At Euro 2024, a Generation of Scotland Fans will finally get to party like they never have before.

Chris Marshall
6 min readJun 13, 2024

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I had just finished mastering the complexity of Celine Dion’s titanic ballad, “My Heart Will Go On” on the glockenspiel the last time Scotland opened a major football tournament.

The kick off of Scotland’s 1998 tournament opener against World Cup holders Brazil that day was scheduled to take place just as the school day ended and so class was extended to allow us to watch on as the teams walked out in Saint Denís.

An opening ceremony festooned with tartan and the vibrations of a Brazilian samba rhythm. Our lesson ending with eyes widened by the carnival atmosphere that surrounded a football pitch. At least that’s how I remember it.

Colin Hendry in his kilt, looking every bit the Braveheart. John Collin’s wink and subsequent penalty scenes before Tom Boyd’s inexplicable gymnastics in front of his own goal provided a crash course in what supporting Scotland can become.

While that story remains the most vivid of my formative years as a member of the Tartan Army, Euro ’92 provided my first, albeit most distant, memory.

In the bath, and listening on an old black transistor radio, the static suggesting that during this particular bath time Matey had allowed the bubbles to overflow across the dial and penetrate the speaker housed within.

Even as a six-year-old football had cast its intoxicating spell on me although I’d be lying if I was to say I had any understanding behind the context of Denmark’s unlikely victory and the geo-political conflict in the Balkans that had been the catalyst for it.

Euro ’96 was a bit clearer still. Soundtracked by the annoyingly catchy Three Lions, one of my earliest visual memories of watching Scotland was that of Ally McCoist wheeling away in ecstasy as we claimed victory over Switzerland at Villa Park, a repeat result in one week’s time would be quite nice; although the subsequent heartbreak caused by Patrick Kluivert’s 78th minute consolation, less so.

I was young enough to believe that this is how following Scotland would roll. A bi-annual festival of football with a distinctly tartan feel.

Oh how naive I was. There was the mauling in Amsterdam after Faddy had given us Hampden hope. There was Berti’s boys and Levein’s 4–6–0. The highs of Paris and the collapse against kids in Georgia. My teens. Then my twenties passed. Then I hit 30, and I started to wonder if the party would ever come again!?

Having watched Scotland trudge their way through a litany of qualifying campaigns ranging from the calamitous to the insipid, Euro 2020 was meant to be my generation’s (and the generations that have followed) coming out party. We had finally got sort of, kind of good again.

But that qualification success would come with the ultimate caveat, a global pandemic that nobody could have predicted.

David Marshall’s penalty save in Belgrade would be watched with friends over Zoom, a collective reaction on time delay, celebrated alone, confined to tiny digital boxes.

We were told come the summer that things would get better; that doors would be flung open, but come kick off the best the world could manage was to leave them slightly ajar. The memories of a first major tournament appearance in 23 years smeared with the stoor of empty seats and those who could no longer be there.

This summer, though, things will be different. Germany awaits. The shackles are off, and hundreds of thousands of Scotland fans, be it by foot, plane, train, or campervan, are out to make memories that will last forever. Some for the very first time.

Football is so often the thing that binds us; and for me and the extended members of the Barry Bannan Tartan Army (a name in tribute to the diminutive Sheffield Wednesday midfielder and 27-time capped international that I’ve went along with but never quite understood) following the Scottish national team has proven to be no different in bringing us together.

The BBTA is a mixture of friends from school and university; work colleagues and those who just appeared one day and made enough of an impression to stay.

When the group first came together, we were all in our early twenties. Fresh from university and with careers and relationships still at a formative stage, away trips to follow Scotland would be more frequent while the days out that accompanied those games at home joyfully chaotic. As we have all got older, those parameters have changed. Life will do that; throwing up an increasingly complex set of scenarios every single day.

Work, family, relationships, parenthood, mortgages, finances, health and a million other things that can still go unsaid, a cumulative burden that when our collective journey as fans first began seemed so far away.

Of course, there have been good times. Really fuckin’ good times and recently Scotland’s performances have presented us all with the ability to stick or twist on one long hot summer. Nine of us are making the trip to Germany and the excitement within the WhatsApp group has reached new levels.

Some won’t be travelling, their memories of Germany will not be accompanied with a bier halle fuelled haze but will be no less special as parents to young families. An indoctrination of the next generation of BBTA members beginning at home. You’ve always got to keep laying that groundwork.

Sadly, three members of the extended group will not be there for a different reason. Death.

Death is perhaps the most complex of feelings to unpack the older you get, and that complexity intensifies when the people who it affects could just as easily be you.

The father who passed suddenly, deprived of a first major tournament summer with the family and children he loved. The father who died so young that he never got to be one, cancer ending life before it truly began, and the father who just found it all too much one day. Every Scotland game, these friends who became brothers travel with me.

I, and the other members of the BBTA are not alone. There will be hundreds, if not thousands of Scotland supporters, who will carry the spirits of those no longer with them to Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart and beyond this summer but I won’t be arriving in Germany looking to mourn those absent friends.

Instead, I want to celebrate their memory by carrying the light that they brought into my world. To take in every drop of what this summer will bring. To not sweat the small stuff and embrace the unknown. To laugh. To cry. To get lost in Bavaria and be confused by a pork knuckle. To scream Freed from Desire and Flower of Scotland. To look up into the sky, and say “Troops, we made it.”

Not since France ’98 has a new generation of Scotland supporters had the opportunity to experience a summer like no other. Win, lose, or draw I plan to savour every moment, and I hope you do too.

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Chris Marshall

Writer | Piehopper | Scottish Women’s Football Hype Man.