish league with Aberdeen, breaking the dominance of Celtic and Rangers. He also led Aberdeen to European glory, winning the Cup Winners’ Cup against the mighty Real Madrid in 1983. He came down to England and created the global force that is … or was at least, Manchester United. He won two Champions Leagues and his 13 league titles in England will surely remain a record.
So Scotland has had a huge impact on English soccer. While I believe the Scottish people should vote as they see fit, the relationship could change depending on Thursday’s vote.