WHEN the Tartan Army roars as one it is something to behold. It is joyous, it is fervent, it is heartfelt. It is the place where pride meets expectation, belief overtakes desperation, and any sense of doubt is replaced by a firm certainty that we can do it.

It is a moment in time when we stand, sit and huddle together in suspense and expectation. Holding our breaths and willing for the final result to go our way.

We’ve all been waiting for it to happen for so long, for too long. Each day, each hour that passes, we grow more and more hopeful, excited and confident that THIS time things can be different.

There are so many children and young people who have grown up without knowing anything other than the pain of defeat on the European stage. They have watched as our players have suffered crushing blows, dodgy decisions and painful disappointments. Those young people want to be inspired and to know that nothing is impossible.

That’s certainly true of football, which has become a national obsession. But is also just as true of the other big competition we are living through: the General Election.

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I know that making analogies out of football and politics can seem a bit tortuous and forced, but it’s not just the hype going to my head. There is a genuine reason for it.

For far too long Scotland has been left out in the wilderness. It has certainly been the case for our men’s football team, and can anyone really argue it hasn’t been the case at Westminster?

For the last 14 years in particular, our country has been forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as the Tories have tried and failed to tackle the big issues, kicking lumps out of our communities and leaving families up and down the country to pay the penalty for their failures.

But the transformation of our men’s team shows that one moment and one decision can change everything. In their case it was the appointment of Steve Clarke as manager. On July 4 it can be voting to end Tory rule.

We can all understand the 200,000 or so members of the Tartan Army who have made the trip to Germany because they want to support our country and to know that things are different and that there are better times ahead.

A member of the Tartan Army enjoys a beer in MunichA member of the Tartan Army enjoys a beer in Munich (Image: Andrew Milligan)

They want to release a frustration that has built up over decades of missing out, to see the change that has been denied to so many for so long and be able to stand tall and proud when the final whistle blows.

For the many of us who will be watching at home, it is something to look forward to with family and friends. Maybe we can even put aside our daily disagreements and divisions and come together for a common cause?

Of course we all know lots of people who have no interest in the match. Or at least they don’t yet, but when the game kicks off tonight they will be just as glued to their screens as any of us and hoping for a result against all sense of logic and expectation.

On the face of it the election may feel a bit clearer cut. I have no doubt that Scotland will be united in wanting to show the Tories the red card. On the face of it, it’s as safe a bet as any you would place.

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But there’s also a sense of trepidation because we have been here so many times before. The Tories haven’t come first in an election in Scotland since the 1950s, but we keep ending up stuck with Tory governments we rejected and policies that we didn’t vote for.

I will be celebrating hard if we can get a good result for Scotland after July 4. After the last 14 years it will feel like a Euro Championship and a World Cup put together. But, once the parties are over, the most important question will be what comes next.

With the Labour Party doing all that it can to replicate Tory policies and win over the most reactionary Tory voters, there are many of us who are worried things will simply go back to business as usual. If we want things to be better we can’t just talk about it and cheer from the sidelines, we have to actually vote for it.

In football as in politics, there are good days, bad days and everything in between. I hope that National readers enjoy the game tonight and that it is the start of a summer of unforgettable results both for our national team in Germany and at the ballot box on July 4.