Britain England Politics Sport

It’s Coming Home – What England’s World Cup Tells Us About England (and Scotland)

Remember this?

And then last night this happened…


I have been reflecting on this because of my two reactions to both these events.  I rejoiced at both.  Firstly I was delighted that Southgate missed that penalty in 1996 not just because I suffered from ABE (Anyone But England) syndrome, but I just couldn’t stand the English commentators and the thought of having an England win on the BBC for the next 50 years!    So why the change last night?  Some say it is grace….others maturity….but for me it was just good to see Gareth Southgate, now as the England manager, getting his reward.  I find him to be a humble and self-effacing man who is in contrast to many of his more ebullient colleagues.    I also like his team and especially Harry Kane – who could not be more English if he tried!  There was one moment in the match which summed up the whole English team – a player went down in the box, and instead of doing a Neymar and rolling all over the place, he got up and said to the ref it was fine, there was no contact!

England Fans 2Our Scottish civic elites like to boast how we are metropolitan, communitarian  and internationalist, not like the racist English (I keep hearing sanctimonious analyses about how England voted for Brexit because they are racist whereas we are cosmopolitan).  And yet when I look at the crowds of English fans I note that they are multi-ethnic and that white, black, Asian are all as ‘English’ as each other.   I’m not convinced at all that English society is any more racist and insular than Scottish (indeed my fear is that despite all our boasting – we are in danger of being more parochial and petty).   English society has changed.

And Scottish is changing.  There are still plenty people who suffer from ABE syndrome but what I have noted with interest this world cup are the number of Scots who are genuinely supporting England….that is something I did not think I would see in my lifetime…nor did I ever think I would be one of them!

It is however a bit embarrasing when SNP politicians in Westminster play these kind of silly games.   There was a time when I would have smiled at such jolly fun’, but I need to be consistent – I hate it when Tory or Labour MPs in Westminster play games – likewise with the SNP.   It demonstrates a shallowness and immaturity which is embarrassing to Scottish politics.    When I consider the serious issues we face as a country it grieves me that most of our Scottish MPs are under orders (which they will obey) to disrupt and annoy.   Yesterday I was at Ninewells hospital where one of the doctors told me that they will probably only be doing ten months per year operations and only one cataract operation per person – tough if you have two eyes! – and today I hear of the UK governments proposals on fishing – which the SNP should be encouraging and supporting – instead all they can do is carp  – and moan about how they wish we were staying in the CFP.

I don’t care if our Scottish politicians do or don’t support the English football team – I do care if, out of a mistaken sense of superiority and a petty nationalism, they play Westminster games, and don’t get on with  ‘the day job’, which is not acting as lapdogs for the EU, or indulging in fantasy politics – but rather governing our country.   Our health care system, education and economic systems are not in good health.  We want doctors not cheerleaders.

Meanwhile back to the world cup in Russia – which all our experts predicted would be a disaster and boring.  Instead it is turning out to be one of the best organised and most entertaining I have ever seen and has lots of interesting questions  (where did Columbia get all those fans? How did Japan lose?  Is Neymar going to get an oscar?  Can Russia reach the final?  Are France the best team in the world?)  …I will be watching every quarter final….and supporting England!  Hoping for an England v. Belgium final.

It’s coming home…..

PS.  Anything that can get Mrs R into football has to be a good thing.  When I was going out with her took her to a friends flat to watch Scotland play Germany (I think her comment was ‘who are the ones in the white?  They’re the best’).   But last night she actually found it exciting and even asked me this morning – when’s the next one?!  Roll on Saturday…


  1. It took me years to detect this ABE syndrome. Love of the scots was something my parents for some reason drummed into me as a child…. So the idea of wanting to see a Scottish failure in anything was anathema to me…. So I’m still shocked whenever I see this in Scottish people…. I’m glad to see grace has finally won over at least one Scot….

  2. David,

    I too found myself supporting England, and stayed up for the penalties even though my English born wife went to bed. Columbia did not deserve to win, nor did Belgium. I share your sentiments about them getting on with the day job

  3. Uncanny David. This reflects my experience and thoughts almost exactly. Unfortunately the rise of aggressive nationalism in Scotland in recent times has put into sharp relief that what at one time was seen as banter and good old fashioned rivalry was in fact the seedbed for the hatred and division which now besets Scotland. I would only differ on one point. The reality for this country is that the “day job” for SNP is destroying the UK even if this means destroying Scotland. And they are applying themselves to this assiduously. Perhaps we should be asking them to do the job the are legally and constitutionally required to do and for which they are handsomely paid. But that might involve cooperating with our friends, fellow countrymen and partners south of the border.

  4. Last night’s win laid a few ghosts to rest – one hopes – but the game was more a grind than a great game of football.
    The Japan – Belgium match was one of the best World Cup games I have ever seen, and I have watched a few!

    Roll on Saturday.

  5. On Saturday my wife and I will be celebrating our Ruby anniversary by a formal dinner with family and friends at Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire (I am a proud Scot although have lived in England most of my life).

    Before saying grace I had planned to say, “I understand there is a football match somewhere in the world this evening, but since we are in Scotland nobody cares”.

    I see I will need to change my tune. Perhaps, as part of the grace, I should slip in a quick intercession for the English team.

  6. I am not ashamed of not supporting England. I support Scotland and then I support the team who are playing the best football and in this World Cup so far that has been Belgium.
    I dislike the attitude of the British media who constantly conflate England and the U.K.
    Incidentally I spend a lot of time in England and the vast majority of the fans in England do not want Scotland to do well and I don’t and wouldn’t expect them to do so. No-one expects the Belgians to support the Dutch or vice versa and the fact that they do not is not a sign of immaturity or xenophobia it is the simply the dynamic of international football.

