Alison Craig: Even Madonna can’t upstage Murrayfield

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So Madge is heading to Murrayfield. The last time she was in town I remember there were armed guards on the roof of the Balmoral – and she wasn’t performing that time, just popping in.

On reflection, it must have been a publicity stunt. I mean, Edinburgh? Armed guards? On the roof? It fair caused a stramash, though – which means her PR had done its job.

And so in July 2012 Her Madgesty will return to our beautiful city for a summer visit, though we locals are more than aware that it may say “summer” on the tin but that could bear little resemblance to the weather she actually gets on the day. Stylish cagoules? We’ll see.

I just hope Madonna realises the honour that is performing in our national rugby stadium. After all, Murrayfield has seen it all over the years. And I have seen a lot of it myself.

My introduction to Murrayfield was courtesy of my dad, an ex-rugby player and passionate rugby fan, who used to drive me down from Aberdeen early on a Saturday mornings to watch Scotland play.

The two hours before the match were spent in the car park as all- comers opened up the boot of their cars to reveal packed lunches, soft drinks, beer, and probably wine too. Well, it was the 1970s and different rules applied.

It was a social whirl in that car park as adult rugby fans congregated from around the country for an analysis of what would happen, before marching to the terraces to see the game while we young ones were parked on tartan rugs and stuffed full of Coke and crisps.

Being surrounded by red-faced, shouting Scotsmen is my first memory of Murrayfield, together with wearing a kilt – yes really. So I learned the rugby rules early, which is a blessing now as I have married another passionate player/fan and subsequently bred yet another one.

As a student in Edinburgh I had the joy of being at Murrayfield regularly thereafter too. There were still terraces then, and tickets didn’t cost an arm and leg.

We went to every match and used the occasion to throw the wildest parties to celebrate or commiserate, whatever the result.

I have been at Murrayfield as Scotland won two Grand Slams, hugely memorable days, as players and fans alike stood with tears rolling down our faces.

One such occasion was marked by three of our number – boys of course – marching proudly into a local tattoo parlour on the way back from the game and getting thistles etched on their bums.

I haven’t seen them – the guys, or their bums for that matter – for a long time but I suspect that the addition of 20 years on to those middle-aged male bottoms means those neat wee thistles may now resemble something more akin to an unruly gorse bush.

But I digress. David Bowie’s Let’s Dance Tour live at Murrayfield was another great day.

I found out years later that my now husband, David Howie, was there too as it was on the actual day of his 21st birthday, June 28, 1983.

But what made it memorable for me, apart from Bowie obviously, was that when support act The Thompson Twins came off stage they wandered into the crowd to watch Bowie and stood right next to my friend Fiona and me.

Whispers went round that The Thompson Twins were on the sidelines so the crowd tentatively approached to ask for autographs. For some reason one daftie thought we were part of the band so we looked at each other, grinned and ended up standing there for over an hour signing autographs too.

I didn’t feel quite so young when I was back at Murrayfield again more recently.

This time I was with Teenwolf, my son, to attend his first ever really big gig. And what a gig it was, part of the final tour by Oasis.

Walking into the stadium in broad daylight with bodies strewn over the park and surrounding areas I felt over-protective – and past it – as we marched into the stand and settled to watch the band.

Sitting down and watching was far more civilised than the bun fights I had previously indulged in, but we loved the whole thing.

So from my formative years right up until last Saturday’s Calcutta Cup – over which, you may be noticed, I am drawing a veil – I can’t help but feel quite emotional about that place, that piece of turf.

And Madonna or no Madonna, in my eyes it’s Murrayfield that’s always the star of the show – and a national treasure to boot.