HUSH HOUR; World Cup Fever Turns Scots Cities into Ghost Towns

By Greenwood, Michael | The Mirror (London, England), June 11, 1998 | Go to article overview

HUSH HOUR; World Cup Fever Turns Scots Cities into Ghost Towns


Greenwood, Michael, The Mirror (London, England)


IT WAS the day Scotland ground to a halt. As Craig Brown's men kicked off the World Cup in Paris, the streets back home were deserted.

Scotland's busiest thoroughfares, like Princes Street in Edinburgh, Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow and Aberdeen's Union Street were like ghost towns.

Barely a car or pedestrian was to be seen as the country headed indoors for the biggest football match in its history.

Bosses reckoned 20 per cent of workers had taken the day off while thousands of others called in sick.

And pubs all over the country were bursting at the seams before anyone in France even kicked a ball.

In Glasgow's Horseshoe Bar Stephen Kelly, from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, wore his kilt as he watched the game with pals.

He said: "Everyone's into the match today and even the old grannies have been winking at us wearing our tartan.

"It's a magic day and everyone is really up for a party."

In Keith, Banffshire - home town of Scotland skipper Colin Hendry - roars of pride bellowed through the Plough Inn.

Dennis Hendry, manager of the Plough, said: "The town has been buzzing - this is the biggest day in Keith's history,"

Dennis, 50 - who is no relation of the lion-hearted skipper - added: "The build-up has been incredible, and it's such a great honour that one of our own lads is captain. It'll never happen again."

Experts predicted slipping away from the job to watch vital clashes during the tournament will cost the UK economy more than pounds 1billion - but that didn't bother anyone.

In Aberdeen, the Beach Ballroom was packed with 500 fans who had forked out pounds 10 each to see the game.

The lights were dimmed, and an 18ft screen towered over the kilted crowd.

One fan Fraser Ewen, 31, was clad in the full Scotland strip.

He said: "This is just brilliant. It's great for Scotland and the buzz in here is magic.

"I couldn't get to Paris and being in here, not stuck in a pub fighting for a glimpse of a telly, is brilliant."

At the Speedwell Bar in Dundee, manager John Stewart made sure spirits were high.

He said: "The result was hard to take, but we cheered the fans up by giving them free drinks at half time and another one at the end of the match."

Around the world there were little pockets of Caledonia.

From Scottish clubs in Canada to the far flung wastes of Asia - even a pub called the Loch Ness in Rio.

James Frew, president of the St Andrew Society which represents the Scottish community in Rio, said: "We were mixed up because my two sons were born in Scotland but they both support Brazilian teams.

"The atmosphere was excellent - we all drank whisky and watched the game on the big screen.

"It was great with all the shouting and screaming, despite the result."

Scots in London congregated at the William Wallace pub in the West End.

Despite the disappointing defeat they remained proud of the team.

As the final whistle blew in the small bar - jammed to the rafters with blue-shirted fans in tartan caps and waving huge Scottish flags - the crowd burst into a deafening chorus of Flower of Scotland.

Monty Sneddon, from Ayrshire, said: "I'm very, very proud but I'm also completely gutted.

"We played incredibly well but lost out to a silly own goal, but at least we scored one more goal than them, even if one was in our own net! …

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