is where to find out exactly who the characters who make up the
Netley Abbey Tartan Army are, and to get a picture of who you'll
be reading about and seeing on the Diary and Gallery pages.
There's also the chance to read more about some
members' likes and dislikes on the old Meet NATA Questionnaires
(compiled in late 2001 and early 2002).
(The Fat Man / The Web Daddy)
Looks: Think Jeremy
Spake in a kilt
Most likely to say: "Have
you got one that tastes of frazzles?" or "It’s like
NATA Alter-Ego: The
Fat Man. Not fat, just cuddly! Perhaps a little more "cuddly"
than most, admittedly...
of the founder members of NATA (see About NATA),
Paul moved from Glasgow to Netley Abbey at the tender age of 11.
One of the first people he spoke to at Netley Juniors was Rich,
and he’s been trying to get shot of him ever since! Paul grew
up watching Southampton FC with Rich and the Wee Man (and a cast
of thousands), and it was at a Saints game that Rich and Paul resolved
to join the Scotland Travel Club and start making the effort to
go to games.
Paul now lives in Worthing, having moved to Sussex
to go to Uni, where he met Helen. Paul enjoys worrying about travel
arrangements, and can instill fear in even the hardiest NATA member
by dreaming ever more “worse case scenarios”.
In addition to running the NATA multi-media empire,
Paul has his own (empty) website here,
and you can read more about his likes here.
Looks: John Collins
meets Hugh Grant (one individual even said David Duchovny!?!?!)
Most likely to say: “Oh,
just the milk then”
Ladies’ man? Aye that’ll be right! Rich wears this title
not so much with pride but more so with irony bordering slight embarrassment;
so how did he come by this name? Rich has a passion for travel;
is always keen on meeting and mixing with the locals and always
makes an effort with the local tongue. It was once said “What
he lacks at home he has gone a little way to making up for with
his away form” (referring to a handful of foreign admirers)
although Rich, either by way of naivety or plain lack of interest,
has on occasion missed his chances when “Clean through on
goal with only the keeper to beat” (As the Fat Man would say.)
One story being that of a busty Bremen barmaid who squeezed up against
him and whispered “You smell nice tonight” with Rich
bluntly replying “Yeah, it’s Armani” before turning
away and carrying on with his pint!
Still, occurrences such as this have landed him
with the tag, whilst also providing much ammunition for the NATA.
boys. One example being when we ‘gaffer-taped’ part
of the back print on his t-shirt in order for it to read ‘Netley
Abbey Tart.’ This is something he strenuously denies and he
would openly admit to seeking the ‘perfect’ girl from
any city or nation… or even from the final year of a comprehensive
school! So does he live up to this reputation? Not really (if you
can look beyond the fitted shirts, arse-hugging-high-waisted trousers
and his liking for pretentious bars!) - if the truth be known, we
were stuck for a name for his t-shirt.
first moved to Netley Abbey at the age of nine and attended the
village junior school before moving up to secondary school in the
neighboring village of Hamble. Since then, Rich has had a career
in ‘imports and exports’ (very James Bond!) As a ‘Scottish-Sotonian’
he is a partisan Southampton fan and has held a season ticket next
to the Wee Man (and in the past, the Fat Man) for many years; even
planning his Scotland away trips in such a way, so as to avoid missing
any of the Saints’ home fixtures. Likes cats and Hula-hoops
(but not on the same plate); dislikes ‘Auld’ man’s
Most likely to say: "You
can tell they didn’t just knock it up on the cheap",
or "Leave it out Rich"
NATA Alter-Ego: No
alter-ego needed, the Wee Man has been the Wee Man for many years
before the dawn of NATA.
being English, the Wee Man had heard enough of Paul and Rich’s
tales from active service that he decided to sample it for himself
in 2000, coming to both the Netherlands and San Marino trips. Darryl
met Paul and Rich at Hamble School, but it was through the Saints
that they stayed in touch: when The Dell went all seater, our crowd
of 30-odd became four (Dean, the Wee Man’s wee brother, was
He recently re-joined NATA on the road for the Steaua Bucharest
trip, having got engaged to fiancee Lizzie that very morning (Wee
Man, when we say “that’s me away - I’ll give you
a ring”, that’s not quite what we mean!). Liz has been
a stabilising influence on Darryl, and he has embraced domestic
life with a flourish for lilac paint and cream leather sofas.
