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Come on Engerland

Posted on June 11, 2012 by

Much as Scots have grown accustomed to trying to pretend otherwise, you’ll probably have noticed that there’s currently another international football tournament going on without us. This evening sees the first appearance in the European Championship of the England team, the only side competing in the entire competition who don’t have a national anthem to call their own.

Two decades of living in England hasn’t changed this blog’s feelings towards the country’s international team much. Generally speaking we still want them to lose – not because we hate the English people, but precisely because we like them (see below). In the case of Euro 2012, though, we’re going to make an exception.

Normally, cheering on your nearest neighbours in sporting competitions is, in our view, a deeply disrespectful and unfriendly thing to do. Celtic supporters don’t cheer Rangers on in Europe. (Remember THOSE days, Rangers fans?) Manchester Utd fans don’t say “Well, if WE can’t win the league I hope Man City do, because they’re from around here like us.” The Dutch share a border and a fair amount of culture with Germany, but the two nations aren’t known for mutual support and well-wishing.

Sporting rivalry, for all its occasional and frequently-overstated problems, is the least unhealthy outlet for the tribal antipathies that are hard-wired into human DNA. Mocking your neighbours’ failures – and accepting in good humour their mockery of yours – is an elaborate and delicate ritualising of the process of civilisation. It says “We recognise that you are different to us, but we have parlayed that genetic enmity into a harmless and pro-social form.” It’s all the fun of war, without (usually, at least) all the bloodshed, genocide, crippled economies and general unpleasantness.

Wishing your neighbours success, on the other hand, is in its core essence an insult. It indicates that you don’t consider them a threat, and that they can therefore be safely encouraged and patronised. When England supporters cheer on the other nations of the British Isles, subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) they’re saying that they’re not a danger – that they don’t fear Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (and for the extra-condescending, even the Republic Of Ireland) progressing through the competition because if England were ever to find themselves playing them they would present no obstacle to English progress.

They are, if you like, cannon fodder, sent out to hopefully remove more serious opposition, or at least blunt its claws a little for the day it faces the England team.

(The historic military analogy, we trust, is so obvious as not to need spelling out.)

That, then, is why when we find ourselves watching sporting contests against third parties with our English friends, we do them the basic courtesy of cheering for the other side, and expect the same in return. (NB we employ this protocol when watching games in each other’s houses, not in pubs – we’re principled, not suicidal. Though do remind us to tell you the tale sometime of how we accidentally started a major riot in Blackpool in 1990.) So what’s different this year?

It is, essentially, a variant of some of our previous musings on the subject. Scotland is still primarily served with sporting coverage by the BBC, and the Corporation is known for a clumsy approach at times such as these. Inhabit any Scottish corner of the Twittersphere during any game of an international tournament (not just football) and you won’t find difficulty in locating hordes of Scots fuming in irritation as the commentators crowbar talk of England into even games between Lithuania and Paraguay, and cut immediately to “news from the England camp” after the most cursory of half-time analyses.

Imagine, then, the consequences of England winning Euro 2012. It’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have heard the last of it by the time the referendum comes round – we haven’t heard the last of 1966 yet, and that was almost half a century ago, when the Soviet Union was still one country rather than 15 and half the globe didn’t even enter the World Cup.

It’s not just football. The blanket media coverage of England’s 2005 cricketing Ashes victory – in which they finally managed to win a tournament with only two teams in it, for the first time in almost 20 years, immediately resulting in the entire team getting MBEs and OBEs – went on for months. By any sort of empirical measure Scotland’s home-and-away victories over France in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign were a greater achievement, but James McFadden didn’t get invited to Buckingham Palace.

A similar principle would/will apply should England triumph in Brazil 2014, of course, but the couple of months between the tournament’s end and the independence referendum might not be sufficient time to get Scottish people really scunnered enough with the endless celebrations and wall-to-wall replays of the event. An against-the-odds capturing of the Henri Delauny Trophy would spark a media outpouring of English triumphalism on a scale never seen before in these islands, and our money would be on the Scots doing just about anything to get away from it by 2014.

Sweden, France and Ukraine are all competent sides, but none of their domestic leagues ought to be able to hold a candle to the stars of the Premiership, even with depleted ranks due to suspension, injury and the inability of the English manager to trust his central defenders not to kick each other rather than the opposition. The draw could easily keep England apart from their traditional nemesis Germany until the final. This is the last European Championship with only 16 teams, meaning just three knockout matches (all of which the talismanic and sometimes magical Wayne Rooney will be available for) stand between any side and victory. It’s doable. We, certainly, just this once, will be hoping England can pull it off.

