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‘I got Jock his job, saved Ally from drowning but never said woof!’



ARCHIE MACPHERSON wants to get a few things off his chest as we meet for lunch –­ the first is he never said “woof” during his decades of football commentary.

That’s despite it becoming his “catchphrase” thanks to satirical BBC footie show Only An Excuse?


Archie MacPherson has seen and done it all during his time in Scottish footballCredit: Andrew Barr
But he insists he never once said "woof! during commentary


But he insists he never once said “woof! during commentaryCredit: Andrew Barr

But he insists: “To my knowledge I did not use the word ‘woof’ during a game.

“What I used to do was give an expulsion of breath, which then was made into some sort of catchphrase.”

And the second thing is probably his best-kept secret — his age.

He says: “I have been everything from 83 to 87 in the newspapers, for years now.

“In fairness, it’s about time I set the record straight. I turn 90 in November.”

He looks amazing for it as we meet at Smith’s French restaurant in Uddingston.

For most of those years Archie was the voice of Scottish football and sport — covering six World Cups featuring our national side from 1974, and three Olympics, not to mention decades on the radio too.

His voice was immortalised in the cult Nineties film Trainspotting, with Archie shouting, “Goal!” at the moment Ewan McGregor’s anti-hero Renton scored with Kelly Macdonald’s schoolgirl character Diane.

Away from the mic, Archie also helped one one of our most famous managers Jock Stein land the Scotland job, which he held from 1978 until his shocking death trackside in 1985.

As he tucks into a salmon gravadlax tart with soft poached egg, followed by a main of wild garlic and parsley risotto, he recalls: “I got a call saying the Big Man wanted to speak to me.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson tells Germans what to expect from the Tartan Army

“Stein was at Leeds at the time and asked me what I was doing tonight. I said I was at Ibrox covering a game.

“He then asked: ‘How about you going on and saying I might be interested in the Scotland job — you’ll know how to phrase it.’

“So Harry Carpenter switched over from London to me at Ibrox where I said: ‘All the SFA need to do is lift the phone to Jock Stein and ask and they’ll have their next manager.’

“The following morning, I was in bed listening to the radio when Big Jock was asked about my comments on air and said: ‘Uch you know what these people are like. They say anything for a headline.’

“Ten days later he was the Scotland manager. So I played an unwitting part in him getting the job.”

Archie also helped another Scotland manager — saving him from drowning.

He says: “That was Ally MacLeod. Scotland were on a South American tour in 1977, where we beat Chile 4-2 and drew against Argentina.

“That’s when Ally built expectations we were going to win the World Cup the next year.

“But he was so confident about himself he almost drowned on the Copacabana the day before we were beaten 2-0 by Brazil.

“A bunch of us jumped into the water and dragged him out. I’m not sure he could swim.

“I think he thought he could walk on water.”

He adds: “Having said all that, he was a lovely guy and there was nothing wicked. He was just full of fantasy.

“By the end of Argentina ’78 some Scottish supporters spat on him.

“They’re the ones who should be ashamed as they had helped elevate him to this god-like figure.”

That ill-fated tournament also gave Macpherson his favourite Scotland moment — Archie Gemmill’s goal.

He says: “I could see all the commentators in a line rising, as if watching ballet, before he put the ball in the net. It was like a wee short story, with a beginning, middle and triumphant end.

“Johnny Rep then scored two minutes later for the Netherlands with a 25-yard blooter that put us out of the competition.

“If he hadn’t scored, we were going through.”

Archie famously had to recreate his commentary for director Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting — but having not bothered to read through the script he had no idea of the scene’s racy content.

He smiles: “When I re-recorded it Danny started giving me direction.

“He was emphatic about what he wanted — more passion, more oomph.

“I still had no idea why. So when I eventually saw it in the cinema, I was taken unawares.”

For Spain ’82 Archie was caught up in another topless moment when Sean Connery invited him and Billy McNeill for a meal along with the actor’s wife Micheline.


Archie says: “He took us to his favourite restaurant in Marbella but there was a woman sunbathing topless just to the side of where we were facing, which attracted a lot of Sean’s interest.

“His wife Micheline didn’t seem to notice as she would just natter away — until Sean shouted: ‘Would you shut the f*** up.’

“Billy and I didn’t know where to look. Micheline didn’t seem to care and carried on nattering.”

It was also in Spain where Archie went on holiday with another Scottish great — which was memorable for the wrong reasons. The dad-of-two says: “Kenny Dalglish tipped my wife Jess into a pool in Menorca once.

“She couldn’t swim so I had to fish her out. But she had had her hair done that morning and was more annoyed about her expensive do being ruined.”

And while it’s believed the Tartan Army was a product of the late Seventies, Archie insists the fun-loving support of today was born in Seville in 1982, when we lost 4-1 to Brazil.

He says: “I’ll never forget seeing the longest ever conga line, with the Scotland and Brazilian supporters together going through the city enjoying themselves.

“That was a completely different kind of support that went to Argentina with Ally. They didn’t take it so seriously.”

But before he becomes a nonagenarian, Archie, whose latest book It’s A Goal is out in August, believes he will live to see Scotland finally qualify from the group stages of a major tournament.

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He says: “Steve Clarke can do it. I never give up hope because that wee boy is still inside me – kicking every ball for Scotland.”

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