Good Luck England

Apparently, England is playing in some big football tournament that kicks off today. One would hardly have noticed given the lack of enthusiasm.

As a Scot, I remember all too well the outrageously misplaced hysteria that swept the country in the run up to Argentina '78. It is in the nature of us Scots to be able to have a right old laugh about it now. While those south of the border quite rightly ridiculed us for it at the time they seem to completely miss their own hypocracy by doing the same thing. Since 1978 us living in God's country have been subjected to excessive amounts of unplaced English optimism (putting it mildly). It was always in your face, lets go on about 1966 yet again, fervour that, quite frankly only encouraged Scotsmen to make a point of supporting every team the English came up against.

There was a reason the Tartan Army sang chants like...

"We hate Jimmy Hill,
Jimmy Hill, he's a poof".

...and it had nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Football supporters are the same the World over and the Scots are no different. Simple folk who demand words no longer than two syllables in their chants and "condescending, self-righteous, arrogant big-chinned tosser" simply doesn't fit within that ethos.

It is the constant reference to past achievements (sorry, that should be singular) that really wind us Scots up. Winning the World Cup in 1966, great though that achievement was (and no the ball was never over the line) it doesn't mean that Sassenachs have a God given right to win it again. There's a perfectly good chance that football might never 'come home'. Which reminds me...

In the run up to every major international competition, that Baddiel, Skinner and Lightning Seeds football song is brought out. It is actually a clever bit of pop about the frustrations and disappointments of being a supporter of your national side (we know the feeling). As Euro 2000 approached out it came again only for my English then wife to reveal her ignorance by declaring she thought the chorus started "Three LINES on a shirt". This immediately prompted my then 9 year old son to offer these alternative lyrics (feel free to sing along - you know you want to)...

"Three lines on a shirt
Sponsored by Adidas
Thirty years of hurt
The Germans always beat us".

And with those four lines came the realisation that he didn't inherit a drop of English blood from his mother. It was a proud moment which still gets me all welled up inside. He never did break into the music business though he is following his dream of being a sport and fitness instructor, but I digress...

I have detected a significant difference with England's build up to Brazil 2014. Where are the ridiculous tabloid headlines? Where's the endless coverage of the 1966 final? Where are the articles that one minute build up expectation to unachievable highs then turn around and lambast everyone involved with the England team? Where's the WAGS, the party scandals, the infighting and the second rate football pundits? Speaking of Mark Lawrenson, please BBC don't have him on your coverage.

Could it be that after 48 years of hurt, the English have finally come to realise that to win a major competition takes a little more than throwing eleven overpaid primadonnas on to the pitch and crossing one's fingers and toes? Certainly the influence of Roy Hodgson cannot be underestimated. Hodgson is perhaps the best manager England have had for a long long time. Whatever the reason, the build up to this competition has been refreshingly different and a pleasant change for us north of the border.

Will this seemingly more mature and reasoned coverage encourage us Scots to lend some support to our cousins from the south?

Yes and no. Though we might not admit it in public, we want England to do well. The longer they stay in the competition, the more teams we are able to support in order to keep the tournament interesting. Although a mighty giggle would echo around the Scottish glens we'd rather England made it through the group stages. We'd hate to be denied the opportunity of yet another exit due to a penalty shoot out.

There's only one thing we'd hate more and that is England winning it - unlikely though that is. We'd hate it not because it wouldn't be a great achievement or ultimately be great for the game in the UK. No, we'd hate England lifting the World cup for one simple reason. We'd never hear the fucking end of it!

So, with all that said. here's one Scotsman wishing the England squad well. Just don't go winning the damn thing.


PhilipH said...

Hi Alastair, how you doing. Winning a few quid, hopefully.

Until 18 months ago I lived in the Borders, near Kelso, and was one of the Scottish residents who secretly hoped England would get knocked out of the competition in the first round. Why? Because this bleedin world cup really is an obscene and crooked competition, (vide Qatar 2022) and it ruins my wife's TV programmes.

It's not just my missus who hates this frenzied soccer madness; I do not like the way each match seems to take three times the amount of screen time for a match to be shown. For example, Brazil vs Croatia started on ITV at 7 and dragged on until 11.15 - thus taking up 255 minutes for a 100 minutes game. What crappy nonsense.

And talking of that match: Croatia were robbed! That penalty was criminal. I really wanted Croatia to win, (yes, I WAS watching the second half!) and they had some really awful luck in the game. But what do I know? I just DO know that it should not take two-and-a-half times to screen one match. All the pundits commenting before, during and after the match is a load of old bollocks. Boot these twats out of the programmes.

England vs Italy tomorrow is on BBC1 at 23.00 hours and I'll let all the die-hards stay up to watch that match. Me? I need my beauty kip and can quite easily wait until I hear the result on the radio on Sunday morning. No doubt there will be clips of the game on the news on Sunday and that will be enough for me.

Enjoyed your rant, Ali, but I know you're a closet supporter of Hodgson's Babes. Don't worry, I will keep your secret. LOL>

Alistair said...

Just make sure you do keep my secret Phil otherwise I may have to tie you to chair, tape your eyelids open and make you watch every single match from start to finish. :)

PhilipH said...

Liverpool beats England in the world cup tonight!

Oh well, at least Scotland will be having a laugh tonight lol