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32 to “Come on Engerland”

  1. Kenny Campbell says:

    I’ll respectfully distance myself from your well meaning campaign….I’m hoping they get to Qtrs then get pumped by a seemingly non dangerous opposition team.

  2. Arbroath1320 says:

    This is the final call for all passengers on flight BA losers to London.

    Would all passengers please make their way to gate 1 where your flight is ready for boarding.
    Please be sure to pick up your parachute as you board the plane.
    Thank you! 😀

  3. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I’ll respectfully distance myself from your well meaning campaign”

    Well, clearly I’m really just pre-rationalising the nightmare scenario. The last couple of seasons have seen the wrong team win just about every conceivable football competition – Spain, Man City, Chelsea, Hearts, West Ham – and we need some straw of comfort to cling to should it happen again.


  4. Kenny Campbell says:

    If they win I’ll literally be hoping for a seismic ‘separation’ of Great Britain….

  5. Seemingly-innocuous quarter-final opposition is in short supply: it’ll be Italy or Spain.
    I hope they squeak past Italy and get demolished by Germany in the semis just when they’ve got their hopes up.

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I can’t see both Spain and Italy making it through. I think Croatia will squeeze one of them out.

  7. Kenny Campbell says:

    You see Croatia would be perfect as it would cause ITV so many problems with Chiles as he is half Croatian. I suspect England after 2 or 3 wins in the group stage would see the Croatians as cannon fodder. While the rest of us would be going….looks tricky 🙂

    I was doing so well too, promised myself I’d be strictly neutral for the whole championship.

  8. David says:

    Sorry, gentlemen, am a rugby man. Hope anyone who plays your “code” fcuks them imperially.

  9. redcliffe62 says:

    I rather want England to do well. However I fear the media taking on 1966-like sycophancy on a par with the Jubilee were they to win.
    So do Ok, but do not win for that reason. 
    Chiles going on about it for the next 20 years is too much to bear. 

  10. Macart says:

    I’ve drawn France in the works sweep so I’m conflicted. 😀

  11. R Louis says:

    Germany are always a good bet, and usually deliver the crushing, but quite quite necessary defeat to England in the later stages.  Even better if delivered by penalties.  It’s only fair.

    This kind of rivalry isn’t unique to England/Scotland, and occurs occurs all over the world.  I once saw a New Zealand T-shirt, which said, ‘I support New Zealand, and anybody who plays Australia’. 


  12. redcliffe62 says:

    I have worked in marketing for donkeys years, starting off in Poland Street Soho in the 80’s, and for the last few hours tried to come up with ideas against the NO campaign slogan.

    If the NO campaign is “better together”, what about playing on the money aspect and calling the yes campaign, “richer without westminster?”
    Covers culture, finance, and the emotional feeling of being Scottish. It also shows it is not anti English but against the Westminster rule, particularly of Tories at this time? 
    We know people will vote YES if they know they are richer. And it will bring money facts to a head.
    The beeb would say the name through gritted teeth.  Therefore it works.
    It also has a go at the house of lords as a by product. And ALMOST rhymes….
    It also could not be denied after the GDP figures and oil and whisky revenues are emphasised.
    I want a bottle of Glenmorangie if it is used…. 

  13. YesYesYes says:

    I agree with much of the logic of your argument but there’s one fundamental flaw in it. England are crap.

  14. YesYesYes says:

    Oh, and just before kick-off I’d like to say that I’ve been entertained no end by the current mantra of the English media that, with respect to England’s prospects of winning the tournament, ‘expectations are low’. This is incorrect. Expectations are not ‘low’. Rather, for the first time in living memory, England’s expectations are realistic. But let’s see how long this line holds if they manage to win or draw a game in their group.
    Of course, all that’s happened in the last 20 years, since the Premier League was established, is that England’s football press and fans have been seduced by seeing English players flourish in Premier League teams and, somewhat short-sightedly, have looked for this form to be transferred to the national team. What seems to have escaped them, though, is that all, or rather some, of these English players are flourishing because they’re playing in teams full of Johnny foreigner. The problem at national level is that Johnny foreigner isn’t playing with them, he’s playing against them.  

  15. YesYesYes says:

    Already it’s France 1-0 England. Relax, that’s just a reference to the national anthems.

  16. pa_broon says:

    If England win anything (including a sports day egg & spoon race,) we never hear the end of it.

    So, for that reason, I have to disagree too.

    I really do want to wish them well and all the best but can’t dismiss how insufferable the coverage would be, (even although that isn’t the English people’s fault.) Also, England football players are the biggest bunch of over-hyped, over-paid, petulant sissies in existence; its entertaining to see them get humped.

