So, its world cup time again.
I can more or less remember where I was during most of the world cups that have taken place through my life. Well, its fair to say I more clearly remember those world cups that Scotland qualified for but anything like that is a bit of a distant memory now. World cups in recent history seem to merge into a fog of "its coming home" mixed with the tune of "three lions" and a stiff measure of "penalty disappointment".
But something else seems to rise up in my consciousness at times like this and it is the unfortunate spectacle of Scottish anti english (ism).
Now, I may not exactly be the best person to comment on this phenomenon having worked with english people for most of my life and having also lived in England for a large chunk of my life but to me, the phenomenon is nothing short of embarrasing.
Before I go any further let me just make clear who I am. I am a Scot. I am someone who is very proud to be a Scot and believes wholeheartedly that we Scots have a heritage of which we can rightly be proud.
When I was little I was brought up to understand that being Scottish is something to be extremely proud of. To be Scottish is to be the living embodiment of a proud, strong people for whom strength and honour means as much as it did to the Romans. My father gave me a book called "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson when I was little and I read it cover to cover and more than once. It wasnt difficult to be proud of my past when presented with this sort of provenance.
Over the intervening years however, I have learned that being Scottish comes with certain responsibilities as well as the rights inherent in being proud of such a past. I have learned that it is my responsibility to hate the english and to wish them failure in every venture they may undertake. Nowadays that usually means sporting events as it is one of the few remaining areas where the distinction is meaningfully made.
Well Im sorry but I refuse. I have always refused, and now I feel like its time for me to speak out in my own small way. Who the hell are we if the only contribution we have to make to what could and should be a healthy rivalry and a desire to be the best between England and Scotland; who the hell are we if all we can do is carp and snipe and wish "them" ill when the only reason for this is that we have came up short yet again?
Who the hell are we if we are now to be defined by this pathetic image of yet another glaikit awkward scot proclaiming through an inane grin that he will be supporting "anyone but England"
Tonight in South Africa, it is the eve of what is arguably the biggest sporting tournament on earth. Many of the biggest sporting nations on earth will be represented. Some may not be, but the parish of Scotland, for that is what a parochial attitude turns us into, will once again be carping from the sidelines in a negative, jealous, snide chorus of anti-English jealous inferiority. For me, this is just not good enough. This does not represent the Scotland that my Dad brought me up to be proud of. This does not engender in our impressionable young people, the drive and need to put Scotland back onto this global map. Rather it perpetuates the decline into obscurity that no Scot can deny is already well and truly under way.
So come on Scotland, lets stop embarrasing ourselves. Lets see this as an example of what our country should aspire to. Lets learn to support our neighbours with at least some semblance of grace instead of acting like a jealous child who isnt getting to play. Lets channel our energies into making Scotland great again rather than trying to hope England become as crap as we are.
I for one will be hoping England can win the world cup and I ask ya..... who the hell are we if we cant celebrate the achievement of our closest neighbours? Comments?