England’s football players have taken to the field ahead of their historic Euro 2020 clash against Scotland at Wembley tonight.
The national side was led out by captain and star striker Harry Kane as they came face to face with theÂ Auld Enemy for the first time in the competition in a rainy north London.
They were cheered on by some 22,500 supporters – 2,800 being Scots – under the iconic arch ahead of the must-win game.
But there were concerns among football bosses that both sets of fans would boo the two teams when they take the knee in a show against racism.
There were also fears the largely-English stands would jeer while the Scottish national anthem was played and sung before kick off.
It comes after 20,000 Scottish fans turned the English capital into mayhem over the last two days, with punters fighting, stripping naked outside and swimming in public fountains.
Police admitted they had to ‘flexibly’ manage the huge swathe of Scotland fans who took over the West End earlier today with no social distancing, showering any England supporters brave enough to go near them with beer.
Fans parted to allow the Three Lions fans walk through – then tossed booze over them as they hurried by and let off blue and white smoke flares chanting: ‘I’d hate to be English’.
The Tartan Army had been in the pub at 10am, trashing central London and leaving the capital’s landmarks strewn with detritus having completely ignored pleas from MayorÂ Sadiq KhanÂ and the Met Police to stay away.
They flouted a Scotland Yard two-day order warning them not congregate in the West End from 3pm yesterday – and instead they partied in Leicester Square where they danced in fountains they filled with foam into the night.
On Friday afternoon, officers admitted defeat in trying to move on the fans and said they would implement a ‘flexible policing plan… to reduce the likelihood of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour’.Â
England’s football players have taken to the field ahead of their historic Euro 2020 clash against Scotland at Wembley tonight
They were cheered on by some 22,500 supporters – 2,800 being Scots – under the iconic arch ahead of the must-win game
But there were concerns among football bosses that both sets of fans would boo the two teams when they take the knee in a show against racism
There were also fears the largely-English stands would jeer while the Scottish national anthem was played and sung before kick off
What social distancing? There was little room for space in Leicester Square as Scotland fans massed today ahead of the game
With the absence of an official fanzone, Scotland fans massed in Leicester Square to soak up the atmosphere today
A huge crowd ofÂ Scotland fans gather near Leicester Square in the West End ahead of the England verus Scotland Euro 2020 clash
The supporters left huge piles of litter in the popular London square with cans and bottles strewn across the floor after fans moved on
Fans seized the opportunity to jump into the fountain in Leicester Square and take off their shirts as they sprayed water over each other
A fan attempts to clear up the huge amount of litter left in Leicester Square after the fans vacated to make their way to the stadiumÂ
Throughout the day, the Tartan Army were chanting, letting off flares and drinking as they made the most of the rare occasion for an England clash in an international tournament
There were wild scenes of jubilation throughout the day and despite the drunken revelry, police have only made two arrests so far
Supporters dance among the litter in central London after thousands of fans descended for the Euro 2020 clash between the old rivals
Fans scaled monuments, let off blue flares and sprayed beer over each other in the party atmosphere in the capital on Friday
There were clashes among the Tartan Army, many of whom had arrived on Thursday and had been drinking throughout the day
A topless fan has a run up then slides on the wet pavement to the delight of the gathered supporters during the crazy scenes ahead of the highly-anticipated clash
When the hundreds of fans finally dispersed from Leicester Square, the whole area was littered with crushed beer cans, broken bottles and plastic bags
Chief inspector Joe Stokoe said: ‘We have contingency plans to deal with any number of potential incidents as they arise but my message is clear: if you don’t have ticket to the matches, fan zone or officially booked into a pub, bar or club, please do not come to London â you could end up missing the game.’
After a night of disorder, the fans were back on the beers in the West End in the morning, with 20,000 Scots said to be in London and thousands more arriving by train from Glasgow and Edinburgh throughout the day.
When the hundreds of fans finallyÂ dispersed from Leicester Square, the whole area was littered with crushed beer cans, broken bottles and plastic bags.
Most of them still chanting were visibly drunk, some barely able to stand and staggering away with the sound of crunching glass underfoot.
