ALTHOUGH I’ve served in the Tartan Army these many years, I confess much of my service these days is in front of the TV rather than the main stand at Hampden.

I remember, the last day I was in the national stadium, I was perplexed at the lack of an action replay!

But I have been there in person on many famous occasions, mostly famous for our losing to a last minute goal, a dodgy referee or both.

And, you know what, it’s the hope that kills you.

One of the best World Cups we ever travelled to was in the USA in 1994. Yes, I know, we didn’t qualify, and that was the point. You could go to all the games without that gnawing, stomach churning PMT (pre match tension)!

I was there in ’98 too, as we played in the opening game against the minnows of Brazil. Suffice it to say we weren’t entirely humiliated.

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Yet perhaps my most enduring memory of the last outing for Scotland’s men’s team at a major finals concerns the day we were standing on a train platform waiting to get back to our rented house after the Norway game.

Sharing the space was a large kilted gentleman sporting a Viking helmet. (The Tartan Army takes its sartorial contribution to inter fan harmony very seriously.)

At his feet was a not especially capacious carpet bag which, you suspected, contained his entire wardrobe for the finals. (Bearing in mind that we usually go home earlier than most other teams.)

Doffing his helmet, he opened the bag and put it carefully inside. But not before taking out a rather smart bright red Fez. Morocco was our next match. What style!

As we gear up for our first serious match in the Euros, I have been gorging on all the pre match commentaries in the media. I was particularly struck by an interview with former Scotland boss Craig Brown, reminiscing about that very tie.

Scotland were ahead on all the statistics apart from the goals, he said. Sorry? Apart from the goals? Morocco scored three, we scored none.

This coming Monday, we re-enter the fray. Once more into the graveyard of long buried hopes. And already the army has gone into daft expectation mode. How we only need this, that and maybe the other to happen before we’re a shoo-in for the second stage for the first time.

Will be watching. Again. Through the fingers. Again.