I didn’t see Scotland beat Cyprus 8-0 in 1969 so the 6-0 demolition of Gibraltar represents the largest margin of victory that I have witnessed to date. I’ve also now seen two Scotland hat-tricks in the same calendar year- although to tell you the absolute truth I actually missed one of Steven Fletcher’s goals on Sunday evening as I was distracted by an inflatable crocodile – or was it an alligator?

Anyway, inflatable sharks, goldfish and scores of beach balls meant that at times, watching the one-sided, meaningless game of football took second place to playing volleyball, dancing, murdering songs by Erasure and the Beatles and general ‘fannying-about’ in a Euro 2004 white elephant of a stadium that is situated in the middle of nowhere.


[I don’t like the ‘revamped’ Hampden but I’m glad we didn’t flit to Strathclyde Park or an isolated plot of land in Stirlingshire].

I know there have been accusations of us ‘celebrating failure’ but perhaps some of us were merely delighted that those chaps with the odd-shaped balls had reached the Quarter-finals of the Rugby Union World Cup. OK then, so should we have boarded the Victor Meldrew Supporters Bus instead and sat there looking glum, occasionally mumbling ‘I don’t feckin believe it.’ We had paid good money – much of it in advance – to go to Portugal for what we originally had hoped would be a qualification-clinching fixture but we ended up just having to make the best of a bad situation. It’s not the Tartan Army’s fault that there is a worldwide conspiracy against the Scotland football team and that versus Georgia, Germany and Poland the Caledonian planets and constellations were out of alignment.There’s a joke about Uranus in there somewhere but I just can’t be arsed…….

Now once upon a time an overseas trip meant bringing back as much duty-free booze as I could sneak through customs – these anorakian days however I prefer to treat myself to the local Panini Football Stickers album. Alas, Ryan Gauld has still to make it into Portuguese sticker stardom and as such does not feature in the pages for Sporting Club de Portugal. Indeed no British footballer features in the sticker album so by way of a tenuous connection I give you Porto midfielder Andre Andre which surely translates as Andy, Andy [Give us a wave].


In conclusion, don’t let my ramblings [or Scotland’s shortcomings] put you off buying issues 1 to 3 of Scotland Epistles as there are erudite and humorous contributions from Tartan Army literary legends such as Scott Kelly,Kevin Donnelly, Scott Cockburn, Easton Thain and Graeme McGinty to savour and to raise your spirits …..plus efforts from David Stuart, Alan Nelson and myself.

We’ll Support you Evermore…….

Robert Marshall