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There was a time when The Fixture used to find great mirth in the high hopes my colleagues on The Herald sports desk had for the Scotland national team.

As an outsider I used to marvel at the unbridled optimism at European Championship or World Cup draw time.

Scotland's placement in a group containing Czech Republic and an assortment of Baltic nations would be greeted with unrestrained glee. Fast forward a year and those self-same Micawbers would be sitting head in hands, eyelids pulled forwards by absent-minded fingertips as they willed a last-minute equaliser against a 15-year old country with a population of approximately 500 people and tidy line in fish exports to keep dreams of a summer tournament alive.

Inevitably, all that hope unfulfilled soon turned to scorn. In later years it gave way to downright apathy.

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Despite calling Scotland home for the better part of 20 years, though, the nation's football team had never held my attention for very long. The Fixture figured that if those born here couldn't even muster up the effort to get behind the team then it had little to do with me. And besides I had my own team to worry about – one that had, you know, actually been out of the group stage at a World Cup (twice) despite being a third of the size of Scotland.

Then something happened – I actually started to enjoy watching Scotland, a fist punch to the air here, a quiet 'yes' under the breath there, it was all so surreptitious.

READ MORE: Glass, litter, half-working floodlights - Scotland's pitch shame

There was a feeling of anxiety as 90 minutes in Belgrade spilled over into 120 followed by a penalty shootout. Anyone who has worked in newspapers will tell you that extra time and penalties are the bane of sports writers and editorial staff alike – but there was genuine euphoria in The Fixture household (working from home, remember) as Scotland finally dragged their heaving bodies over the line against Serbia in November 2020.

Cynics might believe this Damascene conversion to be related to the absence of my own sacred nation from the last European Championship and Scotland's subsequent presence therein but, in truth, it had more innocent beginnings. As the owner of two Scotland-daft boys, it had become impossible not to be caught up in the excitement generated by their chance to relive a history I had relished by being allowed to watch Euro 2020 (21) on the telly (and this time the subsequent dejection was heartfelt on their behalf).

A few months later there was the scene of the youngest piggybacking on the eldest as they paraded around the living room singing Yes Sir, I Can Boogie after Scott McTominay's headed winner against Israel at Hampden in 2021.

Then something else happened. The eldest played for Scotland in a football tournament in Sweden. Okay, it wasn't 'Scotland' under an official SFA banner but it was still sufficiently Scottish to be a representative team. Suddenly, there were tears welling up in the old eyelids as I recalled a Scottish granny and watched Saltires unfurl. He would score a late goal in a match against Norway which appeared to be the winner before Scotland did what all good (bad?) Scotland teams do by conceding a last-minute equaliser. Later in that tournament, a Swedish kid launched a set of studs into the chest of one of 'our' players and I was off down the touchline, ready to don Wallace-style battle gear to defend Scotland's honour.

And, so now, I find nothing strange in browsing websites and visiting JD Sports shops, to marvel at those beautiful 150th Anniversary Scotland jerseys that were launched yesterday – I'm practically a Scot these days, ken?

Right down to the fact that there is no effing way I'll be parting with £140 for two kids football jerseys.