Raise your flag even if you live in Scotland

Can I get a couple of things out of the way first?

I don’t dislike football, I just don’t really see the point. I haven’t watched a whole match that didn’t feature one of my offspring for, erm, ages. Actually I remember. It was the last time Scotland was in the World Cup and I was sitting in a Scottish newspaper office waiting for the game to finish and dictate the rest of my working day. There wasn’t much else to do.

I’m Cumbrian – and, yes, that means I’m English, but not, I think, the same English of Home Counties and flat vowels. A Northerner, I’d say, of the Border country, around the Border, that is, not one side or the other.

I live in Scotland because I like it here. It’s a fine place to live, work and bring up a family. I’m 43 and it’s easier to count the years I didn’t live here – as a grown-up, probably about two if you add up the various bits. Maybe three. I went to school and university in Scotland. I pay taxes. Two of my kids were born here. I’d like to think I’m as much an equal citizen of this country as anyone else. I understand Scotland, both its funny little ways and the big stuff.

Right then. So World Cup fever is building. The England squad training like billy-o in their camp in South Africa and, apparently, they are in with a chance. In England it looks a little bit like another Christmas has come along in June. People with things to sell are rubbing their hands together and getting their clever minds turned to the task. Songs have been released – I can’t get that Wave Your Flag one out of my head. And many inches – some written by me – have been devoted to the minutiae of the lives of the WAGs. And believe me some of it is extremely minute.

So what’s happening in Scotland? Well sticking with the Jingle Bells analogy, we can hear the Ho Ho Hos, smell the mulled wine and see the stockings laid out for Santa. But Big FC ain’t coming here. We are allowed to come round and see what he brought, maybe even play with it for a bit, but it’s not ours for keeps. Christmas is not coming here.

Ok, you can see how it might be a bit galling that your neighbour is having Christmas and you’re not getting any presents. You probably won’t even get turkey. However, it’s not the festive neighbour’s fault and neither are they munching mince pies to spite you. So really it would be exceptionally churlish to set traps to stop Father Christmas emptying his sack – blocking the chimney, poisoning the reindeer and sabotaging the sleigh are not going to stop him for long.

The grown up thing is to take it on the chin. Santa’s not coming, he doesn’t care about us. We didn’t get into the World Cup, we weren’t good enough. The neighbours have invited us to the party though, wouldn’t it be gracious to accept and, even, join in a little. You never, know it might be fun.

Things I’ve learned from previous World Cup campaigns observed from a Caledonian perspective.

1966 will not go away as long as there are Scots muttering bitterly about how the English don’t shut up about it.

Getting children to support whatever team England is playing can only teach meanness and spite not patriotism. It happened at my kids’ school last time and I may not be held accountable for my actions if it recurs.

The Anyone But England campaign is not funny, it’s nasty.

International sporting events where England gets through and Scotland doesn’t are the few times when this country that I love living in stops feeling like home.

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  1. Anonymous says

    Quite right Ellen. Despite my upbringing, I've come to believe all that Little Scotlander stuff is sad. Being proud of your country shouldn't mean sniping at someone else's, and I've got loads of English friends so I hope England do well.
    I'd still like to kick James Corden up his big fat backside, mind…
    (World) Cuptie

  2. Jo says

    Did you see the comment on my FB today? It really irritates me too. I'm not a sportswoman, but even I know it's not very sporting.

  3. Debbie says

    I fear some of the village idiots I have to deal with will be espousing the ABE philosophy very loudly. It is going to be a long tournament.

  4. says

    Well said. The ABE/ Andy Murray approach is petty and unsporting. If it was the other way round I'd feel the same. I am (or was) a working class northener (now a softie southerner) so football's always been part of my life – but I'm quite realistic about England's chances. Quarter finals. That's all I'm saying!

  5. Tracey C says

    I am a Scot by birth, school and university but living in England now and I am supporting england all the way in this World Cup. It's really nice that everyone is speaking about football (ok not so nice about Wayne Rooney's rant at the ref – as a footie ref I hate that), there are flags flying and people are once more proud of their nationality.
    I live in England and only unless England are playing Scotland then I always support England. We need to rid of the pettyness and accept sport and good grace.
    Ellen – the Christmas analogy works really well!

  6. Debbie says

    I'm sick of hearing how the English are all triumphalist and convinced they have a divine right to win. All I heard on Five Live yesterday was a lot of people saying very much the same as TNMA's verdict on England's chances. And not one person saying 'Oh, we would have won if it hadn't been for all the injuries.' But I have no doubt that I will soon be told that all the English are saying that.

