Being a Scotland fan generally ends up in glorious defeat, and my memory concerns that. It was only a few years ago when we almost qualified for World Cup 2008. We had managed to beat France home and away, and hopes were rising that we could get through ahead of the French or the Italians…
The reason why this campaign is so memorable is that the whole country seemed to unite behind the team like never before. Usually the streets of Glasgow were nothing special on the day of a Scotland game, but for some reason everyone seemed to get right up for it.
Pubs were mobbed, kilts were everywhere and the atmosphere was always great. What was special was that I could only feel this way about football when it concerned my club team, but as great as that is, it didn’t match the feeling I got when I could go out and feel the same as everyone else.
It all came to a climax when Italy beat us in the last game. I couldn’t get a ticket but managed to get into the Church on the Hill pub not far from Hampden. It was absolutely mobbed, and we had to queue to get in. There was tartan everywhere.
The feeling was cautiously optimistic, even though we were playing the world champions. Songs were sung, drink was flowing and everyone was in great form. Being Scotland, it ended in defeat but the heavy rain didn’t dampen the mood. Everyone continued to party, and we somehow or other managed to come away with a souvenir of a massive trophy from the pub. I hope they didn’t miss it!
So really, that campaign showed just how great football can be at bringing people together. I had the chance to celebrate and commiserate with fans of rival clubs as, for once, we focused on the same thing. And it was great.