Tartan Army

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Tartan Army at the opening match of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, a tournament at which the Scots won an award for good behaviour

The Tartan Army are fans of the Scotland national football team. They have won awards from several organisations for their friendly behaviour and charitable work.[1][2] They have also been criticised at times for aspects of their behaviour, however, such as indecent exhibitionism and jeering at "God Save the Queen".[3][4][5][6]


The Tartan Army in Milan, Italy
Scotland fans at the Stadio San Nicola in Bari for a UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match against Italy.

Tartan is part of the symbolic national dress of Scotland, and the name Tartan Army first came into common usage in the 1970s, to describe the "well-refreshed hordes" who would stand on the terracings at Hampden Park, or biannually at Wembley for the England match.[7] Scotland fans were criticised at that time for their hooliganism, particularly after they invaded the Wembley pitch and destroyed the goalposts after the 2–1 win against England in 1977.[8][9]

Two years later, 349 arrests were made and a further 144 fans were ejected from Wembley Stadium during the 1979 British Home Championship match, mainly for drunk and disorderly behaviour and vandalism.[10] The behaviour in that latter match prompted the Scottish Sports Minister Alex Fletcher to apologise to colleagues and led to the creation of the Scotland Travel Club.[10]

The Scotland Travel Club was established in 1980 with the expressed purpose of encouraging responsible behaviour by fans.[1][10] It has been suggested by Professor Eric Dunning that the improvement in behaviour arose mainly from a desire to look better than the English fans, who experienced significant problems with hooliganism during the 1980s and 1990s.[11] The Tartan Army have won a number of awards for their vocal support and friendly nature.[1]

The organisation of the Travel Club had an immediate impact, with the Scotland matches at the 1982 FIFA World Cup being played in a "family atmosphere".[10] The Tartan Army were named as the best supporters during the 1992 European Championship[1] and also received an award for their behaviour at the 1998 World Cup in France.[1] BBC News described the Scotland fans as "one of the highlights" of that World Cup, noting their colourful appearance.[12]

Matches against England, which used to be played on an annual basis as part of the British Home Championship, were eventually stopped after 1989 due to violence and organised hooliganism.[13] Both matches that were played between the countries in November 1999 in qualification for UEFA Euro 2000 had associated problems.[14] Strathclyde Police made 230 arrests in connection with the tie played at Hampden,[14] while trouble at the second leg in Wembley resulted in 56 supporter injuries and 39 arrests.[15] Police spokesmen downplayed the incidents after both games, however.[14][15][16]

Comments after the first game indicated that the arrests were for minor public order offences and that the scale of violence witnessed was lower than a typical Friday evening in Glasgow.[14][16] The Metropolitan Police adopted a "zero tolerance" approach for the second game, but the number of arrests were "comparatively small" and the "vast majority" of supporters were well behaved.[15]

21st century[edit]

The Tartan Army were awarded a Fair Play prize by the Belgian Olympic Committee after a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Brussels.[1] The fans had been praised by the mayor of Zagreb for their behaviour after a match against Croatia in the same competition.[1]

In April 2002, during the joint bid by Scotland and Ireland to host the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament, First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell cited the "worldwide reputation" of the Tartan Army as a strength of the bid, stating that other countries welcome their arrival "with open arms".[17] In 2005, the Scotland Travel Club became the Scotland Supporters Club, with sections for younger fans being established.[18] Membership had grown to 17,000 by this time.[18] The UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying campaign saw membership numbers increase dramatically to a capacity of 27,500, with a waiting list of over 10,000.[18] The Scotland Supporters Club is operated by the Scottish Football Association, with membership guaranteeing one match ticket for all home fixtures and offering the opportunity to apply for away match tickets.[19] As of August 2010, the club was at its maximum capacity of 35,000 members and did not accept new applications.[20]

In August 2008, Irish Football Association chief executive Howard Wells criticised jeering from Scottish supporters during the British National Anthem, "God Save the Queen", before a friendly international match against Northern Ireland.[5][6] The SFA, who had pleaded with fans not to jeer the anthem,[21] admitted that they were also "disappointed" by the booing.[5][6][21] The Scottish Government also criticised the Tartan Army, commenting that it had "tarnished" their reputation.[5] Scotland were not punished for the booing because the match was a friendly, which fell outside the jurisdiction of UEFA.[21] The British anthem was used by Scotland until the 1970s, but it was replaced by "Scotland the Brave"[22] and subsequently "Flower of Scotland",[23] due to consistent booing at matches.[22] This issue recurred when Scotland played Liechtenstein in September 2010, as their national anthem uses the same tune as the British anthem.[24] SFA acting chief executive George Peat publicly apologised for a section of the fans jeering the anthem.[24] The British anthem was again booed by Scotland fans when the team played Northern Ireland in the 2011 Nations Cup,[25] and England in a September 2023 friendly.[26]

