Supporting England

Do I support England when they play football? Certainly not; in fact if they played tiddlywinks against North Korea, I would go for Kim Jong Un’s boys and girls every time. Isn’t that racist? No, it isn’t. And you’ll be delighted to know I’m going to explain why.

First of all, let’s look at geography (we’ll get to history later). The English are our neighbours. And there are ten times as many of them as there are of us; that makes us, in strictly numerical terms, the junior partner. It is simply in the nature of such relationships that there be rivalry, and that it be sharper on the side of the smaller neighbour. Even in commercial terms, if you have a small company competing with a large one, the rivalry will be sharper for the smaller one. And anyway, neighbours are rivals: look at Newcastle and Sunderland, Liverpool and Manchester, England and Wales, England and Ireland, England and France, England and well you get the picture. It’s normal, and it doesn’t mean anyone hates anyone else, and it is in no way racist, and in fact it’s healthy.

Now, history. There is a lot of this between Scotland and England, before and since the union. We are separate nations, similar in many ways, but not identical and not indistinguishable. And humans haven’t always been as civilised and peaceful as they are now (I know, I know, but it’s true): everything used to be settled through war and subjection, especially between nations. And because England is much bigger than Scotland, they would often kick our arses and make us subject to their will and whim. As a result, they felt superior to us, and things like that take MANY generations to die out; most English people still feel superior to Scots, albeit that for most of them it isn’t something they would usually be aware of and generally would never lead to any kind of violent attitude. On the Scottish side, that rankles, which again is perfectly normal and natural. In fact, considering that at various times (including after the political union between our nations, which anyway wasn’t, shall we say, entirely voluntary on the part of the Scots) they have banned our culture and language, starved us, humiliated and ridiculed us, kicked us off our own land, jammed us onto ships in numbers that would have been illegal on slave ships, and much else… well, considering all of that, supporting Uruguay in the World Cup with not a brick, bottle or bullet in sight is a remarkably mild response. Some of the verbal retorts can be extremely sharp, but they’re not exactly slaughter and enslavement.

But the biggest reason for supporting England’s opponents is neither exactly historical nor geographical. It’s the telly. And radio and print and electronic media. The English media are unbloodybearable; they’re smug and narrow-minded and childish beyond belief.

When the England football team plays, especially in a World Cup match, Scots take bets on how long it will take for them to mention 1966 (the year England “won” the World Cup). Even now, almost half a century later, they go on about it endlessly, even in games England aren’t actually playing in. The record, I kid you not, is less than zero. Thirty seconds is about average, and anything over about three minutes leaves them quivering and clinging to a blanket. Every commentary is based almost entirely on how each player or event affects or connects to England, and if England aren’t playing then they talk about the last England game with usually a nod to the teams that are actually playing. And all of this applies at least as much to the “British” Broadcasting Corporation as to anyone else, their responsibility to viewers and listeners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ignored and/or forgotten.

It’s fucking awful. No bloody WONDER we cheer when they lose. Watching those idiot broadcasters and journalists trying to cope with the apparently unforeseeable occurrence of exactly what’s happened the previous forty-three times is hilarious. These days, they always tell us in advance that expectations are low, but then react to their defeat exactly as they always have done, in the manner of people whose only previous doubt had been whether they would play Brazil or Germany in the final.

Damn right we don’t support England. And we never will.

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