11:36:24 AMScots World Cup team 'provincial'
Archie Gemmill's solo effort was one of the few highlights of the campaign
A British diplomat dismissed the Scottish football team as "provincials" who were out of their depth at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, it has emerged.
The comments were made in a dispatch from Hugh Carless, the British charge d'affaires in Buenos Aires at the time.
The papers have been released by the government under the 30-years rule.
The team, led by charismatic manager Ally MacLeod, flew to Argentina on a wave of nationalistic fervour, but crashed out in the first round.
The failure led to widespread condemnation by fans and pundits - but now it appears even diplomats had a say.
In his scathing dispatch on Scotland's ill-fated efforts at the tournament, which he cabled to the Foreign Office in London, Mr Carless denounced the squad's lack of professionalism.
He wrote: "The Scottish team, which had an emotional send-off in Glasgow from thousands of cheering supporters, was greeted in silence on their return.
"In retrospect it would seem that the poor Scottish performance was due to complacency and lack of professionalism on the part of all concerned with Scottish football. They seemed provincials out of their depth in international waters."
Scotland were the only home nation to qualify for the finals, with MacLeod boasting that they would return from Argentina with a "medal of some sort."
But he was left with his head in his hands as his Tartan Army lost their first match to Peru and could only scrape a draw against Iran.
Even a memorable 3-2 victory over Holland, which included a stunning solo goal by Archie Gemmill, was too little too late and Scotland were on their way home without qualifying for the knock-out stage.
Ally MacLeod told fans the Scotland team would win a World Cup medal
To add to their woes, winger Willie Johnston tested positive for drugs after the Peru game - even though he insisted he only took a hayfever pill - and was sent home in disgrace.
The papers released by the National Archives in Kew, west London, show Mr Carless warned that at least one Argentinean lawyer wanted to start extradition proceeding so that the player could be brought back from the UK to stand trial on criminal charges with a possible three-year jail sentence.
"Both Fifa and the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) agree that this further publicity is undesirable but the MFA claim that they have no grounds for interfering with the due processes of law," he wrote.
Fortunately for Johnston and the Scots, the attempt came to nothing.
Carless was not the only one who was unimpressed by the Scottish performance.The files reveal that 12 fans were arrested for displaying a banner with "obscenities" about the Scottish Football Association.
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