Like hundreds of thousands of Scots I will be sitting down to watch the World Cup final tomorrow with slightly mixed feelings.
If the rest of the tournament is anything to go by, the showdown between France and Croatia could be a classic. In Kylian Mbpappe and Luka Modric, there will be two of football’s outstanding talents, France in particular bring the promise of goals and the Video Assistant Referee the likelihood of some fresh talking point.
I will be sorry to see the end of a World Cup which has been an inspiration on many levels, despite Scotland’s continuing absence.
Croatia, with a population of little more than four million, has shown once again that a small country can thrive on the world stage. And Gareth Southgate’s England team have shown how, with a little humility and a lot of hard work, talent and confidence, ridiculously highly-paid footballers can still connect with and inspire a nation.
Where does that leave Scotland and our chances of joining this particular party in four years, or even eight, twelve or sixteen? The answer has to start with giving our young people every chance and encouragement to play and get the sporting bug.