At 31-7 down on Saturday, Scotland were plotting the comeback of all comebacks at Twickenham but little did they know they had a major weapon on their side – lucky charm Peter Murray.
Prior to the 2019 Guinness Six Nations finale, the 73-year-old Scottish fan had a remarkable Calcutta Cup record of attendance at Twickenham, visiting England’s fortress just three times and on each occasion seeing his side go away unbeaten.
These three occasions are the only times Scotland have not lost at Twickenham since before the war, in 1971, 1983 and 1989.
England have lost the Calcutta Cup against Scotland at home just twice in the last 81 years, with Murray in attendance in 71 and 83.
“My presence certainly seems to help when it’s against England at Twickenham,” commented the Edinburgh resident, who was at Twickenham to witness Saturday’s stunning stalemate thanks to Guinness.
“I’ve been to Paris, Cardiff and Dublin once each and Scotland have never won, they’ve lost them all, it’s only against England that I’m any use!
“In 71, my brother and I were directly behind Peter Brown when he converted, Chris Rea had scored a last-minute try and then Brown kicked the conversion for 16-15, that was their first win since before the war.
“In 83, I remember Tom Smith scoring (Roy Laidlaw also scored in the 22-12 win), although it’s a little fuzzy now! Then in 89 I remember John Jeffrey getting a try in the 12-12 draw.
“After the 80s though my English friend who’d got me the tickets decided, as we’d won one and drawn one, that he wouldn’t get me anymore!”
With his unbeaten ‘Triple’ in his head and in desperation to see his beloved Dark Blues prevail at HQ once again Murray decided to take action in 2019, if only he could get into the ground.
With tickets long sold out for this year’s Calcutta Cup showdown Murray approached official sponsor Guinness with his story to see if they could help out.
“At 73, I’m slowing down a bit and I quite like having my ‘unbeaten record’,” Murray wrote in a letter addressed to Guinness’ president for Europe, Turkey and India, John Kennedy.
“But, if I could get to this year’s game, I would be looking at it as my last hurrah.”
The retired financial services professional, who has a 63-year connection with the Calcutta Cup having first attended at BT Murrayfield in 1956, did not have high hopes of a reply.
“I wrote far more in hope than expectation,” he added. “I wrote eight or nine letters to different places and got no reply until two weeks ago.
“But then I got a call from someone from Guinness and he offered me two tickets – I was delighted!
“I called my brother Phil, who was there with me in ‘71, and after recovering from shock he agreed to go with me.”
Guinness then confirmed the offer of the tickets with a letter: “One of the reasons that the Guinness Six Nations Championship is so enduring and well-loved is its rich history of surprises,” it read.
“A slice of luck is essential to any successful sports team and we’re intrigued to put your claim to be Scotland’s lucky charm to the test.
“Perhaps Twickenham can be the real ‘Murray’ field.”
No-one could have possibly predicted what was about to unfold in south-west London.
By the time Murray travelled down from Edinburgh to Kings Cross, crossing the border into the old foe’s territory, Gregor Townsend’s men had lost their last three.
But the Scots were in defiant mood ahead of a visit to the ground where they’d lost 61-21 just two years ago, without their lucky charm present of course.
Murray had been provided with tickets in the North Stand, the same place he sat on his last visit in ‘89, albeit in a far more modern stadium.
The rest is history.
He added: “I’m still catching my breath after that weekend!
“I really didn’t expect to still be the lucky charm after that first ten minutes, I thought it was all over for Scotland.
“After 15 minutes, I had my head in my hands and I didn’t dare look anymore – every time England got the ball, they scored.
“But then, Stuart McInally scored a good try. I still thought it wouldn’t make any difference in any way but then when Scotland got two more tries in the second half I thought: ‘thank God, some respectability at least’.
“When we got the fourth, the momentum really changed, it did look as though Scotland were more likely to win, you could feel it in the crowd.”
Darcy Graham’s second try was closely followed by Finn Russell’s breakaway and Sam Johnson’s magnificent effort, pinballing off Englishman after Englishman.
The final scoreline – 38-38 – and Murray still unbeaten.
He continued: “I was on my feet shouting and pushing, yesterday morning I was hoarse for the first time in 25, 30 years!
“It was such an incredible contrast between halves, I would have said it was impossible. It’s taken me a long time to come down to talking sense!”