Robert in Lockdown – 19.11.20

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What a night last Thursday was for Scottish football.

About an hour prior to kick off, alone in the flat with Tartan Army songs flying round my head and daring to dream of Scotland at a major tournament, I was brought back to banal reality with the crushing realisation that I had no dishwasher tablets left.

Out I went to Morrison’s wearing my Scotland top and, on arrival, my eye was caught by a mountain of Peroni on special offer. I almost never have the inclination to drink in the flat but, on this rare occasion, I found myself putting a box of lager under my arm.

As I left the supermarket, another guy with a Scotland top was heading in – presumably to buy exactly the same thing. ‘Is that for the Scotland game?’ he shouted to me. ‘We’re gonnae dae it! We’re gonnae dae it!’

With these words ringing in my ears, I charged up Gardner Street with a great sense of optimism.

If you’re looking for the oldest generation of Scots who have missed out on seeing our team at a major tournament, look no further than me. I was four years old at the time of the 1998 World Cup. I have an extremely vague recollection of watching a big mop of blonde hair at centre half and deciding that Colin Hendry was my favourite player.

In truth, I was so young I probably thought he was the same guy who played the accordion with Aly Bain! As I grew up, I witnessed glorious failure after glorious failure. I remember sitting in the living room with my Dad watching Gary Caldwell and then James McFadden give us two wonderful wins against France. In that same campaign, I remember watching live updates on my phone on the bus back from a Highland regional music weekend as Barry Ferguson drew us level against Italy; only for Italy to end our hopes of qualification with the dodgiest of free-kicks in the dying minutes.

In later campaigns, I remember standing in a pub in Stirling when Chris Iwelumo missed an open goal against Norway. I played a Tartan Army gig in a club in Edinburgh when a loss to Georgia all but ended Gordon Strachan’s hopes of steering us to qualification.  I watched a turgid 1-1 draw against Lithuania at Hampden after playing a gig in the company of the legendary Archie Gemmill in Bellshill. I had a tremendous trip to Malta to play in the company of the MidCalder Tartan Army in the roasting heat out there.

All those years of hope followed by despair watching Scotland and then, on Thursday night, there was Ryan Christie (a lad from the Highlands just two years younger than me) crying his eyes out on behalf of our generation – having scored the goal to take us to that elusive major tournament.

I jumped around the room. I phoned my Dad. I phoned my pals. And then I realised I’d forgotten to buy dishwasher tablets!!