world : Tartan Army's 'party of the century' ahead of Euro 2024 kickoff

world : Tartan Army's 'party of the century' ahead of Euro 2024 kickoff
world : Tartan Army's 'party of the century' ahead of Euro 2024 kickoff

Friday 14 June 2024 02:30 AM

Nafeza 2 world - No Scotland, No Party is the tagline. Well, Scotland are here and the party has not stopped.

For 26 years the Tartan Army has been waiting to burst onto the scene of a major men's tournament overseas.

And that's exactly what they have done in Munich's Old Town, the streets clogged with Scotland supporters living their dreams.

The scene is set in accordance with the ultimate football fantasy - Scotland opening Euro 2024 against hosts Germany.

“I think this is the reward for some of the pain," says Fiona McGinty, taking a breather from the rowdy main square, Marienplatz, to relax in the idyllic Viktualienmarkt.

The 49-yer-old, from Oban, started following Scotland in 2003.

“I'm not going to list the games because I think we've all been through them and I might end up crying again," she says.

Such is the duality of life as a Scotland supporter - desperate to make the most of the moment; cognitively programmed to know it could all go wrong at any time.

It helps explain the extraordinary lengths, literally, some have gone to make it to Germany.

Wellington, Melbourne, Portland, Rio de Janiero - all departure points for the Tartan Army.

The numbers, if they are to be believed, are extraordinary too. According to the Munich Tourist Board, more than 150,000 Scots are heading to the Bavarian capital alone.

Scotland did qualify for Euro 2020, where they played all of their games at Hampden or Wembley. But reporters have been unable to find anyone in Munich this week describing the Covid-disrupted event as a "real" tournament - an opinion absent from the discourse when Italy defeated England in the final, naturally.

Scots have driven, cycled and walked to Munich.

Joining the party at Tartan Army HQ in Marienplatz on Thursday, Craig Ferguson, 20, marches triumphantly into a champagne-soaked guard of honour after an 1,000-mile trek from Hampden Park.

Shortly afterwards, a specially designed Tartan Army-mobile arrives, carrying three friends from the Highlands - Scott Miller, Terry Stirling and Andy Cameron.

They park up following a 1,300-mile journey from Brora in a 2008 Volvo S40 - with more than 117,000 miles on the clock - that they bought for £400 “on a whim”.

“It’s turned out pretty well considering,” says Scott, 34.

Derek Marner, from Gourock, has done more than most to enjoy his choice of refreshment, completing a 55km ultramarathon around the city. In a kilt, of course.

Motivated to do his bit for charity, external, the 44-year-old set off “vaselined to hell".

Six hours later, he returns somewhat worse for wear, and desperate for a beer. "It was tougher than I thought," he tells BBC Scotland News.

Derek says he was kept going by Alan Donaldson, 53, who joined for the final 20km of the run after hearing about it online.

Until that moment, the pair had never even met.

A member of the Tartan Army's international brigade, Alan his originally from Dalkeith but travelled to Germany from his home in Melbourne.

Missing out was not an option: “It’s the perfect storm for a Scotland fan – Munich for the opening game."

Euan Souter, 61, from Lossiemouth and Colin Jamieson, 85, from Shetland, are among the relative few of the travelling support who have seen it all before. But they too thought it was too good an opportunity to miss.

The pair, who met through the Scotland travel club, have between them been to Mexico '86, Italia '90 and France '98.

The pair marvel at the more youthful modern Tartan Army and commend their optimism, but the veterans add a note of caution.

"It's the hope that gets you," Euan says, reflecting on old wounds.

As well as their charity work, the travelling support pride themselves on their good behaviour.

That is not to say there have not been mishaps. Kilt-cladded fans have been spotted falling off e-bikes outside the central train station, heading each other rather than a punted football in Marienplatz, and falling off a beer hall table while trying to play the bagpipes.

But locals in Munich, its pubs and camp sites told BBC Scotland News they are happy to host their visitors, identifying a sense of kinship in their love of a good time.

"They're a little bit crazy like German fans," says Munich native Selina, who was enjoying the party atmosphere with her father Andreas.

Shabi Kavan, a waiter at Kilian’s Irish Pub in the old town, agrees the influx of Scotland fans made for a “crazy” but enjoyable 48 hours.

“The don’t make trouble, they tip good like Germans – I really do like them,” he tells BBC Scotland News.

Scots have been making the most of cultural opportunities too, with many enjoying the city's historical walking tours.

Those paying attention would know that as if Friday were not momentous enough, it is also the 866th anniversary of the founding of Munich.

Yet be in no doubt, even put into that context, the Tartan Army feels it is well overdue a party of the century.

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT world : Harte 'hugely disappointed' as Derry's season peters out