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Alan Gillespie

Starks Park wisnay big enough so we hud tae go tae Edinburra. Easter Road, where Hibs played. I just mind there being hunners ay green seats. I says tae my da, how could they no huv played in Kirkcoddy? He says, cos there’s no enough seats. This is Bah-yerr Myoonick we’re talking about, ken. This is Kahn. Papin. Klinsmann.

Big wow, I thought. We’d already pumped they Faroeeze dumplings, Gøtu Ítróttarfelag. Took ages tae learn how tae pronounce that name, and I never forgot it. In the next round we stuffed some mob frae Iceland called Akraness, and both they games got played at Stark’s Park. So I didnay see what was so special about the Germans. Wisnay as if they were gonnay bring a million folk over for the game, eh?

We got the supporters’ bus frae Kirkcoddy tae Edinburra and there wis a few boys frae my school on it. I mind everybody being dead relaxed. Cos, like, we were undefeated in Europe, ken. Somebody said, whit tae dae is hold them aff until half time. That’ll get them nervous and we’ll turn them over in the second half. Easy. Then the grownups did a sweepstake and it wis like, aye, Rovers, wan-nil, nae bother.

That wis some Rovers team though. Scott Thomson in goals; the same Scott Thomson that saved the penalty frae Paul McStay and won us the Coca-Cola Cup. So he wis basically like Superman and it wis a total mystery why they two plonkers Leighton and Goram were getting intay the Scotland team ahead ay him. Davie Sinclair wis at centre-back, and he wis the hardest man in fitba. Hud tattoos on his teeth, apparently. Him and big Shaun Dennis were a couplay mentalcases, nae doubt. In midfield ye had the two wee diamonds, Micky Cameron and Danny Lennon. As good as anybody on their day. There was the Trinidadian on the bench, Tony Rougier, and he wis mibbe my favourite, an aw-dancin’ aw-singin’ out-and-out winger. If ye ask me, he should’ve started the match. But it wouldnay do tae question the manager, Sir Jimmy Nicholl. Ye just didnay question that man’s decisions.

I sat with my da behind Scott Thomson’s goal. A teacher frae my school wis a few rows behind us. I waved and he waved back and it wis like we werenay teacher and pupil anymore. We were Rovers. Two Rovers.

I mind looking across the pitch tae the other stand, which wis fullay Rovers fans too. Someone’d made a giant banner that says, ROVERS GET MUNICH, PARS GET GREENOCK. The Pars hud just been relegated tae the first division, and Raith were league cup holders, Premier League, holding our ain with the best in Europe. I points it out tae my da. Aye, he says, that’s a good banner.

Klinsmann scored in, like, six seconds. The ball bounced just outside the box, Scott Thomson comes charging out, and gets lobbed. We’re aw silent afore the ball even touches the net. The whole stadium, the whole ay Edinburra, silent. Then someone goes, mon the Rovers. And someone else goes, aye, mon the Rovers. Then everyone, everyone, me, my da, my teachers, the boys frae school, we’re up and we’re all going MON THE ROVERS! MON THE ROOOVEEERS!

Ye might no believe it if ye werenae there, but for the next half hour we battered them. Cameron and Lennon were wee schemers in midfield, big Ally Graham up front wis getting his heid tae everything, and mad Davie Sinclair wis bombing forward frae the back. I mind the German goalie, Kahn, trying tae waste time so Sinky picks him up and chucks him intay the advertising boards.

Jimmy Nicholl finally listened tae me and brought on Rougier in the second half. With his first touch he nutmegged Ziege and went skipping up the wing, twinkly-toed, heid down. We battered them. Could’ve scored. Should’ve scored.

Klinsmann’s second goal seemed tae come frae nowhere. Papin wis oan and went on a mazy and pit it in the box and next thing ye know the net’s bulging and the place is silent again. Klinsmann’s blonde heid’s racing away tae the half-dozen German fans in the corner. I looked at my da and he shook his head and he didnae have tae tell me, it wis over.

We sang Geordie Munro aw the way hame frae Edinburra. When we got back tae my da’s flat he stuck the news oan and made us cheese on toast. It wis the English news. They says it’s been a good night for British teams in Europe. Scot Gemmill’s goal won the game for Nottingham Forest in their tie. And Raith Rovers failed to upset the odds against the German giants, Bayern Munich, who won thanks to two Jurgen Klinsmann goals. And now, the weather.

Everybody kens whit happened in the second leg. Danny Lennon scores a free kick and the Rovers are winning by a goal at half time before the Germans come back. But I’ll always mind the first leg best. That night in Edinburra with my da.

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