Thursday, May 15, 2014

15 May 1974 - "...A Three-Hour Tour, A Three-Hour Tour ..."

On 15 May 1974, several Scotland internationals were out in the early hours of the morning in Largs, a town on the Firth of Clyde, about 33 miles from Glasgow. They had beaten Wales 2-0 at Hampden Park just a few hours before and had an upcoming match against England on the 18th, so Scotland manager Willie Ormond sent them out for a few hours to enjoy themselves.

After a few drinks, they were returning to the team hotel by the beach when midfielder Jimmy "Jinky" Johnstone (right), who played his club football for Celtic, climbed into an empty rowboat. Rangers fullback Sandy Jardine jokingly kicked the boat out into the water before anyone realized that it had no oars. The tide began pulling Johnstone out to sea, so a couple of other players - Celtic's David Hay and Hibernian's Erich Schaedler - found another rowboat and set out after Johnstone. Unfortunately, their boat began to leak, forcing them back to shore as Johnstone's boat continued drifting away.

Johnstone was eventually rescued by the coastguard service and the story - known as "The Largs Boat Incident" - became a media sensation. It had little effect on Johnstone, however, who went on to lead Scotland to a 2-0 win over England three days later.

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