The Scotland national football team has had an array of musical accompaniment over the years.
Opposition fans are often left puzzled when the Tartan Army do their best impression of the Von Trapp family with a spirited rendition of ‘Do-Re-Mi’ while Del Amitri didn’t exactly light a fire under the 1998 World Cup squad with ‘Don’t Come Home Too Soon’, which was more maudlin than motivational.
Yet, the song most synonymous with the team simply has to be the hymn belted out before each international encounter, ‘Flower of Scotland’.
Technically, ‘God Save the King’ is the national anthem for the whole of the United Kingdom – including its northernmost member.
However, Scotland’s sporting teams have never taken to it given its link to their English counterparts, favouring the song penned by Roy Williamson from The Corries at 69 Northumberland Street, Edinburgh in the 1960s.
Here’s everything you need to know about the ‘Flower of Scotland’, the unofficial official national anthem.
O Flower of Scotland, When will we see Your likes again, That fought and died for, Your wee bit Hill and Glen, And stood against them, Proud Edward’s Army, And sent them homeward, Tae think again. The Hills are bare now, And Autumn leaves lie thick and still, O’er land that is lost now, Which those so dearly held, That stood against them, Proud Edward’s Army, And sent them homeward, Tae think again.
Those days are past now, And in the past they must remain, But we can still rise now, And be a nation again, That stood against them, Proud Edward’s Army, And sent them homeward, Tae think again.
0 Flower of Scotland, When will we see your likes again, That fought and died for, Your wee bit Hill and Glen, And stood against them, Proud Edward’s Army, And sent them homeward, Tae think again.
The ‘Flower of Scotland’, which was first performed by Scotland’s football team in 1993 and fully adopted from 1997 onwards, centres around the Battle of Bannockburn which was part of the First War of Scottish Independence in June 1314.
The song repeatedly references ‘Proud Edward’s Army’, representing the English battalion led by King Edward II which is believed to have been the largest to ever invade Scotland, with 25,000 lives at his disposal. Despite only boasting 6,000 soldiers of his own, Robert the Bruce defeated proud Edward, defending “your wee bit [of] Hill and Glen”, i.e. the natural beauty of the region’s landscape. As the lyrics have it, the Scots “sent them homeward”.
However, the song goes on to lament that “the Hills are bare now” and the “land that is lost now”, reflecting the sense that even though Scotland won the battle, the war for total independence is yet to be conquered.
There is a Gaelic version of the song but before matches, it is usually sung in English, aside from the Scots word ‘tae’ (to).
Former Deputy Scottish Conservative leader Murdo Fraser has previously labelled the ‘Flower of Scotland’ lyrics “jingoistic” and opposition to the anthem has criticised the “vindictive” nature of its chorus.
However, Ronnie Browne, a member of The Corries which first performed the song in 1967, claimed that Scottish fans want a “combative sentiment” before going to battle on the pitch.