At the beginning of September, Macedonia will have a special honor to host one of the greatest national team’s supporters, the Scottish group called the Tartan Army. They will be coming for the World Cup 2010 qualification match Macedonia – Scotland that will be played on September the 6th on Gradski stadium in Skopje.
The Tartan Army follows the Scottish national team anywhere they are playing. From the friendly matches to the World Cup games, their presence is a must. The Tartan army is not an official group of supporters but instead is a combined with individual fans from all around Scotland that gather together for their national team.
The movie “Braveheart” that was released in 1995 had a huge impact on the Scottish fans and what they wore to the games. Since its release, the kilt has become more and more popular among the Scots who previously wore mostly football tops and jeans instead of the kilts. Eventually the press started calling these sports fanatics the Tartan Army, a name that was widely accepted by everyone in Scotland.
In the EUROs 1992 in Sweden and 1996 in England and as well on the World Cup in 1998 in France, the Tartan Army fans were given special awards for their good behavior shown towards others and have also won awards over the years from both FIFA and UEFA for their combination of enthusiastic support and friendly nature such as the Worlds Friendliest Fans at the 1998 World Cup. Scotland’s away matches are a real holiday for the Scottish traveling sports fanatics and a great entertainment for the host as well. They never make any troubles, never provoke or boo the opponent’s national anthem and never throw objects on the field. The rare incidents that occurred were only against their biggest rivals, England. The Tartan Army booed the anthem “God save the Queen” because the tune of the song is the same as the old one that had verses like:
Later the words were changed, but the tune remained to remind the Scots of the unfriendly verses towards them. Another incident happened when Scotland hosted Northern Ireland recently and booed their anthem too, because Northern Ireland doesn’t have its own anthem and uses “God save the Queen”, this was also in protest to plans by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who plans to unite England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland into one team to play in the 2012 Olympics which will be held in London. The sports fanatics of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are against this team and we may see some “No Team GB” flags and signs from the Tartan Army in Skopje.
Macedonian sports fanatics should learn more about behavior from the Tartan Army. We have seen many uncivilized behavior on our stadium such as booing the anthems of Croatia and Russia without any reason, than burning the flag of England, throwing fireworks against Cyprus, racist chants etc. and we hope that those incidents won’t happen against Scotland too, but instead we can enjoy the match, the lovely tune of the Scottish bagpipes and make some friendships with the Scottish fans whose country has similar history as ours. Win, lose or draw, they will still have a party in Macedonia.
MacedonianFootball.com talked with two Scottish fans Victor and Jack who are coming to Skopje for the match. We’ve asked them about their expectation for the match, the time that they will spend in Macedonia and about their knowledge of Macedonia. They were more than happy to cooperate and this is what they said.
What are your expectations for the match?
Victor: Next week myself and fellow Scottish supporters will be arriving in Skopje hoping to win 3 points to help us get back to an international tournament for the first time in ten years. But we know this will be a difficult game, a lot of Scotland fans would take a point from this game.
Jack: I expect a very tough game in Skopje and do not expect to win that easily. Macedonia have proved in the past they are a very tough team to beat and we will have to be at our best. If Scotland come away with 1 point from this game I will be happy.
Do you know any Macedonian players?
Victor: I know of Pandev, in Scotland we hear a lot about the English League and a few clubs have been linked with him. He is an excellent player and our defence will need to play well to stop him.
Jack: Goran Pandev is the biggest name in Macedonian football and has proved in his league and European competitions with Lazio that he will be someone our defenders will have to be very careful of.
Besides the match, are you looking forward to having a good time in Macedonia?
Victor: Our group have been booked up for this trip since last December and it has been a long time waiting and looking forward to the party. We just hope it is not to hot as it can get very warm under our kilts and being from Scotland we are not so used to the Skopje sunshine.
Jack: Yes, I’ve heard so much from travel guides and locals, that Macedonia is a brilliant place to visit and we will be welcomed by very friendly locals on our arrival and I hope they will share a beer or two with us.
Since the Scottish are known for their friendliness, will you be glad to have a beer with the Macedonian fans and have a chat with them?
Victor: We all can’t wait to taste the local beers and foods and to meet the people, so if you see some Scotland fans having a drink don’t be shy, just say hello and share a beer with them and some laughs!
Jack: Yes, it’s always the best part of the trip when you meet locals and learn about their city and culture.
This will be your first visit of Macedonia. What do you know about our country?
Victor: To be honest before the draw was made all I knew about Macedonia is that it was one of the new countries formed in that region, and of course a little from Eurovision. It’s part of the fun of the football learning about the countries you travel to. Since the draw I have been reading about some of the politics of Macedonia and about how you earned your independence, in Scotland we are still trying for this. Politics aside, we have been looking into bars, drinks, food and customs of the Macedonian people.
Jack: I know of the history between Macedonia and Greece and the break up of the Yugoslavia which lead to Macedonia’s independence but apart from that my knowledge isn’t that great of its people and cultures but I hope to find out more once I arrive.
Thank you very much for your time boys, have a great time in Macedonia and may the better team wins!
Victor: See you next week, and do us a favor – beat the Dutch!
Jack: No problem and whatever the result be, let us have a huge party together!
They’ll be coming down the road,
When we hear the noise of the Tartan Army boys,
They’ll be coming down the road…
/>TARTAN ARMY, WELCOME IN MACEDONIA!