Friday 25th March

0400hrs (Local): Woke up with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. First thought “I wisnae drinkin’ last night, says I was gonna stay fresh for traveling today, four hour flight with a hangover no very appealing.” Flashback. Went down the shop to buy 4 bottles o brandy for the trip away. Bumped into friends from work en route to boozer. Just the one I thought. Said boozer has special on Elmer Fud, 3 for £2, right one round only. Stumble home (with brandy) only to find Wife’s friends in the hoose wi' thousands o' bairns greetin' and trashing the place. Feck, bairns first birthday party, forgot about that. Wife’s eyes burn my retina’s wi’ that look. Be sociable I thought, opened one o’ the bottles o brandy, and the rest as they say is history. Now I realize why my mouth feels the way it does. Realize I am getting picked up at 0545hrs, alarms no went off yet, snooze sounds good, cannae get back to sleep. Get up. Shower. Dressed. Double check I have everything and have some scoff. Outside at 0545hrs and no sign of Woody (who is coming on the trip) and his wife. Turns up at 0615hrs and when I ask where he has been, he tells me he told me in the shop last night to make it quarter past and not quarter to. Sheepishly, I sit in the back and keep quiet.

0730hrs (L): Arrive at Larnaca airport to be greeted by the usual helpful Cypriot staff. When the woman finally got off the mobile we got our bags in and after a few grunts and looks of disgust because we were forcing her to actually do her job, we were off to departures. My guts were giving me grief because of last night (or that’s what I hoped it was anyway cos my youngest has had a bug lately), but we went for some scoff. Since we were off to Italy we thought we would have pizza. Soon after that a wee wander round the shops, then all of a sudden the toilets were calling. The toilets were reminding me of Trainspotting, only everything was going down instead of up like Trainspotting. Suitably emptied, met Woody and went to the gate to get the plane. On the plane, feel rank. Toilet twice to empty my stomach from the top end. No good.

1250hrs(ishL): Arrive in Milan. Still struggling. Phone my mate from Dundee who we are staying in the same hotel as. They got to the hotel an hour ago and were off for a wander. No probs meet them efter. Standing at the carousel waiting for our bags, Woody comments on that alcohol like smell coming from the bags on the way round. Heart misses a beat as I realize I never packed the bottles that well. Sure enough, my bag comes round and when I lift it up there is a wet patch on the carousel. Heart sinks and I feel even worse than before. Get outside and find the shuttle bus from Malpenza to Central Station. Sit down and try and doze. Halfway through the journey I spew again; manage to save any embarrassment by keeping it in my mouth. Sitting across from the toilet I make the journey downstairs and open the door. Only I don’t. It’s locked and I know for a fact no one is in there. Start crying inside when I realize I have to wait till we get off before I let it out. Woody, who hasn’t noticed my predicament, doesn’t help by trying to speak to me and pointing things out. A raise of the eyebrows is the only way I can respond. My head is resting on the seat in front facing down. Can’t be long now. Eventually we stop and I run round the back to let it all out. Only to look up and see a million faces looking at me. What a chunt. The bus park is only right beside the entrance of the biggest train station I have ever seen. Just want my bed.

1400hrs(L): Get to the hotel via a taxi ride. No troubles there. Inside the hotel we find our room isn’t ready. Gutted. Buy an orange juice for me and a beer for Woody. Near choke when the boy behind the bar says 12euros. Soon get upstairs and open my bag, sure enough a bottle had smashed. Jeans, trousers, shirts, t – shirts and undies all damaged. Throw smalls and t-shirts in the bath to soak and see the price list for the dry cleaning. Rapido service was 60% above normal cos it was Easter weekend. Reception say the can only do it tomorrow cos it’s too late now. Mobile switched off. Off to bed. Don’t wake up till morning.

Saturday 26th March

0800hrs(L): Take bag downstairs with stuff to get washed and go to breakfast. Woody, poor lad, wandered about all day on his own and was dying to get on the piss today. Whilst at breakfast, some boy in a Scotland top and kilt was searching high and low for all his bankcards. That was his first night as well. Never seen him again to know if he found them. Two other fans stood up and another guy asked where they were off, same bar as last night came the reply, the ane that kicked us out at 3 bells he added. As I spluttered on my orange juice I realized I was amongst hardcore drinkers, respect. Feeling much better we went for a wander. Stumbled across the city square. Party. Supermarket was found and 2 slabs of beer purchased. Got back into the square and bumped into some boys from the team I played for before I moved away. Copious amounts of beer drunk and a good laugh had by all. My mate I was meant to meet yesterday was just up and would meet us at the beer tent beside the ground. Sound cos we had to go back to hotel later to get some clean clothes.

