Scotland's 7-0 loss to Uruguay remembered 60 years on

By David CurrieReporting Scotland presenter
Tommy Docherty in 1955
Tommy Docherty won 25 caps for Scotland and played at two World Cups

England play Uruguay in the World Cup finals in Brazil 60 years to the day Scotland met the South Americans in the 1954 tournament in Switzerland.

It was the first time the Scots took part in the finals and it turned out to be one of the most calamitous episodes in the national team's history.

"We got beaten 7-0," explains Tommy Docherty, who played for Scotland in the infamous match.

"We only took 13 players - and two of them were goalkeepers. I don't know what would have happened if we'd had any injuries.

"You were allowed to take a squad of 18, but we only took 13. The rest of the plane was filled with Scottish FA committee members and their wives.

Scotland at least travelled with a team manager - but not for long, as the curator of the Scottish football museum at Hampden, Richard McBrearty, explains.

Juan Alberto Schiaffino
Schiaffino was a World Cup winner with Uruguay

"In a nod to modernity the SFA appointed a team manager for the first time, before then the team was chosen by committee," he told BBC Scotland.

"But the manager Andy Beattie resigned after the first match, a 1-0 defeat by Austria. He'd fallen out with the SFA, probably because of the poor organisation."

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Docherty provides further insight.

"Andy Beattie quit and the physio took over," said the 86-year-old. "We were still quite confident going into the second game."

But it was not just the opposition the Scots had to contend with.

"Even the boots the Scots had were wrong," explains McBrearty. "They had the hard type of boot they'd been wearing since the 1930s, by contrast the South Americans and other European teams were wearing lightweight modern boots.

"The Scots were still wearing heavy cotton shirts and heavy shorts too while the South Americans were kitted out in more lightweight short sleeved tops."

Docherty, or 'the Doc' as he's commonly known, claims he lost "half a stone" during the playing of the national anthems.

"The heat was incredible and we were drenched in sweat," he adds. "At half-time we had to get in to a lukewarm bath to cool down. We just weren't prepared.

"We weren't given a run down on who were their dangerous players or anything like that.

"Although I was told to man-mark their star player, Juan Alberto Schiaffino. No-one told me how good he was, I couldn't get near him."

The defeat remains Scotland's heaviest in a World Cup finals match. But at least lessons were learned from the battering in Basel.

"The 7-0 defeat was hugely embarrassing for Scottish football," adds McBrearty. "All of a sudden the window to the world was open.

"Before 1954 there had been the attitude that the Home Internationals was the biggest tournament. Now the SFA and Scottish teams realised how far behind other nations we were and started to learn from them in terms of training, playing style and even what boots and kit to wear.

"We shouldn't forget that Uruguay were the world champions and a very good team. Even with a full squad, the right kit, a manager and proper preparation Scotland would probably have lost - although not 7-0."

That's cold comfort to Docherty, who adds: "It was a shambles. That is the only way to describe it."

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