Posted: 9/9/2012


        Some of the greatest supporters the world has ever seen, THE TARTAN ARMY ! I have watched Scotland and their fans around the world from Frankfurt '74 to Cordoba '78, Sevilla '82, ...Genoa, Turin, Paris, Wembley, Glasgow... Tartan plaid hats, tartan kilts, ginger beards, saltaire flags, bagpipes and more... Many awards to the Tartan Army for their passion, charity work and fair play.

      Unfortunately they have not been on THE BIG STAGE for fourteen years since FRANCE '98 at the World Cup or EUROS, and THE HOME CHAMPIONSHIPS are a distant memory. So this weekend we have seen the ROAR TO RIO, as the banner stated at Hampden Park, Glasgow, as teams start their FIFA 2014 journeys. The Scots played Saturday afternoon and again on Tuesday, since their first two matches are at home and no exhausting travel to Eastern Europe.

      Opening in front of a home crowd, expecting something special against Serbia, they were very disappointed. Missed McChances after McChances as the front line shot duds. The chanted for the introduction of recent Huddersfield to Blackburn transferred marksman Jordan Rhodes, but manager Craig Levein only gave him the last 7 minutes. 0-0 and only one point.

      I had a pre-match lunch at the Pie & Mash Cafe next to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in Skipton, North Yorkshire, the Gateway to the Dales. Only open since Easter, for 4 pounds. My choice was a steak & ale pie and mashed potatoes, drizzled over with mint sauce gravy. DELICIOUS ! It's David Beckham's favourite. When he brings his young kid's back from California he heads for the nearest East London pie shop. I finished up watching the second half at The Three Horseshoes pub, a student hang out on the Otley Road in North Leeds, though most customers were sitting outside with their pints in the warm sunshine.

     Scotland hosted England in the first ever international match in 1872 and the first time I was present at this historic fixture was April 2, 1966. England won 4-3 and went on to win The World Cup. the attendance was 123,052 THE LARGEST CROWD that I have ever been part of. A month later I was back for Scotland 1 v Brazil 1. In 1937 Scotland v England attracted 149,415. Today in a completely rebuilt Hampden Park, the all seater stadium holds 52,000.

     At the Argentina World Cup '78 I watched two miserable performances in Cordoba, a 3-1 loss to Peru and 1-1 draw with Iran, before flying to watch a magnificent performance at Mendoza's new Estadio San Martin, a 3-2 win over The Netherlands with Archie Gemmell's awesome goal. The next day I took the bus over The Andes to Santiago, Chile.

    Tuesday they host Macedonia in a six team group that also includes Wales, Croatia and Belgium home and away. The suprise result of the 53 team UEFA Group was Iceland 2-0 over Norway in Reykjavic national stadium, Laugardalsvollur, and a squeaker in Astana as Republic of Ireland came from behind with two VERY late goals to beat Kazakhstan 2-1. Thirteen teams qualify for Brazil from Europe, including the 9 group winners, and 4 from the play-offs. Other upsets included Jamaica 2 v USA 1 in Kingston, and Solomon Islands 2 v Tahiti 0 in Honiara.