John McGinn: Georgia played funny buggers - I wanted to help clear the Hampden pitch but was told 'no'

Midfielder says Scotland are building something special.
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Scotland midfielder John McGinn today revealed how he tried to help groundsmen clear the waterlogged Hampden pitch but was told not to get involved. He admitted Georgia then played mind games hoping to force UEFA to postpone Tuesday’s Euro 2024 qualifier before the Scots recorded a historic 2-0 win.

The match was stopped on 10 minutes with the national team 1-0 ahead through Callum McGregor’s goal. It didn’t restart until more than 90 minutes later, with groundsmen, ballboys and stewards helping brush and roll water off the surface following torrential rain. Part of the delay was caused by Georgia remaining in their dressing room hoping the game would be abandoned, but Scott McTominay struck the second goal after half-time.

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McGinn said he knew Georgia’s gamesmanship was at play. “It was mental, an absolutely mental night. It all feels a little bit subdued,” he explained. “We’ve had a massive, massive win, but the supporters needed to get their buses and trains home. Fair play to every single one of them. It was them I felt for. It was fine for us, we were getting shelter and everything we needed, but there were a lot of mixed messages and Georgia were playing funny buggers.

“They were obviously trying to get it changed or get it moved because we had just scored. It was one of those things, but in the end common sense prevailed because in my opinion the game could have started a little bit earlier. There were obviously discussions to be had at various levels, but thankfully we were able to get the job done.

“It was just mixed signals. We were told the game was kicking off at 8.55pm, then 9.15pm, it was just mental. I think we’re all just relieved to get the game played and get the three points. Listen, I can in a way understand why they were wanting it off. They’d just conceded and we’d probably have done the same thing. But it became clear the game was going on and even then they were at it. Eventually the officials brought them out and the game went ahead.”

McGinn detailed how he attempted to lend a hand clearing the rain. Had the tie not resumed on Tuesday, it would have been staged on Wednesday behind closed doors at St Mirren’s ground in Paisley. “That was one thing we were told. That that was the contingency if the game didn’t restart. It wouldn’t have been ideal, that’s for sure,” admitted McGinn.

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“It would have been tricky had we been asked to go again behind closed doors at St Mirren. The crowd at Hampden are a big plus for us, so to not have them the following day would have been strange. The ground staff and everyone involved did an amazing job clearing the pitch. I was wanting to give them a hand, but we weren’t allowed. It might have helped because it was painful to watch but I was told it might tire me out.”

Scotland midfielder John McGinn as play is suspended due to a flooded pitch at Hampden on Tuesday.Scotland midfielder John McGinn as play is suspended due to a flooded pitch at Hampden on Tuesday.
Scotland midfielder John McGinn as play is suspended due to a flooded pitch at Hampden on Tuesday.

McGinn conceded it is “hard not to get excited” with Scotland motoring towards Euro 2024 after winning their first four qualifiers. “The togetherness is incredible and it’s brilliant to come away and be a part of this team. I feel we are building something special.”