After a poor first half on Saturday, something motivated the Scottish team to raise their game and play their best football of the campaign so far. Was it the Burley team talk or perhaps the half-time sing-along led by the Tartan Specials? We spoke with Kenny McColl and also look at tonight’s qualification permutations.

When last we spoke with Dear Scotland contributor and Tartan Specials bassist Kenny McCall, he was about to head to Oslo to play in an inflatable tent on the eve of the Norway v Scotland World Cup qualifier. By all accounts, the Tartan Specials gig was a cracker but the massive tent and the Tartan Army were both left deflated after the 4-0 drubbing.

Kenny revealed then that the Tartan Specials would be playing at half time during the final two home qualifiers against Macedonia and the Netherlands:

Dear Scotland: I’ve heard rumours that you’ve been asked to play at Hampden at half time in the near future? Any truth to that?

Kenny McColl: Where did you hear that?  Yes, it’s true, we will be on the hallowed turf of Hampden at half-time for the Macedonia and Holland games – you heard it here first.  We cannot wait – what could be better than playing to the full Hampden roar?  We’re hoping we can really get the stands jumping and push the team onto 6 points and a place in the play-offs.

Dear Scotland: So if we need to beat Holland in our last game and the game is tied at half time, what song will you play to focus the fans and get the team going?

Kenny McColl: You’ll have to wait and see.  But we think Kelly Marie’s “Feels Like I’m in Love” could be the number.

Dear Scotland, August 11 2009

We don’t know if the band have been working on their Kelly Marie but we did speak to Kenny again after Saturday’s performance:

Dear Scotland: So how did it go?

Kenny McColl: Backstage at Hampden was seriously rock’n’roll – half an hour before kick off we were drinking tea and eating biscuits!

Dear Scotland: Did you see the stramash with Scott Brown and the Macedonians just before half time?

Kenny McColl: We missed the end of the first half while we waited in the tunnel to come out.  We could hear massive amounts of noise but couldn’t see anything.  As the players filed past us, we could see that there was some tension and a few of the Macedonians were trying to wind up Scott Brown, who was still smiling serenely.  So when we went on, I think it’s fair to say that the crowd were still a bit riled by what had just happened and we were mystified, but we just got on with it and had a great time.

Dear Scotland: Well it seemed to go pretty well?

Kenny McColl: Aye, we’re taking credit for turning things around. For Wednesday though, we’d much rather go out following a peach of a Scottish goal in the 45th minute. After we played, we all got down and kissed the hallowed turf – we might well be the first band to have done that.  Don’t tell anybody, but the technical area is actually astroturf so we’re lucky not to all have carpet burns on our chins.

More from Kenny here and at

Playoff Permutations

For Scotland to clinch a play-off spot, we’ll need to win tonight.

The worst-placed of the nine group runners-up will miss out on the South Africa 2010 shoot-out in November and though a draw with the Netherlands will guarantee second place for Scotland, it will likely mean we are the ninth placed team.

However, Group Three – and to a lesser extent Group Five – provides us with the most hope. See updated 2nd place table here on Wikipedia.

Slovakia lead Group Three and are currently two points clear of Northern Ireland ahead of their visit to Belfast on Wednesday.

Ideal results on Wednesday, assuming we pick up the three points, would be a Slovakian win against Northern Ireland and a draw in the other match between Slovenia and Poland.

Group 3

If that was to happen, we would be sitting on 13 points while no team in Group Three would be able to finish second on more than 12 points once their results against San Marino are taken away.

So if we win and those results fall into place, then tonight we could be in the play-offs.
Any other permutations, and it will be a tense few nights watching matches play out all over Europe in October.

Group 5