Ahead of tonight’s Scotland versus Netherlands match we look at a UFWC classic between the two sides from 1938:
NETHERLANDS 1-3 SCOTLAND, 21 May 1938
Friendly, Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam
Scorers: Vente (Netherlands); Black, Murphy, Walker (Scotland)
Scotland had beaten England 1-0 at Wembley in April 1938 to regain the UFWC title. Tommy Walker scored the goal that defeated a brilliant England side, and his teammates that day included a young debutant named Bill Shankly. Shanks missed out on the trip to the Netherlands, although he would return to the Scotland side for subsequent matches.
The Scotland side that travelled was skippered by George Brown of Rangers, and included four Hearts players, three from Rangers, two from Blackpool, one from Celtic, and one from Third Lanark. But Walker, of Hearts, was undoubtedly the star of the show. The 50,000-strong Dutch crowd roared their appreciation as the inside-right produced a series of mazy dribbles that dumbfounded the home defence.
But the Netherlands also produced good attacking moves, which the Scottish defence battled hard to break up. One Dutch shot was blocked by George Brown’s face. ‘His nose bled a good deal,’ reported The Scotsman, ‘but after attention from his trainer he carried on.’
Scotland’s technical superiority began to show as the game wore on, but several missed opportunities meant that the score at half-time was 0-0.
But Scotland found their shooting boots early in the second half. The Netherlands’ defence were appealing for offside as Andrew Black of Hearts drove home a low right-footed shot. Dutch players and fans remonstrated loudly, but English referee Charles Argent waved away their appeals.
Five minutes later Scotland extended their lead, with Francis Murphy of Celtic bursting through from the left wing to find the net.
The victory was sealed in the 69th minute, when Walker deservedly scored, heading the ball home from an Alex Munro corner kick.
To their credit, the Netherlands never gave up, with inside-left Freek van der Veen creating several good chances. Four minutes from time Dutch centre-forward Leen Vente stabbed home a consolation goal.
After the game, Scottish Football Association secretary George Graham commented with remarkable insight, ‘It was a good match and the better team won.’
Despite being unofficial champions, Scotland were not invited to participate in the 1938 World Cup finals, a tournament subsequently won by Italy.