Opposite the Hippodrome Casino ambulance crews had one fan strapped to a stretcher but before they could take him away he vomited.
His friend was equally drunk and was propped up against a wall by a police officer, but despite the state of many present, no arrests were made.
Many questioned why Nicola Sturgeon allowed the fans to travel south as she appealed for them to ‘stay safe’ on Friday and ‘be respectful to our hosts’.
She strongly condemned the thousands of Rangers fans who gathered earlier this year to celebrate their league title, but had not spoken out strongly against the Scottish fans descending on London.
Many noted the irony of Ms Sturgeon imposing a travel ban to Manchester and Salford because of rising cases there at the same time as tens of thousands of Scots travelled to London without a ticket to the game.
Last night supporters hugged and posed with smiling police officers meant to be dispersing them from central London.
Thousands of fans also spent the afternoon and evening in Hyde Park, which was strewn with litter including bottles and takeaway packaging. Although there were wild scenes of drunkenness, only two arrests were made.
A 25-year-old man was last night detained and cautioned for indecent exposure in Hyde Park, while another man was arrested for trying to take a police officer’s hat, assault with intent of avoiding arrest and assault of an emergency worker. He was taken to a south London police station where he remains.
It came as two men were badly hurt after a fight on the street just behind Leicester Square as Scottish fans partied.
The Met said a 55-year-old male is fighting for his life, and police say inquiries are going including into whether it is football related.Â
Police watched on the proceedings throughout the day but rarely intervened as fans enjoyed the party atmosphere for the highly-anticipated game
Without a flare in the world? Scotland fans today seemed unworried about social distancing or staying dry in London
Flaring up!Â Scottish football fans arrive in London today for the European Championship tie versus England this afternoonÂ
Showing plenty of flare:Â Scottish football fans arrive in London today for the European Championship tie versus England
A fan with a Scottish flag draped over his shoulders walks through piles of rubbish left by supporters during the pre-match antics
Scotland fans gather in Leicester Square today before the UEFA Euro 2020 match between England and Scotland later
On Friday afternoon, more than 1,000 fans packed into a row of restaurants just off Leicester Square,Â whipped into a frenzy by bagpipe player Martin Brown.Â
Wearing full Scottish regalia he led the massed fans as they sang along to his bagpipes, with the thronging crowd making it impossible for others to walk through.Â
Police kept watch but only ventured into the crowd after reports of bottles being smashed as fans revelled in the party atmosphere.
One said:Â ‘This feels line a normal football match and we can forget about all this Covid stuff.Â
‘For many here it’s been over a year since we could get away. Playing our biggest enemy just makes it all the more sweeter.
‘There’s been no trouble. People here just want a bit of fun and a good drink.’
Hundreds of fans again congregated by the William Shakespeare monument clambering into the fountain and standing atop the statue.
Dozens of police were on duty in the area but stood back from the crowds, while fans attempting to enter Leicester Square tube station carrying alcohol were told to leave it behind.
Tube staff swept broken glass from the steps as fans mingled with commuters and shoppers leaving the area.
While face masks are compulsory on the London Underground no attempt was made to stop any of the maskless fans from entering.
England fans making their way to Wembley or a pub were booed and jeered.
Scotland supporters had partied through the night in central London despite the Metropolitan Police issuing a 48-hour dispersal order yesterday as 20,000 ticketless supporters descended on the capital ahead of Friday night’s Euro 2020 crunch match against England at Wembley Stadium.Â
Thousands of boozed-up fans draped in flags and wearing Scotland jerseys were seen chanting ‘we hate f***ing England’ as they jumped into the William Shakespeare fountain in Leicester Square, while others partied hard in Hyde Park – some naked – ahead of the 8pm match.Â Â Â
Supporters poured off trains at King’s Cross Station yesterday, despite just 2,800 tickets being sold to Scotland fans, after Mayor Sadiq Khan pleaded with ticketless supporters to ‘enjoy the game from Scotland’. He previously said fans would provide a needed boost to London’s hard-hit hospitality sector.
A small number of Scottish fans ventured out into central London for pre- match drinks and a cooked breakfast this morning.Â
The advance party of supporters headed to a Wetherspoons pub for early morning pints and breakfasts.
