Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Westa in Edinburgh

Top seed, surely not? Westa's first ever home trip was to Edinburgh for the Euro Qualifier 10th October 1998 and we were top seed in a group that included The Czech Republic, 1996 Euro Champions.
Westa had successfully negotiated their first foreign trip to Lithuania and a 0-0 draw with the only casualties being member's livers. A month later we were to meet in an Edinburgh brewery adjacent to Tynecastle with the prospect of an easy home win against Estonia.
The Ayr branch of Westa took an early train and were soon mixing with the Tartan Army in the capital. Following the France World Cup there was the emergence of the various organised TA group’s and this gathering was a chance to mingle with fellow foot soldiers and share stories and drinks.
I have a memory of a pal not going to the game as he had been left in charge of a dog in a pub, Shambles perhaps, must ask him one day.
The game itself was a stramash, emotion and more. 1-0 down at half-time sub Billy Dodds equalized and then trailing 2-1 with 15 minutes to go the group’s prospects were, and not for the first time looking glum. An own goal and a late Dodd’s goal had Tynecastle rocking. 3-2.
‘Gets the ball and scores a goal, Billy Billy  Dodds’ was the refrain, he was to be for a period a Scotland goal scorer , nearly of note.  The next game was The Faroes at Pittodrie.
Westa Members headed to the poshest hotel in town, The Roxburghe at Charlotte Square. Owned by Sir David Murray there was a rumour that he had personally invited us. I am not convinced as I would have kept the ticket and if he did he did not stand his round. A raucous night was had by all, kilts aplenty and we were graced by the presence of Marjory Nimmo, honourary patron in chief of the TA.
She was doing her royal tour, acquainted with all we paid our respects, there was however a crisis when her bag was nicked. A near riot ensued and the subsequent whip round raised enough money to send her on an all expense trip around the globe.
Missing the Westa bus the Ayr branch were on John Grigor’s bus arriving at 2 or 3am to the St Andrew’s pub where we were welcomed to a lock-in for a deaf club. One brief drink and a taxi home.
My wife was accurate in her explanation; prior to my introduction to Westa I drove to Hampden for home games arriving back barely 2 hours after the final whistle.
That all changed thereafter, home games became an adventure and like a Scotland game, a stramash.

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