Andrew D Duffy
Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Men.
Scotland Lions Roar To The Euros With Pride, Passion... And Penalties
In hindsight, it was always going to penalties, wasn't it?
Of course it was. Anyone who predicted differently, including my good self, were only kidding themselves on. We knew, deep down, that it was going to go down to the very, very end. Hey, at least the end, when it finally, mercifully came, wasn't bitter.
Everyone joked about it, way back to the immediate aftermath of the Semi-final shootout. Darkly humourous mutterings abounded here, there and everywhere, all the way up to kickoff in Belgrade, all the way through the game.
Penalties. Penalties. Penalties.
What seemed entirely unexpected, though, was the genuine superiority Scotland showed during the 90 minutes. Sure, it wasn't a massive gulf and the Serbian's had their moments, but Scotland were the better side. Had the 92 minutes finished 1-0 it would have been fully merited. We should have stuck at least one more away, in fact, and sealed the deal.
But of course, we didnae.
We lost an entirely uncharacteristic goal given the way we've been playing of late, but one which was entirely predictable for Scotland in the round. Of course the one half second we switched off, we were punished. Of course Scott McTominay, a lion throughout the 90, would be guilty of one monumental lapse in concentration. Of course the Serbs would seize on it and of course we'd end up going all the way to penalties.
Glorious failure had one foot in the door to compound the misery of this blighted, benighted year with an unwelcome intrusion into our homes and our hearts. It was all looking so emphatically Scottish. 'Typical f*cking Scotland' will have been muttered bitterly and with well earned fatalism all across the nation as the game drifted away from us, as the home side pressed in extra time and as the penalty kicks lumbered, inevitably, onto the stage.
Then someone changed the record. Then some old ghosts were exorcised. Some skeletons were dragged out of the cupboard and buried way, way at the bottom of a deep, dark hole.
Scotland held their nerve. Scotland got their chins back up, their shoulders back, their backs straight and their chests puffed out. They stood up, they stood tall and they stood together. And a nation went off their collective nut. Delight. Delirium. Dreamland.
I asked them to do it.
They did. They really finally truly did.
Euro 2020 will be played in 2021, and Scotland will be there, in the thick of it once again.
They Did It.
Can We Boogie? Yes, Sir. All Night Long.