This debate makes the 2014 Independence Referendum look like two toddlers arguing; will Baccara’s 1977 hit Yes Sir, I Can Boogie be chosen as Scotland’s anthem for the delayed Euro 2020 tournament?
In case you somehow missed it, Scotland are going to the Euros. Yes, that’s right; Scotland men’s football team are going to a major international tournament. The last time this happened, I was three months old and was regrettably more entranced by the Teletubbies’ latest escapade than John Collins equalizing against Brazil.
It should be noted that Scotland’s women’s team had fantastic back-to-back qualification campaigns for the 2017 Women’s Euro and 2019 World Cup, and this should not be overlooked, but this article is focusing on the men’s side.
Steve Clarke’s men secured qualification to the delayed 2020 European Championships with a nail-biting penalty shootout in Belgrade earlier this month as the heroic David Marshall saved Serbia's last penalty. This qualification represents, for an entire generation of the Tartan Army, a totally new experience of seeing their nation at a major tournament, as well as reminding all the older generations what this feels like - a feeling they may have imagined they would never see again.
The unlikely heroes in Belgrade have a perhaps more unlikely anthem. Spanish duo Baccara’s 1977 hit Yes Sir, I Can Boogie is the song chosen by the squad, and adopted by the Tartan Army, as Scotland’s new anthem. As soon as David Marshall denied Aleksandar Mitrović from taking the penalties to sudden death, you could almost hear the collective noise of the Spotify play button being pressed on the 1977 hit, with households all over the country blasting the disco tune.
You may be asking why a catchy flamenco-style 1970s hit is the anthem representing Scotland’s breaking of their international hoodoo, and that would be an entirely fair question. The unorthodox choice comes with an unorthodox backstory. The song stems from Aberdeen’s Andy Considine and his 2015 stag-do. The imposing defender gained his first Scotland call-up aged 33, something he will never forget - however, one thing he might want to forget is a video that surfaced from his stag-do five years ago. In the video, Considine struts around singing Baccara’s 1977 hit while dressed in a blue mini skirt, a bra, stilettos and stockings, rounding off the outfit with lipstick as red as his Aberdeen jersey. The video was uploaded to YouTube in June and obviously became a favourite in the Scotland camp. From there on, the song would forever be linked to Considine and the Scotland squad.
There have been calls - correctly, in my opinion - for the 70s classic to be the official anthem of Scotland at the finals. The song is infectious, easy to learn and difficult not to dance to. It also represents a moment where, in this rather bleak and difficult year, there was a night of unbridled joy and relief in houses from Orkney to Lockerbie and Pitlochry to Paisley. The song also directly relates to a player in the squad and allows for a unique connection between the team and the fans. I mean, does it not just make you so happy to imagine (Covid-dependent, of course) thousands of Scots from all walks of life, dancing and belting out a 70s classic in Trafalgar Square and Hampden Park? Maria Mendiola, one-half of the iconic Spanish duo, said that she was delighted by the re-emergence of the song and that she has spoken to Andy Considine about it. Most importantly, Mendiola revealed that Baccara would re-record a new version of the song. Personally, I think that the duo should record the song with members of the current squad joining in. Who doesn’t want to see Andy Robertson and John McGinn belting out a disco classic?
However, despite the enthusiasm for the song to be the official anthem of Scotland’s Euro campaign, there have been some calling for a more “Scottish” anthem, performed by a Scottish artist. In some ways, I do understand this point of view; there is something uniquely Scottish about previous tournament anthems. Ally’s Tartan Army, performed by Andy Cameron for the 1978 World Cup, is one of my favourite songs of all time. The song reflects on Scotland’s squad, the years preceding their qualification, and even has a dig at England - and in truth, this approach is perhaps more fitting. However, in my opinion, a song doesn’t have to be Scottish to be our anthem.
The European Championship sees countries from all over the continent come together to fight for footballing supremacy, but it’s so much more than that. The tournament sees fans from all across Europe come together to embrace and celebrate their own and each other’s cultures. So why can’t we have a song that’s from Spain - especially when it’s now so intertwined with our national team?
I was lucky enough to travel around France with my friends for the previous European Championship in 2016, attending five games and visiting several cities. On this journey, I met Russians, Swiss, Welsh, and Irish fans to name but a few, and we spoke about our teams while exchanging drinks and songs. Furthermore, I remember meeting many Northern Irish fans on my travels and all of them would, without fail, belt out two songs: the first, Sweet Caroline by American singer Neil Diamond, and the second, a rendition of Freed From Desire by Brooklyn-based Italian artist Gala (with “Will Grigg’s on Fire” replacing the titular lines in the chorus.) Neither of these songs were written in Ulster, but yet they became anthems of the Green and White Army.
Another problem with this demand for a “Scottish” anthem is that it ignores the brilliant covers of the Yes Sir, I Can Boogie by Scottish artists on social media. There doesn’t have to be one definitive version of the song that we listen to and sing along with - so we should just celebrate the fact that this tune, regardless of what form it comes in, is the song that represents the end of 22 years of hurt.
For me, it’s a no-brainer: Baccara’s 70s hit should be the anthem for Scotland’s Euro journey. It’s catchy, fun, and if it’s good enough for Andy Considine, it’s good enough for me.