Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why I'm supporting Ingerlund

First of all, this is not a blog that argues that people are racist or a bigot for not supporting England. People are entitled to cheer on whoever they like and wish their opponents every misfortune under the sun. It wouldn't be football otherwise! The Labour Scottish Executive under Jack McConnell tried its damndest to suck all the passion out of the Old Firm rivalry, and to some extent have got their wish. I certainly wouldn't want the same to happen to football's oldest international rivalry.

I'm merely providing some of my own reasons for supporting England or, more accurately, not not supporting England. I'm familiar with not wanting rivals to do well. I laugh when Celtic go out of Europe, as do most Rangers fans. Although I seem to remember Alex McLeish saying supportive words before the UEFA Cup Final in 2003 and the world didn't come to an end. I've even seen this attitude when watching Rangers in Europe in a 'mixed' pub, although the Celtic fans didn't seem devastated when we lost it has to be said! But the whole Anyone But England (ABE) thing seems more 'hammed up' than club teams wanting their rivals to lose in Europe. It's like it's become more important than the Scotland team itself, which is regrettable in a way. It's certainly the easiest comedy gig in the world, watching England in a Scottish pub.

'1966, did they win it then?' LOLZ!!

'I hope England get through, so they get pumped out in the quarter-finals on penalties!' ROFLZ!!!

It's quite endearing because everybody thinks it's the first time anyone's ever said made these jokes. Rather like people running up to Richard Wilson and shouting 'I DON'T BELIEVE IT' LMFAOZ!!eleven1

The number one reason for not supporting England is of course, ra English meeja!

Ah yes, those evil bastards, who got behind Rangers enthusiastically during our UEFA Cup campaign in 2008, whilst Andy Walker and Gerry McSpew on STV looked like someone had nicked their sweets every time we got through another round. This isn't the place for going into detail about the contrast with the Scottish media's attitude in 2008 compared with 2003, but the difference was obvious to the dogs on the street.

The thing about the English media during World Cups is - their coverage doesn't really bother me. I neither love it nor hate it. I've been called an 'extremist' for my views but I don't really have strong opinions on them either way. I can't say I'm mad about Gary Lineker (glad he's been chucked from the golf) but the way Alan Hansen is reviled by his fellow countrymen for daring to have a different opinion merely proves my point. Besides, there are many individuals, such as the cretins that beat up a child and disabled man at the last World Cup for wearing England shirts, who couldn't even pronounce media bias. For these people this is just an excuse to justify unpleasant views about the English in general. Depressingly, we'll probably hear about such incidents again.

Let's face it, the English media are trying to market a product - their World Cup coverage. They're trying to make it appeal to the widest audience possible, including people who don't regularly watch football, and the best way to do that is to hype up the coverage of England and exaggerate their chances. And it works - even in Scotland. For all the remarks like 'I'm turning off the telly as soon as they mention 1966', how often do people actually do it?

It annoys me that I'm expected to share a sense of faux outrage. As a libertarian the idea that you must think X because you're part of group Y really doesn't sit well with me, and the Scottish identity can be quite stifling like this in many ways. I don't really follow international teams apart from Scotland, England and occasionally Northern Ireland - although I loved watching Holland at Euro 2008 and they are my second, or perhaps first equal, preference this time round (plus, thanks to the Advocaat era they have excellent Rangers credentials). I'm used to watching English players week-in week-out for their clubs - think Rooney's fantastic - and am probably more familiar with them than most of the Scotland team, so this plays a big factor in my support.

People forget that when Scotland participates in World Cups (long time ago I know) we do have our own coverage, at least for the Scotland games. Our pundits are free to use 'us' and 'we' to their hearts' content, and of course there is coverage on non-sporting programmes in Scotland. This could be extended to tournaments where Scotland hasn't qualified, but wouldn't be justified in my opinion. A waste of resources and many would be crying out for the return of Motson and Tyldesley after hearing BBC Scotland and STV's efforts. Remember Sandy Clark?!

Besides, would this really satisfy many people? I think we love to be outraged and the problem is not that the coverage isn't Scottish enough, but rather that it's English at all. Scotland at least has a national identity in broadcasting terms, but we seek to deny this to the English.

Another good reason to support England is the nation's financial dire straits (the nation in this case being the UK). Supposedly, the Republic of Ireland's World Cup run in 1994 did wonders for the economy there. What better way to boost GDP than a nation of happy workers celebrating World Cup victory? Of course, this wouldn't be the case in Scotland but the economic effects would be felt - one nation under the pound sterling after all. And of course, we all want the coalition government to succeed, right?

Which brings me onto my next point. Rarely have I felt less in tune with my fellow Scots, who voted Labour in droves despite them leaving the country's finances in a mess, doing nothing for the poor they claim to represent and lies and corruption in the West of Scotland going back decades. The SNP are not much better although at least they stand for something, despite me disagreeing with it. This chimes in with my earlier comment about Scotland being quite stifling of different opinions - we're the only country outwith North Korea that doesn't even tolerate a centre-right party. It may be a petty reason, but England winning will piss off a helluva lot of Labour voters!

Still, at least my choice of World Cup team isn't quite as unpopular as my vote at the election. And I may well bet against them. Going out in the quarter-finals on penalties seems like a good tip. By comparison, I would never bet against Rangers or Scotland.

And there may be one thing that could yet sway me against the 3 Lions. That James Cordon monstrosity I heard on the radio this afternoon. Inflicting that on the Scottish people should be a crime. And the song's pish an' aw.

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