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  NATA Diary 1998-99  


France '98 - The Beginning

Everyone's got to start somewhere, and for Rich and I that was France '98.  Although both of us had been to a couple of games before, growing up on the South Coast of England meant that information about the national team was very thin on the ground (as any Daily Record/Sunday Mail reader will testify to).  My university course finished in May 1998, and I had promised myself a treat at the end: a trip to the World Cup Finals.  It soon became apparent that this was just a pipe dream, as tickets were like gold dust.

A brief ray of hope came with success in the travel club draw, but it was only a single ticket to the Morocco game.  However, as the Finals drew closer an amazing thing happened - I only went and got through on the phone line!  No chance of Brazil tickets, but after a 90-minute call to Paris, and a with World Cup Wallchart and a map of France next to me I was able to buy up my maximum 16 tickets to ensure a feast of football.

Rich and I saw 8 matches in 7 different cities, and covered over 3,000 miles on French trains over two weeks, and got very drunk at regular intervals.  For my part, I learned how difficult life as a vegetarian abroad can be, after surviving on Cheese baguettes and Cheese and Tomato pizzas for a fortnight.


These are the matches we were lucky enough to see:  
Date Match Venue
15th June 1998 Germany 2 United States 0 Paris
16th June 1998 Scotland 1 Norway 1 Bordeaux
17th June 1998 Italy 3 Cameroon 0 Montpellier
19th June 1998 Spain 0 Paraguay 0 St Etienne
21st June 1998 Iran 2 United States 1 Lyon
23rd June 1998 Scotland 0 Morocco 3 St Etienne
25th June 1998 Yugoslavia 1 United States 0 Nantes
27th June 1998 Italy 1 Norway 0 Marseille

15/06/98 - Arrival in Paris and the first match

We took the Eurostar and arrived in Paris early afternoon. We had to trek across the city to our hotel in the Montparnasse area of the city - at least it was handy for the Bordeaux train early the next morning. This was a real culture shock for me, as I had not been in a non-English-speaking country for 6 years, and I was not very confident in my French.
After a wee kip, we headed off to the Parc Des Princes, where things were getting pretty hectic. After paying £3.50 for a plastic cup of warm beer, we watched the French Riot Police chase the German skinheads round the block in circles like something from an Inspector Clouseau film. Inside the ground, things were pretty carnival like, particularly as the Germans coasted to an easy 2-0 win against the cheesily-supported USA. For our part, we were supporting the Americans in honour of American Dave, who was to join us in Lyon the following Saturday.
We headed back across to Montparnasse and tried in vain to get served in a snooty brasserie type place (sit down and wait or go to the bar? We tried both and were still ignored!). Probably just as well we agreed, because the next day was a very early start for Bordeaux.

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16/06/98 - Bedlam in Bordeaux

We got up around 6am for an early Paris-Bordeaux train, stupidly neglecting to get a carry-out for the journey. Thankfully, some fellow Scots took pity on our plight and donated a few of theirs (cheers, lads!). On arrival at Bordeaux station around 10.30am it was apparent the pre-match party was already underway. We grabbed a cab to drop our bags at the hotel, planning to get straight back into the thick of it as soon as.

Now, in order to cut costs we had gone for budget accommodation, which in Bordeaux came in the form of a Formula 1 motel. This was situated a good 20 minutes by taxi away from the centre on the wrong side of the river. When we got there it resembled a refugee camp - after stepping over prone Scottish bodies to the reception desk a clearly rattled manager took us up to our bomb-site of a room. He apologised profusely as he tore the dirty bed-clothes off the beds, promised us that it would all be cleaned by mid-day and suggested that we leave our bags in the corner of the room and go and enjoy ourselves. A free local bus journey later dropped us off at The Connemara Bar, where after a few £3.50 pints and a meeting with the Cardonald Musketeers we were reliably informed that a supermarket round the corner was knocking out cheap cases of Kronie lager. For the price of two pints, we bought an entire case of 24 bottles each (12 pints), and drank these on the march to the ground, distributing spares along the way to any needy causes, both Scottish and Norwegian.

