AT a time when all the doom and gloom is being provided by Westminster Tory and Labour politicians who seem hell-bent on proving what most of us think about them, ie they are mostly a bunch of self-serving hypocrites lacking in basic intelligence, we look to sport for some hope of light relief and inspiration in the year ahead.

Brexit will ultimately damage sport as I have written several times before, but I am not going to harp on about that idiocy today, rather I want to look ahead to a sporting year of great promise for Scotland.

In no specific order of importance here are five things that Scots of a sporting bent can look forward to in 2019. For a start there will be a football World Cup Final in which Scotland will take part for the first time in more than 20 years. The women’s squad deservedly made it to the finals in France in the summer and I believe the whole nation must get behind them as they go where no Scottish women’s team has gone before.

Now I am not saying that Scotland will win the World Cup, because frankly there is more chance of David Mundell acquiring principles and resigning, and on all known form Shelley Kerr’s squad will have to work miracles just to qualify from their group, but this is clearly the best women’s team we have ever had and you can be sure their preparation will be meticulous ahead of that opening match against England.

I hope the Tartan Army will turn out in force in France and for the friendlies that will take place in the run-up to the tournament. The vast majority of the army have perhaps been a bit slow to commit to supporting our women in dark blue, but now is the time to realise that this may be the only chance a whole generation will have to follow Scotland at a football World Cup Final.

The second World Cup in which Scotland will participate this year is rugby union’s finals in Japan in the autumn. The Six Nations, the European and Pro14 club tournaments – all must be seen as merely a preamble to the World Cup.

Nearly four years on, the pain of our exit from the 2015 tournament in England at the hands of an incompetent referee still hurts, but Scotland under Gregor Townsend have improved substantially and will hopefully bring their “A” game to Japan. We are going to need it and also hope that we have a full uninjured squad to draw on as we are in a very tough pool featuring the host nation and the IRB World Team of the Year, Ireland. We should beat Russia and Samoa, but will face a really hard fight against the Irish and Japanese to make the quarter-finals where the likelihood is that we will face the All Blacks who will be much stronger by October. and who will probably send us home. Still, let’s just get there.

This time last year we were looking forward to the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in Australia and the Scottish team did not let us down with a frankly astounding haul of medals. In terms of international exposure, the biggest sports event of 2019 in Scotland will be the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow over he first weekend of March. More than 600 athletes from 45 countries are scheduled to take part and I’m told that tickets are still available for three days of top class action that even the Scottish weather can’t threaten.

The Scots who take part will wear the vest of Team GB – hopefully for the last time in these championships – and reigning double champion Laura Muir is our best hope for gold. Eilidh Doyle, Eilish McColgan and Beth Dobbin should also have good seasons, as will Callum Hawkins, and hopefully Chris O’Hare will be back to his best – good luck to all our Scottish athletes in this pre-Olympic year.

My list of Scottish individuals that I expect to do well in their respective sports this year is topped by boxing’s Josh Taylor. The Commonwealth Champion of 2014 made the choice to take part in the World Boxing Super Series and proved a huge hit in the super-lightweight – as the organisers call it – division with a fine performance against Ryan Martin at the Hydro in November. Now the unbeaten Tartan Tornado from Prestonpans will go up against the similarly unbeaten Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk in the semi-final of the series, a fight that will double as a world championship bout for the recognised IBF belt. Wherever and whenever it takes place, this is a fight not to be missed.

Last word goes to Andy Murray. It has been a long slow road to recovery for our greatest-ever sportsman, and I can only hope that he is fit enough for the Australian Open, though I suspect Wimbledon is his main target. Let’s just hope he can do himself justice there.