Over The Top
With the Tartan Army


Have you ever wondered what its like to travel round the world with the Tartan Army ? Now, it is possible to find out about some of the bizzare happenings that follow the Tartan Army on their travels. You can find out by reading some true stories as logged by Andrew A. McArthur, long serving Tartan Army Footsoldier and veteran of many campaigns. His new book, entitled 'Over The Top - with the Tartan Army' is now available and published by Luath Press in the UK.

Details of how to acquire your copy of the book are given at the later on this page.

It should be noted that all the royalties from the first print of the book (5,000 copies) are being pledged to Visual Impairment Services - South East Scotland (VISSES) and MacMillan Cancer Research.

Therefore, buying a copy of the book will also put some dosh into a some vital charities.

About the Book

The following depicts the cover and the foreward of the book. The foreward was written by Graham Speirs of Scotland on Sunday. OTT Cover - 31Kb OTT_Back_Cover


After a while you forget how sick you feel when scotland get beat. Even the most sane of witnesses confesses it is a masochists nightmare following Scotland. If that statement is a contradiction then all to the better - for it captures the essence of the Scotland supporter, suspended between the pleasure he desires and the pain he somehow revels in. I personally can vouch for this human habitat because I have seen it often at close quarters: Scotland supporters roistering through dark eastern European alleyways at night, a bottle and a song to hand, and a broad smile across the face, when the team have just been humped.

It seems to me that the Tartan Army are in various ways a loveable bunch of fools. I don't doubt that clever sociologists in redbrick colleges all over the shop will have numerous theories about social escapism and stress-release mechanisms to explain their behaviour. The facts remain that they lose a lot of money, and sometimes marriage contracts, to follow their national team around numerous doomed assignments and suffer severe headaches and vomiting in the effort. When real-life combat soldiers endure these symptoms, their circumstances are deemed to be ghastly. When the Tartan Army return home, broke and forlorn, they refer to it as great fun.

In recent years, to add to this merry bevvying culture, it seems to me two further traditions have emerged. The first is this daft legacy from foreign travel of Tartan Army footsoldiers falling in love. I use the verb 'to fall' correctly here because, more often than not, the image is of a tartan tommy falling off the edge of an empty bottle somewhere to slur some weak eulogies to a leggy Swede in a dank nightclub in Gothenburg. In some cases, the wonder is that she falls for it and gets married. This nonsense truly took off after the Argentinean fiasco in 1978. If there was one thing from that period that outdid fans with Ally MacLeod carpets, it was other Rabs and Boabs letting out great belches before announcing that they had just met the loves of their lives. Of course, the gemme was their true love, but some of these relationships are still enduring.

And the second emerging tradition is surely this business of the good behaviour that seems to have broken out like a bad rash among Scotland supporters. I am not cynical about this, although this fine decorum is peculiarly Scottish, and, I might add, peculiarly Tartan Army. Not every nation of citizens would regard the public bevvying, swearing and farting (the latter with the kilt hoisted up for maximum effect) as the perfect symptoms of civic order. For a country such as ours, which in the 1970s was among the foremost exporters of hooliganism, there is also a hilarious smugness about this new development among the fans. They positively revel in it now. I remember someone once telling me Scottish supporters were being good out of sheer wickedness. When they won that UEFA Good Supporters award in 1992, it was a bit like hearing of a bunch of alcoholics who had suddenly taken over the Temperance Society. I love the Scottish football fan, in particular his cheery deviousness!

They are also, of course, blessed with humour, one of the sharpest blades in the human arsenal, which makes the reading of this fine book all the more mirthful. In following Andy McArthur's chronicle through places like Moscow, Rome, Copenhagen and the Faroes, you are left once more feeling slightly proud that these stupid creatures are your own countrymen. I'm not one of those who goes to town on claims that we as a nation are truly unique, but we're still not bad for eccentric behaviour. When these Scotland supporters laugh at themselves, you can hear the guffawing for miles around. And much of the time they're broke. And most the time they're unwell. In one magical sentence, plucked from the middle of this tome, McArthur writes: 'People forget how sick they felt watching Scotland get beat'. But not sick enough, evidently, for the next campaign overland down to Athens to take place. I commend this book to all football supporters who love the game and can't help laughing at, and loving a little bit of, themselves. Some of it is genuinely hilarious. After reading it, I have almost concluded that the most accurate assertion you could make of a Scotsman is that he will go anywhere and say anything for the sake of a trivial pleasure. Especially, it seems to me, if there might be a match ticket down the road.

Graham Spiers
Scotland on Sunday
Glasgow 1998

Chapter Summary

Chapter 1 - Come awa wi me
Chapter 2 - Dispatches from the Russian Front
Chapter 3 - Save the Whale
Chapter 4 - The Camper Van from Hell
Chapter 5 - Free Tam Ritchie
Chapter 6 - Jimmy Hill is, William Wallace isn'ae
Chapter 7 - A Boot in the Baltics
Chapter 8 - Monte Carlo and Nearly Bust
Chapter 9 - There's no Such Thing as an Ugly Swede

Note: Chapter 6 - Jimmy Hill / William Wallace

The following text is certainly relevant : "The book 'Over the Top with the Tartan Army' (Luath Press, £7.99) has a chapter entitled 'Jimmy Hill is William Wallace isnae." Given the content of the chapter, and the potential relationship between Jimmy Hill and the Scotland fans, Jimmy Hill received an advance copy of the book to read. The author received a letter from Mr Hill. It thanked him for the book and said he had enjoyed reading it, but "not to call round for tea when his wife was in!" He also enclosed a cheque for £100 made out to the Childrens Hospice Association Scotland, which is receiving all the royalties from the sales of the book.". This now creates a connundrum for Scotland fans - surely Jimmys' generosity will make some reconsider their opinions of him.

Want to Buy the Book ? (UK)

You may need the following useful information to help you to get a copy :
Date of Publication : 21st April 1998
Publisher : Luath Press, Edinburgh, Scotland
ISBN Number : 0946487 45 6
Cost : 7.99 GBP
Size : 192 pages (including 'interesting' photographs).

Want to Buy the Book ? (Outside the UK)

You can order the book directly from the Publisher - Luath Press.

To order direct, please send a £ sterling cheque (made payable to Luath Press Limited), postal order, international money order or your credit card details (number, address of cardholder and expiry date) to Luath Press at :

Address: 543/2 Castlehill, Castle Hill, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND, Scotland, GB
Tel: 00 44 (0)131 225 4326 [24 hours]
FAX: 00 44 (0)131 225 4324

Please add post and packing as follows:
UK - £1.00 per delivery address (incl. BFPO);
overseas surface mail - £2.50 per delivery address;
overseas airmail - £3.50 for the first book to each delivery address, plus £1.00 for each additional book by airmail to the same address.

If your order is a gift, we will happily enclose your card or message at no extra charge.

Note: Surface mail can be quite slow.

Want a Better Graphic of the Book Cover ?

The graphic shown on this page has been reduced to minimise download time. A much clearer version of the graphic can be download by clicking on this link - Over The Top Cover Graphic - 121 Kb.

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