THE SITTER – How Missed Chances Can Destroy a Nation

19 Sep


It’s called a sitter. The ball is right in front of the goal, it’s easier to score, harder to miss, but somehow the ball refuses to go home to the net. The player’s face is agape in disbelief. He has missed a sitter. And he will be remembered for it. It might be the only thing he is remembered for. He might wake up in the middle of the night screaming, his form might plunge, perhaps the opposing fans will compose a new song celebrating his disaster, maybe he’ll think he is cursed.  Or doomed.

It might not be damaging if it is a mid-season game but missing a sitter in a precious moment will haunt a player like a ghost in a Dickens novel. Best to look at an example. Billy Bremner was a tough, popular redheaded Scottish footballer. He shone in the seventies, played for his country, starred at his club, and enjoyed the party-boy lifestyle of the celebrity. But then he missed a sitter. It blackened his name forever. No one wanted to buy him a beer anymore. People turned their backs on him and whispered – There’s Bremner. He let us down.

Bremner’s doom came in the Scotland v Brazil match during the 1974 World Cup Finals. The ball was one yard from the goal line. The nearest Brazilian was five yards adrift, and the goalkeeper may have been on the beach in Rio. And there was Billy Bremner, alone with the ball, the moment that would have made him a national hero, a new Scottish Braveheart, beckoned. The nation rose from its seat in front of its television. The word goal was shaped on lips and roars dredged from throats, Scotland were about to beat Brazil. But Bremner blew it. Like a stumbling drunk, he fluffed, and puffed, and defying Newton’s laws of motion, put the ball past the post. The nation never recovered. The Bremner hangover has lasted three decades. His curse was last seen a week ago, when Scotland missed several sitters against Holland, and went out of the World Cup.

The media made sure he never forgot it. In 1998, with Scotland drawn against Brazil in the opening game of the France World Cup, the Bremner sitter was shown on TV, over and over again. Billy Bremner dropped dead from a heart attack, aged 54.

With the World Cup Finals now on the line, all countries still in with a shout, will be praying that Bremner’s ghost will not rattle his chains.


One Response to “THE SITTER – How Missed Chances Can Destroy a Nation”


  1. iHooligan » Blog Archive » The Nutter With the Putter - September 21, 2009

    […] at Kick the Balls, Alan Black tells of the dark agony of the missed sitter.  And check out his Hooligan Opera while you are […]

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