By Bill Heaney
Football fans rose as one from the edge of their sofas on Thursday night to greet the goal of the century so far.
West Dunbartonshire’s John McGinn believed he was offside as he netted a fine overhead kick to salvage a draw for Scotland against Austria at Hampden Park.
Manager Steve Clarke’s men twice came from behind to take a point in their opening World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
McGinn, grandson of Dumbarton man Jack McGinn and his late wife, Mary Quinn, from Hill Street, Brucehill, hauled Scotland level for the second time in the 85th minute, cleverly steering Ryan Christie’s header into the far bottom corner.
Jack McGinn, pictured right with the European Cup which Celtic won in Lisbon in 1967, was a Scotland Junior International player who became the chairman of Celtic, whose club newspaper he edited, in 1988, their centenary year.
Of the fabulous goal he scored, the young midfielder said he was “relieved I’ve not broken my neck attempting it”.
John McGinn is one of three brothers – the others are Paul and Stephen – who were born locally and went to local schools who play professional football at the highest level.
Their grandmother was the niece of John ‘The Rooter’ Madden, who played for Dumbarton and Celtic, and whose remarkable life story appeared in a recent edition of The Dumbarton Democrat.
He added: “I was lucky, I thought I was offside. VAR down the road has got a lot of negatives but the positive is you’re trained and used to just putting it in the net and dealing with it after.
“I was just waiting on the flag going up. Delighted, really important goal, really important test of character for us. Before, we could easily have crumbled and lost 3-1 or 4-1, but we’ve got belief and we showed that second-half.”
Having broken Scotland’s 23-year drought for a major men’s finals appearance in booking their place at the European Championship, Clarke’s side travel to Israel on Sunday for their second World Cup qualifier.
The Aston Villa midfielder, who formerly played for Hibernian in Edinburgh, John McGinn now has eight goals in 16 caps, and is the top scorer under Clarke.
The 26-year-old praised his team’s resilience and their ability to switch between systems as they got to grips with an Austria line-up featuring several German Bundesliga regulars.
John McGinn with grandfather Jack and the Scottish Cup, which Hibs won in 2016 when the Scottish international played at Easter Road.
“That’s something that we’re known for now – we’ve got a brilliant team spirit,” McGinn added. “No-one blames each other, we’re all fighting for our country and a place at the World Cup. It won’t be easy but we know we’re more than capable.
“The only disappointment tonight is knowing how important the home games are. Teams concede goals and it’s how you react to that and we reacted in the best possible way.
“The way we set up at the start maybe wasn’t allowing us to get up the park, but we’ve got flexible players; we made a little change and it certainly helped us. I’ve no idea if it was a good game to watch but in the end it was a good point.”
Keeping the dynasty alive – Jack McGinn, back left, with the St Michael’s parish football team which lined up for a charity match in Dumbarton’s West End during the 1960s.
‘It’s sensational’ – reaction
Former Scotland striker Billy Dodds on BBC Radio Scotland
Beautiful. John McGinn has found a pocket of space and he goes for the overhead kick, he finds an angle for the shot and it’s sensational.
If one of the greatest in the game did that, we’d be shouting from the rooftops. So when one of our own does something like that? I’ll tell you what, it is top-notch.
The John McGinn song, which is sung at Aston Villa:
WE’VE GOT MCGINN. SUPER JOHN MCGINN. I JUST DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND. HE’S DEAN SMITH’S MAN. HE’S BETTER THAN ZIDANE. WE’VE GOT SUPER JOHN MCGINN.
STOP PRESS: John McGinn scored two more goals for Scotland when the national team beat the Faroe Islands 4-0 at Hampden Park on Wednesday night.