Scotland fans in Munich await 26-year shot at glory

Scotland fans in MunichImage source, PA Media
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Scotland fans are in good spirits ahead of Friday's tournament opener

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From Methil to Munich, Coatbridge to Cologne, Stirling to Stuttgart and every European footballing backwater in between, the Tartan Army have waited 26 years for their date with destiny.

By the time Steve Clarke’s side get the Euro 2024 tournament under way against hosts Germany later, that 9,488 day wait to see the team play an international tournament on foreign soil will be over.

The party is well under way in Bavaria, where Munich has been transformed into a Scottish enclave, soundtracked by bagpipes and songs about the midfield maestro who is better than Zidane.

The carnival atmosphere has even captured the imagination of those backing the host nation.

Patrick and Ronnie, from Dusseldorf, are enjoying a full German for breakfast in Munich.

There’s no black pudding or tattie scone on offer, so instead, they are tucking in to giant salted pretzels along with coffee and a few steins of lager.

Ronnie says the city has so far been "peaceful", adding: "But it is early so we will see."

He is nevertheless confident it will be a "beautiful atmosphere" no matter the result.

"Scottish people are very happy and friendly as well so I think it will be very good party," Ronnie adds.

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Patrick and Ronnie have been soaking up the atmosphere ahead of kick off

Tickets for the match later were among the first to be snapped up when they went on sale to fans.

An estimated 200,000 supporters are expected to travel to Germany for the three group stage matches, according to figures released by the British consulate.

Scotland face Switzerland in Cologne next Wednesday before rounding off group A with a match against Hungary in Stuttgart on 24 June.

There was a brief ripple of excitement when rumours began circulating that scaffolding being put up in Marienplatz central square was for a screen to show the match.

But Jurgen, a Euro 2024 volunteer official from Munich, told BBC Scotland News that it is in fact a stage for a beer festival tomorrow.

He says that the game has the potential to outdo even the 2006 World Cup when matches were staged in Munich.

“It’s a very special game and I think it could be even bigger,” he said.

“No Scotland no party,” he added.

Fan park at capacity seven hours before kick off

Authorities in Munich urged Scotland fans to move away from the “overcrowded” central square of Marienplatz at about 14:00.

Supporters were encouraged to spread out across the city.

Scenes from the Olympiapark fan zone also showed a wall of dark blue shirts sitting on a grass verge in front of the big screen seven hours ahead of kick off.

The fan zone has a capacity of about 25,000, but fans were warned not to head to the site in the north west of the city, due to it being full.

The entrance was closed at about 14:35.

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The fan zone at Munich's Olympiapark was a sea of dark blue hours before kick off

Meanwhile, five Scotland fans were injured in a collision near Weeze airport on Thursday evening.

The group had rented a Citroen C3 after landing at the hub - 43 miles north of Dusseldorf - which was involved in a head-on crash with a Mercedes S-Class.

Officers at Kleve Police Station are investigating whether the driver of the car, who is thought to have driven on the wrong side of the road, was under the influence of alcohol.

The driver and one passenger were said to be seriously injured.

'We came from Oz and we are hoping for a miracle'

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Edward Rodden, William Rodden, Jamie Caldwell, and Darren Rice are desperate to see a Scotland goal

One of the most prominent divisions of the Tartan Army here is the Australian branch.

William Rodden, Jamie Caldwell and Darren Rice have travelled from down under, joining William's brother Edward, from Glasgow, in Munich.

They say their connecting flight from Doha was "like a plane to Ibiza", with Scotland fans from all over Australia joining in a mid-flight sing-song.

They spent the eve of the game in Hofbräuhaus, a beer hall dating back to the 16th century, and are reviving themselves with smoothies and coffee this morning.

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Euros 2024: From down under to Munich to support Scotland

Some of the group have tickets for the match, while the others join the countless others hoping for a miracle.

They say they've had an "outstanding welcome" from the locals, who they say have been "very helpful".

That hasn't tempered their desire for a Scotland win, no matter it would be against the odds.

"We'll be doing well to get a goal," says Darren.

"We just want to see a goal," adds William.

A lesson from history?

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Matchday has already started for the Scotland fans in Munich

Ikechi Anya burning through on goal in the Westfalenstadion against the recently-crowned world champions in 2014 might be an image seared into the collective Tartan Army memory, but Gordon Strachan’s side did go on to lose that game.

In fact, Scotland have not beaten Germany in any meeting since a 1-0 friendly victory in Bremen in 1999.

There will be no Don Hutchison and thankfully, no garish salmon pink kit for Clarke’s men this evening.

There will, however, be Scott McTominay, Scotland’s top scorer in qualifying with seven goals; Lawrence Shankland, the Premiership’s 24-goal leading marksman and John McGinn, who needs just one more strike in dark blue to enter the country’s top five all-time leading goalscorers.

There could also be a little bit of history on Scotland’s side, although it requires some elastic thinking.

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Kerri Jeffrey and Vicki Mackie are hopeful Scotland can spring an upset

Euro 2020, played a year later than planned due to the Covid pandemic, had no single host so we can discount Italy’s win over Turkey in the opening game in Rome.

And yes, France beat Romania in the first game of Euro 2016.

But, co-hosts Poland failed to beat Greece in 2012, Austria and Switzerland were both beaten in their first games in 2008, the Greeks beat Portugal in 2004, England were held by the Swiss at Wembley in 1996, Sweden drew with France in 1992 and Germany, as West Germany, did not manage to beat Italy in 1988.

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Fans are already filling up the Marienplatz

That means, of the countries to host the championships in the last 40 years, only Belgium and the Netherlands in 2000 and Ukraine in 2012 along with France eight years ago have managed to win their opening match.

So, could Scotland do the unthinkable and pull off the greatest upset since Kilnockie FC reached the Scottish Cup final?

Kerri Jeffrey and Vicki Mackie, stepping off a rowdy overnight train from Amsterdam to Munich, certainly believe.

“Scotland have nothing to lose,” Vicki said.

“We don’t expect anything we’re just happy to be here.”

Divided loyalties

At a cafe above the ever-busier Marienplatz, Craig and Sam Scott explain the striking contrast in their attire.

Dad Craig emigrated 15 years ago and has settled with his German wife near Hamburg.

While he’s cheering on Scotland, his son Sam is backing the favourites.

Craig says they made journey down to Munich without tickets because they felt they couldn’t miss out on the party.

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The ski goggles are to shield the eyes from champagne corks

They’re both optimistic about the prospect of a good time, but less about Scotland’s chances - though he says the ski goggles he’s sporting are just in case he needs to shield his eyes from champagne corks.

“Scotland's win was possibly getting the Euros,” said Craig.

And what will Sam do if they Scotland do nick a goal?

“I’m sure he’d celebrate - it’s just all about having a good time,” he said.

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