Call-ups That Came With A Rush

Scottish Breakthrough Opened A Key Gateway

Malcolm Finlayson – surely attained international-level heights.

Wolves’ imprint on the Scotland side remains largely an all-or-nothing affair.

For almost 100 years, the club had no-one in the senior international team north of the border – then came a rush of proven performers for the likes of Bobby Brown and Tommy Docherty to call on.

Historically, selectors on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall were reluctant to pick anyone who had had the nerve to defect and earn a living with clubs in England.

Which is why the outstanding Malcolm Finlayson – twice a League champion in these parts as well as being a fixture in an FA Cup-winning side in 1960 – was never chosen by his country.

Eddie Stuart was also briefly linked with a call-up thanks to a complicated family connection but it was not until Bonfire Night in 1969 that Hugh Curran became the first man to play for Scotland while serving Wolves.

He lost his place for the next game, away to Northern Ireland the following spring, and spent 18 months out of a side in which Coventry’s Willie Carr had won the first few of his six caps.

By coincidence, it was against the same opponents that Curran played his second game, this time at Hampden Park, where he had the pleasure of witnessing a senior international debut, albeit as substitute, by Frank Munro.

It is quite possible that the Scottish management, while watching one Wolves player, were impressed by others. Now the ball was rolling, recognition came frequently to different members of the Tartan clan.

Four days after that defeat against the Irish, Munro actually went on for goal-scorer Curran in a 3-1 defeat by England at Wembley, both appearing in the line-up in Copenhagen in another loss during the end-of-season tour that then saw Curran go on for Colin Stein against the USSR.

That, sadly, was the end of the international road for the forward, who was not helped by his squeezing-out at Molineux by the emerging John Richards.

Munro drifted in and out of the international picture, too, but another Wolves man, Jim McCalliog, used a game against Portugal in Lisbon in April, 1971 to win a final cap to add to the four he had picked up while with Sheffield Wednesday.

Proud Scot……Frank Munro (right) in a youth international.

How McCalliog would love to have pulled on his country’s shirt alongside Frank…..alas it didn’t happen and the former Aberdeen man was controversially overlooked for the World Cup finals in Wolves’ first League Cup-winning year before collecting another five caps in 1974-75, the last of them a 1-1 draw against Rumania in Bucharest in a European Championship qualifier in the June.

In bemoaning the fact that these Molineux heroes didn’t win more caps, we shouldn’t forget the depth of talent the Scots had at the time……Bremner, Lorimer, Eddie Gray, Gilzean, McLintock, Souness, Greig, Hay, Cooke, Dalglish, Gemmill, Hartford, Law, Johnstone, Macari, McNeill, Johnston, Jordan and Stanton included.

Which brings us on to the man who won more Scottish caps than anyone else did while with Wolves in the 20th century, Andy Gray. Despite missing out on World Cup selection in Spain in 1982, he played 13 times while at Molineux and scored five goals.

Another seven Wolves players have been honoured north of the border in this Millennium – all at a time when the Scots were going more than 20 years without reaching a tournament finals. In descending order, they are Christophe Berra and Kenny Miller (24 caps while at Molineux), Colin Cameron (16), Jackie McNamara (3), Leigh Griffiths (2) and Chris Iwelumo and Steven Fletcher (1 each).

Thomas Publications