And so like many of my fellow Scots we endure the strain of the countdown to today’s kick off in Slovenia at 5pm and the inevitable nail biting angst and suffering over 90 mins hoping we get the result we hope for.
I was reminded of probably my most stressful and heart pumping day at a game by this picture sent to me recently.
Wembley during Euro 96 when Scotland played England was the most intimidating atmosphere I’d ever performed in.
I’d been asked to sing ‘Flower of Scotland’ by the organisers for the pre match national anthems with Paul Carrack singing ‘God Save the Queen’. I was at the stadium hours before and the build up was terrifying. There was a soundcheck of sorts and my tiny monitor looked like it had been bought from ‘Woolworths’.
Paul and I were both shaking as we stood in the tunnel waiting to come on to the turf and above me there were scores of English fans hurling abuse at me. I’d been told that probably half the stadium was Scottish fans. They lied.
Paul walked out to rapturous roars and on my announcement it turned to a cacophony of booing. As I made my way out the tunnel all I saw was a sea of red and white with a tiny section of Scots fans in one corner. It was brutally hot and we had to stand for ages waiting on the teams coming out. All I could see in front of me were baying English fans giving me the finger. All I could do was smile.
The teams finally filed out and I felt a little better when a couple of the Scots team standing next to me gave the thumbs up and friendly winks of support.
‘God Save the Queen’ started up and the stadium burst into spectacular song, Paul doing his best to ride with them. I’d never heard it sung so loudly and so passionately and I waited my turn, heart pounding.
I was announced and at exactly the same time as the snare drum intro crackled out the speaker the booing became deafening. I just had to focus and count myself through it. After only a couple of lines the Tartan Army were already ahead of me and I had to stick with the song timing rather than follow them. It was a nightmare and it turned into a nightmarish cacophony that I just wanted to end. My adrenalin was spiking and my heart rate through the stadium roof. It was the longest 3 minutes of my life and as I walked back up the tunnel the relief was incredible. Paul and I were both drained and the come down was enormous. And now we had the most important match of the Euros to deal with.
The result didn’t go our way as was to be expected. A Shearer goal should have been nullified by a Scottish penalty taken by McAllister but even I saw the ball move from the stands as he took the run up and that miss was compounded by a brilliant strike by Paul Gascoine 90 seconds later that effectively left us dead in the water. It was horrible to take in and after the game I saw McAllister looking like he was going to the hangman.
Singing ‘The Flower’ at Wembley that day was an incredible experience and definitely one for the ‘bucket list’ ticked off. I just hope we get the result today and get into the play offs to give us a chance of our first major tournament for far to long. I will probably be drinking heavily from 5 onwards