On football - and Good Luck England !
Can’t let the world cup go by without at least one supportive mention of England. I was originally going to combine it with a rare word of praise for Gordon Brown – but am no longer sure he fully deserves the praise I was originally going to give him.
I have family connections with all five of the major components of the British isles, and would usually describe myself as British rather than English.
My parents and grandparents have lived in England for three generations, so it would look silly to make a big thing of my Scots ancestors, but this doesn’t mean that I’m not proud of them or have no interest in that side of the family history. My ancestors on both the direct male line and the direct female line were Scots.
So when, a couple of decades ago, Scotland made it into the world cup finals and England didn’t, supporting Scotland was an automatic reaction which required not a moment’s thought. Furthermore, while there may have been some, I didn’t know a single English football supporter who wasn’t cheering for Scotland that time around.
I was sad rather than angry when I learned that this support is not always reciprocated amongst Scots.
It’s not worth getting too worked up about, but as someone who is both English and Scots by ancestry, I find it a shame when different parts of the British family go out of their way to be nasty about each other. That applies whoever is the culprit.
So I was initially quite pleased when Gordon Brown said he would be supporting England – he’s aspiring to lead the whole UK, so of course he should support all of our national teams. Equally, I was at first surprised that this attracted so much flack in the press. Anyone who reads this blog will probably have gathered that I am not a huge fan of the chancellor, but I thought that just this once, the criticism of him was not justified.
Then I read an item in the “Independent” with the headline “Gordon’s got the leadership trait – lying.” At first I thought this headline was over the top, until I reached the point in the article which explained what Gordon Brown had actually told the media. Specifically, that his all-time favourite football moment had been watching England’s Paul Gascoigne score the winning goal against Scotland.
Oh dear. I was prepared to give Gordon Brown the benefit of the doubt about supporting England in the World Cup given that Scotland is not there, and even praise him for reaching out by doing so.
But can anyone really believe for a moment that any Scot, no matter how friendly towards England, could possibly enjoy watching England score against Scotland more than, say, England's five-one win against Germany? Pull the other one.