The atmosphere outside the ground was bouncing, but the beer was taking its toll and a visit to the lavvy was on the cards. Due to the sizeable polis presence, I took the wise step of popping into the large bar on the corner of the exclusion zone, only to be confronted by a massive queue for the loos snaking back out the door. Looking around in desperation I saw a viking-sized Norwegian shaking himself down in the corner, by a load of piled up chairs and tables. Never one to miss an opportunity I nipped in to the corner after him, and a few minutes and several gallons later I turned around to see another queue behind me of guys with their kilts hitched in readiness waiting to take my place. For some reason, Rich has never been comfortable with the fact that I pissed in the corner of a packed bar in broad daylight.

On to the match, in which Scotland earned a creditable 1-1 draw, and a good few hundred fans stayed to sing 'Doe a deer' for almost an hour after kick-off. By now, a combination of the travelling and the early drinking was taking its toll, and Rich and I were both flagging badly. A cheese baguette and a promise to my mate Mike (who had spent a year in Bordeaux previously) to check out his favourite pubs hardened our resolve, and off to the Place de la Victoire we went. The Sports Cafe was showing the Brazil-Morocco game, but the moment it finished, off went the lights and on came the music, with Scots, Norwegians and French all dancing and drinking together. Much merriment followed, including a chance meeting with a guy wearing his wife's red frillies on his head declaring "Je suis le garcon, I am the boy don't you know", until Rich came up to me with a worried look on his face explaining we had to leave NOW. It was only when we got to another bar over the square that he explained that the bird he was getting off with had told him that her husband and boyfriend were also drinking in the same bar that he felt he'd outstayed his welcome.

At chucking out time (3am) we staggered down the road towards the station when we met two French guys who insisted that they took us to a nightclub. They drove us to Dixies, down by the river and allayed my dress code fears as they knew the bouncers. This was immaterial when we got in the front door and were piped to the bar by a fellow TA footsoldier. It turned out that David was a marine and Thierry was a second-team player for Bordeaux Rugby Club. After finishing just after 5am, and an bagpipe session outside the club where the piper was taking requests until 6, the French boys insisted we go back to Thierry's flat for a session on the Pernod. By this time, Rich and I were done in and talked them into giving us a lift back to the hotel we had last seen 18 hours ago, but contained all our belongings. After eventually mastering the entry PIN code for the door, and again stepping over bodies in the foyer, we were confronted with the same bombsite of a room, except all the bedsheets had been removed. Far too drunk to care, I crawled under a scratchy blanket on top of my bare mattress and settled down to all of 3 hours kip before our 10am train to Montpellier.

After less than 24 hours in Bordeaux I had fallen in love with the people and the place, and was able to answer "yes" to what became the most asked Scottish question of the trip - "Were you in Bordeaux?"

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17/06/98 - Messed up in Montpellier

We woke up on the Wednesday in Bordeaux after around 2 hours sleep, showered in a spaceship stylee (as is common in Formule 1 establishments) and caught our train to Montpellier at around 10.30am, still smashed out of our heads after the previous day's festivities.

The train journey was a bit of blur - around 5 hours on a local train, complete with torn leatherette seats and dodgy air-conditioning, and no people. Bizarrely, both of us were also experiencing some bizarre shared hallucination as we could both hear bagpipes - yet two full sweeps of the train turned up no Scots (and very few of anybody).

We got into Montpellier and quickly found our way to our hotel, in a back street just off the Place de la Comedie, with a quick lie down before heading out to the Italy v Cameroon match at the Stade de la Mosson. On the way to catch the bus, we were approached by a couple of English lads who engaged us in conversation. We were visibly wary of them, as was everyone after the events in Marseilles just a few days previous, but they were quick to disassociate themselves with that, and wished each other the best and pushed on to the ground. Once inside the stadium, we took our seats in the corner, just one row back from the fence, to find ourselves behind another couple of English guys (who again were spot on, and even helped tie our flag to the railings), and next to some German Tartan Army lads.

