Scotland party as Hampden turns into a glitter ball for Euro 2024 celebration that ranks even more special than Serbia
No Scotland, no party. And, once again it was BYoB as Scotland twice battled back against a Norwegian side still huffing that Steve Clarke’s men have seen to it that they will not be on the guest list for next summer’s German jamboree.
They didn’t get the win. But they didn’t lose and after a successful campaign this was always going to be a celebration of what had gone before rather than events of the night.
And, occasions like this are rare and to be treasured. Nights where, come the last of the qualifiers, the men in dark blue are not down and out already, nights where nail-biting tension does not threaten to squeeze the hope and the joy out of the fans, nights where there is no fear of another soul-crushing near miss. Instead everyone turned up at Hampden well aware that the hard work had been done and they could just let their hair down.
The pre-match light show lit up the night like a glitter ball while the results which had sealed a second successive Euro Championship shot for Clarke’s squad were emblazoned on the pitchside electric boards, and footage of key goals and the exuberant reactions of the Tartan Army played out on the big screens.
In the stands, to the thumping backing track of Freed from Desire, the sell-out Hampden crowd bounced and sang along.
Scotland fans’ ability to party has rarely been in question but this campaign has been about more than just the bonhomie, the song book and the near misses. This one has been about the football too and a manager and a group of players who believe in themselves and each other and who have instilled that belief in a nation who had become worn down by disappointment.
This time around, they amassed points against the so-called minnows, and stunned the top seeds, getting off to the best possible start, as Hampden once again became a fortress, and Scott McTominay, the man who had been getting used to shoring up the defence on international duty, morphed into a goal machine. Then there was the big one away to Norway. But it was at Hampden that the resurgence and the burgeoning confidence was most evident as tickets sold out and the team delivered. Even when the dark clouds gathered, as they did the night Georgia came to town, Scotland danced through the puddles like they were hosting a pool party in Vegas.
And, by the time they ran out in front of the buoyant home support for this one, there was a feeling that nothing would spoil the party. Not Norway’s third minute opener or the guests’ 86th minute leveller to make it 3-3.
Announcing there would be a post-match lap of honour, the vast majority of the grateful Scotland fans remained in the ground. This wasn’t the relief and ecstasy of the Serbia penalty shoot-out that sealed their last Euros appearance. It was even more special because, for once in a generation, it had a straightforward conclusion and the partying will, undoubtedly, continue in Germany.
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