Declassified documents show cabinet considered draconian measures after Tartan Army rampage


By Rory Reynolds

GOVERNMENT ministers nearly banned the Tartan Army from London after shocking scenes of violence and disorder, according to declassified documents.

Scotland fans – now known across the world for their good behaviour and rapport with away supporters – once risked facing draconian measures after two notorious fixtures with England in 1977 and 1979.

A report by the director of London Transport, classified until now, described how nearly 350 drunk fans were arrested as the city’s tube network was paralysed.

Trains were left “ankle deep” in urine, excrement, bottles and cans as passengers fled the baying horde after the 3-1 defeat in 1979.

He wrote: “In many cases football supporters were observed urinating on platforms in full view of other passengers.“Many trains were literally ankle deep in bottles and beer cans, while large areas of floor and seating were soiled with urine and excreta.


“Passengers had to dodge hurled beer cans full of urine, while vomiting was widespread at stations.”

He also told how boozed-up fans pulled emergency cords on trains, fleeing into the suburbs and terrorising residents.

He continued: “Fans spilled out and crossed fast line tracks on foot, before climbing bridges and drain pipes to reach street level and clambering through the gardens of adjacent houses.

“Ballast was thrown at the depot office at Neasden, while numerous lorries were stoned until all windscreens were broken.”

“At 17.50 Neasden Station was besieged by an estimated 2,000 Scottish fans trying to enter.

“They broke through fences and eight British Transport Police officers attempted to prevent them from breaking down the gates until the arrival of the Metropolitan Police.”


The reported ended, adding that his transport workers were afraid of the Tartan Army’s return in 1981, saying he hoped that “some attempted will be made to ban this fixture”.

The Metropolitan Police’s deputy assistant commissioner also recorded how violence broke out on the streets of London after the match, which saw 144 fans ejected from Wembley.

He said: “On the day of the match drunkenness, acts of vandalism and public indecency by Scots fans were widespread.

“Violence was used towards police when Scottish supporters were cleared from the plinth in Trafalgar Square.

“Bottles were thrown and six officers were injured.”

The report also noted “an incident at Harold Wood (in Essex) where a police officer was kicked unconscious by a group of supporters”.


Alex Fletcher, who had just become Scottish sports minister, was forced to assure the Home Office that there would be no repeat of the shocking scenes.

From 1980 troublemakers were blacklisted and the Scottish Travel Club was established to make the trip more appealing to women, children and well-behaved fans.

Hamish Husband, spokesman for the Association of Tartan Army Clubs, said Scotland fans today are quite unlike their predecessors.

He said: “The trouble was caused by drink and a misplaced sense and nationalism.

“In the 1980s attitudes changed, and the modern Tartan Army was really born at the 1982 World Cup, which had a real family atmosphere.”

The Tartan Army has since won awards for its good behaviour, and are popular across the globe for their colourful dress and friendly demeanor.

The biennial Scotland-England fixture ended in the late 1980s after the Home International championship was scrapped.

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