Banchory boy Don Masson was a Scotland hero in a winner-takes-all game against England that is best remembered for a howler by Ray Clemence.
Scotland and England were joint top of the British Home Championship that went down to the wire in front of 85,165 fans at Hampden 45 years ago.
Masson won the first of his 17 caps at the age of 29 in the 3-1 win against Wales at Hampden, which was the first time he ever set foot in Glasgow.
“We had left my birthplace in Banchory when I was only 12 years old to begin a new life in Middlesbrough and although we did occasionally go back to the Highlands to visit relatives, Glasgow for me was just a place on the map,” said Masson.
“Don’t have any doubts about my allegiances though. I was Scottish to the core and I’d dreamed all my life of pulling on that dark blue shirt.”
Both sides went in to the final game on four points
He scored against Northern Ireland in a 3-0 win in the second game where the Scotland fans chanted “Bring on England!” and “Flower of Scotland”.
England also thrashed the Irish 4-0, following an unconvincing 1-0 win against Wales.
The stage was set for the deciding match, with Masson now a first-pick.
“This was the game that really mattered and it certainly carried extra significance from a personal point of view,” said Masson.
“It was a really big story back in London that I would be going head to head with my club-mate Gerry Francis, the England captain.”
Masson and Francis played an integral part in the QPR team that missed out on the league title by a single point to Liverpool during the 1975-76 season.
“The atmosphere at Hampden on the Saturday was something else.
“The crowd that day was 85,157 and I’d never known noise like it.
“You could feel the passion and intensity coming at you in waves.
“Games against England just meant so much to the Scottish fans.
“The responsibility for sending them home happy really did weigh heavily and you needed to be a strong character not to crumble under it.”
The rain couldn’t dampen the spirits as Scotland turned on the style at Hampden.
The match was broadcast live by both BBC and ITV.
BBC commentator David Colman said the “genuine feeling is that the Scotland side is the strongest they have produced in many, many years”.
Scotland: Rough, McGrain, Donachie, Forsyth, Jackson, Rioch, Dalglish, Masson, Jordan, Gemmill (captain), Gray. Subs: Stewart, Buchan, Hartford, Johnstone, Pettigrew.
England: Clemence, Todd, Mills, Thompson, McFarland, Kennedy, Keegan, Channon, Pearson, Francis (captain), Taylor. Subs: Shilton, Doyle, Hill, Cherry, Royle.
England manager Don Revie made just one change from the side that defeated Northern Ireland by recalling Roy McFarland in place of Brian Greenhoff.
England scored against the run of play on 11 minutes when McFarland delivered a cross from the right hand side for Mick Channon to bury a header past Alan Rough.
Masson scored after Joe Jordan failed to make contact
Scotland pulled level seven minutes later from the most unlikely of sources.
“I scored with a header!” said Masson. “Even in my wildest dreams I never thought that could be possible.
“I’d like to tell you that I often scored goals with my head but anyone with the slightest knowledge of football in that generation knows it wouldn’t be true.
“We’d actually had a corner on the left hand side a couple of minutes earlier and big Joe Jordan headed against the bar when I picked him out.
“For some reason, second time around, I left it to Eddie Gray to take the flag kick.
“I can’t really tell you why I took up the position that I did.
“At QPR, if I wasn’t taking the corner myself I’d normally lurk on the edge of the area, hoping to latch on to a half clearance.
“This time, a space opened up some 10 yards ahead of that and I decided to fill it.
“Joe was again the target, as he always was from set pieces, and when he failed to make contact I ran in unmarked behind him and – my version – the bullet-like header was unstoppable!
“I can still see Ray Clemence now, waving his arms around in frustration and screaming: ‘How the hell can we let him score with a header?’
“I can tell you that it doesn’t get a lot better in life than scoring against England at Hampden Park.”
The winner came five minutes after half-time when Joe Jordan crossed from the left, Kenny Dalglish sidestepped Mick Mills, but from seven yards shot weakly.
Clemence would always be remembered for his howler
What should have been a routine save turned into a horror show for Clemence, who reached down for the ball only to see it squirt through his legs.
Commentator David Colman said: “And Clemence’s day is now complete.
“Total disaster. Poor Ray Clemence bows his head in dejection.”
The final whistle heralded a second straight win in Glasgow for Scotland against England and the British Home Championship trophy.
“Clemence was a terrific goalkeeper, up there with Jennings and Peter Shilton as the best of that era,” said Masson.
“He struggled, though, on that particular day and our winner from Kenny Dalglish five minutes after the break was probably the worst goal he ever conceded.
“Kenny made space for himself to the right of goal but I think he actually scuffed his shot.
“Maybe that’s what fooled Clemence but, either way, he allowed it to sneak through his legs and over the line.
“The game finished 2-1 and it was mission accomplished for us…we’d won the Home International championships for the first time since 1967.”
The Evening Express Green Final headline was: “Tammies off to Scotland the Brave”.
Hail the heroes of Hampden!
The Scotland side fought back like tigers against England at Hampden Park today and turned a one-goal deficit into a two-goal victory.
The fans in tartan in the 85,000 crowd went wild with delight as first Don Masson and then Kenny Dalglish scored to wipe out an earlier Mick Channon counter.”
Masson would go on to became the toast of Scotland when he converted a penalty that spurred Ally MacLeod’s team to a 2-0 victory over Wales at Anfield in 1977.
Masson is still saying sorry for penalty miss in 1978
Scotland qualified for the World Cup finals in 1978 following the victory and were Britain’s sole representatives in Argentina.
Masson started the opening game against Peru in midfield and things started well when Joe Jordan put Scotland ahead after 14 minutes before Cesar Cueto equalised.
A foul on Bruce Rioch in the box gave Scotland a penalty on 60 minutes.
Masson took the spot kick but Peru goalkeeper Ramon Quiroga, who was aptly nicknamed El Loco, made a comfortable save to his right.
Teofilo Cubillas was outstanding and scored twice to give Peru a 3–1 win.
Masson and Rioch were replaced by Archie Gemmill and Lou Macari for a 1-1 draw against Iran in the second game, which was depicted as a national disgrace.
Scotland eventually went out on goal difference, despite a 3-2 win against Holland in the final match, and Masson took aim at the SFA in a critical newspaper article.
He received a sine die ban and never played for Scotland again.
Masson returned to play for Notts County after the disappointment of Argentina and enjoyed spells in Hong Kong and America before he retired.
He now runs a boutique B&B in Nottinghamshire with his wife, Barbara.
Masson brought out his autobiography Still Saying Sorry in 2020.