Covid means diehard Scotland fan misses out after 75 away game trips

A football fan who has travelled around the world with the Tartan Army is about to miss his second away qualifier in 20 years - both times due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin Riddell at the France 1998 World Cup
Martin Riddell at the France 1998 World Cup

Martin Riddell, 51, has travelled to Kazakhstan, Mexico and Peru to watch the Scotland men's national team play.

He has been to 75 away matches in countries as diverse as Bosnia, where he visited an orphanage, and reckons he's racked up 'hundreds of thousands' of miles on trips.

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He was miffed to miss Scotland's only away game so far this year, against the Czech Republic in September, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin Riddell (middle) in Paris in 1998

And he will be at home in Edinburgh when Steve Clarke's team play Serbia for the Euro qualifier in Belgrade tomorrow (Thurs) - amid hopes the team could reach its first tournament in 22 years.

Dad-of-two Martin said: "I'll be watching it at home.

"It's rubbish watching games in the house without the people you usually share those moments with.

"No away fans are allowed to the game because of coronavirus.

"It's essential just now to keep people safe but it's still disappointing with it being Scotland's biggest game in years.

"It's really difficult not going to games.

"You miss the buildup and buzz with something to look forward to.

"You meet up with a lot of people from different parts of Scotland and Europe who you only see abroad at games - it's quite bizarre.

"It's this time of year that you get back in touch with people.

"As far as the game's going to go I'm quite confident in our manager.

"I don't care what the score is, as long as we win."

The IT worker said watching Scotland at France '98 - the last tournament the men's team reached - was his best experience as a fan.

He was a founding member and treasurer of the Edinburgh Tartan Army, and the following year they visited Bosnia including a trip to an orphanage, which spearheaded their charity work.

Martin added: "It's 20 years since I've missed an away qualifier. I've been to 75 away matches.

"I've been to Lithuania five times, the Faroes twice, Kazakhstan, Peru and Mexico.

"France '98 was the last tournament - that was the highlight of supporting Scotland all these years."

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