DOWN and depressed. That’s how Paris, September 2007 started for me.
It was supposed to be a romantic break away combined with Scotland at the Parc de Princes in their Euro 2008 qualifier against the French, but I ended up going alone after my latest squeeze dumped me just days before.
Confidence had taken a battering and to be honest I wasn’t up for the game. I almost pulled out of going, but something told me to go. Maybe it was a gut feeling, something special was going to happen. The previous year we had beaten France 1-0 at Hampden, but I watched the game thousands of miles away on holiday in Grenada.
I watched wearing my 1982 replica Scotland top and when Gary Caldwell scored the winner, I wished I was back in Glasgow.
I had two tickets for that game but gave them away to a pal – he still hasn’t given me the £50 for them by the way.
This time, I didn’t want to miss it. And boy I’m glad I went with my instinct. Nothing beats watching James McFadden’s stunning strike for the best away result in our history. And what better way to share it with 30,000 of the Tartan Army, if not more?
Tickets were easy to get hold of. France weren’t selling to their own as they weren’t interested and all those not getting official tickets got them on the French FA’s website, myself included.
I knew many had tickets for the French sections….I just didn’t realise we’d take over the stadium. I swear it was three quarters full.
The march to the stadium was simply out of this world. The streets full of thousands of Scots singing ‘We’ll be Coming Down the Road…’. The French didn’t know what hit them. You can catch the clips on YouTube.
My ticket was for the opposite end to where Faddy scored. It was the French end yet no home fans were to be seen until a couple came in with a look of utter bemusement. They wanted to sit in the seats they were allocated. No chance. They wanted to sit down. No chance. Not sure where they went after that.
It was a right carnival atmosphere and it got better as the game wore on.
Alex McLeish opted for Faddy as lone striker as he packed the midfield and it worked a treat.
I remember Frank Ribery and Florent Malouda trying to attack us down the flanks but we held firm. At half time, it looked good. We’d all settle for a well earned point.
No-one expected what was to happen next…
As Craig Gordon punted the ball long, Faddy controlled the ball, turned, took a touch and lashed the ball home from 30-yards.
It seemed like an eternity to register though – time stood still – ‘did that really happen, did Faddy just smack that in from there?’ It was like a stunned delayed reaction. Then bedlam. Absolute bedlam! It was a moment where everyone just lost control of their senses and went mental, jumping up and down screaming. It was the kind of screaming you hear when you listen to Peter Martin’s legendary commentary of the goal. I may have been as high pitched as he was. Grown men had tears streaming down their faces in sheer ecstasy.
Johnny No Mates here was celebrating with guys I’d never met before.
However, as we got our collective breaths back there were still 25 minutes to go. Now it was about backing the boys as they defended for their lives.
Gordon was exceptional in goal and the defence solid. Nothing was getting through.
Nerves were frayed though as the clock seemed to take an eternity to hit 90. When that final whistle went – I just wish I could have another moment like it.
Oh, and I got over the burd pretty quickly thanks to Faddy.
Things worked out in the end and now I am marrying the lovely Janey next year. I hope to take her to a Scotland game and experience the same joy you can get from Scotland once in a blue moon.
She’s already been to Hampden when we scored the injury-time winner against Liechtenstein last year….not quite the same as France 2007, though.