The most visible sports fans around Paris at the moment have little to do with the rugby; the Tartan Army are in town, for the European Championship qualifier at the Parc des Princes tomorrow night. Always a pleasure to encounter, I'm hoping they have better fortune than their last visit to Paris five years back when they were thumped 5-0 at the Stade de France. I had a drink outside Stolly's earlier with a bunch of lads from Musselburgh, the home town of John White, the midfield star of Tottenham's double-winning season of 1961-62, who was killed by lightning while golfing two years later, though to be honest, only the gentlemen of a certain age knew of White. The guys were a mix of Hearts and Hibs fans and one of the things that is most remarkable about the Scottish fans is the relative absence of both Celtic and Rangers fans among them, which considering the sectarianism of certain fans of those clubs carry about with them is no bad thing.
Despite having the prospect of a ticket for the game being waved in my direction I have patriotically (or is that quixotically?) decided to instead watch Ireland's make-or-break clash with the Czechs in Prague. We would all like to have gone into this game without the burden of having to win but, in spite of Ireland's pitiful away record, I think the Czechs are vulnerable. They are missing the suspended Jan Koller and have not been the same fluid unit since the retirement of Pavel Nedved and Karl Poborskẏ (in fact in last year's World Cup horror show against Ghana, it was Nedved and Peter Čech that seemed to be only Czech players in the land of the living). Of course a midfield with Tomáš Rosickẏ is not to be sniffed at and even in the event of a repeat performance of their match in San Marino on Saturday - where they reportedly rivalled even Ireland's muckery - Stan's boys will surely be on hand to help them back into the game. I'm getting alarmed in advance.