5 Colourful Away Trips The Tartan Army Is Eager To Go On In 2021
Where are the Scotland fans (hopefully) going this year?
So let’s clear up a couple of points first and foremost.
Yes, I know the Tartan Army have six away fixtures in the diary. But one of them is Israel. Let’s be honest, we are all sick of Israel, even if most of us would be right on Skyscanner looking at flights if Nicola Sturgeon gave us the green light to travel. Plus, it’s bloody Israel!
Secondly, the prospect of returning to football and away days in foreign lands is currently, how shall I say it, it’s all a bit grim right now.
But let’s try and be optimistic in this blog. Let’s look at things all-glass half-full and hope the vaccine rollout is successful and we can aim for the Euros being the milestone for a return to travel and full stadiums. And guess what. We’re there! We’re invited to that particular shindig. Finally.
So, with a momentous 2021 in prospect for Stevie Clarke and his lads, with Euro Finals and World Cup Qualifiers packed into just a few available matchdays, Affside Ref! takes a look at the 5 away trips we are looking forward to the most.
England at Wembley – UEFA European Championship (June)
Okay, so they obviously don’t come bigger than this. The ‘Auld Enemy’. On their own patch. Setting for some iconic moments for Scotland. The pitch invasion of 1977. Baxter’s keep uppys in ’67. Hutchison’s goal in 1999 (and fooking Seaman’s save!).
The last time we set foot at a Euros, our neighbours south of the border hosted the event. Fate would conspire to pair Scotland with Terry Venables’ England, alongside Switzerland and the Netherlands. 24 years later and we still remember Gary McAllister’s penalty miss (thanks Uri Geller), Gascoigne’s brilliance and THAT celebration.
It means it’s somewhat fitting that we face them upon our return to the big stage. A chance to right the wrongs and misfortunes of yesteryear.
We’ve yet to taste victory in recent times when facing the might of the English both home and away. A Wembley pumping under Gordon Strachan. An entertaining narrow friendly defeat in 2013. Leigh Griffiths free-kicks (plural) in a packed-out Hampden.
Yet the prospect of football’s oldest rivalry being rekindled at a major tournament is only overshadowed by the trip itself.
It literally is a case of planes, trains, automobiles and Megabuses and the Tartan Army will travel in their thousands.
In a city usually drenched in tourists from all over the world, London will be awash with Scotsmen and women come the day of the game, with the main throng likely to base themselves at Trafalgar Square and its captivating fountains for a boogie.
Now, who’s bringing the fairy liquid?
Wondering what’s on in London when you visit?
Denmark in Copenhagen – F.I.F.A. World Cup Qualifier (September)
Arguably, Denmark was the kindest team to come out of pot 1 on the footballing side of things. It was also, in my opinion, the best away trip we could have taken from the group of top seeds. Yes, we could have gone to Amsterdam, Paris or even Madrid or Lisbon.
However, Copenhagen, the ‘city of fairytales’, is reputably the happiest city in the world. And who doesn’t need a bit of cheering up after what we have all lived through recently?
The Scots haven’t invaded the bars and squares of the Danish capital since 2004 when the team went down 1-0 in a friendly.
Perhaps a course for optimism for the Tartan Army is that Denmark is a team that Scotland has beaten twice in the last decade.
This trip is something a bit different and a chance to visit our neighbours from across the North Sea.
It’s a place dripping in culture, with museums, architecture, canals and castles and is of course famed for being the home of Hans Christian Andersen. The statue of The Little Mermaid is Copenhagen’s most visited attraction.
If it’s the pubs and the price of a beer that keeps you up at night, it’s like any capital city. A can of lager from the 7-11 kiosks can skin you 15 kroner (£1.50) and pints in a bar are around 55 kroner (£6-£7).
What is Copenhagen Known For?
Austria in Vienna – F.I.F.A. World Cup Qualifier (September)
You wait years to get a belter away trip with Scotland and then two come along in the space of a week. Oh, Vienna.
