The big World Cup debate

I always quite look forward to the World Cup, but when it actually comes along I usually don’t pay as much attention to it as I expected. But on the 31st of May 2006, I can say that I am looking forward to the World Cup.

Of course, here in Scotland the big debate is: Who should Scots support? And is it wrong not to support England?

Once, a few years ago, my brother said something like, “There is nothing better than England getting beaten, but there is nothing worse than all the crowing about it at school the next day.”

I’m a bit of the opposite. I don’t really mind to see England win, but the media is just unbearable. Even the most tenuous link to 1966 is pounced upon by smug commentators from every angle. It is very tedious, especially when they are referring to England as “we” when there is no “we” about it for anybody who happens to be living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, which is roughly 20% of the entire population. And the wall-to-wall coverage of Wayne Rooney’s metatarsal really is not needed!

The recent case with Mars is a prime example. Digbeth explains here. I didn’t believe it at first, but I have seen two of these billboards in Kirkcaldy. It really is terrible. They have clearly considered Scotland as an afterthought. Shoddy. It would have been better for them to just not advertise north of the border at all. Have they done the same in Wales?

STV’s trailers for the World Cup are also tragic. STV, the Scottish ITV broadcaster, has obviously taken the ITV network’s promo and slapped the STV logo on the end. This efficient tactic works with most programmes, but there is a slight problem in this instance: every single player featured in the promo is English! Honestly! Did they not think it through?! What would people in England be saying if a broadcaster produced a promo featuring nothing but German players?

When England is shoved down your throat all the time even when you don’t live there, it shouldn’t be a surprise. It is probably fair to say that the majority of Scots will not be supporting England in the World Cup. This year, the trendy team for Scots to support is Trinidad and Tobago, who have four players based in Scotland, one of whom happens to be called Scotland. Oh, and there is the small matter that they are in England’s group as well.

Jack McConnell got himself into a wee bit of hot water when he said that he wouldn’t be supporting England at the World Cup. But when Gordon Brown said he’d be supporting England he got even more stick from it, particularly from the SNP (who else?).

English people have been known to complain about the rivalry between Scotland and England. They protest that they are happy enough to support Scotland, so why shouldn’t Scots support England? Well, as David Farrer excellently points out in this post, that is completely missing the point.

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.

…Scotland aren’t (sadly) a threat to England. It’s no big deal for English folk to support Scotland in those circumstances.

Who says Scotland aren’t being represented in the World Cup though? We all know that isn’t true!

It is perhaps true that Scotland’s rivalry with England is a little childish. But then again, England has its own childish rivalries with Germany, Argentina, France, Turkey……


  1. groin induced or “Doctor Who” related so forgive the culture-shock … normal service will be restored later. Anyway this is an intellectual itch I have to scratch as it will only get worse in the coming weeks. I nearly posted on Doctor Vee’s blogon a related subjectlast week (my firewall disallowed me then). But it’s not just the World Cup related shite/hype- it began with Gordon Brown’s absurd ‘Britishness’ speech at the beginning of the year, and I say that as a reluctant

  2. Well said, again. As a Welshman, albeit with some English blood, part of me wouldn’t mind England to do well, but the whole bloody country would become insufferable should they win. And yes, I was secretlyrather happy when David Healy slotted the ball past Paul Robinson 🙂

    I’d also quite like to have Michael Owen and Owen Hargraves back from them.

  3. Yes this happens in Wales, and I suspect more often than in Scotland (although I could be wrong).

    Suppermarkets are the worst offenders, particularly Sainsbury’s.

    Here are a few examples from Wales:

    Your country needs you (England that is!)
    Sports Shop, Aberystwyth
    Tesco, Cardiff

    The print media is even worse, as all our english language press comes from London.

    I’m not going out shopping now until the quarter finals, it should be safe after that 😉

    Being a Wrexham fan, I’ve got a valid reason for supporting Trinidad & Tobago as one of it’s players (Dennis Lawrence) plays for them, so I won’t be accused of beiong an anti-Enlish racist!

