Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Tartan Invasion

The Scots descended on the city in droves. Like the Battle of Boroughmuir, they had turned up in the thousands with a purpose. Riding through the city centre, one couldn't go a block without spotting a kilt or hearing that thick, unmistakable accent. With the tartan dotted through the city streets, and the volume with which they were present (save for the obvious buildings and canals,) one just might have thought they'd turned up in Glasgow.

According to the BBC, who have come to be a source one can trust when it comes to supplying the news, twelve thousand tartan wearing (and Tartan drinking for that matter) Scots were in Amsterdam this weekend. What was the occasion, one might ask? And rightly so. Why would a nation of people flee to another country for a mere two days? The answer is national pride. The Scottish National Football Team were in town to take on their Dutch counterparts in a very important World Cup qualifier.

Yes, every Scotsman and his mother turned up for the match. Not with the intention of celebrating victory, mind you. No, that would have been very unrealistic. With a mounting injury list and depleted confidence, there was no chance of a Scot win. But what the Scots did bring to the table was character, and plenty of it.

Second in a weak group (also including Iceland, Norway and Macedonia,) the Scottish have every chance of qualifying for their first World Cup in 12 years, but what they would not be doing is moving that one step further on game night. But you wouldn't have known it to see them in town - they were in high spirits and full of vigour.

And full of alcohol. Most of them had flown into town the night before, and so from nine o'clock on game day, they had been bang on it; drinking heavily and talking a good game. By six o'clock that evening, they had more drinks than you, dear reader, have had hot dinners. Witnessing them stumble along the cobbles, they so obviously barely had a leg to stand on. "What will these drunken beasts be like by nightfall?" I wondered as I pedaled myself home. "When the moon is holding water in the midnight sky, will they take to ravaging the locals?" I shuddered to think. What any sane man would have been doing amongst these animals is beyond me, yet there I found myself, in the thick of it, as it were; careening, mooching - a detached observer.

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