THE Tartan Army has earned a stellar reputation for being the best football fans in the world. Yet, it's not solely men in kilts and hats dancing in the streets.

Here, we meet some of the women whose love of football and following Scotland has taken them on remarkable adventures. Their wings may be clipped due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that passion hasn't waned.

Moira Brown, 87, retired nurse and former head teacher, from Coatbridge, now living in Glasgow

I fell in love with football when I was four. There were always games being played in the park opposite our house in Coatbridge and I used to watch every Saturday, no matter what the weather. I was fascinated by the entire game – the control of the ball, the possession, all of it.

My dad was a Motherwell supporter and I persuaded him to take me to a match when I was five. Once I went to secondary school, he allowed me to choose what team I wanted to support. I didn't like the Albion Rovers ground at Cliftonhill, so I chose Airdrieonians at Broomfield Park.

I was a season ticket holder at Airdrie for 32 years. My first Scotland match was just after the end of the Second World War. Scotland vs England. My dad took me and I remember being scared of the crowd because I was carried off my feet at one point.

Later, when I was grown up and married, I travelled to Scotland games with my husband who was an avid supporter. The two things we agreed on were football and politics – everything else we didn't agree on.

I went to the 1974 World Cup in Germany. While Scotland didn't lose a game, we were edged out on goal difference. Some of the fans stayed on afterwards and the Scotland manager Willie Ormond got us tickets for any games we wanted, including the World Cup final between Holland and Germany.

That was at the Olympic Stadium in Munich and it was the best live game of football I have watched. [Franz] Beckenbauer was in central defence for Germany and [Johan] Cruyff was on the wing for the Dutch. It was a roasting hot day and we sat baking at the halfway line.

HeraldScotland: Moira Brown at the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden. Picture: Colin Mearns/The HeraldMoira Brown at the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden. Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald

Four years later, I was working and couldn't get away for the 1978 World Cup. I gave up work in 1982 to go to the World Cup in Spain. Afterwards I got another job, split up with my husband and went to Orkney to work as a teacher in 1983.

From then until 1993 I saw not a single game apart from on television. But since then I have scarce missed a game and that includes friendlies. That said, I did miss one friendly against Sweden in Stockholm after being hospitalised in Gothenburg with a triple fracture in my leg.

We were sailing to Gothenburg and I was up dancing at 2.30am. I slipped and had an awkward fall. I knew right away I had fractured my leg, but I didn't realise I had also smashed my knee and ankle. It took me a while to recover but I managed to get to Euro 96 in England on crutches.

Being part of the Tartan Army is about friendship and camaraderie. Years ago, I was having a drink at the bar before a game and heard an English voice. I turned around and saw a guy in a kilt. I said: "Hello, would you like a drink?" and he replied: "No thanks, I'm off to get some money."

I asked: "Could you possibly get me a couple of hundred pounds, and I'll give you a cheque?" He said: "No problem." Ian is from Blackpool and we've been friends ever since.

We travel and room together for Scotland away games. Ian stays with me in Glasgow for home games. He is English through and through. He has no Scottish connections but decided he would support Scotland when he was eight.

I've made good friends all over the world. I write regularly to a guy in Rostock who is a member of the German Tartan Army. There is a Croatian Tartan Army and folk in France and Holland who are members of the Tartan Army, even though their own countries have much more successful teams.

The biggest joy is meeting people and having shared experiences. Celebrating the wins and when we lose, telling one another there will be another day when the result will go our way. I'm an optimist.

There are plenty of funny moments, too. On a trip to Iceland, I saw a guy in a boilersuit standing among the Scots. I thought: "He must be local. Maybe he's a painter?" I went over to speak to him only to discover he was, in fact, Scottish.

He had told his wife he was helping a pal with painting and she thought he was still there. Instead, he had gone to the airport and got on a plane to Iceland to watch Scotland play. The boilersuit was all he had to wear, although his pal had lent him some clean underpants.

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With the coronavirus pandemic I am missing going to matches, but as much as I love football, there are more important things in life and that is people's health.

I have been writing letters to people I've met through my Tartan Army travels. The other day I had a big pile needing stamps all going to different countries. The guy in the post office asked: "Are you in the United Nations?" That made me smile.

Jennifer Blackwood, 55, external relations officer, from Baillieston

The Tartan Army was a term coined by the media but it's terminology that we've embraced and it's certainly an eye-catching invasion when thousands of fans rock up in their kilts and Scotland tops.

Fortunately, the reputation of the Scotland fans goes before us. We weren't voted the best fans in the 1992 European Championships or awarded the Fair Play prize by the Belgian Olympic Committee after a FIFA World Cup qualifier for nothing.

In addition to boosting the local economy through drink sales, the Tartan Army raises funds to donate to children's charities in every country where Scotland plays. There are two main charities: the Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal and the Tartan Army Children's Charity.

Over the years, I've attended a number of donations such as a children's orphanage in Moldova and a children's cancer hospital in Ukraine.

While a sobering experience, the look on a child's face when they taste their first sip of Irn Bru or tuck into a Tunnock's Caramel Wafer remains with you for life. And a visit by the "men in dresses" certainly brightens up their day.

There is a lot of emotion involved in being part of the Tartan Army. Hope, excitement, euphoria, plenty of laughter but there's also tension, anticipation, disappointment and let's not forget the abject misery of failure.

In the 17 years I've been travelling to watch Scotland play, I've made lots of great friends, but I've never followed the team to a tournament. We've been close (that dodgy refereeing decision in Italy's favour at Hampden) and we are (potentially) close again.

