Cologne's tartan takeover: Praise, pretzels and Buckfast for Scotland's home-from-home

As the Tartan Army begin their journey to their next Euros destination, Cologne will forever be in their hearts.

As I sit on a train to Stuttgart to get set for Scotland’s deciding group match, the memories of the last four days are still spinning in my mind.

If the Tartan Army are the embodiment of the perfect support, it felt like Cologne was the perfect backdrop.

The stunning architecture and open markets lined with pubs almost felt like a gift from Germany to the Scots, the host nation rewarding the support with its ideal host city.

Right from day one in Cologne it was a tartan takeover. Fanzones packed, pubs overflowing and even buckfast being sold on street corners.

It was almost like a music festival, the Tartan Army’s Glastonbury if you will.

Thousands of both Switzerland and Scotland football fans gathered in front of Dom Cathedral in Cologne ahead of Wednesday's game.

Hour after hour as we walked around the city, choruses of the best of the Tartan Army songbook could be heard everywhere.

If Cologne was Scotland’s fans Glastonbury, The Old Market Square was its Pyramid stage.

We went to film in that spot countless times in our few days there and every time I was excited by what would greet us.

Thousands of Tartan Army foot soldiers arm in arm showing the rest of Europe what it’s all about.

No trouble, no scuffles, not even a crossed word.

Strangers hugging, singing, laughing and having the time of their lives.

There’s something quite magical watching on as thousands of men, women and children create memories you know will last forever.

A few times of this trip I’ve reminded myself to stop and just take it all in. Take in the joy, the atmosphere and the occasion.

And thankfully on the pitch, the supporter’s efforts were matched by the men in Dark Blue.

Steve Clarke’s men had to perform, it was that simple.

And when that famous old intro of bagpipes began the national anthem at Cologne stadium, my goodness did things go up a notch.

Around us in the media gantry, broadcasters and commentators were taking off their headsets and getting their cameras out as the ten thousand or so Scots gave it everything with Flower of Scotland.

In the typical Scottish style of grit, fight and steely determination a 1-1 draw with Switzerland sets up the perfect final showdown against Hungary.

The Tartan Army were sent home happy. They had their team back.

The team that had battled through so much in the qualifying campaign, that had to deal with countless setbacks and injuries and still pull through, and the team that when they pulled on that Dark Blue jersey were ready to run through walls.

As I’ve rambled, we are just arriving in Stuttgart, which I’m sure will be a great final group game venue for Scotland.

But I’m sure I won’t be alone when I say I’ll miss Cologne, and it will always have a special place in the hearts of the Tartan Army.

Cologne. Scotland’s home-from-home for Euro 2024.

Getty Images
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