Joe Jordan & Gordon McQueen: Memories of Scotland v England

Jordan and McQueen played in the famous win at Wembley in 1977
Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen played in the famous win at Wembley in 1977

As men of Leeds United, Manchester United and Scotland, they've lived in each other's pockets for more than 40 years. Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen - different ends of the park but as close as can be. Team-mates and friends for the longest time.

On Thursday, we sat down with McQueen. On Friday we met Jordan. "You've been talking to Gordon? You'll have no tape left for me then," says Jordan. "He can talk, Big Gordon."

Big Gordon might be inclined to point out a certain irony there. Jordan never lacked for many things in his football life - certainly not for words and stories.

They both have memories of Scotland versus England. Good, bad, ugly.

Jordan played in the fixture nine times, McQueen three times. They were Leeds players for most of them - and that's where we begin.

'I was on a peg between Lorimer and Gray'

McQueen and Jordan in the Leeds dressing room, 1974
McQueen and Jordan with Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer and Frank Gray in the Elland Road dressing room

It was 1970 and Leeds had just finished runners-up in the First Division, runners-up in the FA Cup and were beaten semi-finalists in the European Cup.

Jordan, then with Morton, had watched Celtic [his team] beat Leeds in that semi. He'd watched Jimmy Johnstone [his hero] beat the club he was about to join.

"Don Revie put me on a peg between Peter Lorimer and Eddie Gray," Jordan explains. "He could have put me between Billy Bremner and John Giles. He brought me in gently. I grew up in that dressing room. It was a severe test.

"That Leeds squad was the kind of place that made you nervous before training sessions, never mind matches, but it was good for me. Exceptional pros everywhere. Opponents who wanted to stuff us. We weren't well liked. None of us cared.

"My first cap was against England, as a substitute, in 1973. We'd just lost the Cup Winners' Cup final to AC Milan and Willie Ormond called me up. We lost 1-0 at Wembley. That was me, an international player with a taste of Wembley in a Scotland jersey. It was great."

'Wee Jimmy didn't think he'd done anything wrong'

Jimmy Johnstone tormented England in the 1974 win at Hampden
Jimmy Johnstone tormented England in the 1974 win at Hampden

Jordan played against England for a second time in 1974. Leeds were champions, with a dozen Scots on their books. Ormond's attacking options were ridiculous - Jordan, Kenny Dalglish and Denis Law; Lorimer, Lou Macari and Willie Morgan; Dixie Deans, Derek Johnstone and Derek Parlane. And more.

"We arrived at the hotel in Largs and myself, Billy and Peter were rooming together," says Jordan. "Peter knew the score. He said 'there's gonna be a ruckus tonight', so he put the chair next to the door so nobody could get in.

"At five or six in the morning, all the blue lights came on in the car park. Police and ambulances - I thought it was a fire. Wee Jimmy [Johnstone] was sat in the corner with a blanket over him. He'd been out on a boat in the Irish Sea.

"He didn't think he'd done anything wrong. Sandy Jardine had kicked the boat and then some of the other boys tried to get in another boat and that boat started to sink.

"Jimmy started singing and ended up a little dot on the horizon. What a character. He was voted the greatest Celtic player of all time and he would have got my vote.

"If there was a tight game, he would be the one who would open it. One of his biggest attributes was his courage. He would take responsibility, he would take the ball, any time, no matter how many kicks he'd been given.

"We beat England 2-0. I scored. Jimmy was fantastic. Five of us drove back to Leeds - me, Billy, Peter, Dave Harvey and Norman Hunter all in the same car. It was a nightmare for Norman. Billy just sat there smiling at him."

'England won 5-1, five breakaways, aye'

McQueen was an established Leeds player, a championship winner in 1974 and a key man in their progression to the European Cup final in 1975. His defending and his goals were hugely significant.

Five Scots started that deeply controversial European Cup final against Franz Beckenbauer's Bayern Munich [who won 2-0] and Eddie Gray made it six before the full-time whistle. Six Scots in a European Cup final and McQueen wasn't among them.

"We played Barcelona in the semi-final and we were 2-1 up going into the second leg in Spain," he recalls. "A few of their players said they were going to do me and Jimmy Armfield, our manager, told me to count to 10 if anything happened.

"The boy [Manuel] Clares spat in my face, I counted to 10 and then knocked him out. I was sent off. Missed the final.

