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On The Piss in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 1998

The first match since the 3-0 drubbing by Morocco still attracted around 1,500 travelling Scots, some of whom had visited Lithuania previously en-route to Belarus.

Helen managed to get confused for a high-class Lithuanian call girl, by the said high-class Lithuanian call-girls that frequented the hotel bar. Vilnius is not the sort of place to go for a quiet drink after dark, so most of our drinking was done in the hotel.

As for the game, it finished 0-0, and was so dull that Ally McCoist is rumoured to have said to John Collins in the dressing room afterwards "John, did you know that there were 4,057 people in the crowd today", "How do you know that, Ally", "Becasue I counted them whilst I was waiting for a pass from you, you greedy bastard!".

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Lithuania '98 Gallery

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We hate England more than you (1), Germany, April 1999

The Germany trip was a funny one, and Rich and I only decided to go at the last minute (as did almost everyone I spoke to). Not speaking any German, I faithfully learned how to say the usual: "please", "thank you", "two beers". This was later to back-fire, as after becoming acquainted with regular traveller Robbie Jenkins on the airport bus, and then meeting the Inverness lads again, we were soon in rounds of five (so beer was bought in multiples of two for the duration).

A great build-up to the match followed by a strong first-half performance meant things were looking good, but then a power cut in the stadium threatened the game. To the German fans' amazement, the Tartan Army, our numbers swelled by the squaddies stationed in Germany, burst into song. The first electrics restored were to the PA system, so we spent a further 20 minutes with a bit of a disco vibe going on.

The second half eventually restarted, and Don Hutchison fired home an Allan Johnston pass for what was to be an unexpected and momentous victory. As we drank into the night, Rich and I became separated, only to meet up at 7am the next day over breakfast at the hotel, neither of us having slept.

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Germany '99 Gallery
  Checking the pubs in the Czech Repub, Prague, June 1999

We decided to forego the Faroes trip (which I regretted all day on the Saturday) in favour of a week in Prague. Four of us shared an apartment: Rich, Helen, me and first-time Tartan Army traveller Welsh Steve.

Prague is famed for its castle, the Charles Bridge and other medieval gems, none of which we bothered to look at until we had done a tour of the grounds in the city - our unanimous favourite was Viktoria Zizkov, where there was a fully functional pub inside the ground (see bottom left photo), knocking out beer at under 20pence a pint.

A great time was had by all, with many stories and incidents far too numerous to go into detail here (I can tell you stage-diving, busty hot dog sellers and Rich wearing make-up were involved) - if you really want to know, ask Rich (he seems to be writing a book on it!) or e-mail me.

The game itself saw Scotland throw away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2, but that didn't seem to matter given the price of the beer!

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Czech Republic '99 Gallery
  A sobering experience, Bosnia, September 1999

Sarajevo sits in a horseshoe shaped valley, with the airport at the open end. Our hotel was at the far end, so the bus journey took us past flats and houses still bearing the scars from the war - this had a bit of a sobering effect on the normally boisterous tartan army.

Well, what can I say about Sarajevo. The people are amazing, the city is so full of youthful energy, and it is place both myself and Rich are committed to returning to. Everywhere we went in the city centre there were welcoming crowds of young people having a great time and drinking Sarajesvka, the excellent local brew.

The match itself was played in the large bowl of the Kosevo Stadium, built for the 1984 Winter Olympics. Scotland won 2-1 with a spectacular 25-yarder from Billy Dodds. After a brief flashpoint at the end with some local skinheads, the majority of the Scotland fans retired to the nearby Harp Bar in search of some refreshment.

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Bosnia '99 Gallery
  The worst beer, Estonia, September 1999

Although this game was just 4 days after the Bosnia match, the difficulty in getting cheap connections meant that a lot of fans headed home, myself included. Rich sat this one out due to work commitments, but myself and Helen found ourselves staying in the same hotel as the team.

I don't know if I was still hungover from Bosnia, but Saku beer is easily the worst drink I have ever tasted - slightly worse than battery acid! Time for the vodka, then!

Tallinn is a great place to go out drinking, with very friendly locals and very friendly prices in a beautiful Prague-like city centre, which almost made up for the dismal 0-0 draw (but not quite). I missed out on the "Kiss The Scotsman" night at one of the nightclubs though - Helen didn't fancy it for some reason.

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Estonia '99 Gallery
  An unexpected pleasure, England, November 1999

The first leg of the play-off was a well-documented and unmitigated disaster, compounded by the fact that despite my best endeavours I stayed sober.

For the second leg, David from Inverness and Alasdair from Milngavie came down and stayed at my Sussex residence. After a Tuesday night taking in the double delights of a Worthing FC victory and a student night at a Brighton nightclub, we were up bright and early for the train to London.

What followed is a tale of a £200 kitty spent at a variety of bars across London, culminating in drinking vodka out of Coca Cola bottles on the tube (and inside the ground), and a £45 mobile phone bill for getting a wee bit emotional.

And the game? Oh aye, apparently we won 1-0. 

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England '99 Photos in Misc 1 Gallery


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