  7. Jo says

    Debbie, think that is just a vocal minority… most/all of the English fans I know are just looking forward to the football!

  8. says

    I mentioned to my Scottish husband this morning that he has now lived in England longer than he lived in Scotland but he still started hyperventilating when I suggested we put out some George Cross bunting for a barbecue we're having on Saturday.
    He isn't anti-English and he doesn't wish for other teams to beat England but this was a step too far for the old curmudgeon!

  9. Debbie says

    Sorry, Jo,
    I didn't express myself very well. I was saying that the ABE Scots always moan about the English allegedly going on about how great they are and/or making excuses for defeat. I feel most English fans ARE simply looking forward to the football and hoping for the team to do well.

  10. Anonymous says

    That is true Debbie, it is not arrogant to say we will win, it's jokey confidence. If that were the case then “we will really shake them up when we win the World Cup cos Scotland are the greatest football team”, is the most astonishing arrogance, misplaced as well as it happens. Most fans I know reckon we should get through the group stage, after that, it's anyone's guess.

  11. says

    I'm sick of the World Cup to be honest. I'm fed up with the adverts, the flags, the change in Mars Bar wrappers. I think there's far too much hype about a bunch of rich young men who don't know how to conduct themselves and will probably let England down anyway.

    Sorry, just my thoughts on football. I think it should be banned!!

    CJ xx

  12. Jo says

    Ah, Debbie, I read your reply about 4 times earlier to see if I'd got it right, but I've just tilted my head the other way, and realised that I totally misunderstood what you were saying! Sorry about that. I agree with you!

    My Dad is a Glaswegian, but has lived in flat vowel speaking middle England (and I am a flat vowel speaker ;)) and it amazing me that my family up there seem to think that English people have a view of Scotland that just isn't true in my experience.

    Obviously, it's historically complex and all that but still…..

  13. Anonymous says

    Now I'm English too,all the way from Lancashire now working and living in Scotland. Great place, great people. I couldn't help but laugh though the other day when a hearty Scottish football fan told me the English had printed their own t-shirts in response to the ABE campaign. It's quite clever actually…'SNP' – Scotland's Not Playing! now I don't wish to start a childish rumble here, but I did find that funny…and so did my Scottish football friend too! As for football…I'll just wait to hear the news :)

  14. says

    Cuptie, thanks and I'm with you re JC too.

    Jo, very much so

    Debbie, courage (said in a throaty French accent)

    TNMA, adding punditry to your skills

    Tracey, I totally agree

    Trish, sounds like your husband's got it right

    CJ, it's going to be a long summer for you – I hope you can find yourself a WC free zone.

  15. says

    Muttie's dreading the World Cup and will spend most of it reading in the bedroom upstairs. Paw says he's only going to watch the 'decent teams' but she doesn't believe him. He'll get sucked into the whole shebang. I'm Scottish btw and I'll vote for England if the majority of the team are North of Yorkshire.

    Milt x

  16. says

    I don't envy you for the next four weeks, I would find it quite torturous to have EVERYONE around me hate my team with such a passion.

    It's vaguely similar here in Catalonia with none of the locals supporting the Spanish national side and it would be a case of 'ABS' winning. Whilst they will be no party if Spain do win, (pins could be heard dropping when Spain won Euro 08) at least we'll get some adoptive England Fans. x

  17. says

    I wrote a post about the World Cup over on my blog and I'm Scottish. Like yourself I livd in England, Manchester, for some time and often found they couldn't understand why the Scots were fed up of them going on about 66. I think a lot of it is the football pundits. I'm not a footie fan either and if England won I don't think we'd hear the end of it but I'd still be pleased that a team from the United Kingdom won!

  18. says

    Well I'm all for ABE and I think I explained it fairly well over at mine why – it's got nothing to do with my favourite foreign country or the people or even the players – it's entirely the fault of the English sporting press who positively foster anti-english sentiments – even in England! No country slags off its winners as vehemently as its losers – it's mind boggling.

  19. says

    Milton, I'm up for some temporary widowhood too.

    VBiC, I do remember the Spanish/Catalans take their footie very, very seriously too. It'll be a long month, I think.

    LauraCYMFT, it's odd, but people in Scotland don't believe that most folk in England are bewildered by their reaction.

    Mrs W, I can see both sides of that – if the press (both sides of the Border) didn't take a 'stand' and promote a strong opinion, they wouldn't be doing their jobs properly. They exist partly to provoke reaction. That said, any opinion is preferable to that infernal vuvuzela blowing!

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