The Tartan Army has been a consistent opponent of the concept of a Great Britain team, particularly its participation in the 2012 Olympic Games, due to concerns that such participation would endanger the separate status of Scotland within international football.[27][28][29]

Scotland qualified for UEFA Euro 2020, their first major finals since the 1998 World Cup. The tournament was spread around Europe, meaning that two of three group stage games were played at Hampden Park, but over 20,000 Scotland fans travelled to London for the game against England.[30][31][32] This was despite Scotland only being allocated 2,600 tickets, due to COVID-19 restrictions.[30]


Research carried out in 1996 noted that the proportion of the Tartan Army comprising Rangers supporters, "traditionally the backbone of the Tartan Army", had declined since the 1980s.[33] However, Rangers still provided the single largest proportion with 21%,[34] while west-of-Scotland Catholics, traditionally associated with Celtic, were still notably under-represented.[33] Politically, the Scottish National Party enjoyed the support of almost two in five Tartan Army members.[33]

Charitable work[edit]

The Tartan Army received a nomination in the inaugural International Scot Award, as part of The Herald newspaper's Scottish Politician of the Year ceremony, for their charitable work.[2][35] The Tartan Army Children's Charity (TACC) and Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal (TASA) are both registered Scottish charities run by Scotland fans, raising money for disadvantaged children in Scotland and in the countries visited by fans following the team.[36]

The Sunshine Appeal was first launched after Scotland's away fixture against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo in September 1999 during UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying, when a group of Scotland fans, who had traveled despite the Foreign Commonwealth Office discouraging travel in the wake of the Bosnian War,[37] were introduced to Kemal Karic, a local boy who had lost his leg in the shelling of Sarajevo.[36] TASA's aim is to make a donation in every country where Scotland play a game, which they have done since 2003.[36]

TACC has donated funds to projects for disabled and blind children in Ukraine, Georgia and North Macedonia.[38] In 2009, £30,000 was donated to each of two projects in South Africa, where the Tartan Army had hoped to visit for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[38][39] The TACC, which is the nominated charity of the SFA, also organise trips for disadvantaged Scottish children to watch Scotland play at Hampden Park.[38] TACC's main fundraising events are a lottery monthly lottery and the TACC Kiltwalk, an annual 26-mile sponsored walk from Hampden Park to Loch Lomond.[38]


In 2007, the Tartan Army joined Scottish folk-rock band Runrig to record a version of Loch Lomond, christened the Hampden Remix, for BBC Children in Need. The song peaked at #9 on the UK Singles Chart and at #1 in Scotland.[40][41] in April 2022, their recording was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales and streams exceeding 200,000 units.[42]

Official tartan[edit]

The Tartan Army tartan

Prior to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Ian and Alan Adie, two Glasgow businessmen, trademarked the name "Tartan Army" in 1997. They approached the Scottish Tartans Authority to assist in creating a tartan. Keith Lumsden designed the corporate tartan on their behalf and it was registered on 1 March 1997 under number 2389 with both the Scottish Tartans Authority (STA) and the Scottish Tartans World Register (STWR).[43][44]

It is mostly Balmoral Blue   and Torea Bay  , with Freedom Red  , Gainsboro White  , and Golden Poppy  .

The Scottish Tartans Society notes that the design was taken originally from Royal Stewart and modified having Black Watch added as a background.[43] It was first seen in common use at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.[43]

Away with the Tartan Army – Scotland's Best Moments[edit]

In June 2021, the BBC produced a documentary hosted by Off the Ball's Stuart Cosgrove and Tam Cowan counting down the top 10 great Scotland supporting memories ranked by a group of journalists, pundits and former players and including interviews with Tartan Army members.[37]

  1. Ally's Tartan Army1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina
  2. Turf And Goalposts1977 British Home Championship vs. England at Wembley, which included the pitch invasion
  3. We'll Always Have ParisUEFA Euro 2008 qualifying vs. France at the Parc des Princes, remembered for James McFadden's long-range winner
  4. The Greatest Show on Earth – Opening the 1998 FIFA World Cup vs. Brazil at the Stade de France
  5. Six Minutes of Insanity2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying vs. England at Hampden Park ending with late goals from Leigh Griffiths twice from free kicks and Harry Kane
  6. Ciao Bella1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy
  7. An Army of PeaceUEFA Euro 2000 qualifying vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo, which led to the creation of TASA and TACC after the Tartan Army collected donations for those affected by the Bosnian War
  8. The Swedest ThingUEFA Euro 1992, where the Tartan Army were named as the best group of supporters
  9. One team in Tallinn1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying vs. Estonia, which was abandoned after three seconds after Estonia did not appear for the match but included an impromptu match between the Tartan Army and Estonian security guards, which the Tartan Army claims to have won 1-0
  10. We'll Be Coming Down The RoadUEFA Euro 1996 vs. England at Wembley including Paul Gascoigne's famous goal

