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February 2009

1. First home and away matches?

Home: 1–0 victory against Sweden at Ibrox in 1996; remembered by some as “The Jim Leighton match”.

Away: 1–1 draw with Norway at the Stade Lescure in Bordeaux (World Cup 1998).

2. Best away trip?

Attending the World Cup (France ’98) was pretty special. The carnival atmosphere between supporters and the warm reception of our French hosts contributed to a great trip; nowhere more so than in Bordeaux when we played Norway: a day which would go down in folklore and which gave us the excitedly asked question, “Were you in Bordeaux?” Then there’s St. Etienne and I can still remember the march from the town centre out to the stadium prior to the Morocco match with thousands of Tartan Army following the Daily Record’s open-top bus down the street to the astonishment of the locals; staff coming out of shops to shake our hands or to steal a kiss and residents out on their balconies with their cameras in hand.

Another notable, but at times solemn, trip was the visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1999. To visit the previously besieged city of Sarajevo, so soon after the war was an unforgettable experience. The scars of the conflict were glaringly visible; bullet holes and artillery damage enveloped the entire city; no building was left unscathed and we were told some heart wrenching and harrowing accounts of what had gone on there. That said, Sarajevo is a wonderful city and the Sarajevans are a proud and positive people. I’ve been back since and as a city, it’s getting back on its feet and is looking to the future. Sadly, many Sarajevans never got that chance.

In more recent years I thoroughly enjoyed the visits to Belarus and Ukraine. The cities of Minsk and Kiev both had good nightlife, but Kiev had more to see and do during the day; titanium stunner (and war memorial) Rodina Mat was a sight to behold.

3. Best foreign stadium visited?

As a self-confessed stadium ‘anorak’, I’ve visited many continental football grounds and not only those where Scotland were playing. Favourites include: the Olympiastadion in Munich with its ‘spiders-web’ roof and its infamous namesake in Berlin, which despite its renovation for the 2006 World Cup has maintained its original exterior due to the building’s historical importance.

Then there are the quaint wee grounds such as SpVgg Unterhaching’s Stadion Am Sportpark way out in the suburbs of Munich and Dynamo Kiev’s Valeriy Lobanovskyy Stadion, nestled into the tranquil woodland surroundings of Kiev City Park.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Scotland play in Ajax’s Amsterdam Arena; Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalen Stadion; Bari’s Stadio San Nicola and both the Stade de France and Parc des Princes in Paris. But my vote for ‘Best Foreign Stadium Visited’ has to go to Milan’s Stadio Giuseppe Meazza better known as the San Siro. The facilities are abysmal: filthy seats, slippery aisles, sub-standard catering facilities, etc. but if it’s any consolation the players’ facilities are abysmal too. I did the stadium tour and the dressing rooms were no better than those of a Sunday morning pub team; I couldn’t believe the millionaire superstars of Milan and Inter tolerated it. So why on Earth am I voting the San Siro to be the best stadium? Because despite everything I’ve just written about it, the San Siro is a truly awesome cathedral to football and that’s just from the outside! When you turn the corner and see it for the first time, it’s breathtaking. Well, I think it is.

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4. Best foreign pub/club visited?
NASA in Copenhagen.  

5. Describe your usual match-day attire

Kilt (Ross, modern red), Thistle belt, full dress sporran, Ross kilt pin, army issue boots and a black military sweater with epaulettes (although I’m hoping to get a Montrose doublet soon). As night falls, I’ll substitute the sweater for a smart shirt and the boots are replaced with brogues: socks up; flashes on. As one of our elders bluntly told us, “Pull your socks up son or no one will take you seriously”.


6. Is there anywhere you have seen Scotland play that you would like to go back to?
Belarus, Denmark, Ukraine… and you can never tire of Paris.
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7. Where have you have seen Scotland play that you would NOT like to return to?
San Marino: because it’s awkward to get to.
Braga in Portugal: because it’s too sleepy.
Moldova: because the polis were a bunch of corrupt bastards.

8. And where do you want to go to (but haven't yet)?
Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain (preferably at Real Madrid’s, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu).

9. Who's the best Scottish player that you have actually seen?
The ‘greats’ were well before my time, so based on his performances during the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign I think I’ll have to say James McFadden.
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10. Who's the best opposing player you have actually seen?

Easy. Zinedine Zidane; in probably the best team performance I’ve ever seen. I can remember thinking before kick-off, ‘If Zidane scores tonight, I’ve got to remember it’ and that was because he was to his generation what Pele, Cruyff and Maradona were to theirs.