The stadium itself was quite impressive, with its three identical covered stands, and its one ridiculous three-tiered, uncovered beast of a stand. Just like the ground, the game was pretty one-sided as well. Cheering on Cameroon, as the underdogs, we watched as Italy barely broke into a stride to take a 3 goal win. Now at this point, buoyed by our result against Norway, and safe in the knowledge that Brazil should beast Norway and we should beat Morocco, we still thought that we would be playing the winner of Italy's group, so this game had added significance. And frankly, after seeing the Italians in action, I didn't fancy our chances! By the time we'd got back to the town, neither of us could face a night out, and still shattered from Bordeaux and the travelling, we took the early night option ahead of a Thursday morning train to Lyon.

Lyon was to form the base for our two-week sojourn, and I had managed to book two rooms (as American Dave was joining us after a few days) for 11 nights at the Lets Go recommended Hotel des Marrioners, just one street behind the central Place Bellecour, a snip at £13 per room per night. However, after finally locating the hotel door (think tenement, but with a big locked wooden door) and finding it very much locked, and no response on the phone number I had, panic began to set in. We were very much aware of how full Lyon was for the duration, and made our way to the temporary tourist office in the Place. After a couple of frantic phone calls the hotelier, a mad Belgian drunk who looked like Santa Claus, answered and explained that as he was expecting us later, he'd popped out to do some shopping (very much a one-man band, this hotel).

Whilst in the tourist tent, we were chatting to an American lady called Marie (a dead ringer for Suzi Quattro), who was also experiencing hotel difficulties. She had travelled independently to see the USA, having first travelled to Italia '90, but hoped to take in as many games as she could, and mentioned that she was going to try and get down to St Etienne for the Spain-Paraguay game the next day (Friday). We agreed to go with her and arranged to meet up with her the next day.

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19/06/98 - Boring, boring Paraguay

So off on a recce to St Etienne we went, Rich, me and Suzi Quattro-a-like Maria. After an hour on the train we bumped into the Inverness Boys at the other end. We'd chatted to the four young lads from Inverness (David, Brian, Allan, a tall lad whose name I've forgotten) in Lyon the previous day, and they seemed to haunt us at every turn (this continued after the World Cup, and over time led to the formation of NATA's Inverness Branch), however on this particular occasion they were one down, due to a bout of homesickness. The details have been abridged in order to protect the guilty party's shame, but as we stood talking in the station foyer, who should appear up the escalator but the runaway himself!

We bid the boys good luck in finding tickets, as we found our way to the Main Square, where we paid £50 each for three £25 tickets (at least they were all next to each other) - we later found out that we would have managed to get them outside at near face-value - nonetheless, all of us had ear-marked "tout cash" for such eventualities, and thought no more about it. After taking up residence in a posh cafe-bar before the game (as it had a toilet that was cleaner than any of our hotels - I didn't want to come out!), we made our way onto a tram towards the stadium.

We were all looking forward to the game, as Spain had a reputation for free-flowing, attacking football whilst Paraguay were cast as the plucky underdogs blessed with South American skill. Paraguay also had a fat, free-kick taking nutter in goal. We were supporting Paraguay. We finished our carry-out at the edge of the exclusion zone, just as a marching pan-pipe band walked through the barriers. The atmosphere was building up a treat, and we were happy to be surrounded by Paraguayans at the top of the stand behind the goal.

The game itself was a complete anti-climax, as Paraguay defended in numbers, stifling Spain. Chilavert only had a couple of chances at free-kicks, and these weren't dangerous, so towards the end of the game our alliance shifted away from the spoiling underdogs towards Spain, who we felt deserved on the basis of their better football. 0-0 it finished, and back to Lyon for beer was our only course of action.

