Trip Report - Latvia - OCT'96

WC Qualifying Match away to Latvia and Estonia, October 1996
Trip Journal from John McVey - Trip to the Baltics (How Bizarre)

Myself, crazy Joe and Biffo started to awake at Heathrow airport. We were in a time warp, had we been or were we going to Latvia and what happened in Estonia?

I was amazed by the difference of the two countries (Latvia and Estonia). My perception of Latvia was dark, dingy, dirty and drunk, but the Woman (and so many of them), must be the most beautiful in the world. (And yes its true what they say about Russian woman - they like it). A few famous incidents took place in Paddy Whelans pub with big Bertha. 9 queued in the up to have their way at one point and another 3 half an hour later. Yes there was a lot of stirring of other peoples porrage in Latvia!

Paddy Whelans pub was drunk dry to the songs of "Doh a dear a female deer" and "Drunk for a tenner - were all drunk for a tenner - drunk for a teeeenner! were all drunk for a tenner!". A few strays of the tartan army were being 'picked off' by Latvian hoods as they staggered around the unlit Latvian streets trying to find their way home - or back to Paddy Whelans. By the time the many buses, coaches trains and horse drawn carts were making their way over the border to Estonia, a few foot soldiers were carrying bad injuries and no doubt strange sexually transmitted deseases.

In Estonia we managed to fix ourselves up in the same hotel as the under 21 team, (who were under strict orders not to venture out). Some of the tarten army took pity on them and smuggled drink and hookers back to their rooms at 4am.

I was shocked to hear stories of players from the big team smoking and drinking in a night club in Latvia to the wee small hours. This is the type of thing you would expect from Andy Goram, but not of your team captain as well!?

In Estonia our 'adopted' pub was 'The Pub with no name' so we ironically congregated there before kick off then on to the 'match with no game'. The last few days had been totally bazarre but this surely topped the lot. The tartan army put on a brave face singing always look on the bright side of life, the famous foot soldier, Tam Ritchie ran on to the pitch to 'score a goal for Scotland - kilt swinging, beer can in hand and an Estonian soldier chasing after him. If you are ever faced with the question at a pub quiz - who scored at the Estonian V's Scotland match with no game, you should remember to say Tam Ritchie, but come to think of it I think most of the tartan army 'scored'.

Back in Heathrow airport - did it all really happen?

John McVey

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