14.06.2024 16:02 h

Kilts and bagpipes: Scotland's 'Tartan Army' in Munich

Wearing kilts and filling the air with the strains of bagpipes, Scotland's "Tartan Army" descended on Munich for Friday's opening game of Euro 2024 where their side face a tough clash against hosts Germany.

With chants of "no Scotland, no party", tens of thousands of fans flocked to the southern German city to enjoy the atmosphere -- and a beer or two -- ahead of the match.

"Couldn't miss it, no chance of that," said Stuart Webster, 48, who made the 13,500-kilometre (8,500-mile) trip from Rockingham, Western Australia for the game.

"We don't make every tournament, so we had to go to this one," said Webster, who travelled with his two sons, one of whom was wrapped in a Scottish flag.

There is a quiet hope that Scotland can get a good enough result against Germany to help them qualify for the knockout rounds -- a feat the team has never achieved at a major tournament.

"I'm a bit of a veteran, so I know how it normally goes but fingers crossed," said Webster.

Many of the fans headed to the historic Marienplatz square in central Munich, where they belted out tunes in praise of star player John McGinn and kicked a ball around.

Members of the Stephen family from Aberdeenshire were meeting with family ahead of the game, with relatives travelling from Doha and Norway.

"If we get a draw, I would be delighted," said Robert Stephen, 64, adding that the fans would "have a party" whatever the result.

All in all, some 60,000 Scottish fans are expected in Munich around the opening fixture of the tournament, according to local officials.

A warning from the British government ahead of the tournament that German beer is stronger than the typical ale found at home has not cured the enthusiasm of some.

"There was one of the pubs ran out of beer yesterday," said supporter Stuart Ogg, 63, who made the journey from Perth in Scotland with his sons.

The reaction from locals has been somewhere between bemusement and delight, Ogg told AFP.

Most of the fans making the long journey to Munich are doing so without a ticket for the game.

Not having a way into Munich's Allianz Arena for the match did not put off Mareth Wilson and her family, who also travelled from Perth.

The 44-year-old council worker braved an overnight ferry to the Netherlands, during which she felt "awful seasick", before completing her journey by train.

They plan to watch the game on a big screen in the fan zone.

The zone is by the water's edge and is designed to accomodate up to 25,000 fans. It sits close to the Olympic Stadium, where Munich hosted the games in 1972.

Sigurd Smith and Emma Wylie, 36 and 37, made the trip from Orkney, an archipelago just off the northern tip of mainland Scotland, and took a tour of the Olympic Park on the eve of the game.

"I think it's going to be absolutely brilliant," Wylie said of the match against Germany.

There would be a "friendly rivalry" between the two sets of fans, said Smith.

Despite the influx of tartan-clad Scots, a few German supporters were still to be found in Munich.

For the Germans, like their opponents, the chance to attend the opening game of the tournament makes the long journey worth it.

"I have never been to a tournament match like this so I am very excited to see what happens tomorrow," Corinna Hasken, 32, who came from close to Osnabrueck in northwest Germany, told AFP.

Her travelling companion, Manuel Pieper, is confident about Germany's chances against Scotland.

Julian Nagelsmann's team should walk away with a 2-0 win, said Pieper, also 32.

"At a home tournament, an opening win... that would be a nice start."