"Then England beat us 5-1. Five breakaways, aye. The worst feeling in the world.

"We went back to Leeds and we had to face so many well-known Englishmen - Norman, Allan Clarke, Terry Cooper, Paul Madeley, Jack Charlton, a World Cup winner from 1966. A bad year for football, that."

'Clemence never even caught it on the way back out'

McQueen celebrates the 1977 success at Wembley with goalie Alan Rough
McQueen celebrates the 1977 success at Wembley with goalie Alan Rough

Come 1977, fortunes at Leeds had turned. The great team was beginning to break up, their days at the top of the English game were now numbered. Scotland, though, were riding high. On the first weekend of June, they travelled to Wembley.

McQueen scored the opening goal, a bullet of a header from an Asa Hartford cross. "Asa was told to aim for the biggest thing in Wembley - my head - and clipped in this beautiful ball," he says. [Ray] Clemence dived for it and I don't know why he bothered. He never even caught it on the way back out.

"Officially, there were 100,000 there that day, but there must have been 475,000 given the amount of people who told me they were there the day I scored at Wembley.

"Our support deflated the England players. You could see it on their face and in their eyes walking up the tunnel."

'My car blew up, three England fans gave me a lift'

Scotland fans invaded the Wembley pitch in the aftermath of a 2-1 victory
Scotland fans invaded the Wembley pitch in the aftermath of a 2-1 victory

Dalglish made it 2-0 before a Mick Channon penalty pulled one back. That's how it ended, 2-1 Scotland. Cue mayhem. A mass pitch invasion, Tartan Army bouncing on the goalposts, more fans digging up the pitch.

McQueen: "We were doing interviews down at the tunnel and we watched it on the monitors, the crossbar sagging and sagging and then breaking. There were no English left, they'd all scarpered home."

Jordan said: "There were supporters in the dressing room. There were supporters in our bath. There were a couple of guys in kilts having a splash."

McQueen said: "There were a few of my pals from Kilbirnie about. Then my dad turned up. I was in the bath with a lager and a cigarette. He said, 'Get that fag out'."

Jordan said: "My wife, Judith, had parked the car not far from Wembley, so we just let the crowd go and then we got off home. My car blew up on the motorway. We ended up between two services, hitch-hiking.

"Three Englishmen who had been at the game stopped and gave us a lift. I think they were a bit surprised to see me. They were the only three English supporters I'd seen all day. It was a good turn. They took care of us."

McQueen said: "I was staying in London and I was buzzing. I went back to the hotel for a quick sleep and woke up about 11. I'd missed all the parties.

"The invites were coming into a dooket downstairs - Sean Connery was having a party here and Rod Stewart was having a party there. I went for a walk and found a pub full of Scotland supporters. They saw me and went crazy. I had few beers and went on my merry way.

"I got the train home the next morning. Scotland fans everywhere. They were asking me to sign bits of turf. I said 'I can't sign turf, it's impossible'. They were going, 'Just put your finger in it, big man, scratch it, do something'. They all had these dollops of turf in their pockets. The boys hadn't had much sleep."

'We're not a good side, but neither are they'

Joe Jordan played nine internationals against England
Jordan scored 11 goals for Scotland in 52 appearances

McQueen played against England one more time - a 3-1 defeat in 1979. Jordan had five more cracks at them. Overall, McQueen won one out of three, Jordan four out of nine.

They talk about this coming Friday at Wembley. They know Scotland are struggling underdogs, but they don't exactly think this England team is unbeatable.

"It's an England team that needs to be given a lot of respect, but it ain't a team that frightens me," says Jordan. "We're not a good side, but neither are they," adds McQueen.

They'll meet up again soon, the pair of them. A game, a beer, a few laughs. McQueen's throat cancer [now happily behind him] has left him with, what Jordan cheerily calls, "a big, sexy voice".

The warmth of the friendship is as obvious now as their footballing prowess was back in the day when world class was synonymous with Scottish football.

In a dreamily brilliant era when John McGovern won two English championships with two different clubs and captained Nottingham Forest to back-to-back European Cup wins but yet was never deemed good enough to earn a single appearance for his country, McQueen won 30 caps and Jordan won 52.

Today, they'd be on a century - and counting. How Scots must wish they could close their eyes and have them back in their pomp against England on Friday.

Top Stories