Good books feel like they were written specifically for you. This vibrant and brilliantly researched study of the day Scotland defeated the reigning world champions on their home patch, the pitch on which they’d won the Jules Rimet trophy just months earlier, fills most of the gaps in even my dad’s taciturn recollections.

He was a Wembley pitch invader on 15 April 1967. I wasn’t yet born. He wasn’t yet 18. His own father died four years earlier. I was raised on incomplete tales and fleeting footage of Wembley 67, increasing its mythos. The ticket stub didn’t appear til I was in my thirties, but was immediately framed.

Gallus is awash with footballers recalling their dads through the most famous instalment of a fixture once an ornament in all working class Scottish households. Celtic’s Ronnie Simpson, already so senior club-mates call him “Faither”, completes his first cap by going one better than dad, Jimmy, the Rangers centre-half who captained Scotland to a 1936 Wembley draw. Bobby Lennox’s father is too shy to come to the Scotland team hotel to collect his complimentary tickets, sending Bobby’s uncle instead. And Jim McCalliog celebrates his winning goal by running towards his dad’s spot in the stand.

Sportswriter Michael McEwan’s latest book is a gently emotional rather than rabidly emotive remembrance of the day fathers of my childhood were quizzed about most. It’s an illuminating, enjoyable interrogation and recreation of the day Jim Baxter ball-juggled like only a Scot could or would. And, of course, it’s a celebration. Because Slim Jim did it at the place every Scot would most want to.

Or, rather, Wembley used to be the venue Scotland fans revered most. If familiarity breeds contempt and abandoning the fixture breeds different ambitions, biannual visits kept Wembley at the forefront of Scottish football fantasies for a century. My dad’s fourth trip, the midweek 2-0 loss in 1983, was my first, just shy of 14. My Scottish Walkabout complete, the British Home Championship died the following season, at 100 years old. I returned in 1988 with my mate, wages and a thirst (Peter Beardsley, 1-0 England). And in 2013, the Twin Towers now a huge arch, I drove my dad and his mate to a 3-2 loss in a fixture reduced to what it is this Tuesday at Hampden: an occasional reboot of the planet’s oldest international. Scotland have defeated other reigning world champions. We’ve explained the demise of the Home Internationals by subsequently meeting England in World Cup qualifiers, European Championship play-offs and the actual Euros, twice (incredibly, both at Wembley). McEwan details FIFA and UEFA allowing the British Championship to double as, respectively, a World Cup qualifying group in the 1950s and a European Nations qualifying tournament the following decade.

You leave this book fully understanding how Scotland and England gave the world international football, were begged to join its expansion and rarely met the rest of the planet with the respect it showed them. That insularity was reciprocated in England only winning one major trophy and, the author posits, Scotland eschewing silverware in lieu of taking the shine off England’s.

No-one watching the scenes in Wroclaw on Saturday, as war-weary Ukrainians’ celebrated a draw with England, could deny international football is steeped in politics. There are few things more political than a border. But the only possible failing in Gallus is pairing the fortunes of our national team – and England’s - with a history of the SNP.

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This is no proof of the author’s politics (and, as a golf journalist, McEwan will know all about besieged ancient institutions). But he brilliantly uses detail as context. I now know the name of every scout Scotland manager Bobby Brown had watching what players in which club games the weekend before Wembley, and that drunks in tartan fancy dress on London’s streets was slated by English hacks as far back as 1928. So it jars to read one political party’s history becoming the inevitable legacy of everything from the Auld Alliance to the Highland Clearances.

Historical shorthand is essential for accounts of nationhood that can be squeezed onto a Glengarry pin-badge. But the SNP have only dominated Scottish politics for the last decade. Perhaps the status quo doesn’t need mentioned but no feeling is given to 300 years of most Scots seeing the Union – if rarely Unionism – as what’s best for a country they love as dearly as any who voted Yes in 2014.

I attend around half of Scotland’s home matches each season. The SNP and referendums remain largely unmentioned at these games. But in consigning all nationalist history to chapters 11 and 28 out of 30, what could be a stylistic flaw – not weaving a stated argument through the entire book – in fact works as a balm for those of us worried Scotland in 1967 is being equated with Catalonia under Franco.

Luckily, the dominant West Lothian Question here is one of Tam Dalyell’s constituents demanding he get the match shown live on STV; That it wasn’t is the least startling of the facts and stats Gallus delivers: The number of times both nations have drawn 0-0, that England played no-one but Scotland at Wembley for almost the first thirty years of the stadium’s existence, the hilarious reason Alf Ramsey’s professional playing career didn’t start at Portsmouth and – another instance of disparate things you knew but had never connected - that Bobby Brown was the last amateur to be capped for Scotland, played part-time throughout his illustrious Rangers goalkeeping career then became Scotland’s first full-time manager.

This is an era of selection committees undermining managers, Under-23 and inter-league internationals and £22-a-week making you a superstar. But there’s no distance from the main subject. The almost six decades melt away. The blended biographies of every participant, from directors to physios to 12th men in the days before substitutes, are affecting. Ramsey, Brown, Baxter and Denis Law are all beautifully rendered but, for me, the most touching portrait is McCalliog’s.

Through one of the author’s personal interviews with living participants, the Gorbals boy recalls so much more than one goal. Via his story we get the entire 1960s for working class Brits. By the time he’s scoring Scotland’s late winner at Wembley, a year after his early goal couldn’t help Sheffield Wednesday win the FA Cup final, your eyes are filling up as much as his today and his mum’s when Everton went 3-2 up in 1966.

By the turn of the Millennium the country I most wanted to beat was the one we were playing next. Despite membership of the Scotland Supporters Club, tonight is the second straight England friendly visit I’ve missed. The rise of the SNP, the Indy referendum and divisiveness metastasised by social media all make Scotland v England unpalatable to me if there’s no tournament progress at stake.

The 1967 edition covered two tournaments. But Scotland’s failure to get past the second round of any finals - or reach one for my entire 30s and 40s - made me care less about beating England and more about beating anyone. Gallus neither agrees nor disagrees. But it’s a fascinating, entertaining reminder of when beating England was everything, uniting fans, family and, well, country.

Gallus: Scotland, England and the 1967 World Cup Final

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