The Misery of the Long-Time Scotland Supporter.
SCOTLAND 1 (Ferguson 65′), ITALY 2 (Toni 1′, Panucci 90′)
Attendance – 52,000
Hampden Park, 17th November 2007.
One minute. One more bloody minute. That’s how far Scotland were from achieving a magnificent result against the World Champions Italy on Saturday. One more minute without conceding a goal, and Tartan Army members everywhere could have kept on hoping that qualification from the “Group of Death” was a real possibility, at least until Ukraine play France later this week. But no, a quite inexplicable decision by the referee to award Italy a free-kick, after a Scotland player had been barged off the ball, led to a heart-breaking last-minute goal for Italy, and the termination of Scotland’s Euro 2008 dream. A quite cruel and undeserved end to a truly inspiring campaign by the boys from Bonnie Scotland.
Long-time supporters of the Scottish national football team are, of course, well used to this sort of calamity. Scotland teams are renowned for “glorious failure” in major tournaments, but fore-knowledge of this particular trait does nothing to soothe the disappointment when it comes. In fact the opposite is often the case, as the disappointment is often amplified by the annoyance of letting yourself get optimistic in the first place! I recall now a conversation with a well-travelled Tartan Amry-ista in the days following the historic win in France. “Bastards,” he said, “they’ve got me believing again!”
But still, it was a wonderful ride while it lasted, and pride has been restored to the national team after the bland wilderness years under Craig Brown, and then Berti Vogts. Dangerously for we Scots, belief has been restored. Bring on the 2010 World Cup draw!
Random quotes –
“After Scotland equalised I have to say we were afraid,” said Cannavaro (Italy captain, and World Cup winner)
“We trembled in the hellish atmosphere of Hampden against the tenacious Scots,” quaked the Italian paper La Repubblica.
Meanwhile Italian federation president, Giancarlo Abete lavished praise on the Scottish supporters for the way they supported their team, even after the final whistle. “They’ve given us a lesson. Their behaviour made our football look even sadder,” said Abete, referring to the recent violent events in Serie A.