Falkirk’s three-and-a-half World Cup stars

Chris Waddle found fame at Italia '90 for England before going on to join Falkirk for four games in 1996
Chris Waddle found fame at Italia '90 for England before going on to join Falkirk for four games in 1996

In the second of its Brazil 2014 feature series, Heraldsport looks back at the former Falkirk players that have graced the World Cup stage for Scotland and other international sides.

Just as Gary Gillespie discussed in last week’s edition of The Falkirk Herald, the Bairns have had several players play in the World Cup.

Russell Latapy

Russell Latapy

However, few have done so while resident at either Westfield or Brockville. In fact, Falkirk have only had two-and-a-half players represent the club directly at the Greatest Show on Earth.

Why the half?

Well, in 1958 Alex Parker was named in the Scotland squad thought to be headed by Matt Busby and bound for the World Cup in Sweden that summer. However, though Parker travelled internationally with the squad that was in fact led by Dawson Walker, he was also on his domestic travels and was transferred to Everton a month before the finals began for £18,000.

According to club historian Michael White, and his ‘Bairns Big Book of Lists’, “The finals were held in June, before he had played for the Goodison club.

“Alex considered himself to be a Falkirk player when he took the field against Paraguay.”

Scotland lost 3-2 in Norrkoping as, for the second successive time, they failed to negotiate the group stage.

Parker was called up after a role at right-back in a Scotland versus Scotland League selection game in February of the World Cup year. The match also featured Jimmy McIntosh, now of the Dutch Inn at Skinflats. McIntosh caught the eye of the selection committee, but, as a letter from the Scottish Football Association made its way to Brockville, the left-back was injured and unable to travel. According to Mr White, Falkirk boss Reggie Smith forwarded the note of interest to McIntosh as he recuperated in Falkirk Infirmary.

The Bairns though have since been represented - fully - by two World Cup stars, Russell Latapy and Densill Theobald.

The latter was ‘the’ first player to draw a wage from the Bairns while at the finals when he played on Saturday, June 10, 2006 - co-incidentally against Sweden, the nation which threw dubiety on Parker’s claim.

Theobald started the match, as did ex-Bairn Collin Samuel, and later played against England and - again by coincidence - Paraguay. Falkirk’s Little Magician Russell Latapy also made an appearance as a substitute in the final game before the Soca Warriors bowed out of the tournament in Germany.

But plenty of pre and post Bairns have featured in the World Cup outwith their spells at Brockville or The Falkirk Stadium.

Perhaps the most prominent was Chris Waddle who skied his penalty for England against Germany and cost the team a place in the final of Italia 90.

That tournament also featured Mo Johnston who would later go on to play at Brockville and Falkirk’s youngest ever captain, Gary Gillespie.

Other ex-Bairns who have recently played for Scotland in the last World Cup finals appearance - at France in 1998 were David Weir and Jackie McNamara. Weir featured in the 1-1 draw with Norway, with McNamara involved in the defeat to Morrocco that sent Craig Brown’s side home.

Of course Brown and Andy Roxburgh are also ex-Bairns who may not have played on the top stage but managed at that level.

Likewise Alex Ferguson, as he was then known, took on the managerial duties for the 1986 World Cup campaign after the death of Jock Stein, while Willie Ormond took the national side to West Germany in 1974.

Tommy Coyne was in the Republic of Ireland squad for the finals in the USA in 1994, while Collin Samuel was in Trinidad and Tobago’s party of 2006.

The list is by no means comprehensive, but is expected to grow this summer with ex-Bairn Tim Krul a possible inclusion in the Netherlands’ campaign.