The last notes of a Scotland Euros diary: middle names, churches, parties and so many memories

There was much to enjoy in Germany despite the travails on the football pitch

It was an inauspicious start. A round trip of four hours from beautiful Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Munich to pick up tournament accreditation only to be told there was a problem with said accreditation. 

Something to do with middle names. Apparently Liney Hamilton Cox Seith Ure Wishart Smith Penman Cousin Gilzean Robertson doesn’t fit on a lanyard. "You'll have to come back again, sir."

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Perhaps the mayor of Cologne, who was soon to be won over by Scotland fans, had registered his disapproval. The above team was more or less the Dundee side - Bert Slater replaced Liney in goal - who defeated the German champions 8-1 in 1962. One of the thrills of this trip to report on Scotland at Euro 2024 was not only learning that this European Cup result still stands as the equal record defeat suffered by FC Cologne, but also being able to relay this information to a fan of Fortuna Dusseldorf, who I found myself sitting next to on a train. “FC Dundee? Really?” 

Scotland were afforded a warm welcome in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.Scotland were afforded a warm welcome in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Scotland were afforded a warm welcome in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. | AFP via Getty Images

He was amused to learn this fact about Fortuna Dusseldorf’s s great rivals – to an extent that was almost insulting. Yes, FC Dundee. They were a decent team once, you know. 

He was less tickled by the identity of the team with whom Dundee share the honour of inflicting Cologne’s record defeat. "Bayern Munich? Huh. They beat everyone like that here". They didn’t beat Cologne like Dundee did, however. Just 7-0, surely a lesser feat than 8-1 by dint of goals scored. 

Those were the days. Free scoring Scottish football teams. When Scotland was tossed on a tide of tanner ba’ players. Not, as now, a land where the wingers died. Oh for a time when admiration was earned on the pitch. Now of course, as Scotland fans continue the weary retreat home, via various scattered points and ports of Europe, they at least know the tournament knew that they were there. They can travel safe in the knowledge that while the battle was lost on the pitch, it was very much won off it. Well played, Scotland. 

Our man Alan Pattullo at the Zugspitze.Our man Alan Pattullo at the Zugspitze.
Our man Alan Pattullo at the Zugspitze. | The Scotsman

Is that enough? Possibly not. The grand obsession continues. When will Scotland make it past the opening stage? Wales can do it, Northern Ireland can do it. Ach, you can drive yourself demented. 

Still, so many memories. Each fan will be well stocked. Each reporter. Each member of the Scotland party I daresay. It wasn't all bad. John McGinn might not have had the tournament he wanted but he will not have to buy a drink in Garmisch-Partenkirchen again. We should have suspected that his knee-slapping, heel-kicking folk dance routine might have been the high point of Scotland's trip. 

My own high point? Well, certainly in a literal sense, it was the expedition to the top of Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, where a group of football journalists were deposited by cable car on a gratis basis. Who had made such a kind gesture? It clearly wasn't the SFA, since we were brought back down again. 

So many went above and beyond, including McGinn when he went viral after the above dancing scenario. What a sport he was. And then there's the money raised by the David Yarrow Family Foundation at a star-studded bash in Munich the night before the best forgotten opening game. Over half a million raised for Street Soccer Scotland and other charities. As Yarrow said later, what fans of other countries are doing this the night before their opening game? No one else, that's who. 

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Scotland supporters took over the Marienplatz in Munich.Scotland supporters took over the Marienplatz in Munich.
Scotland supporters took over the Marienplatz in Munich. | Getty Images

Pat Nevin was on the decks that night, waiting patiently to spin his records - or in truth, play downloaded tunes through his phone - as the auction went on and on, and Ally McCoist pleaded for a bit of quiet. Both Nevin and McCoist had commentary duties to perform the following night - or indeed the same night - and yet were there, two former Scotland internationals doing their bit. 

I caught up with Pat at the Hungary game on his return to Germany. He'd had to nip back home. The reason? His daughter Lucy’s wedding the previous day. Standing looking at the stars at the end of an emotional day in the Borders, someone turned to him and said: 'It's funny to think Scotland will be playing in such a huge game tomorrow'. 

Pat replied: "Tomorrow? Later today you mean". The wedding finished at 1.30am and he was back at Edinburgh airport at 3am for a 5.30am flight to Frankfurt, then on to Stuttgart by train. “No sleep for 42 hours,” he told me. He also quipped that he was the only Scotsman who had to take off his kilt before going to the game. 

Mercifully, Pat did not endure the travel delays that many have suffered and was in the stadium in time to do another immaculate job of co-commentary duties for 5 Live. I should have uttered a prayer to the patron saint of travellers for him when I found myself in the Katherinenkirche, or St Catherine’s Church, that morning. Not that Pat needed it. And not that it would have made much difference: after all, Steve Clarke clearly didn’t prosper from my small plea to a higher power issued on his behalf. 

Scotland's tournament came to a shuddering end in Stuttgart.Scotland's tournament came to a shuddering end in Stuttgart.
Scotland's tournament came to a shuddering end in Stuttgart. | AFP via Getty Images

Strolling along a pleasant neighbourhood street near Charlottenplatz station in Stuttgart while killing some time before meeting a friend for lunch, I heard the appealing sound of some church bells and glanced in through the wide open doors. Before I could say ‘actually, I’m on my way to meet someone’, I was carrying a hymn and a prayer book down the aisle. I was shown to a pew and went from being an interested passer-by to a member of a small but devoted and fortunately English-speaking congregation. 

I wasn’t the only visitor. When it was time for the first reading, up stood someone in a kilt with ‘Padre’ written across the back of his Scotland shirt. It wasn’t all about the drinking and it certainly wasn’t all about the football. 

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