Andy Beattie, Scotland manager: The man who resigned after one World Cup match

Andy Beattie Scotland Manager

1954 was going to be a big tournament for Scotland. The players were still incensed with the Scottish FA (SFA) denying them the chance to compete in Brazil four years earlier.

Andy Beattie had been installed as the first manager of the team in February. Five matches later he was off.

Scotland’s early forays with the World Cup were a bit hit and miss. Or perhaps more miss than anything.

With the home nations’ self-imposed exile from FIFA’s fledgling competition lifted after the Second World War, expectations of international success were high. Towards the end of the 19th century, Scotland was one of the strongest sides in the world. Their first 40 internationals saw them win 33.

But by the time FIFA had launched their inaugural global tournament in 1930, they were nowhere to be seen.

The ‘Home Nations’, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland competed in an annual Home Nations Championship. Head of the FA, Charles Sutcliffe, was opposed to the idea of FIFA. In 1934 as a reference to the second World Cup being held in Italy, he declared,

“The Home Nations was a far more representative World Championship than what is taking place in Rome”.

There was a battle between administrators over professionals and amateurs. Britain took their stance and stubbornly stuck by it, withdrawing from FIFA in 1928.

After the War, the world was a very different place. Sutcliffe had died in 1939 and The FA had a more inclusive view of the worldwide game.

The 1950 tournament in Brazil was the first time British sides would take part in qualification. The Home Nations Championship counted as the qualifying group. The SFA then declared it would only sanction a trip to South America if their team won the Championship.

After thumping Ireland 8-2 in Belfast and seeing off Wales at Hampden Park, the Scots were well placed. England had won in Cardiff (4-1) then 9-2 against Ireland at Wembley. Things were set up for a shoot-out at Hampden Park between the Auld Enemies.

As the holders of the Championship from the season before Scotland only needed a draw. But Chelsea’s Roy Bentley scored the only goal of the game and England won the trophy. As far as FIFA was concerned there were qualification places available for the top two, so Scotland’s players were dreaming of going down to Rio.

That was until the suits in Glasgow were stubbornly sticking to their story. No win, no World Cup.

In the match report ‘The Scotsman’ reported;

“Strong pressure is being exerted to get the Scottish selectors to change their decision, with Sir Stanley Rous, the secretary of The FA, among those who have made an appeal for reconsideration of the matter.”

They also reported;

“A special invitation from the Brazil FA was received before the Hampden match, urging Scotland to contest the World Cup finals whether they were beaten by England or not.”

Saving face was a serious concern in those days for administrators keen to assert their authority. How could they go back on a proclamation they made pre-tournament? So they didn’t.

They sent their team abroad, though, and to the Americas. But when they reached the Caribbean, they went North not South.

The players protested but they held little standing amongst the chieftains of the game and their cries fell on the deafest of ears.

Four years later the qualification rules were the same with the Home Nations Championship again used as the qualifying group.

This time the SFA announced even second place would be enough for their team to take part in the World Cup in Switzerland.

As with the previous campaign, Scotland went in as defending champions. After a 3-1 win in Belfast, they were 3-1 up against Wales at Hampden Park going into the final 20 minutes.

Ivor Allchurch and a John Charles goal two minutes from time earned a point for the visitors.

England beat the Welsh at Ninian Park (4-1) and the Irish (3-1) at Goodison Park. This left the Scots needing to win at Hampden Park.

Two months before the big clash, the SFA decided to install their first team manager. Andy Beattie was chosen.

The 40-year-old Kintore-born Beattie had spent his whole playing career at Preston North End. But like many men of his age, the War curtailed both his club and international career. He’d pulled on the Scottish jersey just seven times between 1937-1939.

With his best playing days behind him, he embarked on a career in management. Spells at Barrow, Stockport County and Huddersfield saw him come to the attention north of the border.

He was still in charge at Leeds Road when Scotland came calling. The 1953-54 season saw his Huddersfield side achieve the club’s best finish since the War. They finished third to Wolves and West Brom.

His first game in charge of Scotland would be the big clash with England at Hampden Park in April 1954.

He handed a first cap to future Scotland manager, Willie Ormond, then at Hibs, as well as Mike Haughney the Celtic back.

Allan Brown, then playing his football in England with Blackpool, gave Beattie’s new team the perfect start with a goal inside the opening 10 minutes. But Ivor Broadis levelled and that’s how things stayed to the break. Just four minutes after the re-start Johnny Nicholls put the visitors in front. Nicholls was one of four players making their debut for England. Nicholls’ West Brom strike partner, Ronnie Allen, then also scored his first goal for his country as England stretched their lead. Jimmy Mullen then put the game beyond the home side with England’s fourth, before Ormond crowned a bitter-sweet debut with a consolation goal. England ran out 4-2 winners and regained the championship. For the Scottish players this time they could at least look forward to a summer of World Cup football for the first time.

Sammy Cox, the captain, was the only player who played against England in both 1950 and 1954 yet when it came to naming the squad for Switzerland Cox was nowhere to be seen.

Other strange omissions were Liverpool’s Billy Liddell and Rangers’ George Young. They both turned out against Wales the previous November, but by the time Beattie arrived on the scene they weren’t called up.

For Young that was the last time he was seen in a Scotland shirt, but Liddell returned a year later to add another four caps to his haul.

In preparation for their Switzerland jaunt, Scotland arranged three friendlies. First was a home match against Norway.