  4. I think going shopping might be a good idea, I spent nearly all of England-Argentina in my local (fairly large) Sainsbury’s and had the whole place to myself! (despite somehow ending up in an office sweepstake, this plan will be expanded to other places this year – I think Tate Modern may have to be invoked somewhere along the line).

  5. AAhh, yes, Rhys, you’ve just reminded me of one of my other met hates. All the pubs around here that had postering up saying: “Support Wales here” and as soon as the qualifiers were over, stuck up exactly the same poster with one word changed.

    Sadly no Exeter City players are going to the world cup.

  6. I find this all a bit sad, really – as an English person who lives in Scotland, and who loves both countries (and Wales). In my experience, no-one south of the border gets stroppy when Scotland is held up as a country of natural beauty, or that it has a fascinating history, or that its New Year’s Eve celebrations piss on anything that England holds.

    I’ve lived up here for more than 5 years, and I don’t find that England is forced down my throat at all. Scotland has a *very* strong sense of national identity and if it’s the case – as it seems to be – that Scots get uptight about the coverage of England in the World Cup, well then it suggests to me that it’s down to something a bit deeper than just 1966 fatigue.

  7. If you think it’s bad in Wales/Scotland, it’ll be ten times worse in England itself. I’m hoping that England get knocked out ASAP so that the media obsession will die down a bit, and I’m speaking as an Englishman.

  8. Hey, another post from Dr V I agree with! 🙂

    Yep, now that “ned” Roo is out, (I hope), I’d be quite happy to support England, (okay, I’m English by birth – but don’t hold that agin me). Two things make me want to support France, Germany, Brazil or anyone else.

    1) The media – every other news item on BBC seems to be footie-related. And the gushing coverage really ticks me off. Oh, and the hourly (or more) references to ’66. IT WAS FORTY YEARS AGO – GET OVER IT!!!! 🙁 And could we PLEASE have one ad break without that crappy Mars ad, (I’m refusing to buy anything from Mars for a month in protest!), or the equally dire promo’s for the TV footie specials/coverage.

    2) The opinion, expressed in some quarters, that if you’re not 100% behind “our boys” then you’re some sort of Malvinas-loving, Al Quieda-joining vegan hippy wannabe. It’s only a game fer Christ’s sake! Lighten up! 😀

    I just want to see a couple of good games, with no fouls, no diving and some goal-mouth “magic”. And I’m not that bothered who wins, as long as it’s interesting to watch, (Owen doesn’t usually disappoint imho). Assuming we’re not all “roboting” around Crouchy-style – hee-hee!

    Damn, I’m getting grumpy in my old age….

  9. Good old Scotland. “You’re shit and you know you are,” that’s why we English like your team so much.

    That Mars campaign is bollocks though. Who gives a damn about Mars and their ‘Believe’ nonsense. Mars bars are crap anyway.

  10. As an Englishman with Scottish antecedents living in the USA, I’m looking forward to the World Cup, as much to see live primetime football on free TV over here as to see Goldenballs hoist the ultimate prize in Berlin.

    I haven’t figured out the connection between tooth-rotting, gut-busting “Believe” (sic) bars yet and world class athletic acheivement yet, though. Perhaps breaking them open and rubbing the caramel on his gloves will help Paul Robinson hang onto hard-driven shots better?

  11. It has nothing to do with the Union…

    I don’t know why some people get so upset about the fact that some Scottish people don’t like to support England. I find it funny how it has become such a big political issue. Some like to pretend that it shows that the United Kingdom is il…

  12. Scotland are shite, they’ll never qualify ever again but as Collie said, you know you are and that’s why we like you! underdogs and all.

    The whole mars bar thing is pathetic but not as pathetic as the scum that hit the kid and retired postie for wearing england shirts.