Rob Gilchrist

Rob Gilchrist

Although I’ve followed Scotland for what seems like forever, my early days were mostly last minute, badly organised, drunken excursions when there was no league football being played that weekend. (I follow Dundee FC so some might say that there never is any league football played there). It wasn’t really until 2007 and the unforgettable trip to Paris that I suggested to our local lads that we should start our own wee Tartan Army. Overnight, The Strath Bar Tartan Army was born and at its peak had nigh on 30 members. We travelled home and away as often as we could manage but over the next few years the membership dwindled to a hardcore support of around 10. There were many highlights during that time, but many more disappointments. That’s the thing about following Scotland. It’s a fantastic roller coaster trip of emotions. From the euphoria of Faddy’s goal to the abject misery of defeat in Macedonia.

Speaking of Macedonia. We had decided to miss the Iceland game and instead organised a wee holiday to Greece thinking that we could easily get transport from the resort to Skopje on match day. One of our party had “bumped into some guys from Kilmarnock” that were staying in a hotel near us and had organised a minibus to the match and back (or so he said). We spent the whole next morning and early afternoon searching the resort for these lads and when we spotted someone reading the Daily Record, we went to ask them if they were the same lads. I must add, the person that had spoken to them the night before was a bit “hazy” in his recollections. As we approached the Killie lads, one stood up and pointed at us shouting. “There they are, that’s the boys that have the bus going to Skopje”…. Cue the mad rush to organise a taxi to take us to the border and another to take us to the match. Cost us around £500 to get there and back. The worst part being that our tickets turned out to be for the wrong end and we never even got into the match…

I think I first heard about the Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal when we shared a bus from Munich to Liechtenstein, that had been booked through a previous acquaintance Mr Thomas Cook himself AKA Paul Smith; with Monica, June, Tracey and Joyce. They were fortunate/unfortunate to be seated next to us and we spent our time drinking and eating chocolate Santas (another story for another time). They told us of the great work that TASA do and how they made donations at away matches to those less fortunate. They also told us of the plan for everyone to wear a yellow Scotland top to the Spain match a few days later. None of us had brought that top with us but we were staying in Benidorm for the match so thought we could get something there. Turns out that yellow Scotland tops aren’t sold in Beni and the only ones we could get that came close were bright yellow SpongeBob t-shirts. Cue the birth on the Spongemob 2526 Tartan Army. When we can attend nowadays, you can spot our flag and we can be easily identified by our matchday t-shirts or, let’s just say, different sporrans…

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We had always had an annual event to raise money for local charities as the Spongemob so I looked further into how TASA had came about and was so impressed by the hard work and dedication of all those concerned that when it came to choosing a charity for The Spongemob Aviemore to Dundee Charity Cycle a year or so later, TASA were chosen as one of the recipients. They even sent a team and supporters to take part in the one day event which was absolutely fantastic. In the end we raised quite a few thousand pounds and were able to donate just over £3000.00 to TASA.

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I can’t really say how much these guys impress me. They never let anyone down. If there was a true shining light in following Scotland it is that we are known as the best supporters in the World. In my opinion those that are on the steering group, raise money, donate, or even give what time they have to help, are the best of the best.

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If you’ve been involved with the Sunshine Appeal in the past whether that’s doing a fundraiser, attending a donation or simply buying some merchandise, we’d love to hear your story.

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