After just thirteen minutes Zidane opened the scoring with a beautiful strike. Sat to my right, my pal stands up and announces, “I’ve had my money’s worth… I’m f*cking off!” He didn’t of course; he was merely expressing his admiration for what Zidane had just done.

Final score: France 5 Scotland 0


11. Favourite Scottish home and away kits of all time?

Home: Probably the current one (although there are aspects of it which I’m not entirely pleased with).

Away: The all white with the pale blue Saltire across the chest.


12. And your least favourite?

Home: The first of our Fila kits (very dull).

Away: The sky blue Diadora one with the vertical stripe down one side.

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13. What is your favourite and least favourite Scotland chant/song?

I don’t really have a favourite or a least favourite. I like both ‘We’ll be coming’ and ‘Everywhere we go”. I never used to like Doe-a-Deer, but that went right up in my estimation during the France match at Hampden in 2006 when everyone was giving it laldy.


14. Which have been the highest and lowest points of supporting Scotland?

Highest: The entire qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 with the pinnacle being James McFadden unleashing that shot against France at the Parc des Princes. Okay, in the end we failed to qualify for the finals, but that whole qualifying campaign was a helluva ride.

Lowest: The 2–0 defeat to England at Hampden in 1999. The Hampden DJ playing the Braveheart soundtrack at full-time didn’t help my emotions either.


15. What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you on tour (that you're prepared to tell us about)?
Czech Republic away in 1999: Meeting up with everyone at a Prague train station (on our way to an Under-21’s match) with my collars turned up Cantona-style to try and disguise a love bite; seemingly administered by a Great White.
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16. Best and worst toilets visited on tour?

I don’t know about best, but the worst I can recall were at the Zalgiris Stadium in Lithuania where a group of us attended the capital’s ‘big’ derby between FC Vilnius and Zalgiris.


17. Favourite domestic stadium?

18. Best domestic match ever attended?

Having been brought up in Southampton, I’ve grown up supporting the Saints and I’m fortunate in that my interest in football began at the very same time as the career of Matt Le Tissier; therefore I was privileged in that I witnessed Le God’s career in its entirety and he was at the centre of most, if not all of the great Southampton matches I’ve attended. There are too many to list here (honestly) but just a couple that really stand out were the 3–1 victory over Manchester United when they famously blamed the defeat on their invisible grey kits and the corresponding fixture the following season when United swaggered into town, intent on revenge and a Saints side (managed by Graeme Souness) vanquished United 6–3.

I can’t not mention the Southampton – Arsenal match in 2001. This was the ‘farewell to The Dell’ and Le Tissier (towards the end of his career) came off the bench and scored not only the winner, but the last goal, in the last minute, of the last ever league match played at The Dell. It was fairytale stuff; like something out of Roy of the Rovers.

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19. Favourite chant/song heard at a domestic match?
To the tune of the Addams Family theme, “You’re sister is your mother, your father is your brother, you like to f*ck each other, you’re a Pompey family, do-do-do-do (clap-clap) do-do-do-do (clap-clap).
Lyrics courtesy of the Northam Stand at Southampton.

20. Best domestic pub/club?
The Corinthian in Glasgow.  

21. What are your pet hates?

Football federations and associations who are inconsiderate towards supporters’ needs to make travel arrangements; cheating footballers; referees who for some inexplicable reason allow fouling or cheating 'big name' footballers to remain on the pitch; people dropping litter; people (in Scotland of all places) asking if you’re wearing anything under your kilt.

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22. What makes you chuckle?
Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week, Jack Dee, Porridge, the Two Ronnies, Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder, Frankie Boyle, Still Game, Rab C Nesbitt, Scottish humour and the NATA quotes page.

23. Best night out ever on a TA trip? (aka the "Tuesday Night in Graz Award")
That's a difficult one and I’m not sure I can answer it. Perhaps Bordeaux in 1998.

24. You're stranded on a remote island in the Hebrides. Before the ship went down you managed to salvage some belongings (to help you pass the time until you're rescued) including...

1 book? The Football Grounds of Europe by Simon Inglis.

1 magazine? World Soccer

1 album? U2: Achtung Baby

1 film? I'm not much of a moviegoer so I’ll just say Braveheart.

1 beer? Becks.

1 spirit? Not proud of it, but I like Southern Comfort.

And 1 famous member of the opposite sex? Sophia Loren, circa 1963.

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