Scotland fans descend on Blackpool ahead of Euro 2020 clash with Gareth Southgate's England
You’ve Scot to be kidding! One footie fan from north of the border tipped her heroes in blue to pull a off a major upset at Wembley this evening – but the bookies don’t agree.
Marie Erke was visiting the resort with Andrew Heggie yesterday and – perhaps aptly – wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘positivity’.
Asked for her prediction to tonight’s match, which kicks off at 8pm and will be aired for free on ITV and STV, she said: “I’m going to say 4-1 Scotland,” to the delight of Andrew, whose optimism could only stretch to a 2-1 victory for the Tartan Army.
Only time will tell if she’s right to be upbeat – or suffering from some good old fashioned Blackpool heatstroke.
But, with England overcoming Croatia by single goal in their opening Euro 2020 group game and Scotland being defeated 2-0 by the Czech Republic, the odds are in the Three Lions’ favour.
Gareth Southgate’s team are odds on to set aside their British rivals fairly comfortably in their quest for glory this summer, with Scottish tourists having their say too.
Thomas Davidson said: “I don’t think we will win, personally. England are too good. But if they score a goal I’ll be quite happy. We’ll see what happens. I’ll say we’ll score one goal, so two or 3-1 to England.
His pal Joe Cameron added: “Same again. I don’t think we will win but there’s always hope. I’ll go 2-1 to Scotland – you’ve got to!”
Meanwhile Scott Frame said: “It’ll be a tough game, obviously, but Scotland played well in the first game, they just couldn’t take their chances, really. I’d rather play bad and win!
“England are one of the favourites for the whole tournament and have got quality throughout their squad, so it’s going to be tough to even get a draw to give us a better chance of qualifying for the next round.
"But the actual occasion of playing England at Wembley is massive, especially for Scots. There’s a lot of history there.”
Scotland legend Colin Hendry, who played for Blackpool on loan before a spell in the manager’s hotseat, called on Steve Clarke’s team, skippered by Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson, to “play well beyond themselves”.
The Euro 96 and 1998 World Cup veteran, 55, inset, who led Scotland to their last victory over England, at Wembley in 1999, said: “When you look at the success of a lot of different teams at times, not just international but domestic, players as individuals have to play beyond themselves – not play within that comfort zone. You have to go and do something a bit more special.”
Beer gardens and specially built screening areas across the Fylde coast are expected to be at full capacity for the big game, which could see Harry Kane and his men join Italy in the last 16.
All 26 England players trained on the eve of the match, including Man Utd captain Harry Maguire, who missed the end of United’s season and the opening Euros game through injury.
The Football Association (FA) urged fans to be on their best behaviour for the clash – the first between the two countries for four years and their first at a major competition since 1996, when the brilliance of Gazza helped England come out on top by two goals to nil.
The England players’ taking of the knee as a protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality has been booed by a section of fans at recent matches.
As Scotland will join their opponents in that gesture before kick-off the FA is keen to avoid flashpoints at a fixture, the history of which dates back to 1872, which is likely to be highly-charged.
“On behalf of the manager and the team, please support England in the right way, before, during and after the fixture,” the FA said.
“This includes showing respect to each national anthem before the game. We are playing at home and we need the supporters to fully get behind the team. Football is about celebrating pride and passion, not shouting abuse or discrimination."
HOME FROM HOME
The Scottish love affair with Blackpool goes back to the early days of trades fair fortnight in the Victorian era, specifically the Glasgow Fair Fortnight, which saw workers in factories and shipyards hanging up their tools en masse for a short period and heading off for a well-earned break.
While many took steamboats or the train to resorts like Gourock, Dunoon or Rothesay, others headed south to Blackpool, which was accessible – as it is today – thanks to good travel links.
The bond between Glasgow and the west of Scotland was especially close thanks to this ease-of-access.
In 2018, around 30 per cent of all visitors to Blackpool were Scottish and with rising inflation and the weak pound, more people are opting to stay in the UK rather than holiday abroad.
The traditional Scottish invasion starts with the earlier beginning of the school summer holidays north of the border.
Scotland’s love affair with Blackpool was acknowledged by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year when she angered resort hoteliers by urging Scots to cancel planned visits to Fylde to avoid bringing more Covid cases back.
Many Scots often travel hundreds of miles to the resort to watch the ‘Old Firm’ Celtic Vs Rangers games in resort pubs rather than enjoy the game back home. Many pubs, bars and restaurants in town have a Scottish theme to give visitors a taste of home.
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