NATA still harbour distant hopes that he can be persuaded to hit
the road again.
Most likely to say: "I
still haven’t remembered what it is I forgot"
NATA Alter-Ego: More
of an observational statement than a nickname
slightly more sensible half is an accomplished expert at impersonating
Baltic prostitutes. After meeting Paul at University over a game
of pool and a bet on a football match, Helen’s interest in
football meant that her fate was sealed. She has even won more medals
than Paul (who retired at the top of his game, aged 16) with Lancing
Rangers and Upper Beeding Ladies, and was also the inaugural ATAC
Ladies Penalty Shoot Out champion.
Despite being born in Middlesbrough, Helen avoided
unemployment and does “something to do with pensions and assurances
and that”. She loves to travel and to watch football, and
has even dragged Paul along unwillingly on occasion, when all he
wanted to do was sit in the pub.An adaptable girl, she is equally
as comfortable with wine or lager, but turns her nose up at shots,
unless it’s German schnapps.
Most likely to say: "Just
leave it behind reception"
NATA Alter-Ego: The
Grey Man is a reference to his silver locks and position as NATA's
elder statesman, rather than a dull sense of clothing (anything
but!) and ability to blend in.
is well known to the Tartan Army at large due to his warm, friendly
personality, his organisational flair (the man with the plan behind
the original TAMB t-shirts) and his daft grin. Always laid back
and thoughtful, Ally is often a calming influence on the rest of
NATA, and a handy antidote to Paul’s and Susan’s neuroses.
He’s also usually the sensible one, often eschewing wanton
alcohol abuse in favour of a more considered approach, and lots
of orange and lemonade.
Although Ally has been known to cut a dash in
his shocking tartan breeks, he is best know for his “home”
and “away” kilts and his complimentary accessories –
definitely the most likely member of NATA to be taken seriously
for having his socks pulled up.
As well as NATA, Ally is a Committee Member for
a “real” Tartan Army Club – NOSTA.
Looks: Slim and
waifish, often sporting a ridiculously short kilt with jackboots
Most likely to say: "I
don’t like the long thin ones, I can’t swallow them"
NATA Alter-Ego: Susan’s
nick name – the Sick Chick – is from offering suffering
from poor health whilst on tour; not, as some may like to claim,
down to any distasteful predilections! Her other “nom de plume”,
Lamia, is a wee bit more perplexing…
with husband Ally, Susan is an Aberdeen season ticket holder and
occasional visitor to Harlaw Park (Inverurie Loco’s).
Susan and Ally met many years ago whilst studying
in Paisley (the town, not the clothes), and although Susan is originally
from Helensburgh (read: posh Weegie), they were brought together
by a shared love of Aberdeen Football Club.
Susan shares Paul’s talents for worrying,
and between them they can combine to create a force that drags NATA
along to airports, train stations and football matches ridiculously
Most likely to say: "Where’s
the Shareen?", or “Of course I’ll pay for a taxi.
What, for your three boyfriends as well?”
NATA Alter-Ego: Although
dubbed The Blonde Man, Chris has yet to cement this with his own
t-shirt. He best hurry up, because if his hair continues thinning
at it's current rate...
hails from Clarkston, on Glasgow’s south side, but is now
seeking his fortune in futures in funds in London, where the streets
are paved with gold and that. Forever moaning at the price of beer,
yet never seems to actually get his round in. Always drinks less
than everyone else (even Susan!).