    When a decision doesn’t go their way, imagine them all in romper suits or nappies screaming and beating the ground with their little pudgey fists. They should take a leaf out of our book, always expect the worse, that way; anything else is a pleasant surprise.

    If Scotland wins anything there’s a stunned silence, when England do, there’s effusive celebration with distinct undertones of relief and more than a delicate smear of entitlement satisfied in the air.

    I understand there is a competition on just now, badminton I think or it might be ping pong… I forget because I’m not being reminded often enough by the television… :-/

  17. Arbroath1320 says:

    YesYesYes says:
    June 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm
    Already it’s France 1-0 England. Relax, that’s just a reference to the national anthems.
    Damn it YYY. DON’T DO THAT! 😀
    I was just about to started a wee dance, then I read the rest of your post! DAMN! 😀 
    Must admit though, that is ONE Red, White and Blue coloured flag I WILL have no trouble supporting. 
    Just checked the REAL score, and it is 1 – 1 at half time.
    Vive La France! 😀


  18. YesYesYes says:

    Post-match interview with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher in the studio. Thank God for that subtitle button on the remote control. 

  19. charlie says:

    Final score 1-1 – reasonable result. I don’t want England to win because of -i’ll never hear the end- and -the drunken nationalism down here-, and also the Holland-Germany syndrome and also the neighbours no threat syndrome, but I wish them no harm (except John Terry obviously, and Craig Levein clearly).

    Shevchenko could pull the English defence apart 😉


  20. Embradon says:

    Following YYY’s observation on the strength of the Premiership being based on Johnny foreigner, a League Select side (remember those?) would be interesting. Would any of the current England side be selected on merit?

  21. YesYesYes says:

    We’d be showing our age if we opened up this debate.
    Anyway, IMHO England were competent enough in last night’s friendly, they did show a few flurries and they largely succeeded in achieving their objective, stopping France playing. Fair enough I suppose. France are better than this. If only they’d played to win last night. Can’t see any of the teams in this group getting anywhere near the final though.
    The BBC didn’t disappoint us last night. The ever-reliable  Alan Hansen – whose nose is so far up England’s arse that I’d hate to be the poor soul charged with the responsibility of ever trying to prise it out – provided us with his usual array of ‘smash the telly’ moments whenever England are involved in international football competitions.
    Hansen, as ever, determined to see the ‘positives’ for England, triumphantly informed us, after the Ukraine v Sweden game that, after that performance, England had nothing to fear from Ukraine or Sweden. At £40,000 a programme, we’re entitled to expect more penetrating analysis than this from Hansen. But I have a horrible feeling that he genuinely isn’t aware of the negatives for England over the course of the next week:
    First, after England’s performance last night, neither Ukraine nor Sweden will be quaking in their boots at the prospect of playing England.
    Second, after last night’s results, Sweden must now beat England if they are, realistically, to have any prospect of remaining in the competition. Not good.
    Third, in the entire history of meetings of the two countries, England have never beaten Sweden, ever, when the teams have met in international competition.
    Fourth, even in the unlikely event that England should beat Sweden on Friday, they’re still likely to be in a dodgy position. Their position would be decidedly dodgier if France beat Ukraine on Friday. For in that case, Ukraine, the co-hosts of the tournament, would need to beat England in order to remain in the tournament. Not good.  
    Fifth, Wayne Rooney’s back for the Ukraine game next Tuesday.
    Last night, there was, though, a moment of almost divine retribution for Hansen’s embarrassing brown-nosing performance. Gary Lineker asked John Motson for his opinion on England’s prospects. Motson disagreed with Hansen and told him so to his face. He wasn’t as confident as Hansen was that England would walk all over Sweden and Ukraine. Veterans of Wings will understand that things have come to a pretty pass when, in a discussion of England’s prospects in a football tournament, the responsibility falls to John Motson to be the ‘voice of reason’ in a BBC studio. 

  22. Doug Daniel says:

    With such idiocy as “Agincourt, Waterloo, now this” I just cannot bring myself to support England. I never will. The English media are just too arrogant and triumphalist, and completely ignorant of other countries.

    It’s not just the habit of going to “news from the England camp” after a mere five minutes going over the five goal thriller at hand; it’s also the way they act surprised that other countries actually know how to play football; the way, halfway through an exciting match between Sweden and Ukraine (both teams showing far more life than England did), they declare “nothing for England to worry about from these two teams”; the obsession with reducing every player’s career down to whatever short spell they spent in England, as if this should be considered the pinnacle of their achievements, regardless of what they did at other clubs; the way English players were “just a bit too late” when they commit a foul, whereas everyone else “chops down” players; the way English players are denied free kicks when they dive, whereas ; and just the way they so blatantly don’t have any interest in football in other countries, leaving their commentary down to obvious platitudes and racial stereotypes – for instance, we had the usual “big Swedish defenders” stereotype last night.