1700hrs(ishL): Got to beer tent with a slab of beer, warned by someone outside that beer had to be bought inside. Aye right. Woody turned his flag into a cape and I held the beer underneath and shuffled through as if I was holding on so I wouldn’t lose him. Dancer, in. Met my mates inside and had a look around. Amazing number of flags tied to a building that looks as if it would be a listed one in the UK, and you would more than likely get lifted for trying to put a flag up on a listed building in the UK. More beer consumed and after much rain we left at about quarter past eight to find him a ticket. Found a tout quick enough, 40 euros a ticket for Italy end, Woody agreed to pay and would take his chances getting in. Amazing sight as you get close. As it was dark by now all the lights were on around the stadium. Got in easy enough as none of the ticket collectors were that bothered about checking too closely. Up all the stairs and out to the stand and what an awesome stadium. Few pics taken, and before you know it its kick off. Great atmosphere created by the Scotland fans, disappointed by Italian turn out. Not too bad a game and apart from the incident below which I could not see, nothing of any great note happened during the match. Wonder how the posters match got on. Hope we won.

2300hrs(ishL) Eventually got out the stadium and on to the tram to what hopefully was the direction of our hotel to find a boozer. Found one that looked vaguely familiar, bumped in to Dick Campbell and Jimmy Bone. Don’t think I slurred anything too bad. Will never know. At 3 in the morning it was kicking out time, not a taxi in sight. Feck, where are we? Take a brave decision to point at one direction out of the possible five that we had to pick from. That way it is. Two and a half hours later we get back to the hotel, walking all the way. Legs and feet killing me. End up having a brandy in the room. Eventually get to bed at sunrise.

Sunday 27th March

0900hrs(L) Up to get packed cos we only booked hotel for 2 nights. Mate and his cousin go home today but mates I met in square yesterday say we can kip in their rooms tonight. Cheery.

1100hrs(L) Arrive at next hotel. Surprisingly they are all up. Dump our bags and head out for some food. McDonalds spotted, and a Big Mac meal polished off. All of a sudden the hangover kicks in, would be quite happy to stay here and sleep, everyone else wants to have a walk around. Democracy rules supreme. Couple o the guys think ten-pin bowling would be a laugh. Woody, who thinks the Italian language is the same as English with a vowel on the end, tries to get directions from the bird behind the counter. After about 5 minutes of pointing and arm waiving Woody returns with “turn left, turn right and its 300 metres down the road”. Easy. Two hours later we are sitting in a Chinese bar with a beer and crisps. After agreeing to give up on the bowling idea we embarked on a pub-crawl. Vaguely remember a “shove ha’penny” competition. Much haziness I am afraid from there onwards. All I can remember is Woody turning up with an EU flag from somewhere and everyone diving into taxis. Oh, and a brief spell in the Canal District, wherever that was.

Monday 28th March

1000hrs(L) Wake up. Back killing me from sleeping on floor. Room stinks. Boak. Ten minutes later Woody comes down from his room. Wake everyone up and go for some breakfast down the road. The boys with their kilts on notice that there is air coming from some of the gratings on the pavements, metro we assume. Pictures taken ala Marilyn Munro. Locals find it hilarious. Luckily enough.

1400hrs(L) Back at the hotel cos the other boys are heading back today. Bus picks them up at 3 o clock. Woody and me head off to find a cheapy hotel for the night. Find a 3* hotel for 80 Euros a night. Do me. Rest of the day a bit of a wash out. Sleep and a short walk for tea. Then more sleep.

2200hrs(L) Wake up. Cant get back to sleep. Finish last 200 pages of book. Still can’t sleep. Watch telly.

Tuesday 29th March

0730hrs(L) Must have fallen asleep cos telly still on. Up, showered and dressed. Head to Central Station to get shuttle bus. Get to airport and realize we got the times all wrong. Two hours later than we thought. Just the four hours to wait. Try my best to find a magazine I am interested in English. Nope. Wish I never finished that book now.

1300hrs(L) Eventually get on the plane. Bored. Goes past take off time. WTF is going on? Pilot then comes on and says that there has been an emergency landing and the airfield is closed till further notice. Somehow I am not surprised this has happened at our departure time. Take off eventually and flight no too bad, good scoff and I-Robot for the film.

2100hrs(L) Get home and glad to be back. One day too many I think. Have a skeg on teletext and it was only Rui Costa’s private jet that caused the delay. Get to bed. Cheery. Start dreaming of my next trip away with Scotland.

SUMMARY: - First Scotland away game was quality. All above was factually correct according to my wobbly memory. If anyone recognizes me from any of the above then I apologize if I offended you!!! Milan COULD be a beautiful city but it is graffiti central and full of dodgy looking characters. Didn’t feel quite as safe on the Monday when most Scottish fans had left. Still, a good trip all round.