Just six nights after scudding the Danes, we land in the ‘city of music’ and another capital city steeped in history and culture.
For those of us that will be travelling for the football and not the statues, we are gifted with a jaunt to the famous Ernst-Happel-Stadion, host to the Euro 2008 final that saw Spain overcome Germany thanks to a sole Fernando Torres goal.
The Euro is a currency we are all accustomed to by now and is the coinage of choice for the Austrians. A pint of local beer ‘Ottakringer’ will set you back around €4 with a meal ranging between €10 – €50 depending on the credibility of the establishment you are dining in.
With its central location on the European mainland, there are plenty of ways to reach Vienna in search of a cheaper flight. Bratislava is a 70-minute train ride away and some folk may opt to hit Budapest for a night before hopping on the five-hour train journey to Austria.
If you plan to embrace the city in all its glory, why not delve into the city’s vibrant art scene, with its countless art galleries, museums and exhibitions such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Belvedere.
However, this means nothing to me, oh Vienna.
What can you do in Vienna? Check out below
Faroes Island in Tórshavn – F.I.F.A. World Cup Qualifier (October)
As a man now in his mid-30s, growing up in the nineties and noughties it felt like we faced the Faroe Islands every other year. Like it was considered odd if we didn’t get them in our World Cup or Euro qualifying group. A bit like Israel is now.
We haven’t faced our Northern neighbours now for over a decade and I have to admit, I kind of miss them.
It’s hard to talk about the Faroes without thinking about good old Uncle Berti.
Berti Vogts will largely be remembered as a failure in his time as Scotland manager. But let it not be forgotten that until certain events of November last year, he was the last manager to get us to a playoff for a major tournament.
That’s despite an infamous 2-2 draw against the Faroe Islands in 2002, a result Vogts never really came back from.
The location for that match was Toftir in a ground that held 2,500 fans.
Since then, the Faroes have moved to a new national stadium in the capital Torshavn that holds around 6,000 fans (nearly 10% of the whole country’s population) and has an artificial surface having recently been renovated.
The Faroe Islands isn’t the easiest or cheapest place to get to but it does receive direct flights from Denmark, England, Iceland and Norway year-round.
There is a direct ferry link to Hirtshals in the north of Jutland in Denmark twice a week during the summer and once a week during the winter.
So best bet, another trip to Denmark.
Why not take a trip to the Faroe Islands?
Moldova in Chișinău – F.I.F.A. World Cup Qualifier (November)
One of the many reasons one may join the Tartan Army is because it presents you with an opportunity to visit cities and towns in countries that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought twice about.
Enter Moldova. A place even Barrhead Travel don’t offer trips to.
In terms of the football, we have only ever been grouped with Moldova once before, during the hapless campaign to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Although I mentioned that Berti Vogts struggled to ever overcome the disastrous draw against the Faroe Islands, a 1-1 draw with Moldova in October 2004 was the final nail in the German’s coffin.
To be fair to wee Berti this was the team he had to work with on that night 16 years ago:
Scotland: Gordon, Gary Caldwell, Stephen Caldwell, Webster, Naysmith (Murray 46), Fletcher (Miller 66), Holt, Ferguson, Cameron, Thompson (McCulloch 85), Crawford. Subs Not Used: Marshall, Severin, Hughes, Murty.
I’d say there were three International standard players in that squad. I’ll let you decide who I’m talking about.
This little country squished between Romania and Ukraine has a population of just over 3.5million people, was part of the Soviet Union and is one of Europe’s poorest.
Capital city Chișinău, located in the middle of the country, is home to the Zimbru Stadium, a 10,000 all-seater stadium opened in 2006 – so it will be the first visit for Scotland and the TA.
The country is big on its wine with many Moldovans making their own wine at home.
Pints are around 20 Moldovan Leu for the local brew – which is around 85p.
For those going ‘True Scotsman,’ it’s likely to be quite brisk in this part of the world so the advice would be to pack a pair of boxers – even if it’s just the one set.
Never thought about Moldova as your next trip after lockdown, think again.
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