The following day American Dave arrived at Lyon airport, 7 hours late and without his luggage. I had waited on my own at the airport all this time, mastering the World Cup 98 Gameboy game, and when Dave did arrive I almost found myself arrested for being 'airside' without a passport or flight ticket whilst trying to communicate in French with the luggage guy. That night was a bit hazy, as we found ourselves in yet another lock-in in the excellent St James Pub, where we had to plead with the barman to open the metal shutters at 4am so we could get out! Back at the hotel, Rich was challenged to a lawnmower race by the Scot in the next room as they spoke out the window, shortly before Maria tried to get into bed with the hotelier ("I got lost on my way back from the toilet", she explained the next day).

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21/06/98 - Political football at USA v Iran

Waking up on the day of the USA-Iran game, Dave's luggage was still missing, so I lent him an old-style USA top that I happened to had (a long story, but it is the shirt they wore when embarrassing England in the 1950 World Cup). We mingled in the main square with the Iranian fans, their numbers boosted by the majority of the Scots supporting the underdogs (nothing to do with the stunningly attractive ladies, then?) - out of loyalty to Dave, Rich and I were backing the USA.

As we stood in a queue for some snacks on the edge of the square, a wee old Iranian guy with an ill-fitting baseball cap came right up to us and stuck up his finger with a big smile on his face. This cracked us up as we smiled back at the old guy, but the Scottish lad (the lawnmower man from the night before) in the queue behind us was not amused - "you can stick yer politics up yer arse, pal" was his considered response to the exchange.

Given that Lyon is about the size of Birmingham, we were shocked to find that the vast majority of bars were shut on a Sunday, and we were relieved to find one that was open in the backstreets. This enabled us to warm up for the match properly before catching a taxi to the ground. When we got there, we faced a massive security operation to get in, and I almost had a Lion Rampant flag confiscated for bearing the word "Scotland". Strangely, around 15,000 Iranians managed to get through with T-Shirts bearing the word "Rajavi" in tribute to their exiled leader (one fan actually posted me one of these T-Shirts after I got back, as he didn't want to part with his own at the time!).

The USA were just as dire as they were against Germany, and Iran obviously wanted the result so much more. I was very impressed with Iran as they stormed into a 2 goal lead, with only a last-minute consolation for the US giving the score some respectability. Back into town, and the party was jumping. Unfortunately I wasn't, and had to go to bed after the game - but reports reached me the following morning of Rich flagging down a car in order to drag out it's beautiful Iranian passenger for a dance in the street.

The next day in Lyon saw us take in some sightseeing, followed by a massive session in the Albion Pub, before we were led by a suspicious looking geriatric American woman who had latched onto Rich to a club called The Soul Kitchen. I had been warned to give this place a wide berth by some friends who had studied in Lyon, for no particular reason other than weird things happened there, and sure enough, they were right. After Maria had managed to score a touted ticket for the Scotland-Morocco match the next day in the toilets, a massive argument brewed, and with me and Dave close to blows (for the first and only time) we left, shouting at each other down the street. The curse of The Soul Kitchen had struck again!

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23/06/98 - We're the Famous Tartan Army and we're gaun tae Tokyo

We were in Lyon for a week and a half, apart from one night in Nantes near the end, and looking back now 3 years after the event, it's hard to accurately place everything that happened. Whilst in Lyon I was hit with two bouts of acute homesickness (quite embarrassing to look back at), and this combined with a general feeling of lacklustreness stopped me from going out on two occasions: one was after the USA-Iran game (above); the other was after an incident in restaurant either the day before or the day after the Morocco game.