  7. By the end of the first half this Scot was firmly in England’s camp. The headbutt on Henderson was the final straw in what was a first half of attempted Oscar performances from a team wanting to win at any cost. The longer the game went on I couldn’t help but warm to the discipline of the England team , and even when Colombia got its act together they had little answer to a fine defensive English line up . Up front the forwards fought for every ball on ground and in the air , often out jumping the opposition.
    Only one problem from me. All the names I have heard lauded in the English football in the last several years have been De Gea , David Luiz , Zabaleta , Vincent Company , De Bruyne and the likes . Who is Pickford , Trippier , MaGuire etc , or have those players been hiding in plain sight?

    Yes, It’s sad that we’re not there, but if the Sassanachs can hold their discipline and play like they have been playing there will be no grumpy and grudging noises from this Scot if they return with the trophy.

  8. I was speaking to an Englishwoman today and the topic of football (non-World Cup related) came up. She mentioned who she supported and finished with “…and England… but I suppose I shouldn’t say that.” Why the heck not? It didn’t occur to me at the time to ask her if she’d been on the receiving end of less than friendly “banter”.

  9. I don’t think the English player was saying no foul, it looked to me like he was saying he hadn’t dived.

  10. Carping about the Common Fishing Policy. Ho, ho. Very droll!
    As an Englishman who has lived in Scotland for nearly fifty years I can say that the less time the English media have to spend going on and on about the England football team the better. When was the last time anybody heard anybody working for BBC Scotland being invited to take part in World Cup commentating? When was the last time a Scot playing his football in Scotland was part of the studio panel? The plain fact is that the BBC is institutionally biased towards things English.

  11. For people in England, imagine every match on MOTD being a match played in Scotland, every commentator being Scottish and every member of the studi panel playing their football in Scotland. (The BBC does not cover Scottish Premier League matches.) Imagine the Saturday morning coverage of football being entirely devoted to Scottish football. Imagine any reference to football on the “national” news relating almost entirely to Scottish football. Imagine any entertainment programme (eg. QoS, Celebrity this that and the other) only including Scottish footballers and never any English footballers. In that situation you would probably be geting fed up with Scottish football in general.

    1. Maybe I’m missing something but I thought that Ally McCoist was Scottish, the BBC does cover Scottish Premier League matches – and Scotland are not in the World Cup…

  12. I don’t suffer from ABE, but I would love England to win the cup this year as it might finally put an end to hearing about 1966. I said ‘might’.

  13. A woman, a Scot, an old ABE who doesn’t even like football nor knows anything about it, I thought this English side played so well, as a team, who would have thought it. I was praying for them to win against Colombia, why should such blatant cheats win. May they go through to the final.

  14. As an Englishman who has lived in Scotland for 45 years, yes the English commentators do laud the English team and so they should. When Scotland are playing Scottish commentators laud Scotland, why not.
    The people l can’t stand are the anyone but England brigade. I always support the British home country teams and want them to win and are dissapointed when the lose.
    However most football supporters experience dissapointment so is only right that we should enjoy the experience of winning on the occasions that it happens.

  15. Scotland has ‘sport scene’ on Saturday night. its all about Scottish football and commentated by scots and discussed and analysed by scots men and women in the studio.
    As an Englishman living in Scotland, (with Scottish wife and half and half children) I am getting fed up with the nasty banter regarding england . This banter has intensified over the last ten years with the help of the ridiculous Indy ref and the snp doing their best to stir up animosity and hatred towards England and the English.

    1. Why is a referendum “ridiculous” Paul? Are they not part of many democracies? Many Scots have a Scottish identity and not a British one. And many have both. You could argue it is not an “equal” union politically, Scotland being the smaller country, and independence is therefore a legitimate political aspiration. And Scotland could get rid of the ‘ridiculous’ Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde, a moral outrage.

      1. A referendum isn’t ridiculous. But it’s been done and dusted. A second one, within the space of a few years is ridiculous. The 1st referendum stirred up trouble, divided friends and families and encouraged hatred and animosity towards England and the English. I do think there is an unequal political climate in the uk however. Scotland and Wales have their own parliaments, England does not, even when there is a scots or welsh prime minister. There are many families losing their homes and relying on food banks in England,as there are throughout the uk, only on a larger scale and more families there living in poverty than the whole population of Scotland. Yet we are told by the snp how England gets a bigger, better deal than Scotland. The snp want independence at any cost and I do happen to believe that independence for Scotland will come to pass, but it’s not going to make it all better. You paraphrased the trident thing at me like I must agree with it. I don’t agree with trident but I do realise that it is detrimental to all of us whether it’s on the Clyde or 50 miles down the cost in England, what’s the difference?
        Thanks for the reply and best wishes.

  16. Oh dear, Croatia didnae read the triumphalistic script pedalled by the English media.

    How sad, so many deflated balloons in the BBC news.

  17. This young England football team done amazing. 3rd/4th out of the 32 that qualified, not to mention all those that did’nt. they will be back in 2 yrs with a squad not only better physically, but wiser and mentally stronger too.

  18. For something to “come home” it had to originate in that place but England didn’t intent football and so, even if England had won the World Cup, there was no way it “coming home.

    1. I also read the article that everyone is talking about that football was ‘invented’ in Scotland. This evidence is wishy washy to say the least and probably written by a scots person. If it is true then I think it’s never coming home and will remain homeless forever! What does it matter anyway?

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