Scotland V Rest of the World at Craven Cottage

Local freelance Photographer David Higgs reviews Socccer Aid

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A windy rain swept Craven Cottage couldn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd, eager to catch glimpses of their heroes battling in this ‘friendly’ warm up match. I’m sure I could hear the distant sounds of the droning bagpipes as 11 William Wallaces lined up against the Rest of the World team consisting of many legendary names in football. My predictions of a Rest of the World victory were soon dashed when Gordon Durie opened the scoring against a hapless Patrick Kielty within 2 minutes. The ever young Gary Mcallister soon added a second goal in what was looking to be a one sided game.

Alistair Campbell was proven the weak link in the ROW’s defence as Durie again capitalised on Tony Blair’s Chief Press Secretary’s poor clearance and slotted the ball underneath the approaching Kielty. Campbell who was playing at left back would clearly have been better left back on the bench at this stage as he played Ally McCoist onside for his first goal of the game.

Having been a spectator for 25 minutes Andy Goram warmed his gloves in the Scottish goal with a great save from the Chelsea old boy Gus Poyet. The fifth goal game courtesy of a rare Lothar Matthaus mistake. The usually reliable German miskicked a clearance into the oncoming Jackson who rifled the ball past Kielty. The ex-Scottish internationals were showing more energy and commitment than their current international counterparts. Walter Smith should be thinking about bringing a few of these players out of retirement with a display like this.

The Rest of the World stars looked like they were about to score when ex-Blackburn rovers defender Colin Hendry brings down Gianfranco Zola 25 yards from goal. With Goram looking less than agile between the posts, the odds were favouring Zola with his trademark freekicks. Zola curled the ball around the wall and was heading for the top corner until Goram shuffled across his line and stretched out an experienced hand, pushing the ball over the bar.

Minutes later Goram produced another gravity defying save to again deny the luckless Poyet. As the ROW stars looked like producing a Rocky Balboa against the odds fightback, Gordon Durie breaks free from the defence and coolly passes the ball into the net for his hat trick and Scotland’s sixth goal.

The scoreboard now resembled the Scottish national cricket teams best score with the match looking well and truly over.The closing stages of the 1 st half had one final dramatic piece of action when Poyet appeared to trip over his own laces in the Scottish penalty area. The referee blew for a penalty. The crowd favourite, Zola, who had been entertaining everybody with his genius skills, stepped up to easily slot the ball past Andy Goram. 6-1.

The second half saw Andy Goram replacing the equally non-too agile Brian Gunn. He immediately denied the Russian Fedorov a goal after some dazzling build up play by Zola. The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the entrance of the French hair product endorser and indeed footballing genius David Ginola. The women in the crowd seemed to suddenly show an interest in the game. The ROW were bringing out all the ‘big guns’ as Ruud Gullit decided to bring himself on and command the defence.

I thought the rain had clouded my vision when I saw Ally McCoist run past Ben Johnson the Canadian athlete who ran the 100m in a world record time of 9.79, as if he was standing still. Kielty who was now growing in confidence expertly saved the resulting shot. The crowd was cheering ironically everytime Kielty managed to catch the ball.McCoist, under the watchful eye of his fellow ITV pundits soon added a second to his goal tally with a well taken goal just inside the area. 7-1

It was again Gianfranco Zola’s magical feet that created the ROW’s second goal. After skipping past several lunging challenges he proceeded to curl the ball from 18 yards out into the far corner of the goal. The Italian master has still got his touch and this performance would grace any great stage.

With the game almost at an end, it was Ginola’s mazy dribble and pass to Poyet that created havoc in the Scottish box. Ginola’s downward header was goalbound when Colin Hendry seemed to believe he was playing volleyball and pushed the ball over the bar. Ginola places the ball on the spot, runs his hand through his hair for the ladies and confidently places the ball into the corner.

The final whistle blows and the scoreboard unbelievably reads ‘ Scotland 7 – 3 Rest of World’. As the players are due to come back onto the pitch to sign autographs, Craven Cottage is engulfed in an Arctic style downpour of hailstone and rain.

June 1, 2006