Our hotel was one street behind the Place Bellecour in the centre of Lyon, in a street packed with cheap restaurants (a sort of French "Chip Pan Alley"). And I managed to fall out of one of these restaurants. It was the night Chris Rea was playing a free concert in Place Bellecour (I kid you not), and the four of us were sitting at a table outside a Pizzeria on the decking that sat on top of the cobbles, as the waiter put my plate on the table I moved my chair forward and one of the legs shifted off the decking - the resulting shift in weight caused me to topple off the decking, taking the plant-potted railing with me as well - it was the only the quick thinking of a diner at another table grabbing the railing to stabilise it at an almost 45 degree angle that saved me from actually hitting the ground. But it was too late, it seemed like the entire street was in hysterics at the mad Scotsman - I mumbled some excuse about not feeling too good and made by way back to the hotel past the still-sniggering diners.

Anyway, the Soul Kitchen incident definitely happened the night before the Morocco game, and when I awoke on the day of the match, neither Dave nor me could remember much about it. Rich and I donned the face paint (he did his entire face, I just did my goatee beard, which seemed a good idea at the time) and we walked to Lyon's town centre station with Dave and Maria. 

After a crowded and very hungover train journey, we got off at St Etienne - a town already jumping with the Tartan Army. We found a backstreet restaurant where the chef himself ushered us in - his wife being the maitre dame. My stock-phrase "je suis un vegetarian" brought the instant reply (in English) "But you didn't get so big by eating only vegetables" had the rest of the table in tears. I had a specially cooked mushroom omelette, except I couldn't be too sure if they were mushrooms or kidney, and at the end of the meal the chef, who we now knew was medically insane, got a bottle of something off a shelf, brought it over and said "Now you drink with me". Inside the bottle was an entire pickled snake - giving me grounds to excuse myself with the old vegetarian routine, Rich wasn't so lucky - "But, I hate snakes" brought about my response - "You can't turn down his hospitality, he'll be offended. Maria refused, so Dave and Rich had a shot each, which I smelled before they downed it. Strong? I thought it was going to make my eyes bleed! As soon as they had done the deed, the chef, still stood over our table, patted his wife on the derriere and announced "It's good for your libido" as Rich and Dave continued to cough, splutter and sweat.

After we had paid up for the meal, we walked down to the main square where the party was very much in full swing. We found seats in a bar at the back of the main square, then got hold of a carry out and caught the tram to the environs of the ground (we missed the march by setting off too early), where we sat outside the exclusion zone and finished our beers. On the other side of the road a CRS riot policeman undid his uniform (a kind of all-in-one romper suit) to reveal a Scotland shirt - as the photograph above proves. As we walked through towards the turnstiles, Rich was stopped by several camera crews (his face paint was quite menacing - small children were running away in tears!), and the party atmosphere continued.

Into the ground and the nerves were taking hold, but there must have been at least 20,000 singing Scots in there. Unfortunately, we were terrible and got gubbed 3-0 by a tactically and skilfully superior Morocco side. As the final whistle blew, the Moroccans were in full party mode, until the shocking news came in that Norway had grabbed a last minute winner against Brazil. Both sets of fans trooped disconsolately back to the station, and the atmosphere for the hour-long journey back to Lyon was pretty sombre, until the train pulled in and everyone got off, when a rousing chant of "Tokyo, Tokyo, we're the famous Tartan Army and we're gaun tae Tokyo" rang out.

Off to the Albion Bar to commiserate, Dave swears he was flashed at by a drunk Scot sprawled on the stage at the back of the ground floor - "Dude, he was looking at me and playing with himself, man!" At this stage, Rich and I were seriously contemplating just cutting our losses and heading home two matches early.

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25/06/98 - The train journey from hell

The day after the St Etienne massacre we just bummed around - Dave's flight back to the States was the day after the USA played Yugoslavia in Nantes, and he couldn't make it to Nantes and back in time, so he was going to have a day on his own in Lyon. Rich and I had made the decision to stay and try and enjoy the rest of the trip, although thousands of fellow Scots were packing up and leaving for home.