Among them was 27-year-old Josh McNair, who had left his friends sleeping off the excesses of the night before.
‘I didn’t feel too bad so came for breakfast’ he said as he walked into the pub.
‘Things will not get going until the afternoon when everyone wakes up and wants a drink’ The Wetherspoons was the only pub to open before 11am.’
The Mayor’s warnings that the influx of people would cause a ‘serious risk’ of spreading Covid-19 prompted pubs to cancel bookings, while London Ambulance Service admitted it had no plans to have an increased amount of medics on standby as a mass party broke out in Hyde Park.
Glasgow was previously a hotspot for the so-called Indian coronavirus variant, but has since been downgraded from its high alert status. Though most of Scotland was recently lowered to Level One in the county’s five-tier system, 13 council areas are in Level Two as the virus surges.
Scotland Yard has now issued a Section 35 Dispersal Order until 3pm on Saturday, in anticipation of ‘anti-social behaviour’. The order gives a police constable and a police community support officer the power to exclude a person from an area for 48 hoursÂ with an Inspector’s authority.
With rain expected to pour all night into Friday, celebrations could be dampened – meaning that police could have less on their hands than they might otherwise expect ahead of the Euro 2020 clash.Â
There were plastic bags, bottles and cans all over the ground in Leicester Square after the fans descended for the party atmosphere
The Tartan Army on the march, as Scottish fans mass in Leicester Square today after the festivities of the previous night
A topless Scotland fan chants while crossing the road at Leicester Square in front of the Hippodrome CasinoÂ
A fan wearing a kilt lets off a blue flair while on somebody’s shoulders during the wild scenes of revelry in the English capital today
A Metropolitan Police spokesman tweeted this evening: ‘Due to the high profile UEFA EURO Football match between England & Scotland on Friday 18th June at 8pm and the anticipated anti-social behaviour this may bring, a section 35 dispersal authority has been implemented.Â
‘This has been authorised by Inspector Dodds from 1500 hours 17/06/21 till 1500 hours 19/06/21 in the West End area in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of members of the public being caused alarm harassment and distress and the occurrence of criminality in the local area.’
Mr Khan said: ‘Scottish fans are renowned around the world for bringing a party atmosphere with them to the big tournaments but with COVID restrictions still in place on both sides of the border, the best thing for fans without tickets to the game or a safe place to watch it is to enjoy the game from Scotland and not come to London.
‘In an ideal world I would welcome the Tartan Army to London for this match with open arms – but with Covid cases increasing, and with so much at stake as we fight this awful virus, I’m afraid that it just cannot be this time, so the best thing to do is not to come to London and instead enjoy the game at home.’Â
In February, the Mayor said he wants to see Scots ‘coming down to London to watch the Scotland-England game’ and said Euro 2020 will be a ‘springboard to a recovery, particularly if it’s domestic fans only’.
Many booked pub visits well in advance to get the best deals. But, after Mr Khan’s more cautious approach this week, many pubs have retracted bookings – with fans claiming it was down to their Scottish post codes.
SupporterÂ Gary Ayton told MyLondon:Â ‘Sadiq Khan said he wants the Scotland fans to travel down; ‘feel free to come in book pubs, it will be good for tourism’, so everyone has done it, then literally a week later, they’re saying ‘if you’ve not got a ticket don’t travel’.’Â Â
All 32 trains departing Edinburgh and Glasgow for the capital on Friday are fully booked, and southbound services from Manchester are also extremely busy.
And all bar one train arriving from Glasgow on Thursday were sold out yesterday, meaning the influx of fans has begun more than 24 hours before kick off.
And with no fan zone for those without tickets at Wembley, questions have been raised about where the droves of fans will go on Friday – especially as forecasted rain is set to make outside spaces a no-go.Â
The rule of six and strict social distancing measures are still in force indoors, meaning those hoping to watch the match from pubs and sports bars to shelter from the downpour could be facing disappointment.
Footage taken at King’s Cross Station showed droves of Scotland fans – several wearing blue football kits – disembarking their train. Several chanted ‘we’ll be coming down the road’, a Scotland Football Team song.