Chris met Paul and Rich in a Czech bar in 1999,
when we helped his travelling companion at the time (Derek) to get
a ticket, however it was Dublin where he came into his own. Flaunting
a “Shaun the sheep” novelty posing pouch under his kilt,
Chris was set upon by a band of rampant, middle-aged women, and
returned shaking, with tales of how one was now wearing the sheep
around her neck “like a medal”. Chris is also very familiar
with the Kaunas – Vilnius highway.
deep in thought (or is that just concentrating on holding it all
Most likely to say: "I
took one for the team"
NATA Alter-Ego: Renowned
for losing passports and tickets, and missing boats and planes,
David is one person you do not want to leave in charge of your travel
is part of the trio of Schneckie boys that make up the NATA Inverness
Branch, although it has been a wee bit dormant of late. David enjoys
travelling so much he even works as a travel agent, and will often
plot the most circuitous route to a destination (for example, going
to Poland from Inverness solely by boat and train), probably because
the many changes give him maximum opportunity to lose at least a
couple of key travel documents.
David’s most notorious moments on tour are
usually related to losing control of his basic functions (or his
passport/tickets). Having travelled all the way to Croatia in 2000,
David sat down in the first minute of the game “to catch his
breath”, and the next thing he knew, he was being shaken awake
in the 90th minute. Far worse than simply missing a game due to
sleeping, in Iceland David became known as “Nature Boy”,
having to show the ultimate resourcefulness in the Thingvellur National
Park whilst on the Golden Circle tour.
“Inverness David” disappeared into
the ether a wee bit recently, when he professed his disillusionment
with following Scotland, however he was spotted in passing in the
Looks: Small and
chirpy, like a short Joe Calzahge
Most likely to say: I
think you might be severing my finger
NATA Alter-Ego: Not
a professional assassin, Brian's nickname is more to do with his
uncanny ability to attract physical disaster - none more so than
the night of the Under-21 game in Tallinn in 1999, when within the
space of an hour he almost lost his finger in a taxi door (courtesy
of Paul) and was brained by a flying alcopop (thrown out of Molly
Tartan Army opportunities have been restricted since he signed up
for the Navy, however he was one of the original four Inverness
Boys, as met in Lyon in the summer of 1998. Barely 17, the four
of them (David, Alan, Brian and one other who’s not been since,
who believe or not, was the chattiest). Brian and David went to
Bremen, we met them again, and that was that.
Most likely to say: Not
much at all – Alan is more of a thinker and a drinker, not
NATA Alter-Ego: A
schoolboy nickname that remains true
was also in Lyon with the rest of the Inverness Boys, but did make
an early break for home. A few years later, and Alan was back on
the road (for the Arnhem game).
Alan is a quiet, contemplative figure, who also
looks amazingly like a Moomin troll. When he does share his thoughts,
he is prone to coming out with a real pearl of wisdom that perfectly
sums up the situation.
“Why’s he called ‘American Dave’?”
went the age old question… “Because his name’s
Dave, and he’s from America.
Good, now that’s cleared up. Paul and Dave met at University,
at a time when there was a bit of a Dave surplus in Sussex (Australian
Dave, Brentford Dave and Fulham Dave, to name but a few), and before
long, he was making regular trips along the coast to join in the
fun at The Dell. Dave is the sole reason Paul and Rich saw USA’s
horror showing in all three games at France ’98, but revenge
was obtained as Dave sat through the 3-0 Morocco debacle.
Dave’s status as “official NATA jinx” was confirmed
one year later, as he witnessed the 2-0 home defeat to England,
but was suspiciously absent (well, he didn’t have a ticket)
for the victorious second leg. Now doing shadowy work in Washington
DC, recently married to Ellen, there are encouraging signs that
Dave is putting his jinxed Scotland past behind him.
Mirza ia an honorary member of NATA, and the founder (and sole
member) of the Sarajevo Tartan Army. He had a key role in establishing
the Tartan Army Message Board, in it’s previous incarnation,
as a major tool of communication amongst the online Tartan Army,
however he has now taken more of a background role.