As a finale, the programme included reactions to Scotland's victory on penalties against Serbia in Belgrade to qualify for UEFA Euro 2020, their first major tournament since 1998, which was played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b Schofield, Kevin (16 November 2007). "Billionaire philanthropist honoured for charitable work around the world". The Herald. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  3. ^ Roberts, Lesley. "Tartan Army should quit lifting their kilts and start projecting the right image of Scotland to the world". Daily Record. Reach Scotland. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  4. ^ Vesty, Sarah. "Two men arrested at Leicester Square with Tartan Army supporters urged to avoid the area". Daily Record. Reach Scotland. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d "Lack of respect isn't Howard's way". Eurosport. 21 August 2008. Archived from the original on 24 August 2008.
  6. ^ a b c "Scottish fans earn rebuke from Irish FA". The Scotsman. UK. 22 August 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  7. ^ Grant, Michael (27 August 2006). "Tartan Army truce". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  8. ^ Carrell, Severin (13 August 2013). "The Tartan army masses at Wembley, with Scottish confidence on the rise". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  9. ^ Smith, Adrian; Porter, Dilwyn, eds. (2004). Sport and National Identity in the Post-War World. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-28300-7. p77
  10. ^ a b c d Horne, Marc (27 December 2009). "Tartan Army risked ban in London". The Sunday Times. UK. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  11. ^ MacDonald, Stuart (18 May 2008). "Who were the fans who shamed Rangers?". The Sunday Times. UK. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Tartan Army on the retreat". BBC News. 24 June 1998. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Scotland v England? Bring It On . . . the SFA needs the status and the money". The Herald. 17 January 2010.
  14. ^ a b c d "Court date for arrested fans". BBC News. 15 November 1999. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  15. ^ a b c "Cheers and tears for Scotland". BBC News. 18 November 1999. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Running battles as fans clash". BBC News. 13 November 1999. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  17. ^ MacLeod, Murdo (21 April 2002). "Tartan Army to Woo UEFA". The Scotsman. UK. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  18. ^ a b c "History of Club". Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  19. ^ "About the club". Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  20. ^ "Scotland Supporters Club". Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  21. ^ a b c Esplin, Ronnie (22 August 2008). "Scotland escape sanction after anthem is booed anthem". The Independent. UK. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  22. ^ a b Broadfoot, Darryl (24 September 2007). "Flower of Scotland is national disgrace". The Herald. Archived from the original on 4 August 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
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  25. ^ Murray, Euan (9 February 2011). "Scotland sweep aside Northern Ireland in Nations Cup". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 10 February 2011. The game had been preceded by the booing from the Scotland support of Northern Ireland's anthem, God Save the Queen. The Irish contingent afforded the same treatment to the onset of Flower of Scotland. Some people get terribly excited by such antics; on this occasion, it was entirely predictable. As was the low attendance.
  26. ^ Williams, Zoe (18 September 2023). "The booing of the national anthem shows the vulnerability of King Charles's reign". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  27. ^ Lomax, Andrew (30 January 2009). "Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put Team GB opposition in writing". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  28. ^ Leask, David (31 May 2009). "Tartan Army to shun Olympic Team GB". Scotland On Sunday. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  29. ^ Stewart, Stephen (28 February 2010). "London mayor blasts Scots for blocking Team GB football side at London 2012 Olympics". Sunday Mail. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
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  32. ^ "Euro 2020: Crowds celebrate Scotland's 0-0 draw with England". BBC News. 19 June 2021. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
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  34. ^ Bradley, Joseph (2003). "Images of Scottishness and Otherness in International Football". Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture. Vol. 9. Routledge. p. 4.
  35. ^ Fraser, Douglas (15 November 2007). "Cabinet colleagues become rivals for Holyrood's top political award". The Herald. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
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  37. ^ a b McPheat, Nick (9 June 2021). "What to expect in Away with the Tartan Army – Scotland's Best Moments". bbc.co.uk/sport. BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
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  39. ^ "TACC in South Africa". Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  40. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 18 November 2007 – 24 November 2007". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  41. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100 18 November 2007 – 24 November 2007". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  42. ^ "British single certifications – Runrig/The Tartan Army – Loch Lomond". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
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  44. ^ "JOIN UP FOR THE TARTAN ARMY plc. – Free Online Library".