The best of 2014: Scotland's sporting highlights

Stephen Gallacher, Shaun Maloney and Eilidh Child
Scotland has hosted some memorable moments in 2014

The curtain is drawing to a close on a remarkable year for sport in Scotland.

The Commonwealth Games came to Glasgow and home athletes responded to the incredible backing they received, with a new record haul of medals.

By the end of a memorable 11 days, hailed as "the standout Games in the history of the movement" by Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper, Scotland had won 53 medals - 19 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze - coming fourth in the medal table.

The home of golf welcomed the Ryder Cup to Gleneagles and Europe completed a comprehensive victory against the United States.

Scotland's curlers brought home medals from the Winter Olympics, Glasgow Warriors reached the Pro12 final and a new head coach appears to be steering the international rugby team in the right direction.

We may have been jealous viewers during Brazil 2014 but the national football team continues to improve under the guidance of Gordon Strachan and the cricketers reached their World Cup.

Track cyclist Katie Archibald has established herself in the all-conquering Great Britain team pursuit squad and picked up two gold medals at the European Championships.

Andy Murray's best Grand Slam performance was a semi-final showing at Roland Garros but three title wins late in the season was enough to secure a place at the World Tour Finals and raise hopes for next year.

Members of the BBC Scotland Sport team select their highlights of 2014...

St Johnstone celebrate their Scottish Cup victory at Celtic Park
St Johnstone celebrated their first major trophy success in May

Richard Wilson

"In winning the Scottish Cup final, St Johnstone reminded that football occasionally rewards the dogged and earnest professionals who inhabit a different level of the game from the glamour and affluence of the elite.

"It was the club's first major trophy in 130 years and there was something refreshingly joyous about the triumph and its narrative. The goals were scored by unsung heroes - the resilient centre-back Steven Anderson and Steven MacLean, a striker who had to be taped up to play and whose body has often succumbed to injuries, but who played the game with an endless supply of energy and grit.

"Dundee United were overcome on the day, but they have known their own glories in recent years. Covering the final at Celtic Park allowed a sense of perspective. The tears of the employees and officials of St Johnstone were shed out of happiness, but they might also have been recollections of difficult days in the lower leagues.

"The chairman Steve Brown, and his father Geoff Brown, who ran the club before him, held to a simple principle: 'Do not spend beyond our means'. They were left behind at times by the reckless spending of other clubs, but eventually gained their reward. They are stable and sound, and this was their own moment of acclaim."

Team Scotland were given an incredible reception at Celtic Park
Team Scotland were given an incredible reception at Celtic Park

Keir Murray

"I'm still marvelling at the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow. It was wonderful to be at the SECC precinct to see Kimberley and Louise Renwicks win judo gold and to witness Charlie Flynn and Josh Taylor punch their way to victory in the boxing ring.

"However, I think the entrance of Team Scotland at the opening ceremony at Celtic Park was an unbeatable experience. This was the moment so many of the athletes had dreamed about, when they would join the 70 other nations and territories in walking around the track.

"Scotland, as hosts, entered the stadium last, with the atmosphere having been built to fever pitch. The weather was warm and Celtic Park was a riot of colour. The wall of noise that engulfed the stadium was jaw-dropping and the sense of happiness and pride was overwhelming.

"I've been at the ground for football matches when the mood has been celebratory, but I think this was better; it was bigger - national and international, and magical. I could scarcely believe that many of the world's best athletes were partying in the east end of Glasgow, where I'd grown up."

Scotland's Ross Murdoch won Commonwealth Games gold in the 200m breaststroke
Murdoch's face was a picture when he realised he had won Commonwealth gold

Tom English

"On the evening of Thursday 24 July we expected to see the coronation of a Commonwealth Games king by the name of Michael Jamieson, Olympic silver medallist, favourite for the 200m breaststroke gold medal and, for the longest time, Team Scotland's poster boy.

"What happened went beyond the Commonwealth Games, where so much of what we see is admirable but well short of world class. Ross Murdoch's swim in defeating Jamieson had a relevance on the global stage. His time would have been good enough for silver in London 2012.

"It wasn't just a stunning upset, it was an exhilarating piece of theatre. Jamieson had dominated the preamble and the look of dejection on his face at the end was unforgettable. Right alongside him, in the winner's lane, there was shock of a different kind. It took a while for Murdoch to take in what he'd achieved and in that he wasn't alone. The twin images of victory and defeat in the pool that night were a snapshot of sport at its greatest and cruellest."