    I dunno if even independence is worth the stress of hearing English commentators etc bang on about winning Euro 2012 for the next two years…

    Incidentally, I wonder if support for independence would be affected if we had BBC Scotland providing the coverage instead of the normal BBC, thereby shielding us from the horrors of English commentary?

  23. Arbroath1320 says:

    Damn it! England were “playing” football last night, and I missed it? 🙁
    Shucks! I’ll just have to make do with watching a REAL team play some REAL football instead! 😆

  24. YesYesYes says:

    In football, as in politics, the question remains: why do so many of our fellow Scots enthusiastically adopt England’s contempt for small nations?  

  25. Macart says:

    The main thing is France didnae lose and ahm still in wi’ a chance in the works sweep. Wuv goat tae keep positive. 😀

  26. Arbroath1320 says:

    YYY, I don’t think it is so much contempt for small countries as much as most people I think are just plain fed up with the “British” medias inane fawning over ANYTHING any English sports team does, be it football, rugby, cricket etc.
    The MSM, particularly the BBC, don’t seem to realise, or more likely suffer selective amnesia, that not everyone in Britain is English. The whole “Anyone but England” attitude has been created over decades of constant “England is great” bombardment of the other countries within the U.K. People can only take so much of this almost continual bombardment before they rise up and protest. This is most commonly seen as “A.B.E.” Unfortunately the MSM are too blinkered to see and understand this. They just see it as everyone hates England, which is not necessarily true.
    Unfortunately I do not have an answer to this situation. The damage, in my view, has been done over 40 or 50 years of BBC broadcasting and newspaper reporting. This can not be repaired over night, and it will never be repaired, in my view, until the BBC and MSM get their act together and stop fawning at the feet of every English sportsman and woman.
    It is bad enough just now during the Euro 2012 games but I reckon we will experience a lot worse during the Olympics. The BBC have a tremendous record of reporting Scots,Welsh,Irish athletes who win as being British but if they lose they are Scots,Welsh or Irish. However, should an English athlete win they are claimed as English, only becoming British if they fail to win. Only time will tell but I am certain we will experience plenty of this sort of BBC reporting in July/August this year.

  27. YesYesYes says:


    You misunderstand me. The point I was making was directed towards people like Hansen, Iain Gray (remember his derogatory remarks about Ireland and Iceland for example?) and those Scots who take the position that a small nation like Scotland couldn’t sustain independence and who’re only too ready to share this opinion with an audience down south.

    Maybe I should have made the answers to the question multiple-choice to make my meaning clearer. Here goes:

    (a) Because they’ve taken on ‘British’ beliefs and values

    (b) Because they’ve been brainwashed by the BBC and the British MSM?

    (c) Because of internal colonialism?

    (d) Because they share the Scottish Labour party’s definition of ‘internationalism’ ? – i.e. I care as much about the people of Bradford, Liverpool and Leeds as I do about the people of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leeds but the people of Copenhagen, Dublin and Munich can go fuck themselves.

    (e) Because it pays handsomely?

    (f) A combination of some or all of the above?


  28. Doug Daniel says:

    YYY – it’s f), because this sneering tone adopted for small nations is a very British trait, a hangover from the days of the Empire when small foreign lands were just places that had yet to be colonised. And yes, it’s disappointing that there are Scots out there who adopt this tone. It’s a bit like a Jewish person making anti-Semetic comments, or a woman saying that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. As a small nation, we should all know better than to be derogatory about other countries.

    It’s similar to the “we don’t need to learn other languages because everyone speaks English” attitude that is inherent in far too many people. One of my great hopes for Scottish independence is that we are finally free from those sort of attitudes, and recognise that we are just one of 197 nation states. 

  29. YesYesYes says:

    @Doug Daniel,
    Agree totally.
    Just realised that, in my hastily-conceived last post, I missed out Dundee!
    Should read: “…the people of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee”. 

  30. Arbroath1320 says:

    Sorry YYY, as usual I get the wrong end of the stick. Next time I WILL send the dog for the stick, he always gets the right end. 😀

  31. John Lyons says:

    I’m Scottish. My Wifes English. I tried to support them for my Son’s sake, let him have choice, make his own mind up, since he’s technically half English (Although born and raised in Scotland!)

    Lasted ten seconds….

  32. redcliffe62 says:

    The commentators put me off; same reason here in Oz I cannot support NSW in Rugby laegue although I have been in sydney many years previously as they are just so ANNOYING.

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