Hampden Park, Scottish Cup Final, 27th May 2000
Originally Written For The Red Final 111 (Cup Final Edition 2014) .The issue was made up of peoples memories of cup finals and this was my first ever submission for the most underrated fitba institution in Scottish Fitba
2000. The year I had to start being a man. To my 15 year old country self it was the year I was to leave school and hit the big bad world, the year I was to bid fairwell to the North Easts equivalent of Barlinnie(school not HMP Peterhead). The year where I was to sit the last exams I was to ever sit and the year I was to never see some my pals again, such is the circle of life. Most importantly, it was the year that the Dons incredibly despite being utterly shite, reached two cup finals.
The League Cup Final was a damp squib to put it nicely. Realistically it was shite. In a nutshell, bus down, East Kilbride pub before, poor wee Zero broke his leg, taxi got smashed up for trying to run down fans after the game, then bus home. However a few weeks later I had one of the wildest days out I had had in my short life to date. Fast Forward to May 27th: The Scottish Cup Final. After a howitzer of a volley from Andy Dow against Hibs in the semi in front of an empty Hampdung (ridiculous kick off time that was) set us up to grace the Hampden turf again for the third time in the season against the now redundant rangers 1872-2012.
The events that follow will live long in the memory for as long as it functions. I’ll also add here although I was 15 I was a big loon, proper shaving, the lot. Halves on a bus were a no go but it balanced out as pints and scoofing in local establishments at the weekend were go. A hairy , 6ft plus oversized beaut being perfectly frank.
Saturday morning and cup final day starts with a knock at the front door. My pal armed – with a couple of warm tinnies of Tennents for the fifteen minute wander down to the village – had arrived. My trainers weren’t even tied before the rank balmy can of pish water had been nuked. After a quick stop at the bank for beer tokens for the long day ahead(my job at the Foto Factory more than paid for my illicit drinking habits), the cup final buzz was in full swing and I was ready for the day ahead. We decided on a litre of Grants vodka and Barrs lemonade as the choice of poison for the journey and Fourboys sorted us out(nae 10am pish in those days). On arrival at the pick up point the rest of the gang were already waiting. As the bus turned up and the doors swung open it was clear the party was in full swing. The singing was at high decibels, there were half bottles being passed around, empty tinnes rolling about the aisles and we were only in Ellon. As we were the last goons on the bus we were christened the “front of the bus wankers”. Not a bad thing in the long run I may add. Let the fun and games begin
The journey down was a typical fitba bus trip. Boozing, banter and piss stops galore due to the bog chocking up before we were out of Aberdeen. We arrived at our pre match watering hole in Bridge of Allan(the name escapes me). As soon I walked in the bar I noticed an old fashioned Tetleys Bitter sign on the wall and knew from that second I must have it. This being due to the concoction of cheap vodka bravery and I was at an age where stealing things from pubs was a done thing. I then noticed on closer inspection that this sign was screwed to the wall making the challenge of liberating it even more appealing. A few pints/nips and the use of a house key later I had myself a new sign destined for place in my bedroom. Mission accomplished. Back on the bus with the sign safely stored in the overhead luggage bit we headed to Hampden. Unfortunately the awful traffic had not been accounted for and it quickly became clear that seeing kick off was not to be. Fuck it, the day had been a belter so far. We also knew the Dons were on a hiding to nothing so what would missing five minutes matter. Unfortunately the five minutes turned into fifteen as the bus parked bloody miles away from the national stadium. Once in the ground we were greeted with the repugnant sea of orange due to “support for the Dutch contingent”, aye and that was the reason was it? Good one. It was one of the contingent that put the now deceased mob in the lead when Giovanni van Bronckhorst scored with ten minutes of the half to go.
Losing 1-0 at half time wasn’t too bad, especially with Esson in goals instead of the absent Leighton……..