The next day Maria, Rich and I set off on for the train to Nantes leaving Dave and most of our luggage at the hotel in Lyon - I later found out that Dave spent the day in an underground pool bar. To say our journey was ardous is putting it mildly. We had reservations for seats - this turned out to be in a carriage full of screaming American kids on a slow, cross-country train with no air-conditioning and leatherette benches to sit on (no tables or anything). The journey was sheer hell, and after a very uncomfortable 7 hours we pulled in to Nantes station. As Dave was unable to come to the game, I had passed the ticket on to my father, and he met us at the Station.

After finding the hotel (the best one we stayed in for the whole trip) we found a great bar near the central tram stop. After a leisurely tram journey out to the ground and a quick beer nearby, we made our way into the Stadium. The Stade de la Beaujoire is for me probably the best ground I've been in, although the beautiful summer evening may have had something to do with that (see the sunset in the photo above).

The only thing that spoiled it slightly was the presence of large numbers of Yugoslavian (i.e. Serbian) hooligans, who greeted their national anthem with nazi salutes and hurled abuse at all around them. The game finished 1-0 to Yugoslavia, and the American coach's strange idea of a 3-6-1 formation continued to make for appalling football.

Afterwards, we went back to the same bar, before walking Maria to the station (she had an early flight home from Paris the next morning). The town was still buzzing as we made our way back to the hotel, and dozens of dodgy-looking Yugoslav fans kept coming up to us to shake our hands and tell us how much they loved Scotland (we had Scotland shirts and tartan trousers on).

After leaving our friend on his own in Lyon, and travelling the width of France in extreme discomfort to see a terrible match (albeit in beautiful surroundings), the only thought that kept us going was that we were booked on a nice, fast, air-conditioned train for the return journey the next day.

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27/06/98 - Visiting the battlefields of Marseille

Still on a downer after not qualifying, and now back in Lyon both Dave and Maria-less, Rich and I agreed that we should still go down to Marseilles to see the Italy-Norway second round game. We had already seen both teams earlier in the tournament, and given the rapport we had with the Norwegians we decided to back them. 

As we made our way down the main road from the Station to the port, we popped into a sports shop so Rich could get a Monaco shirt (he was already getting carried away with all the "John Collins?" comments). We were getting real hostility from the customers and shop assistants until we explained "Nous sommes Ecossais" - this was only a week and half after the English hooligans had wrecked the place. We had a few beers down by the waterfront and then made our way onto a stadium-bound bus. On the bus was a tattoo-ed English sailor, bragging to us about how funny it was during the riots, and taking the mickey that we were on our way home already - "At least we're welcome back" came the reply, which shut him up a treat.

We had to walk the long way round the ground to find our turnstile, and we were sat level with the 18 yard box in the uncovered side-stand - the sun was relentless. By half-time I was shivering and covered in cold-sweat with the onset of sun-stroke, and by the end I was grateful that Norway couldn't find an equaliser for Italy's first-half strike as it meant no extra-time to suffer. The entire game was dire, and my whole memory of Marseille was soured by the extreme heat and the attitude of all the English fans we had the misfortune to meet there.

We got the first possible train back to Lyon, only to find the bars beginning to fill up with English fans preparing for the Argentina game in St Etienne a couple of days later. With the streets no longer safe for Scots, Rich and I decided to get an early train up to Paris the next day (a day early) to try and bring our Eurostar tickets forward. The worst case scenario would be spending a night in Paris, but this was far preferable to staying in Lyon any longer than was necessary. As it turned out, we were sat on a Eurostar within 30 minutes of arriving at the Gare du Nord, and were back in London on Sunday afternoon. One person who wasn't best pleased to see me back early was Helen, who hadn't done the dishes or shaved her legs!

And that was that, the story of the Netley Abbey Tartan Army's (except we didn't know it then!) first away adventure.

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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
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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