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Yes Sir, Hampden Can Certainly Boogie!

Date: 10th October 2021

Last night was the first time in a few years I entered Hampden Park and watched Scotland again. Covid restrictions cost me two tickets during Euro 2020 and obviously most of the other games were played behind closed doors as we tried to reduce the virus from spreading and breaking our NHS. 

Before the game I met up with friends at Number 10 in Glasgow’s Southside, just a walkaway from the stadium. It’s a venue I’ll always cherish as it’s where I got married, it’s just coincidence that it’s right beside the first ever Hampden. 

Meeting pals again for pre-game pints seems like a luxury these days, I haven seen some of them in years! Everyone was in top form and we all predicted a Scotland win. 

As we walked to Hampden, the crowd was in a jovial mood and it was getting busy in the Battlefield streets. 

As we entered the East Stand, you got a feeling that everyone was delight and wanted to create a top atmosphere. 

Unfortunately new regular foes Israel had other ideas and took an early lead after five minutes with a good free-kick Eran Zavahi. When the ball struck the net, it simply took the wind out of the fans as it was the last thing we wanted to see.

Just before the half hour mark our talisman Super John McGinn once again stepped up and delivered for the Tartan Army. He curled the ball beautifully beyond former Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.

Unfortunately the fans in the stands couldn’t celebrate for long as we quickly conceded a corner, failed to defend it sufficiently and Israel’s Manus Dabbur was on hand to tap his nation back in front. Again it felt like over 50,000 people had just received a gut punch at the same time.

In the first forty-five minutes the Scotland team were too quick to give the ball away, we weren’t sharp enough and seemed to lack enough desire to hold our opponents to account for a significant period of time.

We won a penalty before the referee blew for an interval break but Lyndon Dykes struck a weak effort and that kind of summed up the inconsistencies we had shown throughout the opening period. The tension and the anxiety from the pitch reach the stands. The fans wanted to push the players on but it became increasingly difficult as he struggled to create and keep hold of the ball.

The half-time whistle came at the right time for our team and the support. Everyone needed time to regroup and decide on what to do next.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Harry Hood and Alan Anderson all received retrospective international caps after playing in what was an unofficial tour in the 1960s. That tour held personal touch for me as Grandfather was friends with Sir Alex at the time. He suggested Fergie should visit my grandpa’s brother in law, my Uncle Win always talks about the time Ferguson visited his house in Adelaide. 

Anyway seeing Fergie on the Hampden pitch seemed to galvanise the home crowd. I’m currently reading Peter Schmeichel’s autobiography and it has a chapter dedicated to ‘Risk Mode’ which is when Manchester United just threw the kitchen sink at teams in order to find a winner, which would often come in the dying minutes. 

Remembering this and seeing Sir Alex out there, I turned to my friend James and said ‘We’re going to win this in Fergie time!’. 

If any player out there could resemble the crowd and their difference between the two halves it was young Nathan Patterson. The right-back was always committed but in truth looked worried and was making mistake after mistake in the first period. During the second-half; he gained confidence, never stopped trying and showed some real passion to turn things around. 

I was thinking at the break that sometimes the Scotland fans just weren’t nasty enough or loud enough. They did do enough to intimidate officials and the opposition. They can do it in home games at the big Glasgow clubs but not with the national team. I’m not talking about jeering the other team’s national anthem by the way, I see that as stupid and unnecessary and will just fire up our opponents. 

Yet in the second forty-five minutes the noise inside Hampden just grew and grew. We got that famous roar back. You could see the atmosphere was starting to galvanise the team too. 

Dykes made up for his penalty miss by grabbing our second equaliser of the night. I’m not a huge fan of VAR but when the referee overturn the original decision to disallow the goal, the ground erupted and they could portably hear us up in Ben Nevis.

I once again turned to my friend and reminded him of ‘Fergie time!’. 

Our captain Andy Robertson worked tirelessly. Yet a couple of fans behind us complain about him all night. Again I never understand why some of our support are outwardly negative during the ninety minutes. I especially don’t get it when the player in question gave a tremendous performance, one that was reward with the man of the match award. 

As each minute passed, the noise levels simply increased. The Tartan Army as a collective were willing our players on and urging to see someone in a navy blue shirt grab the game’s winner. 

It was with about fifteen or ten minutes to go that you noticed that our opponents were flagging. They were on the ropes, diving and staying down at every opportunity. The crowd sensed this and just built up to an almighty crescendo. Every time a Scottish player had the ball they were urged to move forwarded attack the Israeli players. 

The ninetieth minute struck and we were suddenly into injury time. On the ninety-fourth minute, we win a corner. John McGinn heads over to take the kick. Goosebumps arrive. We cheer him on and then fall silent as he approaches the ball. It is a great delivery. Defender Jack Henry heads it on at the near post and then from a yard out it hits off an onrushing Scott McTominy and lands it the net! 


Limbs flying all over the place, adults screaming and crying. Kids jumping up and down.

Not long after and the referee blows for full time and it’s now party time. 

Fans refuse to leave the stadium as we hit the top note of every song. It all became a bit emotional as ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ hits the tannoy as the players give a lap of honour and cheer on the fans just as hard as we had cheered them on. 

At that moment I realised Hampden, the Tartan Army and the team had delivered. I’ll not have anyone slagging that ground again, saying it can’t generate an atmosphere. Just listen to the players, who all credited the fans with an assist last night. 

No European night I’ve been to at Ibrox or Celtic Park can match the atmosphere that we had at Hampden on the 9th of October. It was special and a night I’ll never forget. It was truly worth the wait to get back into that famous stadium and witness that historic occasion. 

I’ll always appreciate being there and being apart of it all. Here’s hoping the team can now get the required results to get us to next year’s World Cup! 

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