By BILL HEANEY
We should have known better, particularly us auld yins who remember Ally MacLeod leading us up the garden path to the World Cup finals in Argentina.
If we ever had a duty to the next generation, it was before Scotland took to the field against the Czech Republic at Hampden Park.
We should have told them the truth that Scotland had just two chances – a dug’s and nane.
However, telling things as they are is not a Scottish trait. As a nation we frequently adjust our See You Jimmy hats and tartan spectacles, gird our kilt-clad loins, bare our hairy Braveheart chests and refuse to recognise the actuality.
We were never going to beat the Czechs – at least not after Kieran Tierney pulled out of our team injured and our doughty Euro opponents decided to man mark John McGinn.
As for David Marshall taking the Road to the Isles instead of patrolling his 18-yard box, what can we say except refer critics to modern soccer tactics which have seen goalkeepers converted into sweepers.
Hampden was never going to be Brigadoon, the mythical vllage in the Scottish Highlands which became enchanted centuries ago remaining unchanged and invisible to the outside world except for one special day every hundred years when it could be seen and even visited by outsiders who had not yet received their Covid jag.
This was not our day and it was apparent right away to the 4,000 and more tartan clad supporters who were taken for mugs in the Fanzone by having to stump up £6 from their sporrans for a pint of beer whilst watching a promised joy-filled spectacular turn into a HItchcock horror movie.
And then there was Patrik Shick whose two goals, one of which was beautifully crafted from the half way line and the other a glorious header, which made the dear beer in Scottish stomachs surge upwards towards our throats.
Me? I spent the day in Edinburgh, which was more sombre – and more sober too – than I ever expected it to be.
The big match shared the day with an important family birthday party, but instead of toasting a loved one becoming a teenager we were soon drowning our sorrows in the French red and bottles of the fizzy stuff that was swiftly passed around and even more speedily quaffed into the wee small hours.
Hangover? Had I been alive, I would have been critically ill, as would most of my fellow supporters whose dreams had been dashed, although not for long I have to say.
Things could only get better – and they did when Ronaldo showed up for Portugal last night and then we had the France v Germany match, which was a great antidote to Monday afternoon’s misery.
I am now looking forward to Friday when Scotland meets England at Wembley.
My [sore] head tells me that England will win out the park but my [brave, beating] heart tells me that Scotland will win this one. And why shouldn’t they?
All it will take is a bit of positive thinking, a good team selection by Steve Clarke, a word in David Marshall’s ear about wandering from goalie coach Stevie Woods, and a large measure of enthusiasm and endevour from the rest of the squad.
Our mascot, Josh Fraser, slept all through Sunday’s match and knows nothing about it. We are keeping the child and others in that situation in the dark, telling them nothing.
We’ll keep that news to ourselves until Friday when there are just five minutes to go at Wembley and John McGinn and Kieran Tierney have just combined in a superb move down the left wing.
Before crossing the ball inside to big Leyton Dykes who smashes it home for Scotland’s fifth [well, maybe just a third] goal.
I’m sworn off the red wine and champagne for now, but I’ll doubtless be swithering about that promise to myself when we come the final whistle on Friday. C’mon Scotland.
Top picture: Mascot Josh Fraser has already put Sunday’s defeat behind him and is thinking positive about the game against England at Wembley.