Every football team has a hard luck story to tell at some point in its development.
I am not saying that Scotland’s football destiny was decided when Steve Clarke left it so long before he gave Tony Ralston an international start, but you look at how piss poor they were in the game against Ukraine and then at his performance in the first half tonight and you wonder.
Because tonight he has been immense. He’s been the Tony Ralston we’ve been watching all these months, the Ralston that Clarke seemed determined to ignore.
I’ve been saying a while now that this guy would grab his chance when he got it, and has he ever done that tonight.
He has been brilliant from start to finish.
He has scored. He has crossed great balls into the box.
He has defended well. He has completed nearly every pass with accuracy.
He is playing with aggression and commitment, but no small degree of skill.
In short, he has been a revelation.
Whilst the national coach has messed about putting his former club player in that role and over promoting a former Ibrox youth, Ralston has been doing this week in, week out for Celtic after coming through a trying summer where he was constantly being told he was being replaced in our team. The mental fortitude it took … immense.
He has shown himself to be a footballer of quality. Of character.
He has shown himself capable of playing on the domestic club stage, then the European stage and now the international one too.
He is still young. He is still learning. For all that, I think we’re watching the emergence of a big, big talent and I am delighted by it and Scotland fans should be as well.
No more fumbling about, no more trying to stick square pegs in round holes.
No more embarrassment trying to make Nathan Patterson look like a good investment.
Scotland, Steve Clarke, this is your national team right back, now and for years to come.