Daily Record

Mark McGhee dreams of Euro 2020 big screens and Scotland fan thrills as he prays Hampden roars again

Daily Record logoDaily Record 24/02/2021 07:00:00 Gavin Berry

Mark McGhee heard the loudest of Hampden roars for Scotland's epic Auld Enemy clash four years ago but reckons a full house against Croatia could be an even better atmosphere.

The former national team No.2 and striker is praying restrictions are lifted to allow the Tartan Army to pack out the national stadium for the June 22 Euro 2020 game against Croatia.

McGhee reckons even just knowing the turnstiles would be open for that final Group D fixture would add to the opening two group games against Czech Republic, also at Hampden, and England at Wembley.

Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday that life may be back to normal on June 21 has given football fans a boost ahead of this summer's extravaganza.

After almost a year of lockdown misery, the prospect of being back inside stadiums is one that excites McGhee who was one of 2500 people inside Brighton's Amex Stadium for a match against Chelsea at the start of the English Premier League season.

Mark McGhee holding a baseball bat on a field © Daily Record

Scotland fans were last in Hampden for their final Euro 2020 qualifier against Kazakhstan - a 3-1 win on a dark November night.

But a sun-kissed Glasgow for Scotland's first major tourney in 23 years would be quite a contrast - and more comparable to the day Leigh Griffiths struck his famous free-kick double in that thrilling 2-2 draw.

McGhee, No.2 to Gordon Strachan for that game, said: "The buzz for the England game at Hampden, also in June, was unbelievable and when we scored it's the loudest noise I've ever heard at a football match.

"Hampden has that potential but the excitement for the Croatia game would be even more than that England match - it could be one of the best ever. And if we could get a result on the day it would be even better.

"I also believe it would make the earlier fixtures even better if you knew fans were getting into that last one. Knowing that game's coming would build everyone's anticipation and there would be more urgency in terms of wanting results so you're going into that game with something at stake.

"It changes the whole dynamic of the competition. No matter how everyone has tried to play it up, the idea there won't be any supporters has put a huge dampener on the Euros so if they can get in it would be great.

"It would be amazing for all those who have never been to a game like that, those kids who haven't had the chance to see Scotland in a major tournament to suddenly get their chance would be fantastic.

"You can just imagine what Glasgow would be like - big screens up in George Square and everyone in the right frame of mind, behaving themselves and just having an absolute ball.

"It would give the whole country a huge boost for Hampden to be packed to the rafters on a lovely summer's day.

"Everyone has been waiting so long for this that the idea we were going to have it without supporters was just tragic. And regardless of the first two results, what a celebration that would be. Not only celebrating the game and the Euros but celebrating the fact we're all back at football."

While it would be great for the public, McGhee reckons Clarke and his history-making squad would also benefit from it after playing in front of empty stadiums for club and country for so long.

And based south of the border, the 63-year-old feels the excitement since Johnson's announcement. He said: "It's obviously great for the fans but let's not forget about the players and Steve Clarke. To qualify for the tournament and not have fans is such a shame.

"So the prospect of a full Hampden for the manager and players is just great.

"We talked about the England game but there were other games such as Slovakia in that qualifying campaign which had a great atmosphere.

a man standing in front of a crowd: The SFA have rejected Slovakia's bid for more tickets © Daily RecordThe SFA have rejected Slovakia's bid for more tickets

"Hampden would be rocking and rolling for the visit of Croatia and with the pubs all open and big screens in the city it would be just fantastic.

"I sense the excitement in England after Boris Johnson's announcement. The tournament hasn't quite been getting the attention because of the punters but it opens it up to a lot more discussion and excitement with supporters getting in.

"I pray they do get in. I went to the Amex for a test event. There were 2500 allowed in against Chelsea and incredibly there was a little bit of atmosphere. So it was pretty good but nothing compares to a full house."

24. helmikuuta 2021 9:00:00 Categories: Daily Record

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