Huge crowds were seen gathered outside the station, with Met Police officers on guard in case the festivities got out of hand.Â
One fan admirably tries to sweep the rubbish while others walk on as supporters made their way to Wembley or to a TV screen for the match
William Shakespeare was given the Duke of Wellington treatment from Glasgow as a cone was placed on his head with fans dancing around the statue
A number of fans tried to collect the vast amount of litter left in the square after hundreds vacated in the final hours before the game
A group of fans gather for a photo in Leicester Square after authorities pleaded for supporters only with tickets to head to London
On Friday afternoon, officers admitted defeat in trying to move on the fans and said they would implement a ‘flexible policing plan… to reduce the likelihood of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour’
Many have questioned why Nicola Sturgeon allowed the fans to travel south as she appealed for them to ‘stay safe’ on Friday and ‘be respectful to our hosts’
Pedestrians were unable to pass through the huge swathes of fans who had gathered for hours ahead of the game for a raucous atmosphere
Meanwhile, footage taken onboard planes flying into London showed rows of passengers singingÂ Yes Sir I Can Boogie byÂ Baccara – a song unofficially adopted as an anthem by Scotland fans.
Friday’s highly anticipated match marks the first clash between the two teams in four years.Â Â
Most fans arriving yesterday admitted they did not have a ticket for the crunch Euro match at Wembley against England and said they would watch the game at a pub.
John McCormak, 35, said ‘ There was no chance of a ticket, but me and two mates decided to come anyway. It’s a great away day and will be made all the sweeter if we win’
Mr McCormak, from Glasgow, said he was staying in a budget hotel near Victoria Station.
‘It’s a rip off with the price, but the cheapest I could find, I’ve been down before and there’s a good sports bar nearby which will do me,’ he added.
His friend Andy Allen 37, said: ‘Playing England at Wembley is the one match any Scot fan wants to attend. It’s criminal that more tickets were not made available.’
Between noon and 6pm six trains from Glasgow arrived at Euston. Others – equally packed with fans – arrived at Kings Cross station.Â
Ticketless fans said they had booked a place at a pub showing the match as part of a package. Others said they planned to find a pub in central London that would house them rather than travel out to Wembley Stadium for the 8pm kick off.
Sandy Blake 26, said he planned to spend the night on a friend’s sofa and watch the match at a North London pub.
Wearing a kilt and a Scottish football jersey, he said the three day trip would cost him Â£400.
He said: ‘I’ve got a ticket to watch in a pub near my hotel. Costing me between Â£300 and Â£400. If we win, money well spent.’
After the five-and-a-half hour train journey from Glasgow, most fans headed straight to their accommodation. One group of six friends had accommodation booked at a Premier Inn close to Wembley.
Martin Yarrew, 25, said he had reserved a room as soon as the Euro draw was made and faced months of uncertainty about whether he would be able to travel due to Covid restrictions.
He said: ‘To be honest, I’m just glad to be here and excited to watch the match. Booking very early meant I got a cheap rate. Others on the train said they were paying over Â£150 a night.’Â
One unfortunate fan was bundled over into the mud by a Leicester Square fountain where litter was also dumped by supporters
Nicola Sturgeon urged fans to ‘stay safe’ but there was no social distancing in sight with fans hugging each other and gathering in small spaces
Scottish Football supporters on the pints in Leicester Square today – hours after the country’s supporters went wild
Scotland fans arriving at King’s Cross station show their support today in London ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 match
There were cans of Thatchers and Strongbow dropped on the ground in London despite Nicola Sturgeon’s pleas to ‘respect’ their hosts
Scotland fans at Edinburgh Waverley railway station on their way to London today ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 match
They’re still coming! This Scotland fan was on her way to London today ahead of the big match in Wembley StadiumÂ
Four patriotically dressed Scottish fans make their way through a wet Hyde Park this morning ahead of the big game
Scotland fans at Edinburgh Waverley railway station today as they prepare to travel to London ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020
Two men were badly hurt after a fight on the road just behind Leicester Square as Scottish fans partied (crime scene pictured). The Met says a 55-year-old male is fighting for his life, and police say inquiries are going including into whether it is football related.
