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Saunderson's Euro-vision: Twas the night before Christmas but is football 'Coming Home' or 'Gaun Hame'


By Chris Saunderson

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IT FEELS a bit like Christmas Eve!

All I want on June 14 is three points please.
All I want on June 14 is three points please.

The bearded figure who can bring joy and happiness tomorrow - Steve Clarke - shares his initials with the main main who pops down your chimney on December 24.

Unlike Santa Claus, the Scotland boss always come across as a bit of a serious figure and even when he smiles it looks more like a grimace.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke, not to be confused with Santa Claus.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke, not to be confused with Santa Claus.

So, while you are unlikely to find Clarke bursting into a rendition of Ho Ho Ho or Jingle Bells, I will bet he has a smile as wide as the River Clyde tomorrow afternoon if Scotland can get their Euro championship off to a winning start against the Czech Republic.

Please Santa, we have all been good boys and girls for 23 years, all we want is three points.

A win would be massive after England's 1-0 win over Croatia on Sunday afternoon in our group when a Sterling performance from Gareth Southgate's lads secured the win.

They were full value for the points and could have been ahead in the first half when a great effort from Slim Shady, sorry Phil Foden, rapped off the woodwork.

Slim Shady came close to a goal.
Slim Shady came close to a goal.

The Yorkshire Pirlo, aka Kalvin Phillips, was the creator as Raheem Sterling - perhaps given a Pep talk before the game after a difficult season with Man City - smashed home the winner.

If Scotland can bounce the Czechs out of Hampden on Monday afternoon, it will set up a cracking match at Wembley on Friday night when football will either be 'Coming home' or 'Gaun hame' depending on the result.

Italy got off to a winning start on Friday night with a 3-0 win against Turkey, which I missed in favour of watching Fochabers Rockets play an Elgin golden oldies team on a public park that looked more like a farmer's field just after the silage had been cut.

By all accounts Turkey parked the bus in the tournament opener but eventually found themselves getting stuffed by the Italians in the second half.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli warmed up for his gig at Inverness Caledonian Stadium next year (briefs for that one will cost you more than a Scottish tenner) with a rousing rendition of Nessun Dorma at the opening ceremony before the match ball was driven to the centre circle in a remote control car - all very bizarre.

This column is and will remain unashamedly 99.99% of the time light-hearted in the extreme, tongue-in-cheek and even borderline sarcastic, and I make no apologies for that, but for a brief moment will strike a serious note and say how heartwarming it was to see the reaction of fans the world over after the medical emergency suffered by Danish midfield maestro Christian Eriksen against Finland. Well played the team doctors and paramedics who saved his life after he suffered a cardiac arrest, and his team-mates who circled him as he lay prostrate on the pitch fighting for his life.

Danish captain Simon Kjaer comforts Eriksen's wife.
Danish captain Simon Kjaer comforts Eriksen's wife.

Somebody once said, 'Football is not about life and death - it's more important than that', but I can assure you that moment proved otherwise.

Finland's 1-0 win was understandably overshadowed by the events of the first half but it was nonetheless a great win in their first ever major championship.

Belgium breezed past Russia 3-0 with Romelu Lukaku sending an emotional message to his Inter Milan team-mate Eriksen after scoring one of his two goals.

I settled down to watch the Austria-North Macedonia clash more in curiosity than expectation or hope, but it turned out to be a decent enough watch which the Austrians won 3-1, the last goal of the game scored by a seething Marko Arnautovic who was pure raging after the ball hit the net and seemed to spit his dummy oot the pram in his celebrations. Quite what he was so angry about remains a mystery but Marko always came across as a petulant, spoilt brat when he was playing in the English Premiership, before departing to China for a mahoosive pay day.

North Macedonia's Alioski or is he the frontman from Kajagoogoo.
North Macedonia's Alioski or is he the frontman from Kajagoogoo.

North Macedonia deserved something from the game with the veteran Goran Pandev and the 1980s Kajagoogoo throwback Alioski in their ranks.

The front man of Kajagoogoo or was he the left wing back of North Macedonia?
The front man of Kajagoogoo or was he the left wing back of North Macedonia?
The Macedonian fans were a colourful bunch.
The Macedonian fans were a colourful bunch.

Right, it's almost half-time in the Holland v Ukraine match, and I've just heard the commentator say there is a boy called Dumfries in the Dutch line-up, so that's got my attention.

You can take the boy out of Dumfries but you can't take Dumfries out of the boy. He really should be playing for Queen of the South with a name like that but suspect he will be way out of our budget.

Enjoy the game on Monday - fair play to a lot of the schools for letting the kids add the European championship for the afternoon to their timetable. C'mon Scotland!


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