As for Spain, me and my mate stayed in Torremolinos. When we arrived ... nae tickets. Somehow we saw all three games (the highlight for me was against Brazil!). So there we were, standing outside the ground in Seville at 1:00 in the afternoon, first in line. Then some wee punter shows up wi' a sign that says "No tickets". We stood there until 5:00 in disbelief. At 6:00 the camera crew for STV shows up tae film us an' the reporter says "Allright Lads?, looking forward to the game?" Not if we don't get tickets says I. "Oh!, Ye don't have tickets? "Nope, an' they're sayin' there's none left. "Here's an address, it's a travel agents shop, ask for Tam and tell him I sent ye" says he. So I stand in line,not believin' this line,and my mate hails a taxi an' off he goes. What seemed like a day and a half (actually an hour) back comes my mate grinning from ear tae ear wi' two tickets in his hand!! Ya BEAUTIE!!
When Alan Hansen scored that goal.. I thought I'd died an' gone tae Heaven. When Zico scored the equaliser from that free kick,I just stood and appreciated the beauty of the skill level.
It was getting fairly late in Gothernburg on the night before the Holland game for EURO'92. We were walking along, hoping to find a Tartan Army footsoldier prepared to offer a bit of hotel floorspace for the night. There were three of us including a somewhat tall kilted Partick fan called Greg (a regular traveller). The train station was starting to look like one option for a bit of shut eye when out of the blue strode 2 tall blond beautiful Swedes that none of us had never met before in their lives. They made a bee-line for Greg. I think is was not because he was any less ugly than the other two of us but because of his kilted appearance and its mystic powers of 'pulling'.
Sure enough, after eyeing him up and down, it became clear that a bed was available for at least Greg and perhaps the rest of us if we played our cards right! What wasn't in the plan was that Greg had been drinking Duty-Free Vokda in considerable quantaties and straight. Then, it happened! That decisive moment which must be grasped immediately 'So ... what do Scotsmen wear under theirs kilts ??'.
Before anyone could stop him, Greg had launched into a long incoherent explanation of how '... ma willys dead chaffed like ... several days wi nae knickers like ... hud tae put knickers oan today 'cos ma willy was stingin' 'rat much ...' etc. It didn't take long before Greg had well and truly blown what must surely have been his best ever chance to take two beautiful Swedish lassies home with him ! (and it is also debatable whether he will even have any recollection of all this taking place)
We all finally ended up crashed out on benches a the station !
Travelling with Scotland has always been an experience. From the days of the long haul coach trip to Wembeleeeeee, to the transatlantic flights to a country whose name I choose to forget but no doubt it's indelibly stamped in the memory of a former Don's manager.
In the halcyon days of my youth, enthusiasm was in abundance, and cash in dire shortage, so it was charabanc time for the biennial trip to the twin towers. The awesome responsibilities of 'running the bus' fell on me with the biennial trip to London being the most daunting task of all.
Getting everyone there was a dawdle, compared to getting them all back. Perhaps that's why I was still awake when all around had decided to shorten the return journey by travelling in the football supporters' equivalent of a permanent vegetative state. Ten o'clock on the Sunday morning seemed to be the standard departure time and a convoy of busses snaked through the suburbs on the way to the M6. One final roundabout remained to be negotiated and spread-eagled on it lay one of the Tartan Army who had clearly been posted missing in action.
The driver stopped the bus and I meandered over in Good Samaritan mode to offer assistance. My new acquaintance was not at his most coherent but what little conversation we had went like this.
'Miss your bus?'
Where are you from?
Need a lift?
.................at this point he lapsed back in to his slumbers and stayed that way as we carried him on to the coach and set off back up the road.
At our first stop, only a few survivors were fit enough to leave the coach and our latest recruit was certainly not one of them as he remained slumped across his seat. Three hours later we pulled into a service station just North of Preston, our last watering point before the Celestial City, so while mouth to mouth resuscitation was out of the question, a good shaking did raise our guest to a level of consciousness where he began to feel grievously hung over.
After an exchange of pleasantries and similes over the state of his head and tongue (I'll spare the reader the less than edifying details) he slowly began to take heed of his surroundings. Anxious to reassure him, I was able to confirm that we'd be back in civilisation in about four hours and that, ever willing to assist, we'd make a detour to Hamilton to drop him off.
The transition from inertia to hysteria was immediate and shocking. Cutting a swathe through the profanities being heaped where I had expected gratitude, I managed to confirm that he did indeed come from the Lanarkshire town .........................but had married and moved to Watford three years before!!!
Having enjoyed his evening to the full, his pockets were empty and a whip round was required while the bus diverted to Preston railway station and the time of the next departure to London was confirmed. The final act in the drama came when I persuaded the victim of the lost weekend that tackling the issue of domestic concern/rage was easier from the North of England than from the doorstep. Sadly, he had less bottle than had been required to hold his post match consumption and the phone was thrust to me to complete the farce with one of the most uncomfortable 'You don't know me, but.......' conversations I've ever had.
