When it came to the venue for their training sessions, every gathering of the squad could take them somewhere different. During his period as assistant coach to former national manager George Burley, Steven Pressley couldn't be sure if the training would be at Dumbarton, or maybe Pollok Juniors' ground, or any one of several other venues scattered around the central belt.
A few years later, little has changed. This week the players selected by Craig Levein have been put through their paces at Morton's Cappielow and on a pitch in the grounds of their Renfrewshire hotel. The SFA has always been grateful for every surface made available but, even so, living as nomads has become a little humbling.
Scotland players are now harvested almost entirely from clubs which have their own dedicated, state-of-the-art training grounds.
The SFA's comparatively modest resources were also put in perspective this week by the Football Association's opening of a £105m training complex just outside Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire. St George's Park has 11 outdoor pitches, a "world-class" gym and medical facilities and two hotels, and will enable England teams to train on a pitch with the exact same grass measurements as Wembley. All 24 England national teams, male and female, will now use the complex as their training base ahead of international matches. Cappielow can't compete with that.
"England's new training centre is terrific and they're talking about educating their coaches and developing them there," said Pressley.
"That's what we need. We need something like that in Scotland to propel our game onto the next level. I'm envious when I see what they've got. There must be serious investment into a centre of excellence where we can develop the next generation of players and coaches because we all have to be better."
Work is under way. The deadline for cities and towns to submit tenders to be the venue for a National Performance Centre for Sport in Scotland is in December. Another £15m from the SFA's performance strategy, and the likelihood of partners getting involved from the private sector, could bring the cost of the complex to nearly £50m.
Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive, recently told Herald Sport that nine bidders from across the country had expressed an interest in the project, which essentially would be a football centre open for use by all other sports.
All Scottish national teams would train there and it would house a National Football Academy. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and elsewhere in the central belt are all possible venues. The formal bidding process will take place next year – overseen by an independent working group – with a view to the Government selecting the winning bid and the centre being open by 2016 at the latest.
Pressley can testify to the benefits of a squad being based at a dedicated complex, given his Falkirk players are based at their own centre within Stirling University's sports campus. "You need significant training pitches, office space and indoor facilities," he said. "When you see some of the government spend in other areas – like the trams – then it would be peanuts in comparison to build such a facility."
Pressley has made a name for himself as an interesting and opinionated thinker on Scottish football reform and that, coupled with his friendship with Levein, led him to look way beyond the immediate consequences of what might happen in tomorrow night's World Cup qualifier in Wales.
A qualifying campaign and a manager's job may hang in the balance, but Pressley insisted that the national team have suffered for reacting to game-by-game results rather than genuinely committing to a long-term national strategy of improvement.
"I'm a realist as well so I understand it's not all about the grand vision and sometimes you have to get results. You can't always be looking into the distance, so don't think I don't realise that. But what I'm saying is that the real core problem must be addressed. We're putting the building blocks in place but we need to go even further and we should be envious of what they've created in England.
"During my time as an international player we stayed a lovely hotel. That was great. But the actual training facilities? We trained at Dumbarton and, no disrespect because they're a great club, the surface in the winter months and the environment wasn't conducive to a top national team. During George Burley's time we trained at Pollok Juniors. Now it's Cappielow. It's incredible that we're at this stage now. It's the same at club level: some of our top teams don't have a training base.
"We never invest in the future. I know we need to get results now but the future is always 10 years away for us because we never invest in it, so we never get close to that place we want to be. It's up to the Government and the SFA to fund a new centre. Stirling has submitted an application to become a centre of excellence and the university has a lot of facilities which they could upgrade and it's perfectly located."
New bricks and mortar alone will be inadequate without a widespread change in attitudes, Pressley insisted. "There has to be a realisation that this is a transitional period for the whole country. I know Celtic have had a couple of very positive results in Europe but their team is almost entirely based around English or foreign players.
"If you look at the actual Scottish clubs' performances in Europe in recent years it doesn't make good reading. We need to address the real problem – which isn't always the manager, it's how we play football and how we develop the players and the style of football we adopt at the top level – or we'll continue like this.
"We're missing the point. It's not the manager. Craig Levein is a terrific manager. Unless we open the curtains, and look beyond the borders of Scotland, there is a lot of work to be done. It's going to take time and perseverance.
"Either we go on this journey as a country together like the Germans did [German football restructured its national youth development in 2002] and address the real issues, or we keep on doing what we're doing. If you look at the likes of France and Germany they've all gone into these transitional periods and come out at the other end with a style of football and development.
"It can take up to 10 years for it to fully kick in. We could even look at our group rivals Belgium, who have adopted a style of play and strategy that is very evident in their national team and club sides.
"If we want our football to be talked about in other countries as a success story then we need to get together and address the real issues . . . not change the personnel at every given opportunity."
* Pressley spoke at the launch of a new book, "Scottish Football: It's Not All About The Old Firm" by Scott Burns, which is out now priced £12.99.
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