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They’re coming down the road: Scotland’s Euro campervan convoy is on the move



Everything from aged VW campers that have already seen off at least one engine – top speed a rather genteel 55mph – to luxurious motorhomes kitted with loos, showers and fridge for the beers, are on the move. Destination: Munich.

The combination of soaring excitement for Scotland’s place in an international football tournament combined with the recent boom in campervans and motorhomes means Scotland’s roads are set for quite possibly the biggest mobilisation of homes on wheels the nation has ever seen.

It’s estimated in the region of 5,000 campervans, motorhomes and converted vans will hit the road – with many decked out in Scotland colours, potentially making the journey south to English ferry ports and the Eurotunnel slightly perilous.

The Herald: Martin Nicolson's motorhome bound for the Euros sleeps eightMartin Nicolson’s motorhome bound for the Euros sleeps eight (Image: Martin Nicolson – Contributed)

Most will be on the move over the next few days: plenty of time to catch ferries and pick up friends on the way to Scotland’s opening match against hosts, Germany, on June 14.

The mass mobilisation brings to a head military-like Tartan Army planning that’s seen Facebook and WhatsApp groups buzz  as campervan and motorhome owners – some who have purchased vehicles specially for the trip – debate how to snare a precious campsite spot, the fine details of European plugs and low emission zones, and travel essentials: high-vis jackets for all on  board, a warning triangle in the boot and, much to the Scotland fans’ chagrin, a GB badge for the bumper.

Not surprisingly, most would much prefer a Scottish one.

Having begun planning the minute Scotland’s Euro 2024 qualification was confirmed last October, many are expected to finally meet up in the wake of the opening match: a rallying cry has gone out for a giant gathering for an autobahn-clogging convoy onwards to Cologne.

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At Scotland’s most northerly point of Dunnet Head, where locals on the NC500 route often despair at roads clogged with campervans, motorhomes and caravans, Martin Nicolson has completed the final prep on his impressive 9.2-metres-long luxury Fiat Burstner Elegance mobile home.

Decked out from boot to bonnet in Scotland decals with blue and white saltire on one side, lion rampant on the other, SFA badge and “No Scotland, No Party” on the front, it sports two flagpoles at the rear just in case passers-by don’t immediately realise it’s the Tartan Army in transit.

Bought in 2014, the massive motorhome was an instant upgrade for the well-travelled Caithness foot soldier, a regular at Scotland matches, home and away.

The Herald: No Scotland No Party - Martin Nicolson's motorhome is Euros boundNo Scotland No Party – Martin Nicolson’s motorhome is Euros bound (Image: Martin Nicolson – contributed)

“I went to Italy in 1990 by car, and France in 1998 in a VW van,” he said. “Then I got this in 2014 and used it 2021 for the Euros when Scotland played England at Wembley.

“This is all singing and all dancing inside, there’s a fridge and a toilet so we don’t have to stop on the route. It’s the dog’s bollocks.”

His group of eight Caithness-based fans aged from 15 to 60 will set off from the tip of mainland Scotland on Tuesday to navigate the narrow roads and beauty of the Flow Country on their way south to Calais and the Eurotunnel.

Gobbling fuel at the rate of 25 miles to the gallon and travelling under the banner of Top Joe’s Boys in honour of a Thurso pub, the giant motorhome’s tables and chairs tuck away at night and compartments flip open to reveal a “room” large enough to sleep three, beds on either side of the lounge table, a double bed over the driver’s seat and a single bed almost in the boot. Plus, there’s a tent.

The group has even hired the services of a driver so the party – and the beers – can keep flowing.

“Joe, the driver, took us to Wembley in 2021,” added Martin. “We said, ‘do you fancy it?’ and he said ‘well, I’d be disappointed if you hadn’t asked me’.

“We have no tossing coins to see who drives, no worrying about drinking because he’ll drive us back and forward to the games.

“It’ll be ‘party, party’. From the moment we leave, the music will be on, we’ll be wearing kilts when we set off and we’ll still be wearing them when we come back, whenever that is.

“We’re already good friends but yes, we’ll be even closer after 15 days together in this.”

He reckons they’ll clock up around 5,000 miles including the 1,600 miles round trip from Dunnet Head to Folkestone and back.

The Herald: John McIntosh's 1966 VW T2 Split Screen CampervanJohn McIntosh’s 1966 VW T2 Split Screen Campervan (Image: John McIntosh)

It might seem extreme lengths for a game, but it’s about more than ‘just’ football, he says. Martin is taking along his 15-year-old son, Logan, for his first international “away day” outing with the Caithness branch of the Tartan Army.

