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How canny Scotland won German hearts and minds without kicking a ball at Euro 2024

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen, an Alpine ski resort in the Oberbayern region of Bavaria in the far south of the country just a few miles from the Austrian border, will be home for Steve Clarke’s men for much of the next fortnight.

It could prove to be the perfect location for Andy Robertson and his compatriots to prepare for the Group A games against Germany in Munich on Friday night, Switzerland in Cologne on Wednesday week and Hungary in Stuttgart the following Sunday.

Sleepy does not begin to describe the picturesque little town. There promise to be no unwelcome distractions as they intensify their preparations for the tournament opener in the Allianz Arena in the coming days. Not to mention a lot of love for the visiting celebrities from the residents to boot.

That Scotland have chosen to stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen has not gone unnoticed here. There are signs, with a Lederhosen-clad resident clinking a frothing pint of pilsner with a tourist dressed in a kilt, dotted around the streets. Saltires adorn shop windows and restaurant doorways.

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A delegation of dignitaries staged an official welcome ceremony in The Bayernhalle here last night. There was traditional music played by an Oompah band and the VIP guests were greeted by Mayor Elizabeth Koch before signing their names alongside the celebrated skiers who had raced on the nearby slopes in “The Golden Book”.

(Image: PA) Super John McGinn, much to the hilarity of his team-mates and delight of the Tartan Army footsoldiers who had turned up, was roped into performing a Bavarian dance with three of the musicians. Mercifully, the Aston Villa midfielder did not pull his hamstring doing so.

Clarke spoke to the assembled throng afterwards and said: “When we came here in January we thought it would be a special place to have our base camp and now to see this welcome is amazing. You’ll be fabulous hosts and I hope we’ll be a fabulous football team.”

Robertson added: “Thank you for the warm welcome. It’s been a long day of travelling and we’ll all ready for bed, but it’s been wonderful to see the local people. The fans will drink a lot of beer. They’ll be here in numbers and will enjoy themselves. But Scottish people try to be respectful and will behave themselves. Hopefully they can be celebrating us winning.”

Scotland have, judging by the reception they were given last night, won a few hearts and minds before a ball has been kicked. They will have the full backing of the locals as well as their fans.

Andrew Syme, a Scot who originally hails from Aberdeen but who has lived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the past 30 years and now manages a restaurant at the top of Zugspitze, was in attendance with his two young children and was emotional when he saw his heroes arrive.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard Scotland were coming here,” he said. “Hoffenheim have stayed here before for pre-season training, when Julian Nagelsmann [the Germany manager] was in charge actually. We heard a team may be staying here for Euro 2024, but when somebody told me it was Scotland I was delighted. It is just fantastic for the town.”

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The mother and father of all thunder and lightning storms blew in from the north in the afternoon and the event had been delayed and moved to a different venue. It was very much a taste of what was to come for Scotland. The weather forecast for this week is diabolical.

(Image: PA) However, Clarke will, when the rain goes off, be left alone to perfect his team shape, tweak his tactics and bolster his charges’ morale in this peaceful and idyllic spot.

Nothing much happens in Garmisch-Partenkirchen these days. Hence the excitement about the arrival of one of the countries competing in Euro 2024. But it certainly has an eventful history.

Partenkirchen used to be on the route between Venice and nearby Augsburg. The discovery of America in the early 15th century led to a sharp decline in overland trade and the area plunged into a centuries-long economic depression. There were frequent epidemics, including several outbreaks of the bubonic plague.

Financial hardship and disease resulted in numerous infamous witch hunts and in the late 16th century and no fewer than 63 people, more than 10 per cent of the population at the time, were either burned at the stake or garrotted.

Garmisch and Partenkirchen used to be two separate places. But Adolf Hitler forced the two towns, much to the annoyance of the inhabitants, to merge into one in 1935 before the Winter Olympics were held there the following year.

It takes just over an hour to drive from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and motorists pass through two tunnels which were driven through Vestbuhl Hill at Eschenlohe by the Nazis in preparation for the Olympics as they make their way along the B2.

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The tunnels were closed to traffic towards the end of the Second World War and used as underground factories to build parts for the Messerschmitt Me-109 fighters and Me-262 jet aircraft. The covert operation was codenamed Ente or Duck.

The vicinity has a fascinating history. Scotland will be hoping that they can make some history of their own in the coming days by reaching the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time ever.

Readers of Scottish tabloid newspapers will be aware that Zugspitze is not the only mountain in the area. No, The Wank also rises to the east of the town. It is a popular hill for hikers, day trippers and paragliders. You can take the Wankbahn to the summit and pay a visit to the Wank-Haus. A Wankpass enables you to ride the cable car for an entire year.

Scotland will ride the wave of goodwill which their unexpected appearance in Garmisch-Partenkirchen has generated in the coming days and will depart for Munich on Thursday with the best wishes of their new fans ringing in their ears.

(Image: PA)

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