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."

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn