In the first article of a new feature for Scotzine, we turn to focus on the fans and the supporters groups to hear from them on issues in the game and much more.
First up is Darren Wilson aka @BeerhuntersTA on twitter.
When did you start following football? Who introduced you to the game and what club side do you support?
DW: Started when about three or four, my Dad (a lapsed Rangers fan) and a neighbour (a year older than me) introduced me. I support Celtic but my real passion is the Scotland national side.
What was the first club game you went too?
DW: Celtic v Greenock Morton (full name because my other half supports them) in 1975/76 season at Celtic Park. I was ‘lifted’ in by my Uncle & Dad. I am pretty sure it finished 2-0 to Celtic.
When did you go to your first Scotland game?
DW: 1977 v Czechoslovakia at Hampden but a more vivid memory was being at the Argentina game a year later. A team of World Champions including one Diego Armando Maradona – the best player I have seen in the flesh until Lionel Messi.
What makes supporting Scotland different to that of your club side?
DW: Camaraderie, atmosphere & approach to matches – it’s almost like a family – I’d encourage anyone to come along and see that our International team are much more homogeneous that any club side. Having said that going to Seville in 2003 with Celtic was close.
The best match you have witnessed as a Scotland fan?
DW: Torn between beating France in 1989 and Paris 1998. The first game was my favourite win – manky night, full very vocal Hampden, huge must win game, the terracing (I was under cover while some pals were out on North Enclosure). It was a special night.
The opening game of the World Cup v Brasil (the ultimate footballing World Champion nation at that time) speaks for itself.
The worst match?
DW: Belgium 2001, though not the biggest defeat, it was an inept performance with a very poorly picked eleven. Craig Brown was past his sell by and it showed.
I have never been so deflated even after the 6-0 defeat in Amsterdam. I’m not going to dignify the Levein period by considering it.
Best player you have watched in the flesh to have pulled on the Scotland jersey?
DW: King Kenny
What are your thoughts on Scotland’s failure to reach a major tournament since France 98?
DW: Mostly frustration. We’ve come close a couple of times but mainly it has just have been too static or overly loyal to some past their average best – see Belgium game with Tom Boyd as an example.
Topical, but our lack of faith in younger players with talent and desire has been a huge downfall. I’m of an age where we regularly qualified, then failed once there. That makes it harder to bear. It’s the hope that kills us.
Is Strachan the man for the Scotland job? Do you think he will lead Scotland to the Euros in France?
DW: Absolutely the right man, but his appointment was 18 months late by the Blazeratti. I ranted around the streets of Prague after 4-6-0 that he was available & THE man for the job.
I think he will take us to France but I am cautious because the Poles are looking a very good side who’ve got results. We need a huge performance in each of our home games and a wee rub of luck.
What would be your all time greatest Scotland XI?
DW: I’ve taken the ‘Seen by Me’ approach, though as a Kid I did a school project on ‘Ever’ so it’s : Goram, McGrain, Naismith, Miller, Gough, Lambert,Souness, D Fletcher, J Robertson (the good one), Dalglish, Jordan. 4-4-2 system with Stein in charge. It’s a tough pick coz there were a couple of players who’d not fit the team but should have been in.
What is the greatest trip/journey you have been part of as a Tartan Army supporter? Where did you go? Who with? And what did you get up to – to make it the greatest trip/journey – most memorable?
DW: The guys I travel with calls ourselves Beerhunters TA. The name is self explanatory, we hunt Good Local Ales, Beers & Breweries.
Each one of us has a “Mc”name, not our real surnames. There are between two and six on most trips. We all travelled fairly regularly but not as a group.
One of the first times we travelled together was Macedonia/Iceland double header in 2008. 10 days away would test the viability of us as a group as well as our livers. The tour guide was Derek (McTavish), then there were Kerr (McNab), Andy (McGonagall) & Me (McDuff).
The trip involved air & land but sadly no sea. The route was Glasgow-London-Sofia-Skopje-Vienna-Munich-Reykjavik-Glasgow – Hand luggage only. Between the travel, the variety of beers, and some schnapps/local spirits, the Hotel Vagina with no water in the pool, a Scot doing a headie into it, the debacle of tickets in Skopje – some got in some didn’t, the heat, the defeat, the very cheap beer, meeting Wolfgang – an Austrian Scotland fan who goes everywhere in a kilt with peroxide blonde hair (Deek said “We have ways of making you Jock” to him), great fun round the Bier Halles of Munich, Whale Kebabs, TV interviews with BBC where it was suggested we play five up front, a WIN, the Blue Lagoon …… You get the feel of all the fun. It’s laughs, beer, song, beer, banter & travel all the way.”
Do you want the Scotland – England game to be a regular occurrence?
DW: No – they’re no great shakes but a bit strong & quick for us.
The English FA had been trying to bring back Team GB for the Rio Olympics next year – your thoughts on a Team GB football side?
DW: No Team GB – as the chant goes. It’s Arrogance & posturing. They’ve the least to lose, so don’t care what other consequences there may be – and Blatter loathes them most, so might try to make the loss of a permanent VP seat his legacy to developing countries. Bribery I’d suggest.
What are your thoughts on the pricing structure of Scotland’s tickets for the Euro qualifiers?
DW: Ridiculous overpricing, but almost all the regular fans I know are over a barrel. We want to support our team through thick and thin – but when it goes thick after almost two decades we get an out of touch department who can’t see the woods for the trees. The commercial folk aren’t fans and need a shake. Better communication/cooperation is required. Don’t ignore the fans – and social media/new media does assist in resisting/campaigning against such.
Should Scotland continue to play at Hampden or should the team play at another stadium? If so which one. Or should they tour?
DW: Heart will always say Hampden due to early memories, great nights etc. but it’s no longer a good environment to watch fitba. If there was a rebuild of the ends to create a modern close amphitheater there would be no argument.
As a Glaswegian it’s very convenient but I’m conscious that loads of people travel long distances. Reality is we should use wee’er grounds for smaller draws. I’d favour Tynecastle & Pittodrie to help fans and to build atmosphere. Prices may also come down if the Scottish FA were not beholden to Hampden.”