Hey everyone. As the World Cup started last night my flatmate couldn’t help but get sentimental over the fact that yet again Scotland hadn’t qualified. This is the fourth time in a row that Scotland haven’t made it to the greatest show on earth, but as she got a wee bit misty eyed over the fact Brazil will be missing the madness which only comes with tartan army she told a story of an intrepid adventure of an 18 year old who on seeing a World Cup package deal the at local travel agents, was filled with the spirit of adventure and optimism and decided that Frankie may have went to Hollywood but this time in the Summer of Italia 1990 Jinty was going to Italy and there was nothing anyone could do to stop her.
During her 10 day trip Janette would see Scotland play against both Sweden in Genoa and Brazil in Turin though she would miss our opening game against Costa Rica the team we were actually most fancied to beat.
However this is Scotland and we were never good at sticking to the script and subsequently lost to the unfancied Central American qualifiers 1-0. This result stunned a nation in to silence, though god knows it shouldn’t as we quite often beat those ranked above us and lose to those we should beat. For anyone who doesn’t understand this or has arrived from planet Mars It’s just Scotland being Scotland and I think it’s in our genes.
Janette started her adventure at Buchanan Street bus station where she was greeted by fans of her own team Rangers, my team Celtic and St Mirren before heading east to collect fans from Hearts, Hibernian, and Dunfermline to complete the Tartan Army travel bus.
For the next ten days Janette who was the baby of the bus was spoiled silly and reliably informed me that she never needed to pay for any of her food as the other passengers took it in turns to look after her. Make no mistake this team was a team it really does seem like they had the spirit of the musketeers in the sense that it was all for one and one for all.
As they arrived in France the company resembled a Bonnie Tyler song as they actually did get lost in it. Perhaps it didn’t help matters that their courier didn’t speak any French. This meant they were over an hour late arriving at their designated and struggled to get fed.
After the meal some of the younger lads on the bus ended up playing football against a team of French soldiers. Whether we won or not no-one really knows as the result isn’t recorded in the wee red book but since France hadn’t qualified that year, Scotland had knocked them out I think French soldiers may have been keen to restore a wee bit of battered national pride.
After the French it was on to Switzerland before arriving in Italy. Janette told me she really liked Switzerland and couldn’t believe it when saw a cow with cow bells and more tunnels than she could ever hope to count. What struck an impressionable 18 year old most however was how clean the streets were continental Europe than those of the Glasgow she had left behind just a few days earlier. I have to say I also noticed this on my journey’s through the continent.
When the Scotland fans arrived in Genoa for the game against Sweden it was more in hope than expectation but two goals from Mo Johnston set us on the way to 2-1 win though there were some nervous moments in the last few minutes after Sweden scored.
When the game was over Janette and her troops partied long and hard in to the wee small hours of the morning. Baby of bus she may have been but she was last on to the last bus to leave the car park. This may have been due to the fact that Janette and the Hearts supporting piper she followed ended up in the Swedish car park surrounded by more Swedish fans and flags than you’ll ever find at an Abba convention. However despite the fact we had just beaten them the Swedish fans were brilliant and a credit to their country acting only in the spirit of international friendship.
As they tried to get back to the car park and sanity of the rest of the tour party Janette ended up on Italian television and waved to the world as she and the piper were captured on TV and even now are probably stored in the history of the Italian World Cup achieves along with Roger Milla’s dance, Gazza’s tears and Carlos Valderama’s haircut.
After the Sweden game Scotland went in to the Brazil game with a renewed if slightly misplaced sense of optimism. After all we only needed a draw to qualify for the second round but someone forgot to tell us that this is Scotland and reality tends to visit us whenever we dare to dream.
Unfortunately this was to happen again and despite holding on for 83 minutes we lost 1-0 and bowed out of Italia 90. For Janette and the rest of the party it was time to make our exits from the show and leave the star parts to those destined to take them. This however would not happen before Scotland fans partied the night away with the Brazil fans as only we know how. As for the game itself Janette says her abiding memory of it was that there was a rather large Brazil fan was sitting in the row in front of her and who got up to shout Dunga every two minutes.
And so we said goodbye to the World Cup after making memories, dreams, and friends and began the journey home.
In those days it was possible to travel on a temporary one year passport which is exactly what Janette did but she told me that this passport meant she could only travel through certain countries and I think she may have entered a country she should never been allowed in to, luckily however there were no border guards to check when they entered Germany.
That apart it was a quiet journey back home to a land where in just a few short weeks those fans who had united in common cause for our country would began another season of domestic competition renewing all the traditional rivalries club football tends to bring. But for those 10 days in that far off summer fans of teams from all over Scotland looked after the girl who was the baby of the bus and has become the kind and thoughtful friend who is now my flatmate. So as another World Cup gets under way I am honoured that Janette has looked back on those memories and shared them with me recalling each event with both affection and pride. I am delighted she can share her stories of times when Swede dreams, Braziliant nights, and the pied piper of Tynecastle made a young girl feel part not of an army but of a family as she waved to the world on Italian TV news.
Love And Best Wishes