The flight down was uneventful, save for some fellow passenger feeling the need to 'pass the hat around for the driver' and one obviously infrequent flier who regularly, and noisily, regurgitated his pre flight drinks into a paper sack which, inevitably gave way under the strain. God! I was so glad we weren't playing in the Far East, he might have added a curry to his intake before we left!
In high (70o) spirits after a fighting draw it was back to Heathrow for the return flight and a terminal which looked like the aftermath of a World War 1 battlefield. Mind you, if it had been a WW1 battlefield mots of the walking wounded would have been facing courts martial since all of their injuries were of the self inflicted variety.
Eventually, the flight was called and we (sh)ambled forwards. First those who had the foresight to purchase tickets, then those travelling steerage class until the pane was full and the door closed. A quick check confirmed that I would not have to share my airspace with my companion with the dodgy stomach - if he was bad on the way down I shuddered to think what sort of wreck he would be after sampling the delights of London for a couple of days! Pre-flight checks completed ( carry out at the ready - check!, flag draped over the seat in front - check! Is it actually going to Glasgow -check!) and off we went!
Strange to think how, in these trusting days of yore, the plane was actually airborne before they went around to collect tickets and fares. The brave lass started her thankless task amid comments which were far from politically correct, and her verbal buffeting owed as much to her cut glass accent as to her attempts to prise money out of the unwilling (broke) and incapable (comatose). She was doing so well, when disaster struck. We were over Manchester and some two thirds of the planeload had yet to be checked - visions of an hour circling over Renfrew Airport before the collection of fares could be completed and landing allowed. A shriek rent the air and the bewildered and befuddled hostess gave up the unequal task and retreated to the back of the plane never to be seen again.
So what had been the last straw that fractured the calm exterior of the lady who had suffered abuse and the unwelcome attention from fans whose fantasies of joining the mile-high club were never to be nearer realisation than after a knee-trembler in a high rise flat? Had someone gone beyond the pale and laid a hand on her, had the banter gone beyond the bonds of decency?
No, the final curtain fell over her sanity when a disgruntled traveller awoken from his slumbers to demand that his passage be honoured on production of a ticket bearing the legend London Euston to Glasgow Central!
I've known Bruce for about fifteen years. Oh! We couldn't be called close friends, it's not that sort of relationship. In fact I don't even know his second name, but Bruce, a fellow member of the Tartan Army, is a legend in the ranks of eccentrics who travel the world on National Service.
I think it was Tel Aviv where I first encountered Bruce. Courtesy of a sterling display from Alan Rough (couldn't miss the Thistle connection, could I?) and a Kenny Dalglish goal, Scotland had secured a win vital to our chances of reaching the '82 World Cup in Spain.
A weary, but happy band were going through the exhaustive security checks at Ben Gurion Airport when everything came to a grinding halt. The Mossad (Israeli secret service) were geared up to cope with the antics of Arafat and the irrationality of Iran. The loon from Lossiemouth was another matter.
Bruce likes to travel, and he likes to keep souvenirs of his journeys. So what better to take back from Israel than a wee plastic bag full of water from the Dead Sea? Now whether they thought it was vodka or nitro-glycerine, nobody knew. One thing was certain, no way would they believe that it was H2O from where not even the Titanic could have sunk. We couldn't board until Bruce was cleared through security, and he wasn't leaving his unique trophy for anyone.
Tempers frayed and peer group pressure eventually achieved a bizarre compromise. Bruce drank the disgustingly salty water, given everything else he'd drunk over the few days in the Holy Land - it was probably like nectar. Honour satisfied on both sides, Bruce took his water home, more or less, and the Mossad reckoned that as long as he didn't break wind it wouldn't have mattered if had been nitro!
Dougie is a character in the truest form of the word. He's a fisherman from Scrabster - the guy who got over the travelling difficulties to the Faeroe Islandsí game by extending his normal working area. He threw caution, and the European Union's fishing policies, to the wind and trawled all the way up - hauled the catch on board, watched the game and trawled all the way back!
Our host city has been hosting a celebration of British motoring and Centenary Square has a floral display which was (note the past tense) adorned by one of the extremely limited edition £250,000 Jaguar Sports coupes. This sleek, sliver beast was being vocally coveted by a Glaswegian admirer who opined that, not only would this 175MPH beast hasten his return to Drumchapel after the game, but that it would look well outside his house, marginally edging out his Mark 2 Cortina.
Requests for photos beside the Beast were declined and enquiries about test drives were politely, but firmly, put into the 'You must be joking, Pal!' category.
Promises to return en masse the following day were met with panicked expressions as the organisers envisaged Shuggie from the Drum assembling a raiding party to take a trophy of rather more substance than a piece of the pitch back to Glasgow. Next day dawned to a vacant lot beside the floral tribute with an apology that the dream machine was required elsewhere.