Government stance on Hampden trains sums up entire farce and reflects overall attitude towards football fans - Stephen Mcilkenny

The lads from Inverness were a bit shocked when I told them a minute after we met in the pub at 5pm they best start walking back to get their last train – but then again, I was simply passing on the message from Scotland’s transport minister.

I am, of course, being facetious, but on Wednesday night I attended Scotland versus Armenia, and was one of the 39,000 fans left to trudge home from Hampden with no access to trains.

With no services running, many fans had to walk back home and while I, a 6ft 5inch male who lives in Glasgow’s southside near Hampden, was pretty unfazed by it, it got me thinking about how off putting this would be to someone not in my shoes.

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I was walking alone and while not overly concerned for my safety, there are many reasons this shouldn’t be encouraged.

The transport minister said that timetabling for the match had been ‘incredibly difficult’.

One of the main arguments for the lack of transport was this game would not be as busy as the Ukraine World Cup play-off. But with no way home for many, is it any wonder fans stayed away?

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If I was, for example, a father of two children, would I have felt comfortable walking home with them in the dark? If I was a female on my own, would I be encouraged by the pre-match messaging of “preferring to walk home”?

Absolutely not.

It is too easy to laugh these concerns off as football fans having a moan, or state that football fans get preferential treatment anyway with occasional extra services while those attending gigs or the theatre do not. While this is in theory correct, it shouldn’t come down to petty point scoring amongst factions on Twitter. This should be called out for what it is – a national embarrassment.

Perhaps Jenny Gilruth and the Scottish Government need to start listening to the average football fan rather than assuming they know how they will behave and act. Why not take inspiration from Germany and provide real value in travelling to matches using public transport?

Sometimes it feels like the Scottish Government wants football fans attending games to not be seen or heard. Perhaps that’s why they are telling us to walk home in the dark.