The scene in a trashed Leicester Square this morning after the Tartan Army partied and filled the fountains with foam
The Metropolitan Police have issued a dispersal order giving officers the power to remove troublemakers from central London
Another fan who arrived was Charlie Archibald, 30. He had a ticket for the match courtesy of his cousin Liam Cooper who is expected to play for Scotland.
Sporting a blue Scotland jersey with ‘Cooper’ on the back, he said: ‘I guess we are the lucky ones with a ticket. My cousin plays for Scotland so he was able to get us the tickets. Didn’t cost me anything. We’re really looking forward to the match.’
Charlie travelled down to London with friends Robbie Lapsley and David Snedden. They headed to their hotel Hyde Park after their train journey.
It is thought that Scotland will join England in taking a knee to protest racial inequality during Friday’s game.Â
Hundreds of Met Police officers are set to form a ring of steel at Wembley to prevent ticketless fans accessing the stadium on Friday night.Â
There will also be a significant police presence in tourist areas of such as Trafalgar Square, as well as at King’s Cross and Euston stations.Â
There are also concerns about Scotland fans infiltrating the home areas of the stadium as tickets are still changing hands on various resale websites.
The police will work with stewards to stop ticketless fans accessing Wembley Way, and travelling fans in the England sections risk being ejected from the stadium.
Scottish Football Supporters Association founder, Paul Goodwin, questioned why there was no fan zone provided for supporters without tickets in London, adding that Glasgow has one that can take 6,000 seated and socially distanced people.
He told The Times: ‘There will be plenty of tartan on display as we like coming down and showing off. The fact we have not been part of it [a major tournament] for such a long time is a factor.’
Sven Lister, part of the Roysth Tartan Army supporters club, said that not facilitating a way for fans to watch the match could bring about trouble.
‘I reckon there will be about 20,000 or so turning out. It just worries me that they’ve not done anything. There’s going to be groups wandering, possibly not getting to see the football, which would cause trouble,’ he told MyLondon.
Scenes of fans descending on the capital no-doubt evoked memories of previous Tartan army invasions in London, such as inÂ 1979 (pictured)
Scotland beat England 2-1 at Wembley Stadium inÂ 1977, prompting fans to invade the pitch and pull down goalposts (pictured)
Fans are seen celebrating their sides first goal in the match against England at Wembley in 1977
But Goodwin said that Scottish fans have won awards for their friendliness and good behaviour at the previous two tournaments.
The news comes following disappointment forÂ Scotland fans after their country lost 2-0 in their first match in a major tournament in 23 years, which saw a Czech Republic player score an extraordinary goal from the halfway line.
The game was played at Hampden Park in Glasgow in front of a socially-distanced crowd of 12,000 fans.
The Met’s Deputy Assistant Comissioner, Jane Connors, told Sportsmail the force were preparing to deal with an invasion of ticketless fans for Scotland’s first game at Wembley since a World Cup qualifier five years ago in what will be only their second tournament meeting in 114 fixtures.
‘We anticipate a significant number of fans are expecting to travel to London,’ Connors said.
‘I would urge people: please, only come to London if you have a ticket for a match, or fanzone. There are no alternative sites for fans to gather in large numbers and there are limited spaces in pubs and bars and you could end up missing the game. London is still in lockdown and must observe current Government guidelines.’
Mr Goodwin added that said Steve Clarke side’s defeat by the Czech Republic may have deterred fans from travelling and complained about the lack of a fanzone for the visitors in London.
‘There’s less likely to be a mass invasion as people are feeling deflated after the Czech result, but there will be a few thousand without tickets, that’s for sure,’ Goodwin said.
‘In addition to those travelling, as someone who lived in London for 16 years I know how big the Scottish community is down there.
‘The official allocation is 3,000 so it could be double that or even more. A Scottish fanzone would have helped keep people away from Wembley. Maybe that decision was taken to stop people from travelling.’
Following Friday’s crunch match, Scotland will return toÂ Hampden Park in Glasgow forÂ the final group game against Croatia on 22 June.
About 12,000 people descended on Hampden to watch their match against the Czech Republic on Monday.Â