World Cup - Richard Byram: '˜Ally's Tartan Army' gave me a perfect grounding

We believed them. Well I did, a naive, English 10-year-old watching his first World Cup '“ Argentina 1978.

Scotland's Archie Gemmill: In action against Holland, against whom he scored one of the World Cup's greatest goals in 1978. Picture: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

But the song sung by Scots comedian Andy Cameron came to be an albatross around the necks of the nation’s under-performing squad, their poor, haunted manager Ally MacLeod and the Tartan Army.

Even now the song and Scotland’s ill-fated campaign are a byword for going-into-a-tournament-over-confidently, though Rod Stewart’s own tournament effort Ole Ola – “We’re gonna bring that World Cup back from over there” – was arguably an even bigger anthem in chutzpah.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

There’s no doubting that on paper, the Scots had a top-class squad – one of the best in their history – featuring the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Joe Jordan, Gordon McQueen, Archie Gemmill, Graeme Souness, captain Bruce Rioch and er, permed goalkeeper Alan Rough.

Despite being Wakefield-born and with not a drop of Scots blood in the family, I had always had a soft spot for the Scotland team, largely because my club, Leeds United, supplied several of its top stars like Jordan, McQueen, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer, the Davids, Harvey and Stewart, and the Gray brothers, during my childhood.

Although the aforementioned Jordan and McQueen had crossed over to the Dark Side – Manchester United – during the preceding season, there was still a connection for me to cling to.

Contrast this with England, who did not reach a finals after 1970 until 1982 (and that was well worth the wait, wasn’t it?) – my 10-year-old son is already on his second Three Lions-supporting World Cup – and I was happy to grasp at any reason to support Ally’s brave and highly-fancied lads.

My initial interest was piqued by a draw card my auntie Kath got me from the Halifax Building Society which could be – and was – filled in right up to the final.

The Scots were given a heroes’ send-off from a packed Hampden Park – and with supposedly “rubbish” minnows Peru and Iran there to be swept past in Group 4, a point against 1974 finalists Holland would surely see “us” through to the second round.

‘We’ took the lead in both our first two games but lost 3-1 to Peru and drew 1-1 with Iran and had Willie Johnston sent home for failing a drugs test.

On to the final game against Holland and as is often the case – ‘we’ only went and beat them 3-2 – with one of the greatest goals of any World Cup scored by the brilliant Gemmill thrown in for good measure.

But “Scotland” – as they had now become – were out on goal difference, while the Dutch went on to lose their second final in succession to the hosts, inspired by Mario Kempes, the Golden Boot winner, every schoolboy now wanted to be.

So 1978, the year of the ‘First World Cup I Remember’ which gave me such a perfect grounding in tournament football disappointment.

Now, 40 years on, I am still filling in the wallcharts with my boys for the competition which always promises me so much but always fails to deliver, as I inevitably succumb to another dose of what the tabloids call ‘World Cup fever’.