Beattie handed debut caps to five players. Aberdeen’s Fred Martin and Paddy Buckley, Partick’s Jimmy Davidson and two players playing south of the border, Willie Cunningham (Preston) and Jock Aird (Burnley).

His captain that day was another future Scotland manager, Tommy Docherty. Another Aberdeen player, George Hamilton scored the only goal of the game and Beattie had his first win.

Then Scotland travelled to Scandinavia to play a return fixture against the Norwegians and also a match against Finland.

In Oslo Beattie largely kept the same side, with Celtic’s Neil Mochan earning his first cap. Johnny MacKenzie put them in front early in the second half and it looked like they were going to do the double over Norway. But a late goal from Harry Kure killed those hopes and the game ended level.

A week later they were in Helsinki to take on Finland. Four debutants filled the side with Willie Cunningham donning the captain’s armband in only his third appearance.

The Hibs’ pairing of Ormond and Bobby Johnstone were on target to give the visitors a 2-1 win.

Buoyed by two victories, Beattie set about naming his squad. There was no place for five players he’d selected in his short tenure, preferring to select five players he’d never seen. But other than that, there weren’t too many surprises.

29-year-old Willie Cunningham, who wasn’t anywhere near the team before Beattie turned up, was his chosen captain.

It was a pretty inexperienced bunch of chaps, with Celtic’s Bobby Evans the most capped with just 17. He was one of just three players with more than 10 caps.

It was brave of Beattie. By ignoring George Young (40), Sammy Cox (25), Lawrie Reilly (24) and Billy Liddell (24) he was leaving 113 caps at home.

But whether this gamble was the one which hampered the Scots in Switzerland or not we’ll never know. What must be of little doubt was the next decision the SFA came up with.

After a 22-man squad was named the powers-that-be in Glasgow decided they would only allow Beattie to take 13 of them.

One of those left at home was Bobby Johnstone. Beattie had selected him three times in his four matches yet now he faced having to take part in a tournament without him.

Scotland had been drawn in a group with defending Champions, Uruguay, Austria and Czechoslovakia. The format for this tournament was strange to say the least. FIFA designated eight of the 16 qualifiers would be seeded into four groups. But none of the seeded teams would have to play each other. The watching public were denied many possibly classic clashes. With Scotland unseeded they knew they’d have to negotiate their way past one of the best teams in the world at the time, Uruguay, and Austria. Austria were one of the world’s best teams pre-War, but after the Nazi’s had finished with the country the 1950s version was nowhere near as strong. But they still had to be respected.

Beattie named his line-up for the game in Zurich. He left out Johnstone and Evans deciding he preferred Mochan and Fernie from the little he’d seen of them.

In relative terms, Austria were packed full of experience compared to the Scots. Ernst Happel, who managed the country in Argentina ’78, and the legendary Ernst Ocwirk, were the most capped.

Erich Probst, one of six Rapid Wien players, scored for Austria 13 minutes from the end of the first half. Scotland just couldn’t find a way through but managed to avoid a huge loss. It ended 0-1. Not the best start, but not an embarrassment.

Beattie’s mood wouldn’t have been improved when hearing the team were watched by many dignitaries from the FA who had even brought their wives with them. He had assumed the reason for his bosses cutting short the travelling contingent would have been financially driven. Yet there was money for ‘hangers-on’.

The team moved onto Basel and within hours of the kick-off, Beattie announced he’d had enough, took his toys and his pram and flounced off back to Yorkshire.

You’d like to think when his employers asked who was going to pick the team he gave them the Scottish equivalent of;

“You are. There’s enough of you to do it, and let’s face it you’ve made it almost impossible to get wrong as there’s only 13 of the blighters to choose from. Chin-chin!”

The officials took the easy route and sent the same 11 back out but this time they were thumped 0-7.

And that was that. Not the most auspicious beginning to Scotland’s World Cup challenge. I guess it was better than qualifying and just not turning up but sending a team over there with just 13 players was minor improvement.

The selection committee was then in place again for the next four years. They decided to turn to Matt Busby for the World Cup in Sweden. Unfortunately, he was unable to assume his duties after the injuries he sustained in the Munich air disaster.

Scotland wouldn’t be seen again at a World Cup until 1974.

Beattie was asked back by the SFA in March 1959. Once again his first game was against England. Bobby Charlton scored the only goal of the game to hand Beattie another defeat. But he bounced back with wins in friendlies over West Germany and Netherlands.

Against the Germans, he gave Ian St. John and John White their first caps. By then he was also able to call upon the likes of Dave Mackay and Bobby Collins. For the Dutch game, he called up Dennis Law, a player whose career he’d launched at Huddersfield.

He lead them to the Home Nations Championship in 1960 won on goal difference, but by June 1960 he was off again.

Nottingham Forest were keen to call on his services so he returned to club management. Before his second stint in the Scottish hot seat his Huddersfield period was notable for working alongside Bill Shankly as the club decided he would benefit from the influence.

He lasted three years at the City Ground before moving to Plymouth and then replacing Stan Cullis at Wolves. This was a caretaker role but the once great Wolves side were teetering on the brink of relegation. He wasn’t able to halt the slide, resigning nine games into the new season in the Second Division.

After a short stint as Notts County boss, he held coaching and scouting positions with Walsall and Liverpool.

Beattie died in September 1983 at the age of 70.