Expert analysis of the events in Poland and Ukraine
Craig Anderson brings the shock news that some Scots wouldn't mind England winning – just the media reaction that would follow...
There’s nothing we Scots like more than a party. But there’s nothing we hate more than knowing where a party is and not being there. That’s what it’s like for us when it comes to major international tournaments now.
We used to be there regularly, from every World Cup bar one between 1974 and 1998 and even two Euros in the 90s, where the sights of kilted (and drunk) Scotsmen were normal. Now we’re reduced to an almost voyeuristic role, with the realisation that our team just isn’t anywhere near good enough for these things any more.
Watching Euro 2012 reminds us just how much we miss these occasions, although it has to be said that Republic of Ireland’s fans are filling our role as the loveable rogues very well.
Mexico 86, when men were men and shorts were short
There’s no real allegiance to any team, with the exception of ones that would earn short-term financial gain via the bookies, or whoever is playing England.
When tennis star Andy Murray declared his support for England’s opponents during the World Cup in 2006, it caused quite a scandal south of the border – but he was essentially speaking for us all.
If you speak to Scots football fans, the problem doesn’t lie with the England players (although there are generally hate figures, with Wayne Rooney and John Terry the current ones). We can recognise the talent and ability of players and acknowledge that, no matter the nationality.
The problem for us is the English-based media and the swaggering smugness that must be in the job description. The numerous mentions of 1966, the constant belly-aching about bad luck at penalties, the obsession with the Germans. The cliché alarm is off the scale.
It seems like Adrian Chiles forgets he’s broadcasting to the whole of the UK when England are involved, such is his obvious excitement. Meanwhile Mark Lawrenson proudly cheerleads the nation of his birth, conveniently sweeping his 30-odd Republic of Ireland caps under the carpet as he criticises Lukas Podolski for turning his back on Poland to play for Germany.
Then there’s “Clive f**king Tyldesley” (to give the full name my dad seems to have rechristened him with), clearly already dreaming of whatever England captain will lift the trophy before the first game’s even kicked off. Even “that turncoat” Alan Hansen gets it for being on the BBC’s panel talking about England. So it’s not the team, it’s the media.
Our perverse enjoyment of seeing these personalities almost breaking down on the back of another England hard-luck story is what makes up for us not being at the events themselves. Their lack of humility can stretch things too far. I can’t remember a time when, after an exit, someone admitted England just weren’t good enough.
Chin up, lads, surely it'll work out...
Most of us have friends from south of the border and wouldn’t begrudge them some glory if the unthinkable ever happened – although we’d be ignoring text messages and deleting Facebook.
So until Craig Levein gets our team right and on the road to Brazil in two years' time, we can all enjoy England blaming someone for cocking it up in spectacular fashion.
As for our own hopes, World Cup qualifying is looming large and while a group containing Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Wales and Belgium looked negotiable after the draw, it seems to have got progressively more daunting.
The former Yugoslav states are always notoriously tricky, despite Croatia being the only one to qualify for Euro 2012, while Belgium look capable of reaching the heights they reached in the mid- to late-80’s where they reached the semi finals of the World Cup in 1986.
Wales have also improved in recent years, with Chris Coleman looking to further the foundations laid by predecessors John Toshack and the late Gary Speed in having a young, vibrant side.
In the meantime, we can only wait then watch Gary Lineker look bemusedly into the camera with tears in his eyes as our “auld enemy” crash to another elimination.
Until we’re invited to the main do again, that’s the only party we’ll have.
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