Archie Gemmill is one of the most famous players to ever come from Scotland. The midfielder was born in Glasgow and played for a variety of Scottish clubs during his career, but it was his performance at the 1978 World Cup that brought him worldwide acclaim. Archie’s goal against the Netherlands is remembered as one of the greatest individual efforts in football history and has been voted by Scottish football fans as the country’s third-best moment from its past. Archie Gemmill was born on New Year’s Day, 1957, and grew up playing for boys clubs in Dennistoun and central Glasgow. He signed for Celtic when he was just 15 years old but didn’t make a first-team appearance for them before switching to Middlesbrough two years later. In 1977, Archie signed for St Mirren and became an integral part of their promotion-winning squad. When he left them after two seasons, he joined Aberdeen on loan, where his performances caught the attention of national scouts. Archie signed with Nottingham Forest in 1980; they paid £350,000 to secure his services on a five-year contract a record fee outside of England at that time. His debut came in September 1980 against Leeds United at Elland Road, he scored twice in a 3–1 victory. In 1981, Archie won the European Super Cup with Forest and also picked up a League Cup winners medal thanks to their 3–2 final victory over Liverpool at Wembley Stadium.
1978 World Cup
If you blinked, you might’ve missed Archie Gemmill’s World Cup appearance. He was a late addition to the Scotland squad after Billy McNeill was forced to withdraw through injury. Archie scored two goals in his two matches on the left wing but couldn’t prevent Scotland from finishing bottom of their group with just one point. Scotland’s most famous moment at the tournament came when Gemmill’s teammate, Gordon McQueen, picked up the ball in his own half, sprinted past the Dutch midfield, and then nutmegged the Dutch goalkeeper. It was a moment that lives on in infamy as the “stitch in time” had been sewn at the wrong time.
Gemmill’s goal against the Netherlands will forever be remembered as one of the greatest individual efforts in football history. After Robbie McManus was fouled on the edge of the box, the ball fell to Gemmill just outside the 18-yard box. He feinted past the first defender, swiveled past the next, and then skipped past the final defender before slotting past the goalkeeper. The goal was remarkable considering the conditions (it was raining) and the technical ability required to score such a goal. The Netherlands were one of the favorites to win the tournament and had already racked up a 10-1 win over Iran in their previous match. Gemmill’s goal was the first goal the Netherlands had conceded in the tournament.
After the World Cup
Gemmill’s goal made him a national hero, and he was greeted by thousands of fans when he returned to Scotland. Unfortunately for him, there was no time for celebration as he had to return to Nottingham for Forest’s next league match. Gemmill remained a Forest player until 1984 when he left to play for Sunderland, making 84 appearances during his time there. In 1987, he played for a Scottish club again when he signed for Hibs. Gemmill retired from playing in 1988 but remained heavily involved in football as a coach and scout. He was appointed manager of St Johnstone in 1997 and led them to two successive fifth-place finishes in the Scottish Premier League.
Later Career and Legacy
It’s hard to single out one moment from Archie Gemmill’s career, but his goal against the Netherlands is a great place to start. At the time of the World Cup, his goal was celebrated as the moment that would put Scottish football on the map. Sadly, Scotland’s performance at that tournament overshadowed the impact of his goal, especially in the eyes of English football fans. Gemmill’s performance against the Netherlands came at a time when English football was at the forefront of the sport and there was an assumption that the English were better than everyone else. Gemmill’s goal did much to dispel the myth that English football was superior to that played in Scotland.
Archie Gemmill’s goal against the Netherlands will forever be remembered as one of the greatest individual efforts in football history. It came at a time when England were at the forefront of the sport and there was an assumption that the English were better than everyone else. Gemmill’s goal did much to dispel the myth that English football was superior to that played in Scotland. Sadly, Gemmill’s performance at that tournament was overlooked in the eyes of English football fans, and his goal against the Netherlands came to represent Scottish football more than any other. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of Scottish football fans who have not forgotten the impact that Gemmill had on their national team.