Friday, June 27, 2014

The Beautiful Game


 "Football, a game in which everyone gets hurt and every nation has its own style of play which seems unfair to foreigners." George Orwell

Well it’s all kicking off…

Not only in Brazil.

Years ago Andy Murray got hate mail by stating something that is obviously true.  When England plays football, Scots tend to support whoever they are playing against
This is very childish, immature and a bit silly. We don’t care.

Dozens of posts on Murray's website stated that they wanted him to lose his next round match at Wimbledon.  Treason might still be a capital offence in England but if  Andy ever turned up in an England football top we would do more than hang him - we would take his Irn Bru away.

"The lovers of football are large, boisterous, nobby boys who are good at knocking down and trampling on slightly smaller boys." George Orwell

The above affair was mentioned in parliament (British not Scottish) One  Scots MP said that no one should be punished for not supporting a team they have no real affinity to. (I typed that badly the first time and the autocorrect read back… No one should be punched for not supporting a team they have no real affinity to.)
So when the sport involves a Scottish team and an English team why should a Scot support England  as opposed to any other team.  There is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that the great footballing nations of Argentina, Germany and Scotland (ok I’m pushing that last point ! ) have formed a kind of axis of smirking maliciousness to get in England’s way. I think Uruguay and Italy might be…...

 "There's quite enough real causes of trouble already, and we need not add to them by encouraging young men to kick each other on the shins amid the roar of infuriated spectators." George Orwell

Then what happened this week? Sweet Uruguay banged in goal two in the final minutes and Scotland cheered. The camera swept round the  crowds and I saw a Saltire flying and said to 'him indoors' that Uruguay must also use the flag for 'ceremonial occasions.'

But the headlines the next day were full of it. Close  scrutiny of the footage revealed the man was wearing a 'See you Jimmy hat' and a Scotland  top. He was dancing and hugging  the Uruguayans passionately….

                                                      This is a 'see you Jimmy hat'

The search was on to find this fine example of Scottish naughtiness and he turned out to be a Celtic supporter from Glasgow. This kind hearted chappie had taken a whole load of football tops out to Brazilian orphanages.  And attended any game England played... supporting the opposition.

The irony of the worst football country in the world (us)  giving one of the best footballing countries ( Brazil) football tops did not escape us. We are patriotic not delusional.

Then followed the internet hoax about the Uruguay: England game being rigged and that they were replaying it to give England another chance. But that was a hoax. Thank goodness.

The truth is that we wish them no harm, the eleven men on the pitch. If they play well  they will get as far as they deserve to get. Just like any other team. The fact that those of us North of the Border are growling will have no effect on them, not one iota.
The big problem is summed up in one wee scenario.  England playing the rugby world cup (Or whatever.) The Scots bookies ran odds as to when the English commentators would mention their football World Cup victory of 1966.  The answer….. less than four minutes in.

Football is a simple game: 22 men chase a ball for 90  minutes and at the end, the Germans win.

Gary Lineker.

They never stop going on about it.  It’s as if they won it then…. And think that other teams are being a bit rude when they turn up  to try and win it back..
We never stop saying the ball didn’t cross the line ACTUALLY and as soon as they got back to blighty, we gubbed them 3-1....!  It would be very purile of me to mention those two facts so I won't.

The commentary is….well biased. Almost  'how dare the other team turn up!'  The hype is unbelievable and misplaced. And that is not the  players' fault. The lads played well, the other lads played better…
The oldest international  fixture in the world is the  Scotland versus England game. One year we were very naughty - invaded the pitch and err... stole it. Ok so there was a bit of damage but nobody got hurt. It was all very good humoured... no violence. But we did nick the goalposts and smuggled them north.

Anybody who has witnessed the tartan army in full song knows that they are cheerful, drunk, noisy but very rarely, violent. ( In those days they were often too drunk to stand up, never mind hit anybody)
That does not mean that team football up here is not violent. Alchol was banned from the game for a good reason. The sectarian elements run deep and raw. It is tribal.

But the national supporters are united  and out national team support has never been infiltrated by the nasty extremely racist faction that other national teams have been plagued by. It spoils the game for the real footie fan. Some might argue that’s because we never qualify for anything.

The first Scotland England game was played on 30th November 1872. Nil Nil. We have played 111 times, they have won 46,  we’ve won 41, the rest drawn.

Wikipeadia says. 'The history of the British Isles has led to much rivalry between the nations in many forms, and the social and cultural effects of centuries of antagonism and conflict between the two has contributed to the intense nature of the sporting contests. Scottish nationalism has also been a factor in the Scots' desire to defeat England above all other rivals, with Scottish sports journalists traditionally referring to the English as the "Auld Enemy".
So there it is in black and white.

The No to Independence campaign also sighed with relief when England went out the current competition. If they had continued, the angst of the Scots having to suffer it on the TV night after night (on STV as well as the BBC as the pundits are everywhere) would have resulted in more vote voting yes.

 "Football has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting." George Orwell

I once saw a great film. I think it was  The Cup by Khyentse Norbu.

It's about the effort of a small boy in a remote Nepalese Monastery trying to rig an aerial to watch  the World Cup.  He explains that it is country against country and waits for the wise words of his senior...

'Is it war then?'

The boy pauses for a very long time before he answers...

"If you want to add to the vast fund of ill-will existing in the world at the moment, you could hardly do it better than by a series of football matches between Jews and Arabs, Germans and Czechs, Indians and British, Russians and Poles, and Italians and Yugolslavs." George Orwell

Caro Ramsay  0    Murder is Everywhere 1
Played 27/06/2014


  1. My favorite soccer game is the game between Greek and German philosophers, as orchestrated by Monty Python. No one got hurt. No one yelled curses. All was calm.

  2. Stop. Halt. Cease. My side splitteth. "I canna take no mohrrr, Cap'n!"

  3. I am of European parentage, but as an American I am ignorant of so much. Thank you for this priceless cultural education you have given. I shall treasure it as I giggle on through the day.

  4. So what did the little fellow answer? Was it biting?

  5. Indeed Kathy. My fav is when Nietzsche accuses Confucius of having no free will - and gets a yellow card. It was a tactical mistake of the philosophers to leave Beckenbauer unmarked in the midfield. :)

  6. As we are all mystery and suspense writers... I am going to create mystery and suspense... and not tell you what the wee monk said!!!

  7. Caro, I will rewatch the game and look for that precise action. I'm laughing as I think about it.

  8. Yes, a wonderful moment. Then Hegel is arguing about something I couldn't quite hear, so I will relisten. It's all brilliant.