The party’s over for the Tartan Army

The party’s over for the Tartan Army

3 hours agoBy Steven Godden, BBC NewsPA MediaHope turned to anguish in the 100th minute

No Scotland, No Party. It’s the anthem that’s rung round the stadiums and the streets wherever the Tartan Army have travelled in Germany.

But now the party’s over. The team’s exit from Euro 2024, confirmed in dramatic fashion by a 100th minute winner from Hungary, was hard for these travelling fans to take.

The post mortem was already underway as thousands of them streamed out of the stadium after the final whistle.

“Too cautious,” “not set up for winning football” were among the snap judgements.

“We’ve been here before many, many times but we’ll come again,” was another weary take on Scotland’s latest failed attempt to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament.

In centre of Stuttgart – the third and ultimately final stop on this German adventure – there was a similar mix of disappointment, anger and a crushing sense of deja vu as fans drifted away from the big screens that had been showing the match.

Ewan Brown from Kirkcaldy, only arrived in the city on the eve of the game with his teenage son Jamie.

“We’ve not been here for too long but it’s been good …… until that result,” Jamie tells me.

“Really disappointing” was his dad’s assessment. “Just not enough attacking threat. It leaves you feeling like the could have done a bit more.”

Rewind a few hours and the hope was that this time would be different.

After the disappointment of Munich and a 5-1 defeat by hosts Germany in the opening match, the 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Cologne restored confidence and set up a showdown with Hungary in Stuttgart.

Such was the importance of the match Scotland fans faced a long and anxious wait for kick off.

Charley Donaldson calmed her pre-match nerves by watching a fans team match

“Very nervous” was Charley Donaldson’s answer when asked how she was feeling late morning.

By way of distraction the 27-year-old from Wishaw had chosen a footballing alternative, travelling to the suburbs to watch a Tartan Army select take on a fans teams from Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart

“It takes the pressure off waiting for the game,” she tells me. “Nine o’clock’s a long way off!”

Back in the city centre by lunchtime the fan takeover was well under way.

With a helicopter circling overhead and a big police presence in the area, Scotland supporters spread out across the steps overlooking the Schlossplatz and filled the bars lining the nearby streets.

Ally Mo, here with his friend Nicky Charlton, has 120 Scotland away matches under his belt – but this one was “massive’.

Part of the crowd was Ally Mo, a 59 year old from Keith who’s followed Scotland at every major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

“I think this is about my 120th away match,” he tells me. “I’m beginning to shake now. It’s massive.”

Exactly 50 years ago David Watson travelled to Germany to follow Scotland in the 1974 World Cup.

The 70 year old from Ayr returned this year with son Stuart and his grandson’s Mikey (12) and David (10) to get the boys started on their Tartan Army travels

“This is the same big day I’ve faced up to in six tournaments. The final game day hoping to qualify,” he says.

“You go into these with optimism but I’ve been all over the world watching Scotland find different ways of failing to qualify so who knows?”

David Watson was joined by his grandsons and son Stuart for the match in Stuttgart

In the days leading up the Hungary match one potential challenge for ticketless Scotland fans had been finding somewhere to watch it.

With Germany versus Switzerland being shown in the main fan zone – it kicked off at the same time – an additional viewing area was arranged for Scotland fans in a nearby park.

Despite concerns that the Stadtgarten facility wasn’t big enough, the organisers insisted it could cope with 25,000 people.

By mid-afternoon the drinks stands and portable toilets were doing a roaring trade as the DJ worked through the Tartan Army songbook.

For a few hours the event took on the atmosphere of a music festival.

However, by the time the big screen showed the Scotland team taking to the pitch those high spirits were replaced by a sense of tension, every nervous gaze fixed on the action.

Iona Maclennan, left, had tempered her expectations ahead of the game

Perched on an upturned drinks crate Iona Maclennan from Plockton didn’t like what she saw in the goalless first half.

“I was really optimistic to begin with but now I’m not.”

“We just need to be patient and the goal will come,” was her son’s Fraser’s more upbeat analysis.

The goal did come. Just not for Scotland.

Afterwards the fans’ disconsolate trudge through the streets meant rubbing shoulders with their German counterparts celebrating the host’s qualification for the knockout stages.

The Tartan Army’s long wait continues.

Party’s over. It’s time to go home.

Scotland

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