OVER and out. And that weary wait for another World Cup appearance goes on again. For many of the players, their one chance of global glory has now gone.

Yet for once, our dismay was tempered with genuine delight that the Ukrainians had something positive about which to cheer. We all felt conflicting emotions as their team emerged draped in their national flag. We all felt vicariously happy for the blue and yellow hordes in the stadium.

Otherwise, it was an all too familiar tale. Familiar too for younger fans who can scarcely believe Scotland used to go to the quadrennial contest regularly. As indeed did I.

That happy state of affairs came via a stint as the “volunteer” collector for the National Union of Journalists. One day, a possible new recruit to the fold arrived in the newspaper for which I then toiled. Quite a fetching looking fella I thought, as I approached demanding money with less than menaces.

Reader, I married him. Married a sports cartoonist and photographer whose idea of a vacation was to go to the World Cup or, if pushed, an Olympic games. Sadly, my dad was dead by then. A man who had given me sweeties if I could recite the current Scotland team in the right order. He took me to my first match when I was six and could just about see over the wall at the front of the stand.

So, let’s be clear about this nature/nurture stuff. With that upbringing and that betrothal there was no question that my only future lay as a foot soldier in the tartan army. The groom and I joined together.

As newlyweds we spent our first holiday at the World Cup in Germany. Natch. I asked a pal to recommend affordable accommodation near the Frankfurt stadium. He did. And we had an unrivalled view of the gasworks. We had driven to Germany from Scotland in a vehicle of a less than recent vintage. Nevertheless, it was confusing to find a van load of the army constantly beating us to the next gig.

There started a wee bit of a theme. Going out on goal difference led us to working out if we would go to the first fortnight of future tournaments to see wur team or the second fortnight to catch the final.

The next encounter saw Ally’s army go to Argentina where “we’ll really shake them up when we win the world cup”. Aye. Right. Himself went alone to that gig given the expense involved. I stayed back at the ranch trying to devise menus for pals which reflected the culinary culture of whomsoever were thumping us. An extraordinary Archie Gemmill goal provided a modicum of balm.

Our dynamic duo was back together for Spain where we met Brazil in Seville. The game where our early goal became Jimmy Hill’s “toe poke”. Not sure he ever came up over the border again.

OK, so the other lot then scored four. But trust me, the after party in the pub with the intermingling of bagpipes and South American brass and drums was a bit special.

It was again a solo trip for the man in my life to Mexico next time around (have you seen the cost of flights to Central America?) But then came Italia 90. See us? See sorted? A base camp from whence all stadia were accessible. Though one of them had a ban on alcohol throughout the town. Heavens to Betsy. Whoever saw a Scotland fan with a drouth? Even a cairry oot was not on the cards.

By then I was filing copy from the matches, with some new-fangled machine which could erase a whole 15 characters by back spacing. Ahead of the gemme or whit? Coming back from one match on a train we ran into another army recruit, some bloke called Stuart Cosgrove. Seemed a rather pleasant chiel.

When the caravan moved on to the USA, the team, inexplicably, failed to qualify. So, we changed our allegiance to the nearest available cousins, which, in New York, happened to be Northern Ireland. The brilliant bit of which was that being in an Irish pub in NY – of which there is no shortage – meant nobody gave the smallest damn which part of the Emerald Isle was featuring.

We moved to the West coast for the final – Brazil versus Italy. Two classic teams who finished 90 minutes on 0-0. Two teams who had already contested one final before.

Come the penalty shootouts, the one safe bet for the Italians was superstar striker Roberto Baggio. He missed. It’s not just Scotland who can blow it guys. But you know, that was one of the best World Cups of all. Because we weren’t there, none of that PMT – pre match tension – got in the way. We could just admire the footy.

Then came France ’98. Children, you need to know that those were the days when we took qualification for granted. ’94 had just been an aberration. Not talked about in polite company. The boys were back in town. And what a town. As usual I’d applied for match tickets for all our games, more in hope than expectation. By the time I’d got the news that we had seats for the opening game against Brazil, plus the Norway and Morocco matches, real life had intervened.

The BBC, my then employer, had decided I could record my Monday night radio chat show in the French capital. Which would mean going to Paris, coming home, and then going back again some days later. But hey, it’s the World Cup, and we’ve qualified.

Our programme was recorded in a back room of the Auld Alliance pub - favourite haunt for Scots fans of all sporting codes.

When we did a recce 24 hours earlier, the walls were awash with claymores and other military memorabilia. On the night of the recording, they’d vanished. My host said he worried about an impromptu re-enaction of Bannockburn.

We had other concerns. We had booked our guests but hadn’t ever met them. Sitting outside a pub asking passers-by if they spoke English and had been booked by the BBC wasn’t a professional highlight.

Separating our “studio” from the main pub was a tattered frond of tartan curtain. Periodically, during the recording, sartorially challenged punters would poke their heads through to inquire “Awright Hen?” Afterwards we scarpered to a recommended brasserie for a bite and a glass.

When I phoned home, I asked my beloved what he had thought of the show. Couldn’t really hear a word of it, he offered. Anyway, he said, what about Ally and Ulrika and all?

Seems that after we left the premises, Ally McCoist turned up to pull pints for the fans, and Ulrika Jonsson and Stan Collymore had a bit of domestic in our erstwhile studio. Scoop Wishart strikes again.

When I went back for round two, we met lots of Scots fans with T-shirts advertising “Scotland’s sporting heroes”. They included “hand of God” Maradona and Gareth Southgate who had missed a penalty for England in Euro ’96! Our posse went to all the matches including an encounter with Norway. On the train platform thereafter we met a Scottish chap wearing a kilt and a Viking helmet. Slowly he removed it, rummled around in his carpet bag and produced a Fez. After all, Morocco was next up. And any self-respecting Scottish chap has to observe the proper dress code.

So last week's encounter was the latest chorus in a lang sang. It was heart stopping. It was tear stained. And my life’s beloved companion was now in the great fitba’ museum in the sky.

Still, once a tartan footsoldier, always a tartan footsoldier. And Yessir, I can still boogie.