Hampden is where Scotland's heart is but Steve Clarke's seasoned travellers take key bonus to Euro 2024 – Keith Jackson
It began with a shiver down the spine.
A rousing, boot-trembling rendition of the national anthem which raised hairs and sent a charge of electricity racing around this huge old bowl on the southside of Glasgow – the likes of which it has not often experienced in all of its years. OK, so it may have fallen flat for a bit as Norway made a nuisance of themselves even though their two posterboys couldn’t bring themselves to turn up for someone else’s party.
And it may even have felt a bit too much like the last day of school where Steve Clarke was concerned. And yet, despite it all, this was Hampden at its very best. Under the lights and in the incessant rain. Exactly the way it is supposed to be. Clarke may have been denied the win he had set out for, to complete a clean sweep of home victories from a qualification campaign which has reconnected a team with its support, while sending out a regular ripple of shockwaves across a previously unsuspecting continent.
But the stats make impressive reading nonetheless. That’s three wins from four at the National Stadium with 10 goals scored and only three conceded.
It has been close to immaculate stuff, even if Clarke will not have been happy with the scruffy nature of last night’s defending. And yet it could be reasonably argued, in fact, that Scotland’s results and performances on the road across this campaign have been almost as impressive as their near-faultless form on home soil.
Home might be where the heart is. But this lot don’t mind a bit of playing away either. It was that dramatic late win against the Norwegians in Oslo in June which more or less eliminated Erling Haaland before the group was even properly up and running.
When Lyndon Dykes pounced to bag an