Rhona McLeod

"The Commonwealth Games men's 200m breaststroke final was a keenly anticipated event, with poster boy Michael Jamieson going for the top spot, AND a world record.

"But a surprise was in store, as the relatively unknown Ross Murdoch was the first Scot home. Not only did he beat the Olympic silver medallist, Murdoch won gold at a raucous Tollcross.

"The wide-eyed, open mouth expression on Murdoch's face became one of the iconic images of Glasgow 2014. The 20-year-old not only shocked the sporting world, he seemed stunned by the scale of his own achievement.

"It was time to celebrate another Scottish gold medal on day one of the Games and it didn't hurt that Murdoch and I call the same Stirlingshire village our home!"

Team Scotland star Lynsey Sharp gave absolutely everything to collect silver in the 800m
Team Scotland star Lynsey Sharp gave absolutely everything to collect silver in the 800m

Kheredine Idessane

"I'm pretty sure I first head it from an Old Firm player or manager. 'Second is nowhere. It's first or nothing.'

"Fair enough in a football context. But second place can also represent significant achievement. A miracle, even.

"That's how Lynsey Sharp described her Commonwealth Games 800m silver medal. Given the circumstances behind the scenes, it's hard to disagree with her assessment.

"I was lucky enough to have the best seat in the house to watch it all unfold. Along with Lee McConnell, I did the race commentary for BBC Radio Scotland, and struggled to hear myself think amid the other 44,000 screaming supporters in a packed national stadium.

"She didn't look great in her heat - and only just made it through her semi - so things didn't bode well for the final. It had been a difficult enough year for the Edinburgh athlete anyway, given the open wound that she had to keep treating following Achilles surgery.

"What was truly remarkable about her performance, however, was the fact she took unwell the night before, throwing up and needing a drip in the wee small hours before the biggest race of her life.

"Just as well then that Lynsey is made of strong stuff, physically and mentally.

"She ran the perfect race, all things considered - carrying out the instructions she'd written on her hand to perfection: 'Get out strong, commit.' As anyone who's followed her career will know, if she's anywhere in contention coming off the top bend, she'll get a medal. With 100m to go, I think she was fifth. 50m later it was bronze.

"Most would have been satisfied with that. Cameron Sharp's daughter had other ideas, using all she had left in the tank, allied to the Hampden roar, to emulate her sprinter father's silver medal. His was European. Hers was Commonwealth, won in Glasgow, earned through hard yards over many years.

"Second is nowhere? Try telling that to Lynsey or anyone that was in the national stadium that wonderful summer night."

Eilidh Child celebrates after winning silver in the 400m hurdles final
Eilidh Child enjoyed an emotional lap of honour following her silver-medal run at Hampden

Jane Lewis

"Selecting just one highlight from a fabulous Commonwealth Games is almost impossible, there were so many.

"From Hannah Miley and Ross Murdoch in the pool, virtually the whole of the judo squad and the sight of Usain Bolt running at Hampden - where do you start?

"Lynsey Sharp's silver medal in the 800m after a night of sickness was probably the most gutsy performance I've ever witnessed in the flesh.

"But just edging that was Eilidh Child taking silver in the 400m hurdles.

"As one of the poster girls for Team Scotland - the pressure was huge - Scotland expected. I'd interviewed her a few times in the build-up to the Games and been to film with her in Bath, her training base. The tag 'poster girl' didn't appear to faze her - but she was certainly aware of its significance.

"Before the start of the race you could feel the excitement - the reception for Eilidh was incredible - loud and warm.

"The tension was heightened further when the athletes - ready and on their marks - had to rise again.

"Finally the race was under way and camera flashes were going off all around the stadium. You could hear and feel the crowd willing Eilidh on and you could see her feeding off every cheer.

"Her race was truly exceptional and Eilidh delivered.

"It wasn't just her race that inspired - her lap of honour was emotional. Spectators rushed down to be close to the track, all wanting to get a glimpse (or better still a high five) of their new heroine draped in the saltire."

All smiles from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games volunteers Lesley Smith, Michael Riley and Ellie McCarthur
The army of 'Clydesider' volunteers made a huge contribution to the success of Glasgow 2014

John Beattie

"As the sun splashed on a River Clyde doing its best to copy the dappled greens of the French Riviera, I wheeled my bike to a stop. We'd agreed that I'd cover the Commonwealth Games from the perspective of two wheels and the shock and joy were hitting most of us in Glasgow in equal measure. Could it really be this big? This good?

