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Hundreds heading off from Caithness to cheer on Scotland at Euro 2024

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Martin Nicolson (back, right) and other members of Top Joe’s Tartan Army preparing to set off from outside the Northern Sands Hotel in Dunnet. Picture: Alan Hendry
Martin Nicolson (back, right) and other members of Top Joe’s Tartan Army preparing to set off from outside the Northern Sands Hotel in Dunnet. Picture: Alan Hendry

As many as 300 football fans from Caithness are heading to Germany this week to support Scotland in the Euro 2024 finals.

That’s the estimate made by Tartan Army stalwart Martin Nicolson, who is on his fourth road trip to support the national men’s team in a major tournament.

Martin is part of the Thurso-based Top Joe’s Tartan Army. Eight supporters set off on Tuesday in Martin’s motorhome, customised with Scotland flags and Tartan Army slogans.

A small crowd of well-wishers turned out on an overcast and drizzly morning to wave off the group from the Northern Sands Hotel in Dunnet.

Another 30 members of Top Joe’s Tartan Army are travelling in different modes of transport.

All eight going by motorhome have tickets for Scotland’s three Group A games, starting with the opening match of the competition against host nation Germany on Friday. The other teams in the section are Switzerland and Hungary.

“After we qualify [for the next stage] it’s a case of getting tickets from the SFA,” Martin explained. “It’s all done by app on your mobile phone now.”

The national team, managed by Steve Clarke, have qualified for the four-yearly European Championship finals for the second time in a row.

Martin went by car to the World Cup in Italy in 1990 and in a 1967 Volkswagen campervan to the 1998 World Cup in France. In 2021 he used the motorhome to travel to the delayed Euro 2020 finals when Scotland’s matches were at Hampden Park in Glasgow and Wembley Stadium in London.

“I’m lucky enough that I can go, but I’m not any better than the guy who is sitting in his living-room chair,” Martin insisted. “We’re all the same, we’re all Scotland supporters.”

Martin Nicolson is taking his 15-year-old son Logan on the trip to Germany for Euro 2024. Picture: Alan HendryMartin Nicolson is taking his 15-year-old son Logan on the trip to Germany for Euro 2024. Picture: Alan Hendry
Martin Nicolson is taking his 15-year-old son Logan on the trip to Germany for Euro 2024. Picture: Alan Hendry

Martin, owner of the Northern Sands and boss of industrial supplier Blargoans, is taking his 15-year-old son Logan on the trip to Germany.

Scotland have never progressed beyond the group stages in a European Championship or World Cup but Martin believes the current team is capable of going further, despite an uninspiring sequence of results in friendly matches leading up to the Euros.

“I think on our day we’re capable of getting a result against Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, I really do,” he said. “We could come out of the group with four or six points, possibly, or we could have zero.

“It’s going to be tight but I think Scotland will do it. This is our year, this is the time when we’re going to qualify for the first time in our history.”

There are 24 nations competing in the finals and Martin agrees with the widely held belief that Scotland will have the biggest travelling support.

“Without a doubt,” he said. “They’re speaking about 80,000 and I think that’s on the shy side – 80,000 won’t cut the mustard.

“I’m told 200 to 300 are leaving from Caithness alone. It’s unbelievable.

“I didn’t realise there were as many as that until we started counting them. We got to 200 and then had to stop, and there’s obviously a lot more than that we don’t know.”

The motorhome journey to Munich, where Scotland play their opening match against Germany, is expected to take 30 hours with stops in between.

Martin added: “We’re all ready to go, full of fuel inside and out!”

A group of well-wishers saw off the Tartan Army motorhome from outside the Northern Sands Hotel on Tuesday morning. Picture: Alan HendryA group of well-wishers saw off the Tartan Army motorhome from outside the Northern Sands Hotel on Tuesday morning. Picture: Alan Hendry
A group of well-wishers saw off the Tartan Army motorhome from outside the Northern Sands Hotel on Tuesday morning. Picture: Alan Hendry
Coming down the road: Martin Nicolson’s motorhome is transporting eight Scotland supporters to the Euro 2024 finals in Germany. Picture: Alan HendryComing down the road: Martin Nicolson’s motorhome is transporting eight Scotland supporters to the Euro 2024 finals in Germany. Picture: Alan Hendry
Coming down the road: Martin Nicolson’s motorhome is transporting eight Scotland supporters to the Euro 2024 finals in Germany. Picture: Alan Hendry


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