IT was never coming home. That objective could only have been achieved if the Lightning Seeds played the bagpipes to accompany words detailing considerably more than 30 years of hurt.

In short, it’s oor baw. The modern game that bewitches billions was made in Scotland, not England. The rules and organisation were formed south of the Border but the mature, modern game had its birth on the playing fields of Scotland.

There may be a hint of chauvinism in this declaration but it is cloaked in sadness, too. It accentuates the pain occasioned by such a fall from grace. Scotland gave football the game. It won’t give it back.

The English chorus of It’s Coming Home is understandable but any dismay at its tedious repetition and, indeed, its central misplaced premise, is made all the more galling because of Scotland’s resolute stand not to be involved in the finals of international tournaments.

The semi-final between England and Croatia provided much to ponder for Scots. First, England’s grab on the rights to the creation of Planet Fitba dissolve under forensic scrutiny. The Football Association was formed in England in 1863 but the game was moulded by “The Scotch Professors”, the players who flooded over the Border to make football a cultured passing game rather than rugby with penalised hand balls.

The first professional footballer in England was James Joseph Lang, a product of Third Lanark, who signed for Sheffield Wednesday in 1876. His professionalism was of the “shamateur” variety. However, when open professionalism was introduced in England in 1885, the number of Scots players soared. For example, the Liverpool side of 1892 was simply described as The Team of the Macs because of the preponderance of Scots.

Scots coaches also took this passing game to every continent. It is with an aching poignancy that one reports that one Scottish triumph in Russia, home of this World Cup, never quite came home. In the 1890s, the Scottish Circle of Amateurs played in St Petersburg with Nevka FC, a team of Scots, winning the inaugural city championship in 1901. So, if it is about football history then Scots win the World Cup.

Unfortunately, it isn’t. This brings us to the second reflection on that semi-final. This concerns Croatia and its ability to produce exceptional players from a population of about four million, a number so small that one can only note that one has bought a bigger round at a wedding.

The success of Croatia produces an acute case of Caledonian angst normally only occasioned by the achievements of such as Uruguay, previous World Cup winners with a population of three million, and Iceland, qualifiers for the finals of the European Championships and World Cup, with a population of 300,000, that is, the precise number that is routinely in carriage three of the 5.15 Queen Street to Waverley train.

The chorus that in no way resembles the joyous expectancy of It’s Coming Home can be summarised as Why Are We So Crap? It produces a national breakdown whose main symptoms are feverish phone-ins, severe hand-wringing and the acute outbreak of a formal inquiry into the state of Scottish football.

The solutions are stated simply. We should be more like Iceland: one qualified coach to every embryo and a full 4G pitch with floodlights in every living room. We should be more like Croatia: minimal facilities, no formal pathway in terms of coaching, but a natural talent perversely provoked by the brutal realities of lives shorn of entitlement.

The answer may lie somewhere between these opposites. Yes, Scotland’s facilities can and must be improved, though much work has been done on this in recent years. Yes, the spirit of Croatian kids playing on poor pitches with minimal accessories is to be applauded and the mentality, at least, replicated.

But how to do that? The basic equation is simple: more kids playing more football equals better adult footballers. It worked for generations in Scotland when football was largely the only game in town, certainly among the working class in the central belt.

Football was mandatory for the generation of Scots who qualified for World Cups and who won European Cups with Celtic, Liverpool, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa or Borussia Dortmund.

Now it is a choice, in many cases an expensive one that disenfranchises those who once would once be called the working class but are the children of the increasingly alienated non-working class. Now, too, a generation of children can access their need for competition or diversion on tablet or Xbox. Now, too, children who want exercise can choose from sports that were not once largely accessible.

There is a pool of athletic, talented and committed children and all sports are dangling their rods in it. It is why we have, for example, a boxing world champion in the making (Josh Taylor), Olympic gold medal cyclists (Callum Skinner, Katie Archibald), world-class swimmers (Hannah Miley, Ross Murdoch), a genuine, elite athlete (Laura Muir) and the greatest British sportsman ever in Andrew Barron Murray and a former world No1 doubles player in his brother Jamie.

Scottish football may one day prosper in terms of international achievement. It may need only a decent generation complemented by the appearance of a Donald MacBappe or a Stewart MacModric. In the meantime, if it’s not coming home we can at least whistle Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life in hope, if not expectation.