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Anorak | Jack & The Union

Jack & The Union

by | 14th, June 2006

“NO, I will not. Scotland is not there and that’s disappointing. And there are people who think that as First Minister I should automatically support England instead. But football is not about politics, so I will not be.”

The words of Jack McConnell, Scotland’s First Minister, who can be seen in the Times juggling a football on his knee – an ironic move for a man keen to show how football and politics are not linked.

Perhaps next week he will wear a mitre and rosary beads and tell the fans of Glasgow Rangers and Celtic that football has nothing to do with religion either.

Of course McConnell makes a fair point. Why should he support England, the so-called auld enemy?

In saying what many of his countrymen think, McConnell has upset the likes of Peter Taylor, of the British Hospitality Association Scotland. He voices his “concern” that tourists from England would boycott Scotland because of McConnell’s comments. He says it is “not helpful to upset your biggest customer and biggest neighbour”.

And Alan Rankin, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Forum, says McConnell’s comments are “not helpful to the development of tourism with so many coming from south of the border”.

Not that he is always not helpful – McConnell was helpful in making the minds up of 60 chartered surveyors who cancelled a two-day stay and conference at a Carnoustie hotel.

And then there are the English who live in Scotland. Englishman Allan Robinson displayed England flags at the windows of his home in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire – and had the windows smashed.

As he tells the paper: “Me putting up a single flag,…and my widows going through, I think it’s all to do with what Jack McConnell says.”

But not all the anti-Englishness is violent. Reports say that sports shops are fast selling out of Trinidad & Tobago shirts. The Caribbean island team features six Scotland-based players, including one Jason Scotland.

A song popular in Scotland goes:
“The World Cup Finals are on their way
With all the teams off to Germany
Brace yourself cause on every screen
There’ll be nothing but the England team
But wait!
Hey!
There’s hope at hand
We can still support
Scotland, Scotland, Jason Scotland!”

There are stories of bars giving away free drinks whenever England concede a goal. And that should England play Germany, the Scots will be cheering on the Hun.

Is this incredible? If it is, it’s no surprise to football fans. This is not xenophobia – it is desperation. It is the realisation that for England beating Scotland is not the pinnacle of football endeavour. Scotland want to beat England, just as Bury want to defeat Manchester United.

Scotland have been left behind. Scotland are no longer England’s big rivals.

England have Sweden and Germany to fight with. Scotland are in league with Trinidad & Tobago. Leave McConnell alone. He, like his team, are best forgotten…



Posted: 14th, June 2006 | In: Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink