T IS FOR TALINN, ESTONIA

T

THE STORY OF ONE TEAM IN TALINN, ESTONIA

The rumours had been flying about amongst the Tartan Army, the name given to the supporters of the Scottish national football team, since the evening before, while they were out soaking up the atmosphere and the alcohol around the centre of Talinn. Now, as the referee led the team out onto the pitch in the surrounds of the three-quarters empty Kadrioru Stadium, it was confirmed. In good spirits as always, no matter what the circumstances, someone began the chant: ‘One team in Talinn, There’s Only One Team in Talinn.’

The fiasco had started the evening before. Scotland had been allowed to train at the Kadrioru Stadium, where the World Cup qualifying match against Estonia was due to take place the following evening. During the training the team manager, Craig Brown and his senior staff and players became concerned that the floodlighting was inadequate to light the pitch properly. Subsequently they made an official complaint to the FIFA match delegate. FIFA in turn agreed to move the match the following day from an evening kick-off time to an earlier afternoon start, meaning the game could be played in daylight, without the need for the ineffective floodlights.

Estonia, the home team, were not happy. The floodlights had been used before without complaint. The early afternoon kick off time meant a loss in television revenue and logistical expenditure and re-planning. They refused to change their plans, while Scotland proceeded to work towards the amended schedule.

Sandy and Jimmy watched as referee Miroslav Radoman led out the Scotland team and lined up on the halfway line of the pitch. Where the Estonia team should have lined up alongside them there was only an empty space. Where the Estonian supporters should have been gathered in the stadium there were only empty seats.

‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ said Sandy to Jimmy, ‘Thirty years of watching football.’

The charade continued as the stadium announcer introduced the national anthem of Scotland, the familiar strains of ‘O’ Flower Of Scotland’ began to ring from the speakers. Sandy and Jimmy stood, arms folded across their chests, hands on hearts, and belted out the opening lines. Then the Estonian anthem was played and met with complete silence, apart from the well-oiled voice of the Tartan Army providing their own commentary on the surreal spectacle.

‘What now?,’ Jimmy asked as they watched on. The Scotland players broke away and did final warm ups as they took their positions on the field, facing an invisible opposition.

‘They’re acting as though this is normal,’ Sandy was bemused as Scotland captain John Collins met the referee in the centre circle and they went through the protocol of the coin toss. Being the only captain there, Collins won the toss and elected to kick-off the game.

‘If it wasn’t a lunchtime kick-off I’d swear I’d had too much to drink.’ Jimmy said.

The referee gave the ball to Collins, who placed it on the centre spot. Radoman checked his watch, blew his whistle and the game began. Forward Billy Dodds passed the ball to Collins, who took one touch before Radoman blew his whistle again to signal the end of the game. It had lasted three seconds.

Collins picked up the ball and handed it back to the referee. The players saluted the loyal fans and made their way off the pitch.

‘Does this mean we’ve won?’ Sandy asked Jimmy, who could only shrug in reply.

‘We’ll have a drink to celebrate anyway.’ And they headed back with the thousand or so other Scottish supporters to take advantage of the Estonian hospitality.


Written as part of The A to Z Challenge 2018. Click HERE for more details of the challenge.

 

Each day in April we will visit a different town or city in the European Union, whose name will begin with the letter of the day – today it’s Talinn in Estonia for a memorable football match for my home country Scotland – for a story based on a theme also corresponding to the same letter.

Over the course of the month and 26 stories, we will visit all 28 member countries to complete a farewell tour before Britain leaves the political union next year, touching on the history, politics, culture and people at the heart of Europe.

For a full list of stories and places visited, visit here: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.

To read more about this infamous, and rather amusing real-life story of the One Team in Talinn, click here:Β Wikipedia.

64 responses to “T IS FOR TALINN, ESTONIA”

  1. Haha! I’ve read about this match before. I think it was referenced in one of Mart Poom’s interviews when he was playing for Sunderland. Thanks for reminding this, Iain. Fun take,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It caused quite a stir at the time, not something that happens often.

      Like

  2. You couldn’t make this up… πŸ˜„ Very interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You certainly couldn’t πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No! Really? That’s one way of hammering home a point. Very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It could be used as a metaphor for Brexit – The British team turning up, moaning a lot, causing havoc, and the EU team deciding to just stop listening!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. True, it seems as if Brexit is really causing discord in the UK.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It certainly is, not helped by how long it is dragging on for.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a great football fan but I would have enjoyed that and the post-match drinkies!

    A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you would have excelled in the general jovial atmosphere Keith!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmmmm. Loss of revenue, loss of face, loss of goodwill. What a debacle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That could be a summary of my story or of the state of Britain’s current process for leaving the EU!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome, Iain.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That was…bizarre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly was, I remember sitting down to watch it live on television at home. Quite bizarre indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. LOL- biting off their nose to spite their face comes to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It did not work out well for anyone involved!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow. I had never heard of this. I like to watch Premier League, believe it or not. Hotspurs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, they’re doing quite well this season πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reminds me of an eerier situation in 1973 when Chile “played” a World Cup qualifier match against Soviet Union, who had boycotted visiting Chile to play. The Salvador Allende regime made a big show of playing the match and scoring one goal in the stadium that they had until recently been using to detain and torture dissidents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That has more serious political undertones – I wonder if anything like that will be repeated this summer in the World Cup in Russia if things keep going the way they are at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Love impossible sports stories, Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so silly you think it can’t be true, but no, this is professional sport! πŸ™‚

      Like

  11. I’m not sure who the bad guy is here. Were the floodlights too dim? Or were they complaining over something that didn’t need it? Interesting story. Did one of the teams end up forfeiting?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the end they were forced to play the match again a few weeks later, and it ended in a boring goalless draw, so ironically they could’ve not bothered with the whole thing really!

      Like

  12. Mummy's Monkey Avatar
    Mummy’s Monkey

    Haha I remember this. Didn’t it end up having to be replayed at a neutral ground. I’m an FC United fan, we love a good boycott!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly right, and ended in a 0-0 draw. Typical Scotland, managing to find new ways to mess up at football for over a century πŸ™‚

      Like

    1. It was something, very funny πŸ™‚

      Like

  13. That must have been a surreal experience for those at the game. Weekends In Maine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if they got a refund?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I vaguely remember hearing about this. Love reading your version!

    Emily In Ecuador

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Emily, it did make headlines all over the world for all the wrong reasons!

      Like

  15. I’m not in to sports but that was probably very weird to watch. They should have put that revenue towards better lighting but then the complaint would have been “it’s too bright!”. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure, there’s always something to complain about.

      Like

  16. Never heard of this earlier. It must have been super crazy to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. That was indeed a spectacular end! The match getting over in three minutes. I was wondering all along about how it was going to end with one team not taking the field. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was all very surreal as they carried on acting as though they were going to play the game with only one team there!

      Like

  18. Enjoyed the build up. Unlike other commentators here, I had no idea this really happened.
    Felt I was there though. I like the way your storytelling transports me to different spaces and places.
    U is for Umshiang Double Decker Bridge

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Arti, glad you enjoyed it

      Like

  19. Wow, I can’t believe that actually happened. I like your take on it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Erika, it was pretty unbelievable a the time!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Scots do their own thing, that’s for sure. (I’m of Scottish descent, so I can talk πŸ˜‰ ) Fun post, thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    https://katseaholm.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/t-is-for-traits/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We certainly manage to find new ways to do things πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Did this really happen anytime? I think I have to Google it. This doesnt sound like fiction

    Tongue Twister for V

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It did happen, as silly as it sounds! πŸ™‚

      Like

  22. Ha ha ha. That’s so crazy and so cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, the fact they carried on as if the other team was there makes it so daft!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I hadn’t heard of this one – but a perfect example of the truth being stranger than fiction. Nicely drawn parallel to the shenanigans that so often occur.

    A-Zing this year at:
    FictionCanBeFun
    Normally found at:
    DebsDespatches

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it would never work as a comedy sketch because it’s too silly – yet it did happen!

      Like

  24. So…this really happened?? I just will never understand the minds of sports people. You wrote this well and it is a city i would love to visit

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really did, so crazy! πŸ™‚

      Like

  25. Johanna H. Montilla Bracho Avatar
    Johanna H. Montilla Bracho

    Yes! Finally, somebody that calls Football to the real football, here in Canada they call it soccer and I can’t stand that. BTW, I didn’t know about this and it’s a funny story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always football over here πŸ˜‰

      Like

  26. So enjoyable. Really enjoyed Sandy and Jimmy’s slightly bemused conversation. It’s odd how sometimes fact is stranger that fiction. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine a few in the crowd who’d had a few drinks were completely bemused πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Oh my goodness, did this really happen?! Too funny! Serves that team right for not showing up to play! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, it really happened! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I was there in 1996.
    A totally surreal experience. I remember the cold, the hot sausages on sale on the concourse round to the 1 and only stand.
    The fun pitch invasion for a kick about before being usherd off with police and alsation dogs.
    “The Nimetta Bar” ( bar with no name ) – met Chick Young and some drunk MP he was with.
    They must have imported the good looking barmaids specially for the game.
    Went to the replayed game in Monaco – what a weird contrast that was – with all the millionaire yachts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful memories Roddy, thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

      Like

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