Munich hails ‘Scotoberfest’ as 100,000-strong Tartan Army hit the beerhalls for a Euro 2024 party

Arriving by plane, train, campervan and even on foot, kilt-clad Scots have descended on Munich for Scotland's first major tournament abroad since 1998
Arriving by plane, train, campervan and even on foot, kilt-clad Scots have descended on Munich for Scotland's first major tournament abroad since 1998 - Paul Grover/Telegraph

First reports from Scotland told of airport bars running dry of Tennent’s Lager before 9am. By the time the Tartan Army started arriving in Munich, beerhall owners were already describing their visit as ‘Scotoberfest’.

Even before the bulk of an estimated 100,000 fans descended on the Bavarian capital, the advance party had already made their mark, with a piper filmed falling off a table in a bar, to the amusement of its German staff.

Arriving by plane, train, campervan, bike and even on foot, kilt-clad Scotland fans dressed in blue and white and carrying plenty of bagpipes arrived in Munich’s main square yesterday as they geared up for the nation’s biggest party in 26 years.

Scotland take on hosts and four-time World Cup winners Germany in the opening game of Euro 2024 today, the first major tournament abroad for the Tartan Army since France 1998.

Munich tourist board has said it expects up to 100,000 Scots over the next two days, nearly the equivalent of everyone in Dundee and around one in 50 of the nation’s entire population.

Other predictions are bigger - the British consulate in Munich estimated that 200,000 Scotland fans would travel last month, accounting for four per cent of the population.

Although airports insisted it was only a keg change, the stream of fans arriving in Marienplatz who complained they had gone thirsty were quick to lay siege to Munich’s beerhalls.

As the first renditions of Flower of Scotland, Yes Sir I Can Boogie, and No Scotland, No Party were blasted out by pipers, other chose to bring a taste of home as they glugged down bottles of Buckfast, the caffeinated tonic wine made by monks but largely consumed on Scottish street corners.

Some had arrived from as far afield as Australia while others had taken for flights across Europe on their journey or travelled by caravan.

But by far the biggest entrance was Craig Ferguson, 20, who walked 500 miles, and 500 more, after setting off from Hampden Park in Glasgow on foot 41 days ago.

On arrival he was showered with champagne and handed bottles of Buckfast as the Scotland party entered full swing.

Mr Ferguson joked that he had “brought the Scottish weather with me,” as he arrived in the Munich sunshine.

“It was incredible, this is officially my 15 minutes of fame,” he said as the bottle of Buckfast he had been given fell and smashed on the ground.

“I’m a bit tired but I could have kept going. It was taken out of my control what I’d be doing when I got here. I came in and I was having bevvies before I crossed the finish line. Us Scotland fans now just have to let our hair down and enjoy it because we don’t get to enjoy it very often.”

Craig Ferguson (right), who has walked from Scotland to Germany for Euro 2024 at Marienplatz central square, Munich
Craig Ferguson (right), who has walked from Scotland to Germany for Euro 2024 at Marienplatz central square, Munich - Martin Rickett/PA

Mr Ferguson, who raised £50,000 for charity, initially did not have a ticket to the game but has now been given one by a supporter.

“I think it makes the walk and all those miles a little bit less crazy the fact that I will now actually be going to the game,” he said.

“I started this journey with just me, my bag, no ticket, no nothing, Just a stupid idea and well, fast-forward, you know, 41 days, here I am.”

The bars are not the only thing drying up. Scotland’s kiltmakers are bemoaning a lack of tartan as thousands snap up “drinking kilts” for the tournament.

Some outfitters have “completely run out” of stock as canny fans opt for ex-hire kilts, a cheaper alternative to the traditional dress.

David Hughes, 62, owner of Bowdens, in Leith, Edinburgh, said he has been forced to turn eager buyers away after he ran out of stock last week.

He said: “We have completely run out. I’m turning guys away, two or three a day, asking for an ex-hire kilt. It’s brilliant for business, I just wish I had more. We ran out about a week ago.

“On average an ex-hire kilt is anything between £100 and £150 and we have sold about 45 kilts. This is actually the best it’s ever been for us because it’s been such a long time since Scotland were actually in a tournament.”

Ken MacDonald, 65, owner of Kilts for Hire Paisley, also known as the Houston Kiltmaker in Paisley, said: “Basically, a lot of folks have got good kilts and they don’t want to take their good kilts with them, so they are happy to buy an ex-hire kilt or what we would call a drinking kilt.”

Meanwhile, back in Munich, others to descend this morning were Shaun Barber, 61, and his two sons Kyle, 37, and Grant, 35, who came from Dundee and were met by Mr Barber’s daughter Jess who had made a surprise decision to join them from Melbourne.

None had slept as they drank pints in Marienplatz at 10am, after a few vodkas on the train overnight from Frankfurt.

“We’d just got here when I got a tap on the shoulder and it was Jess, over from Australia,” Mr Barber, a retired sales director from Dundee, said.

“I didn’t know anything about it. It was the best weekend ever. I know we’re going to beat Germany but now that’s not even the highlight. At some point we will need to find a hotel.”

Scotland did qualify for the last European Championships but Covid restrictions meant fans were unable to go on tour across Wembley.

“There’s a lot of fountains here, it’s going to be like Trafalgar Square on steroids,” Mr Barber said, referring to previous antics by Scotland fans who put washing up liquid in the fountains around Nelson’s Column.

“This is the first time Scotland have been on tour since France 98, it’s the biggest party in 26 years. We are going to go home after the group stages and then we will be back to see Scotland in the final.”

His daughter added: “I only decided to come two weeks ago, two flights, two trains but it’s worth it.”

Tartan Army fans in Marienplatz. 'If there's no Scotland, there's no party', they said
Tartan Army fans in Marienplatz. 'If there's no Scotland, there's no party', they said - Paul Grover/Telegraph

Others had taken over a business class flight from Dubai on their way here after a surprise upgrade saw several Scotland fans find themselves at the bar of an Emirates plane.

“It’s been trains, planes and automobiles and now beer,” said one person on board, while his friend added: “I’m not sure I can put a price on this trip, don’t tell the wife.”

They were sat next to Michael Wallace, 41, who had taken son Evan, 14, who was discreetly having a stein of Radler, and had travelled from Edinburgh via Stockholm, who added: “It’s a beer town, Scotland will drink its fair share of it. If there’s no Scotland, there’s no party.”

Throughout the day locals were treated to Tartan Army lyrics including  “Diego Maradona, he put the English OUT, OUT, OUT”, numerous renditions of the Proclaimers and endless versions of Flower of Scotland on the bagpipes.

“We have every bit of hope about the game,” Stephanie Phinn, 34, who was with her wife Lizzie, in her late 30s, and friends said.

“These are better than we get in Glasgow,” she said as her wife and friends drank their latest stein. “Look around us, how good is this.”

While the German football team may be less easy going tomorrow, locals were enjoying the company of this week’s tourists including Helmut Wanner, 61, dressed in traditional German clothing, who decided to join in with the Scottish fans chants.

“Kein Schottland, keine Party,” he said to the delight of those wearing blue and white around him.