"Fans streamed by smiling and holding hands. Accents from every part of the UK, and voices from many corners of the Commonwealth, rose and fell in a vocal dance that was as sunny as the weather.

"And so my favourite moment of Glasgow 2014? I have two. On that sun-splattered day on the squinty bridge I bumped into Doctor Richard Cox, the sports psychologist, and asked him to explain what was happening. 'Mass hysteria,' he said, 'this is mass hysteria!' This place I call home was putting on a show and doing it well.

"And the second moment was turning up at Parkhead to an opening ceremony rehearsal where the heavens had opened to pour down silver lines of freezing, soaking, penetrating rain.

"A volunteer, soaked to the skin and chittering, smiled at me. 'Hello. Welcome to Glasgow,' she said. I nearly cried.

"I saw people enjoying my city, and a volunteer made my day. Oh, and I watched Usain Bolt on the telly. But I preferred the stuff outside the stadium, honestly."

The first tee at Ryder Cup
The sights and sounds at the first tee at Gleneagles sent shivers down the spine of our reporter

Brian McLauchlin

"Years of planning, thousands of man hours of preparation, months of anticipation but finally it was here: day one of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

"On my arrival on the course at 04:00 BST there were already fans waiting patiently in line to gain the best vantage point possible to watch the first tee shot. You just knew this was going to be a special occasion.

"The huge media centre was already in full flow. Thousands of journalists from around the globe had gathered to report on the three days of action.

"As each minute passed the tension grew. Come 06:30 the practice area was open and players began to warm up. Nervous laughs from both sides.

"The singing fans in the amphitheatre stand at the first hole was flowing by the time the opening European pair of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson began the long walk to the opening tee.

"Down the hill and through the tunnel, passing photos of Ryder Cup heroes: Monty, Torrance and finally the man who epitomises all the tournament stands for, Seve Ballesteros. With every step the cheers grew louder and louder.

"Even legendary announcer Ivor Robson was feeling the pressure as he mistakenly called up Bubba Watson instead of Webb Simpson to strike first.

"Eventually Simpson hit his ball around 160 yards, barely making the fairway...

"What happened over the next three days gave me a lifetime of memories. A convincing European victory it may have been but they were not the only winners.

"Gleneagles and Scotland delivered and put on a display that will be hard to match."

Shaun Maloney fired in a spectacular goal to give Scotland a 1-0 win over Republic of Ireland
Shaun Maloney fired in a spectacular goal to give Scotland a 1-0 win over Republic of Ireland

Chris McLaughlin

"I have so many memories from Glasgow 2014 that I will never forget. Huddled at the back of the judo hall with a group of other journalists, I watched on a tablet as Hannah Miley grabbed her first gold in the pool. I spent time with Hannah and her father Patrick in the lead-up to the Games and knew exactly what it meant to them - their tears of joy said it all.

"There was also the amazing and somewhat hilarious moment when Charlie Flynn took gold. I was standing behind BBC Sport's John Inverdale, who had been tasked with interviewing the young boxer who had just sent the home crowd wild. John's face was one of confused terror as he tried to make sense of the Mailman's thick Lanarkshire accent. 'Aye, man. Ah'm pure buzzin' like a jar 'a wasps, man!'

"But it was watching a football net bulge on a cold night in November that brought me my sporting highlight of the year. Scotland were hosting the Republic of Ireland in what was essentially a must-win game in terms of keeping hopes alive of a securing a place at the European Championship finals in 2016.

"As the first half gave way to the second without any scoring, that familiar feeling of dread took hold. Would the new-found feel-good factor that had been forged under Gordon Strachan all come to nothing on a cold night at Celtic Park?

"Seventy-five minutes on the clock. A Shaun Maloney corner on the right - short to Anya, back to Maloney, poked through the defender's legs to Scott Brown who back-heels back to Maloney - Maloney curls it past the goalkeeper and Celtic Park erupts. In the press box I break with tradition and leap to my feet. The dream lives on."

Sport XIV looks back on a historic 2014 on Sunday 28 December on BBC Two Scotland at 22:05. When the Games came to Glasgow can been seen on BBC One Scotland at 18:00.

What were your favourite moments in a special year for Scottish sport? Use the comments function to share your thoughts.

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