Euro 2020: Through the keyhole at the Scotland camp at Rockliffe Hall

This is where it begins.

On Wednesday, the Scotland squad descended on Hurworth-on-Tees – just outside Darlington in the north east of England – where the countdown began to their opening Euro 2020 match with the Czech Republic on Monday.

But what will life be like in the camp for Steve Clarke’s national heroes? BBC Scotland goes through the keyhole…

So where are Scotland staying?

Rockliffe Hall, a five-star hotel described by themselves as a “world-class resort” that is a “hidden gem”. You can’t miss it, it already has a saltire flying above its roof…

The luxury countryside getaway is handily placed for Clarke’s squad and their training needs, with Middlesbrough’s Rockcliffe Park facility a three-minute walk away. Handy.

Hang on, were they not in Spain? And why are they not in Scotland?

Well spotted. Scotland were indeed in Spain for a camp, and played games in Portugal and Luxembourg, but the team flew home on Sunday for a few precious family days before the big push.

By the time Clarke’s men had performed heroics in Serbia, the Czech Republic had already booked Scotland’s usual Oriam base in Edinburgh, while World Cup finalists Croatia opted for St Andrew’s.

However, that’s all changed in the past few days, with both nations deciding to train at home, citing Covid-19 measures in Scotland.

What can they expect from the hotel?

Everything, if we’re honest.

At the World Cup in 1998, Craig Brown’s backroom staff had to turn a banquet hall into a gymnasium and get special duvets for players. Thankfully, everything the players need is already in place.

Scotland have the 61-room hotel to themselves, with rooms boasting super king beds and ’tile televisions’ in the bathroom. Just so they can watch Sportscene in the shower…

There’s also a spa, swimming pools inside and out, and an on-site gym. Don’t forget about the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the 18th green.

Underground passageways are also in place for staff, meaning the chances of Lyndon Dykes being asked for a socially distanced selfie in a lift will be kept to a minimum…

At Rockcliffe Park, the £7m training ground will have everything the squad could ask for. So much so, it was England’s pre-Euros base. Indoor and outdoor pitches, saunas, steam rooms, jacuzzis and treatment rooms are all on hand across the 160-acre site.

Harry Kane
Harry Kane and Declan Rice take some time out at Rockcliffe Hall on Saturday

So who is rooming with whom?

Mercifully, there will be no complaints about snoring on this trip. Because of Covid-19 protocols, all players will get a room to themselves. Would be a shame to share a tiled TV, to be fair.

Any special requirements?

While there’s no sign of special duvets being ordered or the need to change the foyer clock to Scottish time, the national team have had a pool table brought in to the hotel to keep them amused.

Not only that, but a Scotland-branded Teqball table and table tennis table have also been delivered.

Chef Johnny McCallum is the magician in the kitchen on trips for the Scotland national team, and is loved so much by the players that Kieran Tierney has even had him down in London. He also joins the squad at Rockcliffe Hall.

Are they allowed visitors?

In short, no. There will be an extremely tight bubble thrown around the group so no family visits or a repeat of Tony Blair’s visit to St Remy in 1998 on the eve of facing Brazil.

Speaking of 1998, any sign of a kilt?

Alas, no. Brown famously decked out his France ’98 squad in tartan on the quiet so then-Scottish FA boss Jim Farry didn’t find out. There are still some in Paris who have yet to recover from the image of big Colin Hendry in his traditional outfit.

Instead, the class of 2021 will be provided loungewear by their kit sponsor, while former international Robert Snodgrass – who launched his own fashion line last year – is apparently providing some new threads for his pals.

Scotland players in 1998
Scotland’s players and staff decked out in kilts prior to facing Brazil in the opening game at France ’98

Do the players get any mementoes?

You mean a cap and honour of playing for your country isn’t enough?

For the World Cup in 1998, the players were given signed prints of the squad photo as a keepsake by the Scottish FA. While it’s unclear if the tradition will be kept up, captain Andy Robertson personally arranged a Scotland-themed hamper of goodies for each player to be delivered for the team arriving in Rockcliffe.

The players can also transfer their new clobber to the plush camp in their fancy personalised Scottish FA suitcase.

So will the players get some down time?

Absolutely. For the golfers in the group, Rockcliffe Hall has its own championship 18-hole course and driving range to smash away the nerves.

The players have already been soaking up some classic matches to get themselves into the mood. At their Spanish camp, Clarke’s men watched some vintage World Cup and Euro games, while Scotland’s recent 2-2 draw with England was also on the box.

However, there’s a fair chance most of them will be playing Call of Duty in their rooms. It is the activity of choice among a large chunk of the squad, who all bring their consoles so they can face off remotely from the comfort – and safety – of their own rooms. The rest will likely be enjoying a coffee in between daily media duties.

And how will they travel to games?

Despite only being based just outside of Middlesbrough, the Scotland team won’t be hopping on a bus or train to either Hampden or Wembley for the group stage matches. Instead, they’ll be jetting in to Glasgow and London the night before the match on their own chartered flight.

BBC News