Toward the end of the break there was a raging mannie behind us who was ranting about “fucking dirty bastard Wallace” this and “I hope someone snaps him” that, somehow oblivious to what had happened in the first minute, it dawned on me and filled me with fear. A look at a programme confirmed that Jim Leighton was absent but hadn’t always been and Ryan Esson was in fact bloody Robbie Winters. The pre match thoughts a do in were increased ten fold and a became a proper reality. What was also a reality with the feeling of stupidity at not noticing there was a striker in goals instead of a proper custodian.
If the game wasn’t over with Rod Wallaces unseen by us attempted murder on Jim Leighton, it was when Tony Vidmar doubled the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. As we all know from there two more followed and it was good night Vienna. That wasn’t to deter the party however, cue the biggest conga line I have ever seen. Any neutral watching surely had respect for the Dons contingent who could have easily left for some commiseration swallying. But no there we were equipped with a streaker with Van Der Ark on his back who somehow managed to break the police cordon when every clothed punter failed. There was also a female police officer who was harshly abused by many for her ears and their lets say comical size. “oh the wifey copper has got massive lugs, oh the wifer copper has got massive lugs ” to the tune of “She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain”. To be honest she brought it on herself to an extent due to a combination of being a total jobsworth and having small lady syndrome. From there it was back to the bus and back on the booze.
Unfortunately for Bridge of Allan it was to be subjected to further pillaging on the way north. This time the Royal Hotel to was to be the venue of choice. The bus unloaded its cargo of well oiled ba’heids with the driver bawling out “one hour and I’m fucking off”. Inside the hotel our posse (which mysteriously had found its self partially armed with evil clown masks) ended up taking a wrong turn and ended up in a wedding much to the surprise of the suited and booted guests. Obviously with the booze to common sense ratio being stacked in highly in favour of the former we weren’t deterred from acquiring our first round . A few more beers later(in the correct bar) we were off up the road. By this time the bus was rancid. The bog had completely overflowed and with the number of piss stops being outnumbered by the pisses being brewed up the thing was still being used. To make matters worse some full whoor had left a huge jobbie floating. Being the “front of the bus wankers” was definitely working in our favour as every time the bus broke the more pish made a run from the bowl soaking the floor around the vehicles rear seats
Half a crate of Heineken and another half bottle of grants were demolished before we arrived back in Ellon and alighted the bus with our whistles well and truly whetted, clearly not whetted enough as we found our way to the local boozer for more grog.
Next stop was the pub where most of the underage drinking in Ellon went on and also where all the hotties hung out but unfortunately it was dead, so we supped up and headed to a glorified club that was in fact a restaurant with its tables removed. But it would do for us. After we waited to get in after a tab, a bus returning from Hampden pulled up full and a few locals got off and went to enter, as I knew a couple we got speaking about the days events. I couldn’t help but notice one of the revellers was an absolute doppelganger of Ebbe Skovdahls number two Tommy Moller Nielsen. This guy was a big old unit who looked like he could handle himself so what did I do? I informed him “Hey min, you look right like Tommy Moller Nielsen min”. Next thing I knew……. crack!……..black eye number one………whack! ………black eye number two complete with crimson explosion. As I tried to get away I received a third thump on the back of the heid but it was nothing compared to the second which to this day is the hardest smack I’ve ever bore the brunt of(not that I have received many, just a few during my fitba playing days).At this point I decided to take my inebriated “should have kept my trap shut” arse up the road, eyes swelling and tail between my legs. This possibly being the most sensible decision of the day
Waking on the Sunday I had a weird feeling of the unknown from the previous days events. Something was bothering me. It wasn’t the fact I had received a few smacks to the cannister the night before? Nor was it the fact I had possibly a worse looking face than Jim Leighton probably had that morning? It wasn’t even the fact I had to explain the state of my face and blood soaked bed sheets to my folks when I braved getting up? Was it that I had a French written exam the next day , non, ce n’etait pas. Was it the disappointment of the previous days fitba and realising the amount of money pissed up a wall to attend a farce? No it wasn’t that either. Had I made a drunken arse of myself in front of a lass in the pub?Nah……….Then it hit me, I had left the vintage Tetleys bitter sign on the bus. Bugger!
An eventful end to what was an eventful season, for the wrong reasons