Given my passion for collecting football shirts, as well as fiercely supporting my national team, you’ll hopefully forgive me for opting for Scotland as the topic of my 1st column for this newsletter.  In particular I’d like to talk about our 150th anniversary shirt.  A thing of beauty and something my long suffering Twitter and TikTok followers have had to endure me waxing lyrical over for many months.

But first off, let’s talk Scotland in general.  This year marks 150 years of the Scottish Football Association.  The occasion will be marked with a glamour friendly against the ‘Auld Enemy’ at Hampden Park on the 12th of September.

Over those 150 years there have been some incredible highs and many heart-breaking lows.  It’s part of the fun of being in the ‘Tartan Army’ and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There is something unique and special about Scottish football and I love it!

From beating World Cup Winners England at Wembley in 1967, to Archie Gemmill’s wonder goal against the Dutch in 72; McFadden’s long range strike in Paris in 2007 and that Davie Marshall penalty save against Serbia that sent the whole nation boogieing into Euro 2020.  We have qualified for 8 World Cups, 3 Euros, endured a Craig Levein 4-6-0 formation, drawn with the Faroe Islands, lifted the Kirin Cup and have even capped Kirk Broadfoot 4 times. We can marvel at the likes of Dalglish, Law, McCoist, Souness, Baxter and McStay and debate about those have never pulled on the dark blue who should have – I’m looking at you Stephen Dobbie.

So what of the current crop? Well, all is rosy to be honest. Thanks to impressive wins over Spain and Cyprus they sit top of their group for Euro 2024. In my 20+ years of supporting Scotland I’ve never seen a better group than our current playing squad.  With the main guys plying their trade in the English premiership, a generous sprinkling of Celtic, a touch of Rangers and even a pinch of Serie A, the ingredients combine well and the end product tastes good.  I genuinely believe that in McGinn, McTominay, Robertson, Tierney and McGregor, we have players who could perform on any stage and a team I fully expect to qualify for the Euros in Germany next summer. 

When England roll into Glasgow in September, albeit just for a friendly, I expect a Scotland side full of confidence and well on their way to another appearance at a major tournament.  

One things for sure, they will look amazing thanks to the recently released 150th anniversary shirt.  Images of the shirt were first circulated in February to much praise from those across the shirt community for its sleek clean aesthetic.  Every element of the shirt meticulously thought out to pay homage to the past. The cuffs a nod to Queens Park who were instrumental in early squads.  The collar in plain white synonymous with Scotland shirts from across the years.  The shade of dark blue perfect, the badge stitched with a single gold lion beautiful.  Its outstanding from every angle. The shirt of the year in my humble opinion and a contender as the greatest Scotland shirt of all time. Adidas have nailed it, and on the back of creating some outstanding kits for the Quatar World Cup, continue to set the standard.

(Is the 150th Anniversary Shirt by Adidas the best Scotland shirt ever?)

This kit will only be worn on 3 occasions, twice by the men’s team and once by Scotland’s women, the game on the 12th being its last outing.  I feel lucky to own one, many fans having missed out or are still patiently waiting for special boxed versions.  The promotion, the sales strategy and numbers of actual shirts produced has however, left a real sour taste and something I could probably have written a whole article on alone. For now though I remain positive and thankful that we have such a shirt at all.  

More importantly as a country we have a team to be very proud of.  Scotland has long been seen as a footballing nation who are just happy to be there.  The life and soul of the party.  Clad in tartan, intoxicated, singing and dancing where ever we go.  That’s all well and good but we are so much more and under Stevie Clarke there is a real belief and excitement that something special is happening.    Mon the Scotland.

(Written by Paul Nelson – @fitbawshirts on Twitter/TikTok + @fitbaw_shirts on Instagram)