Football: Gallacher rolls with it

THE SEARCH for Kevin Gallacher hardly began auspiciously. After dialling the mobile phone number, an unfamiliar voice was on the other end. "Kevin?" "No, mate," replied an exasperated voice, "you want the Blackburn Rovers player - this is Liam's phone!"

Whether I had been the victim of a wind-up or simply got lucky in tracking down the more notorious "Gallagher" boy remains a mystery, but, thankfully, two days later the real Kevin Gallacher revealed himself as he stepped on to the Hampden Park turf for a training session before Scotland departed for the Faroe Islands and then Prague.

This one didn't swear and, even though we were just 400 yards down the road from where Jim Kerr grew up, there was no sign of Patsy Kensit either. Yet Gallacher, the Scot that is, would be entitled to ask the Mancunian branch of the clan to dedicate one their best-known numbers to him. "Don't Look Back in Anger" might sum up how the 31-year-old striker views the last five rollercoaster years.

Football for Gallacher has been either feast or famine, but mostly frustration. A year ago, he and Blackburn could not put a foot wrong. The Scot's 21 goals had propelled his team into the Uefa Cup, and the World Cup finals beckoned too, largely thanks to his six goals in six qualifying games.

Gallacher's track record has never seen him count on the future, but even he must have thought the bad times - two broken legs which saw him miss out on Ewood Park's championship party of 1995 - were behind him. France 98, though, was the beginning of a miserable 12 months. He hardly got a sniff of a goal in the World Cup, then he broke his arm playing for Scotland against Estonia. Without him, Blackburn sank deeper than one of those Lancashire holes the Beatles immortalised.

The scars of relegation are still fresh, yet Gallacher admits that overtime with Scotland has allowed him to work out the frustrations being nursed by his Blackburn team-mates on beaches around the world.

"I'm in a totally different environment with different chat from the players," he said. "With Scotland, there's no relegation hangover and that takes my mind off things."

Gallacher only just regained his fitness after a troublesome calf injury before the denouement. He scored with a sublime lob against Nottingham Forest which briefly offered hope, but then missed a penalty which would have given Rovers the lead. "Scoring that goal was brilliant, but all I can think of now is the penalty. But we got what we deserved. We never thought about relegation until it happened."

Wednesday's game against the Czech Republic in Prague offers Gallacher the opportunity to check out of the depression zone. Scotland have badly missed the man whose eight goals in the run-up to the World Cup makes him Craig Brown's present top-scorer. "This is very similar to the World Cup qualifying campaign for me," he said. "I didn't play until about half-way through the group, then I came in for back-to-back games with Estonia and Austria and scored three times and went off on a run of goals."

When the Scots were beaten 2-1 by the Czechs in Glasgow three months ago, Brown bemoaned the lack of a natural predator. Cometh the hour, and the Scotland coach knows exactly who his man is. "Kevin is a natural goalscorer," Brown said. "Very few strikers can get more than 20 Premiership goals in a season, and he will be vital to us. I don't believe in going to Prague to defend. We could not survive that and we intend to use the counter-attack philosophy that got us a win in Germany recently."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Manager

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a white-ha...

Recruitment Genius: Operations and Administration Support Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Solar P...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Specialist

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is changing the way at...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor