Win and we’re in
Belgium’s triumph over Bosnia & Herzegovina means Scotland are guaranteed a World Cup play-off place if we beat Slovenia today
The Tartan Army have laid siege to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana – mounting a full-on assault of the bars and even storming its castle.
Scotland supporters launched the takeover yesterday as they prepared to help Gordon Strachan’s Bravehearts breach Slovenia’s defences tonight and continue our march to Russia 2018.
Our travell ing fans made their presence felt by hanging a Saltire from Ljubljana Castle .
Friends David Birnie, 44, Ross Turner, 28, Gary Turner, 55, Liam Newton, 26, and Gerry Gahan, 52, scaled the tower, which is perched 1200ft above the city.
David, from Leith, said: “It was some climb and I’m absolutely shattered.
“We’ve invaded the castle and flown the flag for Scotland and now we’ve just got to do what we can to help the team do the business.”
The Tartan Army had early cause for celebration as they watched Belgium beat Bosnia– Herzegovina 4- 3. The result means a Scotland win tonight will guarantee us a World Cup play-off match – no ifs, buts or maybes.
About 5000 Scotland fans have made the trip to cheer on the team – even though the Slovenian FA handed over just 2567 tickets for the match.
Last week, we revealed how the football authorities had attempted to clamp down on the Tartan Army taking over the 16,000- capacity stadium by cancelling fans’ online orders.
But that didn’t put off supporters from making the journey to be at the most important match of the campaign – and neither did the dramatic collapse of Monarch Airlines, which threw the travel plans of some foot soldiers into jeopardy. John Watt and six friends made it to Ljubljana after an epic journey involving two planes, a monorail, a train, a bus and a gondola after their original travel plans were scuppered by Monarch folding.
The 44-year- old, from Paisley, said: “We were meant to be f lying from Gatwick to Zagreb but all our flights were cancelled on Monday.
“But there was no way we were missing this game, so we plotted a route to get us here. We got a taxi to Glasgow Airport, then a plane to Gatwick and a monorail between terminals to jump a train to Luton.
“Then we flew from Luton to Venice, got on a gondola to take us to a minibus,
which then took us a three-hour ride to Ljubljana.”
Alastair Young, 34, of Mauchline, Ayrshire, was furious after booking Monarch f l ights to Zagreb via Manchester for him and two pals just days before they went out of business.
He said: “They took £600 off us on the Saturday and then went bust on the Monday. It’s pretty shameless.
“I was scrambling about like mad to get new flights, because we had our tickets for the match.
“We had to get a train to Luton and then flew to Ljubljana and it cost us £1100. That’s how determined we were to get here.”
Stewart Park was among a group of 13 fans who paid £580 to get a taxi to Ljubljana from Zagreb in Croatia.
The 54-year- old, from Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire, said: “We f lew from Glasgow to Zagreb via Amsterdam and then shelled out 650 euros to get a minibus here. But it’ll be worth it if we qualify for Russia.”
Even William Wallace will be at the game tonight to support our Bravehearts. The 66-year- old, from Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire, said: “No one ever believes me when I tell them I’m William Wallace but I had the name before Mel Gibson.”
Meanwhile, Sammy Wightman isn’t letting throat cancer stop him from cheering on Scotland.
The 58-year- old, from Motherwell, was diagnosed three years ago but has travelled to every one of Scotland’s World Cup qualifiers – except the Lithuania game, when his travel plans were scuppered by a Ryanair f light cancellation.
He said: “I’ve had 30 radiotherapy treatments and although I might not be able to shout as loud, I’ll be roaring them on against Slovenia.
“I’ve been following Scotland home and away since my dad took me to games as a wee boy and nothing gets in the way of me following my country.
“It’s been far too long since the Tartan Army and Scotland made it to a World Cup and I’m feeling confident.”
SLOVING IT Scotland fans in Ljubljana yesterday. Right, Leigh Griffiths IN WITH A SPROUT Belgian stars Thomas Meunier and Dries Mertens celebrate
CONQUERORS Tartan Army fans David Birnie, Ross Turner, Gary Turner, Liam Newton and Gerry Gahan
STANDING PROUD Scotland fans make their presence felt in Slovenian capital
CRUISING TO VICTORY? Upbeat supporters in Ljubljana
IT’S TIME Greenock supporters POSITIVE STEER Scotland fan