“We’re making memories for each other,” added Martin. “And we’ll remember this as long as we live.”

While his group whizz by in modern comfort, John McIntosh from Falkirk will be hitting top speed of around 55mph in his classic VW T2 Split Screen campervan, bedecked in decal featuring Scotland players, Steve Clark, flags and, with a deck on top that doubles as a stage should anyone feel like bursting into song.

The van rolled off the production line in 1966, a date most Scotland supporters prefer to avoid. What it lacks in modern touches, it makes up for with character.

“I bought it from a hippy from Hove near Brighton 18 years ago,” John said. “I jumped in and the gearbox wasn’t right, I couldn’t find first gear. He had these seashells on the dashboard, and he said ‘just aim for the sky blue shell and you’ll find it’.

“I paid £8,000 for it. It’s got a speedometer and a fuel gauge and there’s an internal light – no frills here.

“It doesn’t matter. We’ll find places on the way that have shower areas, and can make do with a Scottish shower – basically wiping your oxters and going.”

The VW he normally calls “Elvis” has been named The Sloop John B Express in honour of Falkirk-born Scotland and Hibs defender John Blackley, who played in the 2-0 victory over Zaire in Germany in 1974.

VW Campervan owner John McIntosh with ex-Scotland defender John Blackley. The van is named The Sloop John B in his honour. VW Campervan owner John McIntosh with ex-Scotland defender John Blackley. The van is named The Sloop John B in his honour. (Image: John McIntosh)

With two beds inside and space for two more on the roof, previous international outings have been eventful: John once drove it to Ibiza but the engine blew up and it had to be shipped home.

He sets off this weekend – travelling solo to begin with – bound for Newcastle, a ferry to Amsterdam then onwards to a rock festival at Nuremberg. He’ll be among many Scots planning to be at an AC/DC gig in Munich, and take in the atmosphere at fan zones for the first two games, and on the terraces for the third.

The Herald: The 1966 VW Campervan on its way to the EurosThe 1966 VW Campervan on its way to the Euros (Image: John McIntosh)

As the clock ticked down to departure, he added a little extra to an already eye-catching vehicle: “I’ve just pawned my car to get a £20,000 sound and lighting system,” he said. “It’s going to be like concert on the road.

“I’m not sure which will come off worst from all of this: my liver or my ears.”

As for the journey, he shrugged: “There could be hurdles along the way but I’m not fazed by it. The van is in tip top condition, it’s a simple engine, not much can go wrong.

“It’s going back to its homeland. I’m packing some lederhosen and going with the flow.”

Other Scots are already on their own extraordinary journeys to Germany: 18-year-old Huntly footballer Ethan Walker is travelling by bike with three others just months after suffering catastrophic injuries in a road accident that left him fighting for his life. Joining him on the way is the surgeon who helped save him.

And 20-year-old Craig Ferguson from Paisley is already halfway there, having set off from Hampden Park in early May on foot.

While for some campervan and motorhome owners, recent days have been focused on ensuring their vehicles stand out from the crowd and fly their Scottish colours.

In Bathgate, Andy Dyet has put the final touch to his VW Transporter van, with splashes of tartan and a saltire roof.

The Herald: Andy Dyet's van has had a saltire makeover for the Euros' journeyAndy Dyet’s van has had a saltire makeover for the Euros’ journey (Image: Andy Dyet)

He plans to leave on Tuesday with his two nephews, Ryan and Reis Dunn, for London to pick up fellow Tartan Army foot soldier Kenny Brown and onwards to Dover.

The van, bought in February with the Euros in mind, was a £60,000 investment that’s already paid him back with a memorable overnight stay in Montrose after his beloved Falkirk won the League One title.

Andy and Kenny’s friendship is evidence of the Tartan Army’s power to create incredible bonds: having met by chance after Kenny found himself with a spare plane ticket to a match in Italy over 17 years ago, they’ve rarely missed a Scotland game together.

The Herald: Flags fly from the rear of Martin Nicolson's Caithness motorhomeFlags fly from the rear of Martin Nicolson’s Caithness motorhome (Image: Martin Nicolson)

Like many involved in this weekend’s ‘wacky races’ style charge for Germany, their adventure is fuelled by a single precious ingredient: hope.

“I promised a friend we’d do the NC500, and provisionally planned the first week in July,” said Andy. “But he knows that if Scotland is still in the tournament, we’ll be postponing it.

“We’ll be here, right to the end.”

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