Fern makes the list courtesy of a single Scotland game in 2001,
although she was on active duty overseas with NATA on the October
2003 trip to see Southampton in Bucharest.
Despite being named after a bush, Fern has readily adapted to student
life in her adopted hometown of Southampton, where she enthusiastically
follows the Saints. She met the original NATA members at The Dell,
where her family had the misfortune of having season tickets directly
in front of us (in our more “excitable” days).
Paul’s younger sister now lives in Dalmuir, and makes it
along to occasional home matches – like most of Paul’s
family, she still doesn’t have a passport of her own, so away
games are out of the question. She recently graduated from Glasgow
University, and now works for a shipping resource company in Clydebank.
Although Welsh Steve (see American Dave above for an indication
of where the name comes from) first savoured international football
in the Czech Republic in 1999 with Scotland, he has since become
a regular travelling Welsh fan, including trips to Russia, Finland
and “the most expensive day trip” of his life, to Azerbaijan.
Steve has fashioned a career in the Alan Partridge-esque cut throat
world of local radio, and now moves in trendy media circles, dahling
(calm down – this is only Cardiff, remember!).
Steve met Paul in the queue to register at University, and the
two have remained friends since. His inaugural Scotland trip saw
him kipping on a sofa in Prague for a week (it could have been worse
– Rich slept on a plank above a washing machine alcove), but
it wasn’t enough to put him off a weekend in Dublin before
the friendly in 2000.
Although Milngavie (that’s “Mill-guy” to the
likes of you!) is where Paul’s family hail from, he doesn’t
actually know that many people there (apart from his family, that
is). Paul’s mum, as Branch Manager of a well known convenience
store chain, is the chief supplier of Mad Dog 20/20 to the Milngavie
and Bearsden region, and also employed two of the Milngavie Boys
– Ally Reid and Peter Risk.
NATA made the Milngavie Tartan Army’s acquaintance in Prague,
and our paths have crossed on many occasions, although home games
are usually out of the question, due to the Mad Dog rituals taking
place amongst the members.
It’s difficult to name and shame all the Milngavie Boys,
but here goes: Ally Reid, Davie Carruth (now in Australia), Pete,
Sumo, Gary Young, Colin, Ally Jones, Russell, Martin, Fraser and
Stephen, as well as Irene and Katy (apologies to anyone I’ve
The paths of NATA and the Notts Scots has long been intertwined
– Campbell Burton was the first ever person to ask the immortal
question: “Where the f*ck’s Netley Abbey?”. After
an initial meeting on the boat to Arnhem, rarely a trip goes by
without sharing a drinking session in some dodgy, backstreet boozer
with the likes of Campbell, Jim Carver, Dougie (Campbell’s
older, yet wiser, clone), Adam or the Numpty Brothers. Sadly, Scott
and Josie Forman can no longer travel as much, now they have a baby
Forman to look after.
Taking it’s name from it’s members’ initials,
the Wee Midges Tartan Army is based in Bournemouth, Bicester and
Scotland, and the too members NATA have most contact with are Wrighty
(professional Gary McAllister stunt double) and Big Mick, a committed
An up-and-coming Tartan Army presence on the Sussex Riveria, consisting
mostly of Raz Petrie and Brian Chambers. Paul originally met both
at Woodside Road (home of the mighty Worthing FC), but for a long
time had actually seen them more times abroad than at home. Brian
often works in Germany (hence the name “Munich Brian), and
has even co-opted Helmut from Hannover into the TA.
Aside from Woodside Road, Brian and Raz both frequent the excellent
Selden Arms pub (complete with Belgian Kriek – cherry beer
– on tap!).
And the dozens of denizens too numerous
to list here, including members of Loony Alba, WESTA, NOSTA, EASTA,
ETA and the Prestwick Tartan Army (right), and various people who
lurk around the TAMB, and those who don’t.