Wednesday, 31 May 2006

I’m supporting England. Unfortunately

Why unfortunately? Because Scotland aren’t playing.

Let me explain.

My background is British in a way that doesn’t apply to politicians like Jack McConnell who have been criticised for not supporting the English team. My late father was English but lived in Scotland for a long time. My mother is Scottish but now lives in England. One of my sisters was born in Scotland, the other in England. I lived in southwest Scotland until I was 6, then moved to Leeds for 3 years, and then back to Ayrshire until I was 18. Just after I left school the family moved to London where I lived and worked for many years. Now I am back in Scotland again. Because I was born here I support Scotland when they play against anyone, especially England, but support England when they play against other countries.

Most Scots don’t have that kind of mixed family background and I think that it’s entirely understandable that they aren’t supporting England in the World Cup. Hang on, say the English, why don’t the Scots support “their fellow British team”? Because, in footballing terms, it’s not a fellow team, but is perceived by Scots to be the number one rival. If Celtic are playing against Barcelona in a European match, do Rangers fans cheer on their “fellow” Glaswegians? Aye, right! Were Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham fans in tears over Arsenal’s recent defeat in the Champions’ League final? I don't think so.

But, say our English neighbours, we would always support a fellow British team. I heard that being argued on the radio in an Edinburgh café yesterday morning. And the previous week. And the week before. But Scotland aren’t (sadly) a threat to England. It’s no big deal for English folk to support Scotland in those circumstances. But let’s imagine a World Cup final between Germany and Brazil. Will the pubs of England be full of fans cheering on their fellow European team?

Just possibly not.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Jack Maturin
Seeing as you're supporting England, I'd be really interested to hear your opinion on this article:

21 June 2006, 22:22:08 GMT+01:00
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Carol Stewart
Late to the party-- 
(but I just found your blog; like the name) 
Maybe I'm being overoptimistic, but I think many Scots would be at worst indifferent to England's progress were it not for the over-enthusiastic cheerleaders on the BBC and, to a lesser extent, ITV.  
I don't want England to lose because of Flodden or Culloden or the Highland Clearances; I want them to lose because there comes a point when I can't stand Gary Lineker's grinning face on my TV for one more second.

19 June 2006, 16:29:25 GMT+01:00
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Neil Craig
Because the trail of migration heas been mainly southwards if you also included Scots who, while always living in Scotland, have English relatives I suspect it would be a substantial majority. There must be a number of Camerons here with a 2nd cousin called David. Though in the McConnell's case Ireland.

3 June 2006, 16:52:21 GMT+01:00
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Simon Jester
I'm just about old enough to remember the days (up to the late 70s, as I recall) when England and Scotland used to have regular matches, and Scotland would win a fair proportion of them. In those days, the West Ham/ Spurs/ Chelsea comparisons would have seemed valid. 
But... more recently, Scottish (Association) football has been in something of a decline (ask the Faroese). These days, a better comparison might be with Leyton Orient. 
As for Germany: a lot of English people (most, I would guess) do not consider ourselves "European", so we don't have any great interest in whether a "European" side does well against a non-"European" one.

1 June 2006, 13:15:45 GMT+01:00