Julie Hamill: See you, Jimmy

Julie Hamill: See you, Jimmy

Being a Scot in London amid the Euro football fever reminds me of 1996, when I took my Dad, Jimmy, and my nephew Liam (then, aged 10) to the old Wembley Stadium to watch England vs Scotland. Also present was my English boyfriend Paul, who had to sit in the away end with three Scots, in the thick of the party people.

The only way to get tickets for the game was to apply to the Scotland Supporters’ Club’s Scotland Travel Club, which involved membership and a fee. So myself and my dad joined the Tartan Army and were able to secure four tickets, which were sent down through the post. It really was as easy as that, which seems incredible when you consider there were 200,000 Scotland fans in Germany without tickets.

The Scots love to dress up and why not? There is never a day in the week where we are not up for displaying pride in our country, so my Dad donned his full kilt regalia and so did Liam, both looking as tartan as their blood. Paul remained as reservedly English as possible – carefully showing no allegiance – and I wore my brand new Scotland top. My Dad completed his outfit with a “See You Jimmy” hat – a tartan bonnet with orange hair sticking out the sides.

On the way to the station a guy across the road shouted ‘All right, Jimmy?’ and my Dad gave him a wave and a smile. This perplexed young Liam, who couldn’t believe that a stranger knew his Granda. His little chest puffed out in the knowledge that he was attending the game with Granda Jimmy, a popular celeb in London.

We kept our heads down on the Tube and didn’t get a bit of bother. Liam remembers alighting at Wembley and seeing thousands of English fans wearing plastic bowler hats of the St George cross. The atmosphere was truly exciting, and you could feel it in your fingers and toes, because English or Scottish, everybody else was feeling it too on this bright warm day.

We had fantastic seats behind the goal in the away end, the green of the pitch lush and bright in the sunshine and the other three sections all blanketed by England supporters. The Scottish fans were on their feet singing and dancing, but not Paul, who very quietly sat down, like the majority of the English who simply stared and, I think, enjoyed watching this Scottish spectacle, a bit like looking at Vegas from the air.

Scotland fans have a healthy dose of reality, so to be nil-nil at half time really spread our elation further into the electric blue sky. The singing was louder, the smiles wider, the Mexican waves aplenty and the dancing was, well, we’re Scottish, we just can’t help it. A few songs were sung, including “Hoots Mon! There’s a Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose” which had arms encircling arms in the rows.

Liam remembers the music from the Guinness ad, “Dancing Man”, which took our moves to new heights in a kind of “walk of life” square dance. My Dad recalls how the voice on the loudspeaker called out, “Aaand that was the Scottish fans, now let’s see what the English fans can do!” The DJ played some music the English might like, but they didn’t sing.

Until they scored.

“Your not singing anymore,” they chanted, and we weren’t. If you’ve ever blown up a balloon then let it go, the second half was that on repeat. The Shearer header, then the missed chance to equalise, with McAllister’s penalty being saved by Seaman. “The ball moved!” (for which Uri Geller claimed credit). And then that soaring, sheer brilliance from Gazza (see above). I felt sorry for Paul, who had to suppress his joy at winning and sat on his hands with a zipped mouth.

We were beat, but we loved it.

(And anyway, somebody had seen Jimmy).

Julie Hamill is a novelist, a radio presenter and more. Follow her on X/Twitter. Support OnLondon.co.uk and its writers for just £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Details HERE.

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