HeraldScotland: Jennifer Blackwood at the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden. Picture: Colin Mearns/The HeraldJennifer Blackwood at the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden. Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald

Scotland will play Israel at Hampden this Thursday in the delayed Nations League play-off semi-final match. If we win that, then we will play Norway or Serbia (whoever wins the other semi-final) on November 12 at their home ground.

The winner of that game qualifies for the delayed 2020 European Championships, which is now being played in 2021. Being at Hampden for the semi-final should give us an advantage, though, with drawing 1-1 against Israel only last month, nothing can be taken for granted.

Ordinarily a win would trigger a panicked rush to get decent flight prices and times to get us to the play-off final. But it looks like the coronavirus will stop fans from being at the final – we already know we can't attend Hampden.

These are strange times and, knowing the way Scotland's luck goes, I fully expect us to qualify for the tournament but, as a fan, this will be such a huge anti-climax as we've waited years for the opportunity to be at THAT game that sees us qualify for a tournament.

That is not an emotion I could have anticipated feeling when I started following Scotland. Although I've been travelling to games for 17 years, I've been an armchair fan all my life.

As the youngest of three girls, I was a daddy's girl and have strong memories of sitting with him watching Scotland games on the TV. My only experience of Hampden with my dad was when he took the family to see my cousin play in a schoolboy international.

Sadly, my dad died before I started going to games myself. I'm sure he'd be chuffed to see me in my Anderson mini kilt heading off to Hampden.

Following Scotland has given me unique experiences of the world. Many of the countries we visit are not normal holiday destinations – some can be dodgy – but travelling in numbers has its benefits.

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When we went to Moldova, the Government advice was only to travel on essential business due to military unrest in the country. So, an enterprising individual sold T-shirts saying: "Tartan Army … on official business".

I loved that trip. The locals were fascinated to see the kilted fans wandering around Chisinau and those who could speak English made a point of talking to us.

Being a woman in the Tartan Army can have benefits when visiting more unusual locations. There's always someone willing to make sure we get around safely. Although, as a committee member, I'm often the one in high-vis making sure people get places safely.

June McCorquodale, 37, laboratory manager, from Airdrie, now living in Abingdon, Oxfordshire

The first football match I attended was when I was eight. My dad was a big Airdrie fan and had been all his life. He took me to watch the 1992 Scottish Cup semi-final between Airdrie and Hearts. Airdrie won on penalties and got through to the final but were beaten by Rangers.

Around the same age, I started to watch Football Italia on Sunday afternoons. I remember my grandfather being round and us watching it on the telly. When I was about 12 or 13, I started going to Airdrie away games.

My first Scotland match was against Lithuania at Hampden Park in 1999. We won 3-0 and it was the last match in the qualifying groups for Euro 2000 before we played England in the play-offs. I was 16 and dragged my friend along, who wasn't into football, because I had no one else to go with.

I joined the Scotland Supporters Club in 2004. My husband Steve has a spreadsheet of all the games we've gone to. I've been to 47 away matches, the first being Italy in 2007. The number of home matches would be closer to 60, I think.

As part of the Tartan Army, I've travelled as far afield as Mexico, Peru and Kazakhstan to watch Scotland play and seen a fair bit of Europe: France, Spain, Belgium, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Germany, Serbia and Hungary to name but a few.

HeraldScotland: June McCorquodale and her husband Steve in PolandJune McCorquodale and her husband Steve in Poland

Football has changed my life in many ways. I met Steve through following Scotland. We first crossed paths in Dublin when Scotland was playing in the 2011 Carling Nations Cup.

We were both in other relationships at the time, but I remember speaking to him. We bumped into each other on Tartan Army trips afterwards and at a double-header away match of Wales and Belgium in 2012, we ended up spending more time together.

A small group of us, including me and Steve, travelled through Bruges and Lille between the Wales and Belgium games. By then, we had both split from our previous partners. Afterwards we kept in touch, met up on other trips and it became clear there was something there.

It wasn't until the Serbia match in 2013 that we actually got together. Steve, 51, was born in Bridge of Allan and grew up in the Falkirk and Edinburgh areas, then moved to Manchester when he was six or seven with his mum. He would return to Scotland regularly to watch football and visit family.

It is great having a partner who loves football and following Scotland as much as I do. When we got married in 2019, we had a big group of Tartan Army friends attend our wedding. If I hadn't followed Scotland, I wouldn't have those fantastic friendships.

I would love to be part of a successful World Cup campaign. I've been saying for years "as soon as Scotland gets to the next World Cup, I'm there. It doesn't matter where it is." At first, it felt like it would only be a matter of time: now I would bite off someone's hand to get to a World Cup.

HeraldScotland: June McCorquodale and her husband Steve in CroatiaJune McCorquodale and her husband Steve in Croatia

Before the Israel game was postponed in March we had planned to take our laptop to Hampden so that as soon as the final whistle went – and if the result had gone Scotland's way – we could book our onward travel.

We had three options planned, to either get ourselves home to Abingdon or to travel on to Norway or Serbia. All those flights were cancelled due to lockdown and we will be watching the rescheduled game this week at home in Abingdon.

The pandemic seems to have affected everyone differently. With us, it has given us an end goal and that's to move back up to Scotland in the future.

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All the money we normally spend on travelling, we have been saving towards a house. As much as we miss the football, we see the people as more important and hopefully this gets us back home and seeing them every week, instead of only at matches.

Scotland play Israel in the delayed Nations League play-off semi-final at Hampden on Thursday. Kick-off is 7.45pm. Thanks to the Scottish Football Museum (scottishfootballmuseum.org.uk)