Italia ’90

I have a strange time travel habit which lets me become the same age as my children. Basically if I go back 30 years, I become the same age as Sean and Amy (they were born 6 months before, and after, my 30th birthday you see). So if I go back 30 years I become , like them, 22-ish.

So, 30 years ago we were off to Italy to support Scotland in our 5th consecutive World Cup finals. A gang of 5, we flew from Glasgow to Rimini on the Adriatic coast. I remember one of us forgot their passport and their mum had to drive to the airport to prevent a disaster.

We had deliberately missed our first match v Costa Rica, confident we would qualify for the next round. We lost 1-0. So in a way, our decision was wise, we told ourselves. Now we just had to beat Sweden and draw with Brazil to qualify. Hmmm.

As young lads we hit the resort of Cattolica with much enthusiasm, and alcohol. I had travelled round Europe the previous two summers so I was, I thought, fairly streetwise. First night we got mongoled, ‘borrowed’ a pedalo and jumped into the Adriatic fully clothed in the dark. Numpties.

The Irish contingent in Rimini put us to shame though, drinking from 8am ( or were they still out from last night?). Our hotel manager soon got used to us though. I still remember him wearily letting us in at 3am each morning, a face that said ‘for fucks sake lads’.

16 June 1990 was the big one: Scotland v Sweden in Genoa. There was an alcohol ban in Genoa so the train from Bologna was a massive party and we arrived in Genoa half cut to discover there were pubs open after all. How we made it to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris I’ll never know. We must have followed the crowd and I remember having water thrown over me from a third floor tenement for doing a pish doon a wee lane.

The atmosphere was incredible just amazing. We scored early at the far end and then scored a penalty late on right in front of us. It was bedlam, tears n snotters and we partied all night, dancing in the fountain, swopping tops with Swedes and suddenly it was 6am and I was at Genoa railway station. It was, apart from beating the Dutch in ’78, our greatest result ever at a World Cup finals and we were there. We were fuckin there! ( Sweden were beaten semi finalists 4 years later btw).

We arrived in Cattolica tired but happy and one of our gang ,who hadn’t travelled,was still in his bed. He was like ‘so…what was the score then?’ We couldn’t believe it.

We repeated our trek across Italy for the Brazil fixture but the magic was gone and we lost 1-0 in the rain in Turin. Even the Brazilian samba dancers looked bored. So ended our World Cup dream. There were no tears even. We lost to Brazil, no disgrace but no glory.

And that was my summer holiday as a 22 year old. Elaine meanwhile was in USA working all summer and on her return we got engaged. We married two years later at Dumbarton Castle.

Is there a moral to your inane ramblings, I hear you ask? Well, I’ve not been to a World Cup since so I’m very glad I did. I suppose I’m saying that once this sad time in our history is over, we should sieze the day and follow our dreams (even though with Scotland they will end in tears and tragedy its worth it for the journey).

And, in the words of Del Amitri, its better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

Ciao baby !

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