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Sunday, 14 October 2007

Hampden Roar

So what is it like attending a Scotland football match, well-

The Grand Old Lady of Mount Florida was at her majestic best yesterday as Scotland took another massive stride towards qualification for next summers Euro 2008 football championships in Austria and Switzerland.

The 3-1 win against Ukraine, means qualification is still in Scotland hands, requiring 4 points from the remaining six available, with matches against Georgia on Wednesday 17th October and then on Saturday 17th November against World Champions Italy at Hampden Park.

Having decided to kick start our day in Glasgow early, my wife Jennifer and I set off from Stirling just after 9am arriving in Glasgow in enough time for our first sip of lager for the day before the clock struck 10am. The Counting House near Queen Street Station was our first port of call, before we headed closer to Hampden to Strathies Pub where the music for the pre-match entertainment was by Ted Christopher, a local musician from here in Stirling.

Strathies was our meeting with old friends and fellow travel companions to many a Scotland away match. I have always stated that if you are to take up the challenge of following our national football team to away games, you obviously must have a desire and passion for football, as that is always the focal point of any trip abroad, but by god the fellow fans you meet from all over the world and friendships that are born and the fantastic cities and countries you get to see all over Europe and beyond, is something special and at times can be hard to describe.

Having soaked up the pre-match atmosphere it was off to Hampden, just in time time to witness the playing of the National Anthems and then within 15 minutes Scotland were in dreamland. 2-0 up against the last World Cup quarter finalists and Scotland were off to a fantastic start in the quest for the 7 points over the next 3 matches that would secure qualification. Ukraine pulled a goal back just before half time but midway through the second half Scotland restored their 2 goal lead and eventually cruised to an excellent 3-1 win as fellow fans- men, women, boys and girls most of them all strangers hugged, danced and sung their hearts out in unison.

Post match was in O'Neills close to Hampden before heading back into the Glasgow city centre for a planned meal with our group of friends in Cafe Uno. Afterwards it was onto the Iron Horse on West Nile Street to end the day before our train back to Stirling, where we arrived just before midnight, tired, sore from walking, a little worse for the wear, but we were totally satisfied with the result and day we just had.

Following the Scotland football team is a joy- the people you meet, the places you see, the euphoria of a victory and the despair of a defeat, but it is a fantastic experience, one that is well and truly recommended.

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