Hampden was no lap of honour - Scotland's past shows they have work to do in the Faroe Islands

There are few places on earth less likely to prompt complacency within a group of Scottish footballers than a North Atlantic archipelago located halfway between Iceland and Norway.

Scotland players celebrate with the fans after the win over Israel at Hampden. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

The Faroe Isles has long since been added to a list that includes Cordoba, St Etienne and Tbilisi in the wee red book of danger zones.

Although the runway at the local Vagar airport has recently been extended, it still requires a degree of faith in the pilot. On occasions of Scottish visits, apprehension tends not to be restricted to what is aften a hair-raising arrival process into the Faroes.

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There are whales that will swim into its waters with more carefree abandon than visiting Scotland footballers, with Steve Clarke’s side scheduled to arrive on the island of Vagar later today in what could prove the penultimate step in securing a World Cup play-off place. A win tomorrow night and then another three points next month against Moldova in Chisinau is all they need.

Steve Clarke celebrates with assistants John Carver and Steven Naismith at full-time. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

All they need. It all sounds straightforward enough. The sticking point is that, in four visits to the Faroe Isles to date, Scotland have only won twice.

The other two occasions were draws, most memorably a 2-2 result in Berti Vogts’ first competitive game in charge in 2002 when the Scots had to battle back from conceding two goals to a local schoolteacher inside the opening 12 minutes.

On the Monday following the game this newspaper carried the headline: “Scotland’s worst result since 1872”. The lucky draw with what football writer Glenn Gibbons noted was “essentially a parish side” was digested. “We gave game to world ....look at us now”, ran the headline on the match report.

It was deemed a comfortably worse result than a 1-1 draw against the same opponents three years earlier under Craig Brown when at least Scotland had the excuse of being reduced to ten men with still more than half the game to play after Matt Elliott was sent off five minutes before half-time.

A handshake for skipper Andy Robertson from head coach Steve Clarke after the win over Israel. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

A 50 per cent win record does not sound like the type of venue where Scotland can simply expect to turn up and collect three points and Steve Clarke will ensure this is not the mindset.

It’s incumbent to believe him when he insists that what looked like a lap of honour following the breathtaking comeback victory over Israel was in fact nothing of the sort. The manager warned that nothing has been achieved yet.

Rather, the actions of the players as they circled the park was a way of showing appreciation to the supporters. As well as ensuring the first full house for a Scotland game at Hampden in four years these fans also helped roar the team on to such a late, dramatic victory.

The players' merriment was not to be taken as a sign that they felt the job was done. It was not 1978 all over again – Clarke has spoken before about missing the infamously premature outpouring of emotion as Scotland were given a rapturous send-off before the World Cup in Argentina.

Saturday night was a long way from that vainglorious episode, of course.

The players were happy, yes. They were ecstatic, even, that all their hard work had come to fruition with seconds to spare. They had not panicked. They kept their eye on the prize. And playing a big part in helping them to do this were the supporters, who Clarke later credited with inspiring the team to one last, momentous effort after the booming cheer that greeted news there would be six minutes added at the end of regulation time. They had kept the faith. The players responded.

There are few managers less likely to indulge overlong celebrations than Clarke, who permitted himself a short run down the touchline at the final whistle before checking himself.

He has described himself as “crotchety” in the past but the manager recognised the need to give something back to the fans on Saturday night following many months when these kinds of scenes could only be dreamed about. Clarke is demanding no drop in standards as Scotland go from facing a team ranked 80 in the world to one ranked at 114.

He was short and sharp with his answer when he was asked whether there was a chance such euphoria might tempt the players to believe they are nearly there.

“None whatsoever,” he said. “I think at the end of the game, it was really just a little thank you and a ‘nice to see you again.’

“It’s been a while since this place was rocking like that,” he added. “I can understand why the players went out there. It was more or less for the players to say thank you to the fans.

“Then the fans have the chance to say thanks to the players on the way back. We’ve already spoken in the dressing room about it. It was a good night, it was a good second half, it’s three points.

“It’s just one more step on the road to Qatar,” he added. “And that’s what we’ll focus on. The next game, we need three more points.”

Clarke will spend the next 24 hours hammering this message home to his players, who are entitled to feel buoyant at the very least. Many took part in a warm-down training session yesterday at Oriam amid cheering groups of children who had gathered at the centre for their own sporting activities.

“I’ve been saying for a long time that this is a group of players who want to do well for their country and want to be successful for their country,” stressed Clarke. “And they show it. Every time they go on to the pitch, they show it. And they showed it again in the second half (on Saturday).”

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