‘I made the lyrics self-deprecating’: the story behind Scotland’s Euros anthem

<span>Pipers lead fans to watch Scotland v Switzerland on 19 June 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Thilo Schmülgen/Reuters</span>
Pipers lead fans to watch Scotland v Switzerland on 19 June 2024.Photograph: Thilo Schmülgen/Reuters

In a taxi on Wednesday night in Cologne, after watching Scotland draw with Switzerland in the Euros, 40-year-old Kilmarnock postman Nick Morgan experienced a surreal moment.

His taxi stopped at a red light next to a nightclub. “And it was blaring out my song,” Morgan said.

It’s one of many such moments Morgan has lived through in the last month since his catchy anthem, No Scotland No Party, set to the tune of the Argentinian Diego Maradona tribute song La Mano de Dios, went viral both in his home nation and abroad. It includes the lyric: “Even if we don’t win … we’ll boogie on in Berlin.”

Morgan, who writes and performs music alongside his work as a postman, penned the song after seeing a video of Maradona singing the original in a bar. He also wrote a song called Our Moment for Scotland in 2020 after they qualified for the Euros for the first time since 1996.

“The song I did last time was optimistic: we’re going to go and do amazing,” he said. “So this time I was thinking: ‘Right, that’s probably not going to happen.’ I tried to write something more realistic – Scotland’s quite a modest and humble nation and we don’t expect much at sporting events, so I tried to make the ­lyrics more self-deprecating.”

The formula has worked, with the track racking up more than 1.1m streams on Spotify and more than 600,000 views on YouTube since its release a month ago. With Scotland set to face Hungary in their group stage decider Sunday, its popularity shows no signs of abating.

“I’ve been on zoom calls with big news networks, I’ve had people asking me to send happy birthday messages to their family, videos sent to me of people in Argentina dressed in a full Scotland strip playing my song,” said Morgan, who does not have a ticket for today’s match but is in Munich and will watch from the fanzone. “It’s been totally mad. I’m still not used to it.”

Morgan is among an estimated 200,000 Scotland fans who have travelled to Germany, despite the Scottish Football Association only being allocated 10,000 standard tickets per group stage match. As the nation’s place in the round of 16 hangs in the balance, many more have made a last-minute trip in the hope of watching history in the making. Scotland have never before advanced past the group stages of the Euros.

Rebecca McAllister, 26, from Fife, managed to bag an elusive match ticket through friends on Thursday morning and had booked a flight to Frankfurt and an onward train to Stuttgart within the hour.

“I remember watching in 2020, wishing I was there, regretting it so much – I had to do it,” she said. “I went to the Women’s World Cup in 2019 when Scotland’s women team qualified – it was the first time since I was born that any Scotland team had qualified – but I’ve never managed to see the Tartan Army because they always sell out Hampden [Scotland’s national stadium].”

Others have made more drastic plans: Scott Duncan, 32, from Edinburgh, said he was plotting how to leave straight after work on Friday and make the whole journey by train in time for Sunday evening despite not having a ticket. “This might be a once-in-a-generation situation,” he said. “I wouldn’t forgive myself if I missed it.”

Morgan, who has been in Germany from the start, said he doesn’t want to jinx his team but is feeling “a lot more optimistic”.

“[The Switzerland match] managed to restore some pride after the last performance,” he said. Scotland lost their opening match to hosts Germany, 5-1. “There’s more of a buzz going around again now. I’m confident we can get a win and that will be enough to take us through.”

Having not secured any match tickets, he has enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere in Germany’s pubs and playing his songs to packed fanzones.

On Wednesday, he played to a crowd of thousands. It’s taking a toll on his vocal cords, he said, but it’s worth it. “It was too good an opportunity to turn down, even though I had no voice.

“I said on the mic: ‘I’m sorry, my voice is completely gone.’ But I didn’t need to do much singing, because everyone knew all the words.”